Computing and Science

Enhance Science Lessons with Computing

computing & science

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Use our free computing and science resource to conduct a water cycle investigation.  The children could then use Scratch to program an animation of it. We have a template scratch project you could use. Find out more on our website

Computational Thinking – Primary Computing

Computational Thinking Across the Curriculum

Computational Thinking is a life skill for everyone. It’s analytical problem solving: finding solutions to ‘problems’ using logical reasoning and systematic approaches.  By ‘problem’ I mean something you want to achieve.  This could be anything from designing and building a physical structure to creating a piece of art.

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 Fundamentally, Computational Thinking is about transforming a seemingly complex problem into a simple one that we know how to solve.

This involves the use of abstraction, decomposition and generalisation when approaching tasks to remove unnecessary detail, split it into manageable parts and build on solutions we have used before.

Finding solutions involves spotting patterns and using logical reasoning – applying rules to find solutions, eg. if this happens then I need to do that, otherwise I need to do this…  Once we have a working solution, we then use evaluation to analyse it and ask – Is it any good ? Can it be improved? How?

Teaching computational thinking is not teaching children how to think like a computer.  Computers cannot think.  Computers are stupid.  Everything computers do, people make happen.  It’s also not teaching children how to compute.  It’s developing the knowledge, skills and understanding of how people solve problems.  As such, it absolutely should not be confined to computing lessons and should be used throughout the curriculum to approach and solve problems and communicate and collaborate with others.

Search our blog for our free cross-curricular computing resources and try six free units from our cross-curricular computing scheme.

QR Codes in the Classroom – Enabling Mobile Learning

QR Codes – A Tool for Teaching and Learning

QR Code

QR Codes – A multitude of classroom uses

With Computing now firmly part of the primary school curriculum, more and more teachers are exploring ways to use technology in the classroom and enable mobile learning.

Quick Response Codes (QR Codes) are everywhere, but how can they be used as a tool for teaching and learning?

QR Codes are codes that can be scanned by any device with a camera, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops or PCs.  QR Codes can direct you to a web page; display text on a device; send an email, show map locations, access videos and much more…  In order to scan the codes devices need a QR Reader app and there are a wealth of free ones on the market to choose from.  A quick internet search will reveal just how many!

I like to create my own QR Codes, both for pupil use and to assist me as a teacher (see image).  I customise them by design and colour to make them more visually appealing and engaging and many QR Code Readers allow you to do that for free.  I used Unitag for this one.

Not sure?  Here are some ideas you could try in your classroom:

Shortcuts

Ever watched a KS1 pupil painstakingly type a long URL only to discover they’ve entered it into the search box of an internet search engine instead of the browser address bar?  I have, several times, and whilst that itself can be a valuable lesson it’s often not the objective and I need to get the children to the online resource quickly and efficiently.  I generate, print (and sometimes laminate) a set of QR Codes that I can use again and again.  The children pass them around the classroom scanning the codes taking them to the online resource with speed and ease!

Assessment

Many teachers I know are not sure how to provide evidence of progression when some of the children’s work is online.  This is particularly troublesome for primary computing but applies, or I hope it does, in other subjects too.  QR Codes can be generated to link to the children’s digital content.  Each of my pupils have a physical folder containing any worksheets, designs, assessment tasks etc. that are in pen/paper and they also generate and print QR codes that can be used to access their online work.  See also ‘Rewards’.

You could also use the fantastic Plickers app to question/poll your pupils and collect, compare and track responses.  This blog post has some great suggestions of how Plickers can be used for assessment purposes.

Rewards

Celebrate achievement by creating QR Codes that can be handed out to pupils when they reach milestones.  Directing children to a website to collect a digital badge is an obvious choice but you could also invite your pupils to design their own online badges using any digital drawing application.  This has the benefit of involving your pupils in the assessment process by having them help decide what constitutes achievement in a particular area and also what needs to be done to earn the reward.  ‘Badges’ could then be uploaded and added to your school website with each having their own webpage that the QR Code points to for children to collect.  Alternatively, the web page could simply let them know they’ve won a pen/pencil/rubber etc.

Scavenger Hunts/Quizzes

Compile a set of questions on a theme and encode each with a QR Code that you put out either around the school or, preferably, outside of it.  When the code is scanned, the text containing the question is displayed on the device.  Your pupils could respond using various methods – verbally; pen/paper or audio/video recording.

