Computing Mastery for Primary Schools

Achieving Computing Mastery

Computing Mastery

Computing Mastery

 

Mastery in computing means acquiring a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject.  It is demonstrated by how skillfully a child can apply their learning in computing to new situations in unfamiliar contexts.

A positive teacher mindset and strong subject knowledge are key to student success in computing.  iCompute aims to enhance students’ enjoyment, resilience, understanding and attainment in computing by empowering and equipping schools to deliver a world-class computing education with comprehensive computing schemes of work that are designed for computing mastery.

Our Principles for Mastery

Success

Every child can enjoy and succeed in computing when offered appropriate learning opportunities.  iCompute uses growth mindset and problem-solving approaches that enable pupils to develop resilience, persistence and confidence.  All children are encouraged to believe in their ability to master computing and are empowered to succeed through curiosity, tinkering and perseverance.

Depth

Pupils are taught through whole-class interactive teaching with pupils working together on the same lesson content at the same time.  Concepts are developed in logical steps with particular attention given to fundamental concepts. This ensures that all children can master concepts before moving to the next stage, with no pupil left behind.

Pupils are given the time and opportunity to fully understand, explore and apply skills and ideas in different ways, in different situations and in different subjects.  This enables pupils to fully grasp a concept and understand the relevance of their learning.

Computational Thinking

Developing computational thinking lies at the heart of the National Curriculum for Computing and involves learning how people solve problems; changing what looks like a difficult task into a simple one that we know how to deal with.

It involves taking a problem and breaking it down into a series of smaller, more manageable parts (decomposition). Each part can then be looked at individually, considering similarities between and within other problems (pattern recognition), and focusing only on the important details whilst ignoring irrelevant information (abstraction). Next, looking for solutions to other problems and adapting them to solve new problems (generalisation).  Then, simple steps or rules to solve each of the smaller problems can be designed (algorithms).  Once we have a working solution, we then use (evaluation) to analyse it and ask – Is it any good ? Can it be improved? How?

Computational Thinking

Computational Thinking

Computational thinking is developed by embedding these skills into all of our lessons, through teacher modelling and with targeted questioning.

Unplugged Activities

The judicious use of activities away from devices and computers (unplugged) are crucial to young children’s learning in computing. Our unplugged 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.

What children learn in the unplugged context must be applied to another (plugged: using technology) which supports our other principles of mastery: success and depth.

Find out more about computing pedagogy for mastery by reading this blog post – http://www.icompute-uk.com/news/computing-pedagogy/ and more about our primary computing schemes of work by visiting www.icompute-uk.com

Computing Pedagogy

for Computing Mastery

Since the introduction to National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 in England 2014, it has been a child’s statutory entitlement to a computing education from the age of 5. There have been many challenges along the way since 2014 for primary teachers, not least, due to the subject being introduced throughout schools where the vast majority of teachers had never been trained to teach it.

Despite a number initiatives to improve teacher subject knowledge, notably driven by Computing At Schools (CAS) and the Network of Excellence (a grass-roots organisation I represent as a Computer Science Master Teacher) the Computing Education Project Report (The Royal Society, 2017) – exploring the issues facing computing in schools – concludes that computing education across the UK is ‘patchy and fragile’. There is much to address in a system where many teachers do not feel confident teaching the subject and are in need of significant support.

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Summer Coding Lesson with PRIMM

Ice Cream Dodge

Regular readers will know that I’ve previously created a 6 week coding unit for pupils aged 9-11 using BitsBox.  Bitsbox uses a simplified version of Javascript, and provides tools that enable pupils to develop their own apps.

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.

PRIMM

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 developed a new step-by-step lesson plan that uses Bitsbox and I’m using the PRIMM approach for teaching programming in this one. 

PRIMM
Predict | Run | Investigate | Modify | Make

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.

Bitsbox lesson plan
Download Lesson Plan

Use the PRIMM programming approach to develop a program from an ice cream dodging game into a variation of Hungry Hippos.

Challenge your pupils to design algorithms and program the game using a text-based programming language, variables and functions.

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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 of flying ice creams
  • make the game multi-play 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.

Check out my other coding lesson that uses BitsBox at http://www.icompute-uk.com/news/coding-apps/

Find out more about PRIMM and the research at https://icomp.site/primm