Some schools have been teaching primary computing since its introduction into the National Curriculum in 2014 and some have yet to really get going. Either way, the very nature of Computing is that things change rapidly and it’s time to start doing something new.
One of the things I like best about Computing is that you can’t churn out the same old lessons year on year. Technology’s rapid development demands we pay attention to change; that we learn; that we adapt and, most importantly, that we create.
We owe it to our pupils to keep abreast of pedagogical and technological change. I’ve put together a selection of the fantastic computing resources, tools and technologies that I use to teach Computing, some of which you’ll know but lots of which I hope are new and you’ll give a go. I’ve turned it into a periodic table of primary computing resources, now with hyperlinks! I keep banging on about this but Computing is more than just coding and lots of the resources listed here are for you to use with your pupils to teach the other strands of the curriculum (digital literacy, information technology and eSafety) as well as to use with cross curricular approaches.
Click to download
There are many, many, more and I’d love to hear how you have been getting on teaching computing in your classrooms as well as hearing about the resources you’ve been using.
Our primary computing schemes provide full, progressive, step-by-step, lesson plans and all associated lesson resources and worksheets using the tools and computing resources included in the table. Visit our website for more information.
Effective practice in teaching primary computing involves rigour. To help achieve this, the precise identification of key computing knowledge and vocabulary is key.
As part of my work in primary computing assessment, developing a comprehensive assessment toolkit for iCompute, I have produced detailed skills progression guides for all four strands of the National Curriculum:
• Computer Science • Information Technology • Digital Literacy • eSafety
I’ve recently added computing knowledge organisers for each iCompute unit and computing vocabulary progression grids. Combined they identify discrete unit-specific vocabulary and knowledge and help children make links with prior and cross-curricular learning. iCompute schools can access the resources at the computing assessment area of the member dashboard.
Ofsted will be “deep diving” into a selection of subjects during their inspections with the “curriculum at the heart of inspection” focusing on curriculum intent, implementation and impact. I’ve previously written an article on this called inspecting computing for computing subject leaders. Now, with the benefit of feedback from schools using iCompute who’ve undergone a deep dive for computing, I explore what a deep dive for computing looks like with the aim of helping prepare computing leads.
I’ve also included a link (at the end of this post) to download a copy of my comprehensive guide to the Ofsted Framework and Ofsted Deep Dives for Computing which has been updated to include dozens of Ofsted Deep Dive questions our schools have been asked and support for addressing them.
With Ofsted focus now on pupils acquiring and retaining subject knowledge, many schools are now using Knowledge Organisers in the classroom.
What are they?
A knowledge organiser is a document containing key facts and information that pupils can use to help acquire basic knowledge and understanding of a topic or concept.
Most will include:
key facts presented in a format that is easy to take in
key vocabulary or technical terms and what they mean
images such as charts or diagrams
What they include depends on the subject. In Computing, for example, a ‘Programming’ knowledge organiser includes definitions of sequence, selection and repetition along with images of Scratch blocks given as examples.
How can we them?
There are lots of different ways they can be used in the classroom but here are some ideas:
Use the knowledge organiser for regular revision and assessment. Create mini quizzes
Use them for discussion; talk through them and ask higher-level ‘why’ questions to stretch and challenge
Identify gaps in knowledge and understanding
Determine whether the children know more than the knowledge organiser contains and encourage them to make their own additions
Improve teacher subject knowledge
Link knowledge organisers to enable children to make links between topics. For example, draw comparisons between an ‘Algorithms’ unit and a ‘Programming’ unit. What concepts/vocabulary are the same?
Use the them as a handy vocabulary reminder. Keep them accessible and encourage the children to use the correct vocabulary when discussing their work
Get Primary Computing Knowledge Organisers
If you have a current iCompute Primary Computing Curriculum licence, we have uploaded knowledge organisers for all of our KS1 and KS2 primary computing units to iCompute online; providing coverage for all strands of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.
If not, you can download a template to adapt for your own use here.
At iCompute we recognise the huge impact that COVID-19 (coronavirus) has had on school communities and learning and we want to help. In situations such as these the power of digital home learning becomes increasingly evident – and important.
We are passionate about preparing children for living in the modern digital world. We teach children about and with technology. We want to encourage as many children as possible to engage with computing around the world and have created a set of home learning resources to support schools, parents and pupils continue to learn at home no matter where they are.