The children could also design their own quizzes and create QR Codes for them which could be used for self/peer assessment (see ‘Assessment’).

I’ve also used codes for KS1 literacy by encoding simple CVC words, spreading the codes out around the classroom and having the children scan, read and arrange the codes into sentences that make sense.  Obviously you could adapt that idea for any number of other activities – e.g. The Water Cycle, planet order etc.

Differentiation

Create different QR Codes that point to easier/core/harder online resources/support or contain different levels of questions according to pupil ability.

Extension/Enrichment

Provide QR Codes containing further activities for pupils to engage with after completing their core tasks.

Responding

Use QR Codes to collect pupil responses.  Generate and display around the classroom potential answers to multiple-choice questions (e.g. A, B, C, D) and get your pupils up and moving scanning their responses to your questions – also see ‘Assessment’.

Checking Work

Have your children check and mark their own work by giving them access to QR Codes they can use after they have completed their task.

Homework

Print QR Codes for the children to take home that direct them to online content to assist with homework research and/or to engage with other online activities as homework.

QRCode

QR Codes are more than a gimmick.  They enhance teaching and learning and have the capacity to hold an enormous amount of data that can be accessed with the click of a digital camera.  We teachers embrace technology when we see the clear practical benefit of using it for ourselves and for our pupils.  Now that most schools have access to some form of mobile technology we can take learning far beyond the confines of our classrooms.

Open your mind to the potential of QR Codes as a powerful aid to teaching and learning and don’t pan IT, scan IT!

I’d love to hear your ideas for QR Codes in the classroom so please tweet them to @iComputeUK or leave a comment below.

ERA Awards 2016 Finalists – Primary ICT

Finalist – Education Resource Awards – ERA Primary ICT

ERA Awards 2016ERA 2016 FinalistWe are delighted to announce that for the second time this academic year we have been shortlisted for a prestigious award in education.  iCompute leads the way in providing schemes of work and innovative digital resources that support the teaching of primary computing.  The nomination for an ERA Award in Primary ICT recognises the contribution we make in education and we are especially thrilled as this is the first time our new cross-curricular computing resources will be looked at by a judging panel alongside our whole-school primary computing and iPad schemes.

Organised by Brilliant Marketing Solutions and The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), The Education Resources Awards (ERA) are now in their 18th successful year and are firmly established as the premier annual event to celebrate outstanding success for the suppliers and teaching professionals of the education sector throughout the UK.

The awards highlight and reward the quality and diversity of educational products, resources, services and people as well as the best educational establishments and the most dedicated members of the teaching profession. The ERA’s aims to encourage the raising of educational services & product standards throughout the industry and is recognised throughout the sector as the Accolade of excellence.

Winners will be announced on Friday 18th March 2016 at the awards ceremony at Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham and we’ll have our fingers crossed!

For further information on the ERA Awards, please visit: www.educationresourcesawards.co.uk

For a short video about iCompute for Primary Schools, visit here.

Cross Curricular Computing

Enrich learning with a cross curricular approach to primary computing

cross-curricular computing

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Computing is one of the most fundamentally cross curricular subject areas in education.  It’s about using technology, logic, creativity and computational thinking to solve problems that cross all disciplines.  It requires the systematic breakdown (decomposition) of both the problem and the solution.  We need to prepare pupils for how to live in an increasingly digital world by equipping them with the knowledge, understanding and skills to solve as yet unknown problems using tools and technologies that do not yet exist.  We can work towards achieving this by using computing as a means of making sense of the world and using what the children learn in computing across the curriculum.

The best primary practice includes blending thorough, discrete, subject teaching with effective cross-curricular work.  “…high standards are best secured when essential knowledge and skills are learned both through direct, high-quality subject teaching and also through this content being applied and used in cross-curricular studies.” [Rose, 2009]. Both approaches are needed for effective learning to take place, to enable children to make links between subjects and to set learning in meaningful contexts.  Using computing throughout the primary curriculum offers a way to enrich and deepen learning through engaging, interconnected, topics.

Our cross-curricular computing pack is designed to complement our whole school primary computing scheme of work.  It provides pupils with an engaging exploration of computing through a rich variety of media and technologies set within other subject areas.

References:

Rose, J (2009) Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum, Nottingham: DCSF (pdf)