Halloween 🎃 Computational Thinking Puzzles

Scarily 👻 Good Free Resources for Primary Computing

Help your pupils get dead ⚰️ good at problem solving using key computational thinking skills such as abstraction, decomposition, generalisation and pattern spotting with our free Halloween themed puzzles.

Computational thinking lies at the heart of the National Curriculum for Computing and our best selling (Educational Resources Awards nominated) series of Computational Thinking Puzzle books 1-4 help pupils independently practice the skills they learn in their computing lessons.

Grab yourself a treat 🍬 with our free puzzles for Halloween.   Visit www.icompute-uk.com for more free themed lesson plans and resources to support teaching primary computing.

How to thrive during an Ofsted Deep Dive for Computing

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 – and widely published Aide Memoir and Inspector subject training guidance provided by Ofsted – I explore what a deep dive for computing looks like with the aim of helping prepare computing leads.

You can download a copy of my comprehensive guide to the Ofsted Framework and Ofsted Deep Dives for Computing at the end of this post. It’s been updated to include dozens of Ofsted Deep Dive questions our schools have been asked and the school friendly questions suggested by Ofsted along with details of how iCompute helps schools answer them.

Ofsted Deep Dive for Computing questions
Comprehensive set of Ofsted Deep Dive for Computing Questions
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Ofsted Review of Computing

Lack of Subject Knowledge & Resources a “main obstacle”

teaching computing

Ofsted has published its latest research review series [1] with the focus on computing. It states that “Digital technology is driving extraordinary global changes that some are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution” and that “Navigating these changes effectively and safely requires a significant understanding of digital literacy, information technology and computer science”.

Computing has been statutory since 2014 for Key Stages 1-4 [2] and the review seeks to set out factors that contribute to a high-quality computing education.

Whilst computing in the Early Years is not part of the current framework, it is statutory from Year 1 and there is debate about the importance of learning computing early in education and that young children should experience teaching informed by expertise [3]. The inspectorate highlights the importance of teacher’s content and pedagogical knowledge in teaching a high quality computing curriculum. This is a challenge as a Royal Society UK-wide survey identified lack of subject knowledge and CPD as key obstacles faced by teachers in teaching computing [4]. The report also pointed to teachers finding it difficult to identify and select good quality teaching materials and content for computing.

The review identifies a high-quality computing education as one that interweaves the three strands of the curriculum: computer science, information technology and digital literacy; is rich in computer science; uses a variety of IT to create digital content set in meaningful contexts; does not assume children are digitally literate and has eSafety embedded.

At iCompute, we are teachers first and foremost. I was one of the first Primary Computer Science Master Teachers appointed by the organisation responsible for drafting the 2014 computing curriculum and was funded by the DfE to prepare schools in England for teaching computing when it was introduced. Since then, I’ve trained teachers around the world. When the curriculum was first introduced I feared that teachers would struggle to teach a subject they had never been trained for; which is why I created iCompute as I knew lack of teaching resources would be a major barrier to teaching computing confidently and well. Our scheme of work was the first commercial computing curriculum in the UK. It is founded on subject expertise and years of teaching experience. As computing is a dynamic subject, iCompute is constantly adapted and changed according to new technologies, research and pedagogies.

There have been many more schemes of work published since 2014 and the Government has spent millions in supporting computing through the National Centre of Computing Education. I am disappointed but not surprised to find that the review highlights that lack of subject knowledge and the ability to identify high quality computing resources remain factors that affect teachers being able to deliver a high quality computing education.

We need to do more to make sure schools and teachers have (and can access) the support they need because the aim of the National Curriculum to ‘equip pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world’ [2] is being hampered by their teacher’s lack of content, subject and pedagogical knowledge.

Find out how iCompute can help your school demonstrate a quality computing education through the ‘Three I’s’ and during a Deep Dive by reading my posts “Ofsted Inspection Framework for Computing” and “How to Thrive During a Deep Dive of Computing“.

References

[1] Ofsted. (2022) Research Review Series: Computing. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/research-review-series-computing/research-review-series-computing (Accessed: 19/5/2022).

[2] Department for Education (2013) National curriculum in England: framework for key stages 1 to 4. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-framework-for-key-stages-1-to-4 (Accessed: 19/5/2022).