Created by our author, a primary computer science master teacher, we have fantastic, engaging, resources and activities suitable for children aged 4-11. They are split into Key Stage 1 (ages 5-7) and Key Stage 2 (ages 7-11).
Key Stage 1
Key Stage 1 activities are for younger children learning with their families and are computing unplugged – i.e. you do not need computers or devices.
Key Stage 2
Our Key Stage 2 activities include online step-by-step interactive tutorials teaching coding using a variety of free programming languages. They are designed for children to use on their own and to use them you need computers/devices with access to the Internet.
Learn Programming Tutorials
We have also converted our lesson plans designed for face-to-face teaching to online lessons. Subscribing iCompute schools get priority access to these resources which include:
🎦 Explainer animations covering the whole-class teaching section of lessons
🎞 Video clips
⛓ Links to online resources
👣 Step-by-step activities
💪 Challenge activities
🗒 Worksheets and pupil resources
These resources are compatible with cloud-based learning platforms such as Google Classroom.
What all activities have in common is that they are underpinned by developing computational thinking: the fundamental principles of computer science.
We hope you enjoy the resources and encourage you to share them so that children everywhere can benefit from them.
Visit our website for more information about highly acclaimed series of primary computing schemes of work, computing curriculum and resources at www.icompute-uk.com
Everyone likes putting a festive twist on lessons during the approach to Christmas and I’ve been making festive computing lessons for my pupils.
I’ve recently produced a six week animation unit for Key Stage 2 (iAnimate) where the children learn about the history of animation, make their own flipping book animations, make thaumatropes and/or praxinoscopes, explore different animation techniques and, of course, design and make their own fantastic animations using apps and software.
This Christmas, I’ve put together a step-by-step computing lesson plan and teacher resources for creating an animated snowman GIF. You can download the lesson and resources and use them your own classrooms for a little festive fun!
Create an animated GIF
The lesson plan contains lots of ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment: from making a very simple animated sequence to more able pupils:
animating backgrounds as well as characters and objects
adding 3D effects (e.g. shadows)
creating more frames for smoother movement
switching backgrounds to create scene changes
animating more than one object
A little festive flavour of what our full six week animation unit offers and another Christmas gift to you!
Here’s at iCompute Headquarters there’s nothing we like more than creating Christmas 🎄 themed resources. I’ve been having a great time designing and developing new lesson plans, tutorials and programs for this year’s festive season.
My latest offering is an absolute Christmas cracker 🎉! A coding tutorial for Microsoft Kodu. Kodu is helping Santa 🎅🏻 deliver presents on Christmas Eve but needs your pupil’s help coding him to deliver the presents 🎁 to the right houses. I’ve made a Kodu tutorial for your pupils to use that will guide them through the coding process before letting them get on with completing the activity and then having some festive fun by making it their own.
Get the lesson plan & tutorial
Another free Christmas computing resource helps your pupils get jolly 🎅🏻 good at problem solving using key computational thinking skills such as abstraction, decomposition, generalisation and pattern spotting.
Computational thinking lies at the heart of the National Curriculum for Computing and our best selling (ERA and BETT nominated) schemes of work support schools teach it creatively and well.
Grab yourself a gift 🎁 with our free stuff for Christmas. Visit www.icompute-uk.com for more free Christmas themed lesson plans and resources to support teaching primary computing.
It’s a great stepping stone from the blocks-based languages and environments your pupils may have already mastered (E.g. Scratch, App Inventor, Tynker etc) on to text-based languages.
I’ve been researching pedagogies to support computing mastery and PRIMM is a programming pedagogy developed by Dr Sue Sentence and the Computing Education team at Kings College London based on the notion that its difficult to become successful at writing code if you cannot read it.
I have created a Christmas themed step-by-step lesson plan that uses Bitsbox and I’m using the PRIMM approach for teaching programming.
PRIMM stands for Predict | Run | Investigate | Modify | Make. The approach enables teachers to support pupils by giving them some code that they first understand and then build upon towards making their own.
It’s a great way to structure a lesson and think it’ll make a real difference to those pupils who have difficulty understanding some programming concepts.
Feel free to download this lesson and try PRIMM in your own classroom.
Use the PRIMM programming approach to develop a program from a Christmas gift catching game into a new game
Challenge your pupils to design algorithms and program the game using a text-based programming language, variables and functions.
As usual, lots of opportunities for differentiation. For instance, less able pupils could use pupil support cards (see support resource which is included in the pack) and/or write a more simple version. Your more able pupils could:
change the speed, direction and size falling presents
make the game multi-player and multi-level
complete the game to a time
create Game Over functions
create sound tracks and jingles for the app
Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan. Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative.
Ada Lovelace had it worse, but as one of the few women undertaking a Computing Science degree in the 90’s, I’m used to being a minority. I’ve never understood why it is such a male dominated industry because I love it. I don’t put this down to sexism. Throughout my studies and beyond in the workplace as a software engineer and, later, project manager I have been treated with respect at all times by men in my field.
I have my own theories about why girls don’t take to computer science as wholeheartedly as their male counterparts and they are, in my opinion, largely down to teaching – or lack thereof. Which is why it’s great that, here in the UK, learning computer science is statutory from the age of 5 because it allows us teachers the (almost unique) opportunity to engage girls early in this creative and fascinating subject. Not just enabling them to enter into the tech industry later if they want to but because it’s absolutely crucial to know how to communicate, collaborate and express yourself in the modern digital world.
In her blog post of 2009 (when Ada Lovelace Day was born) Suw Charman-Anderson speaks of research pointing to need for women to need to see female role models. If that’s true then, given the amount of women teaching computing in the UK, we should surely see an upsurge in engagement in computing by girls and, empowerment through it! That is, if their role model’s are good ones; who show a passion and enthusiasm for the subject and teach it in creative, fun and challenging ways. I hope that, since its introduction into the National Curriculum in 2014, we are making good strides towards achieving this. There’s no excuse not to as there is a wealth of support and resources available to support teachers and schools. I regularly produce free lesson plans and support materials to, hopefully, inspire and motivate teachers of primary computing.
This Ada Lovelace day (13th October 2020) I’ve put together a step-by-step lesson plan and supporting resources adapted from iCompute’s Cross Curricular Computing pack for teaching Computing with History. Suitable for pupils aged 7-11, it involves researching Ada Lovelace and producing a webpage about their findings using basic HTML.
Download and use to show your pupils how women have been instrumental in the transformation of the technological world!
Learn Computer Science fundamentals without technology
Introducing our brand new computing unplugged resources for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. Learn the fundamental principles of computer science.without tech!
iCompute unplugged offers teachers, parents and pupils a rich variety of resources enabling them to teach and learn computing inside and outside of the classroom without the need for devices or software. Our resources have been downloaded and used tens of thousands of times by teachers and pupils around the world.
Developed initially as a response to school closures due to COVID-19, the need to equip teachers and pupils with the skills necessary to communicate, collaborate, teach and learn has never been more important. Our creative, engaging, activities are designed by a Computer Scientist and Primary Computer Science Master Teacher to enable children to develop the fundamental principles of computer science.
Unplugged for Mastery
Unplugged activities are part of our principles for Mastery in Computing. The judicious use of activities away from devices and computers are crucial to young children’s learning in computing. Our activities are physical in nature and provide kinaesthetic experiences which help pupils understand abstract concepts and deepen learning. Having activities away from computers is effective as children know that computers are a tool in their learning, rather than the subject itself. Stepping away from computers enables them to think about concepts and teachers can convey fundamentals that are independent of particular software or technology. Find out more about achieving mastery in computing.
The resources are divided into activities suitable for pupils aged 5-7 (Key Stage 1) and ages 7-11 (Key Stage 2) and are matched to the National Curriculum for Computing for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 Programme of Study.
Key Stage 1 Unplugged
Our Key Stage 1 resources are intended to be used by children working either together with their families or in small supervised groups. The activities are ‘unplugged’ and intended to be used by children working either with their families or in small supervised groups. They are split into the fundamental principles of computer science (algorithms, decomposition, abstraction, logical thinking, and generalisation) to help develop the computational thinking skills that lie at the heart of the National Curriculum for Computing.
Key Stage 2 Unplugged
The Key Stage 2 unplugged resources are designed for teaching groups of children some of amazing concepts that computer science includes. From simulating networks and data transfer using string and sticky notes to ‘crawling’ the world wide web as search engine spiders, they all provide active, kinaesthetic learning experiences and are collaborative, engaging and fun!
“The activities are wonderful, engaging and with clear learning objectives”
“iCompute has introduced a more creative way of learning and this has been seen in the enthusiasm of the children”
“This is a very good resource. Not only for younger learners but for anyone teaching Computer Science. The exercises practice sequencing, abstraction, pattern generation, decomposition and object relationships.“