[3] Manches, A. and Plowman, L. (2017) ‘Computing education in children’s early years: a call for debate’, British Journal of Educational Technology, 18(1).

[4] Tait, P. (2017) After the reboot: computing education in UK schools. Available at: https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/computing-education/ (Accessed: 19/5/2022)

Ofsted Inspection Framework: for Computing Subject Leaders

Inspecting Computing

The Ofsted Inspection Framework [3] came into effect in September 2019.  With the emphasis on ‘offering a curriculum that is broad, rich and deep’, here I take a look at its implications for Computing Subject Leaders.

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Editable & Printable Scratch 3.0 Blocks

Scratch 3.0 Classroom Display & Unplugged Activities

iCompute Scratch 3.0

Scratch 3.0 Blocks

Scratch 3.0 is out now and, following on from my previous post where you can download editable printable Scratch 2.0 blocks, I’ve made a Scratch 3 version.

The file includes all Category blocks along with Extensions: Microbit, Makey Makey, Video Sensing, Pen, LEGO WeDo, LEGO EV3, Music, Text to Speech and Translate.

Available to download by clicking/tapping the Periodic Table of Scratch 3 Blocks image (see below).  The blocks can be edited and scaled using image editing tools (e.g. Illustrator, Inkscape, Vectr).  The blocks are also provided in .png format.

It’s important that children be given opportunities to interact with physical programming blocks to help them understand both their function and the underlying concepts.  I use them in groups for the children to program me and/or each other as well as programming using Scratch 3 itself.

Printable Scratch 3.0 Blocks

Click to download editable, printable Scratch 3 blocks

Published by iCompute and licensed under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.

Also available in the same format are Scratch 2.0 blocks and Scratch Jr blocks from this post.

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Developing Computational Thinking

Preparing The Next Generation of Problem Solvers

Computational Thinking

Computational Thinking

A high quality computing education equips pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the World” (DfE)

Computational Thinking lies at the heart of the National Curriculum for Computing.  Here, I look at what Computational Thinking means and how teachers can help pupils develop effective problem solving skills that can be applied in all areas of life.

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

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.

iCompute’s computational thinking puzzles for primary pupils are a ground-breaking new development in primary education. In the digital age, the benefits of computational thinking throughout education are increasingly being highlighted. Our, colourful, engaging and challenging puzzles are designed for children aged 7-11 to independently practise and develop the fundamental computational thinking skills that lie at the heart of the National Curriculum for Computing.  The puzzles help develop skills of decomposition, abstraction, generalisation and designing algorithms. This means children can find solutions and apply those already found to different problems, in different contexts. All of this helps lay the foundations for them to become effective problem solvers.

computational thinking puzzles

iCompute’s Computational Thinking Puzzles

Solving puzzles leads to important outcomes including challenge, a sense of satisfaction, achievement and enjoyment. Puzzles rouse curiosity and hone intuition. Our carefully constructed computational thinking puzzles – designed by a computer scientist, software engineer and computer science master teacher – provide challenge, insight and entertainment all of which increase pupil engagement and promote independent learning.

ERA Nominated

iCompute ERA Nominee

Puzzles help children develop general problem-solving and independent learning skills.  Engaging in puzzles means that pupils:

  • use creative approaches
  • make choices;
  • develop modelling skills;
  • develop persistence and resilience;
  • practice recognition of patterns and similarities, reducing the complexity of problems

 Pupils use, applying and develop the following aspects of the National Curriculum for Computing:
* Logical reasoning
* Decomposition – splitting problems down into smaller problems to make them easier to solve
* Abstraction – taking the detail out of a problem to make it easier to solve
* Generalisation – adapting solutions to other problems to solve new ones
* Pattern recognition – spotting patterns and relationships
* Algorithms – finding the steps that solve a problem
* Evaluation – looking critically at a solution to determine if there’s a better way to solve it
* Testing – checking whether a possible solution works
* Debugging – finding problems with a solution and fixing them

Our puzzles are designed for independent pupil work and provide pupils with handy tips on how to approach the problems and challenges. They also make clear links between the puzzles being approached, the skills being developed and the relevance of both not just in computing but the wider world. This enables pupils to make clear links between subjects and helps pupils make meaning of their learning.

See this post for an example of the puzzles.  You can also download samples and order class packs from our main website.

Download a free Computational Thinking Diary here:

Computational Thinking Diary

Click to download

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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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Christmas Computing Activity

Create an Animated Snowman this Christmas

Christmas Animated Snowman Lesson

Click to download the lesson and resources

Christmas Animated SnowmanEveryone 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!

Christmas animated GIF

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!

 

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Christmas Computing 🎄 Get Jolly Good at Coding

 Free Christmas Computing Resources

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.

iCompute Christmas Kodu

Get the lesson plan & tutorial

 

iCompute Christmas Kodu 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.

christmas computing

Click to download

 

A Christmas Coding Lesson with PRIMM

Christmas Gift Catch

Christmas Coding Activity

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 created a Christmas themed step-by-step lesson plan that uses Bitsbox and I’m using the PRIMM approach for teaching programming.

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.

Christmas Coding Activity Plan
Click to access the plan & resources

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.

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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 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.

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

Explore computing pedagogy further aqt:

Primary Computing Knowledge Organisers

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.

New for 2022: We’ve added ‘Sticky Knowledge’ resources too!

computing knowledge organisers

How can we use them?

There are lots of different ways they can be used in the classroom but here are some ideas:

  1. Use the knowledge organiser for regular revision and assessment. Create mini quizzes
  2. Use them for discussion; talk through them and ask higher-level ‘why’ questions to stretch and challenge
  3. Identify gaps in knowledge and understanding
  4. Determine whether the children know more than the knowledge organiser contains and encourage them to make their own additions
  5. Improve teacher subject knowledge
  6. 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?
  7. 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.

Coding Drones

Aiming High in Computing

Drone Lesson Plans

Aim High in Primary Computing

Using drones in schools has the potential to take learning, literally, to a higher level.  As they continue to become increasingly practical, attainable, tools for education, teachers around the world are now using drones in their classrooms for STEM and STEAM activities.

In computing, programming drones helps develop children’s skills in algorithms, programming and computational thinking as well as addressing the ‘controlling physical systems’ objectives of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 2.  Exciting curricula and drone lesson plans are being developed that help teachers develop confidence and make the most out of connected devices.

Drones are revolutionising business and industry:  engineers use the technology for site surveys, filmmakers capture images that would otherwise be unseen, drones are used in agriculture; farming; conservation; military operations and parcel deliveries.  The potential for the application of drones and the rapid growth in the technology is huge.  Understanding how they work, their potential and how to control them through coding prepares children for the modern working world.

iCompute lead the way in teaching and learning using educational technology.  In anticipation of 3D robotics becoming the next big thing in education, we have extended our connected devices offering of comprehensive, step-by-step lesson plans, computing resources and assessment toolkits using Sphero and LEGO™ WeDo by adding an amazing, creative, 6-8 week coding with drones unit aimed at upper KS2 Computing (pupils aged 9-11 or higher).

Children learn how to program mini drones to fly, create aerial shapes, navigate obstacles, fire ‘missiles’, pick up and drop objects all set in imaginative contexts.  They program Santa’s ‘sleigh’  to deliver presents before going on an epic journey to a Galaxy Far, Far Away to take out the Death Star for the Rebel Alliance!

Drone Lesson Plans

The Force is Strong with This One…Visit our website to unleash your power!

We have a limited number of class packs of Parrot Mini Drones available to purchase at iCompute.  Visit www.icompute-uk.com/purchase/purchase-2.html to find out more.

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New Periodic Table of Primary Computing Resources

New Year, New Tech

Computing Resources

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.

Periodic table of primary computing apps

Click to download

 

 

 

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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.

Computing Vocabulary Progression

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

computing progression document

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.

computing vocabulary progression

Primary Computing – Celebrate Ada Lovelace Day!

The Magnificent Ada Lovelace

iCompute Ada Lovelace Activity

Click to download

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!

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Why schools must not ignore Computing

teacher ignore computing

Amidst a global pandemic due to COVID-19 now, more than ever, the need to equip our pupils and, crucially, our teachers with the skills to communicate, collaborate, express ideas and learn using digital tools and technologies is pressingly obvious.

The National Curriculum for Computing was launched in England in 2014 with a key aim of ensuring that all pupils “are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology”. Yet, in 2020, many schools were already woefully behind in implementing the National Curriculum and, during the pandemic, it became obvious that many teachers were severely lacking in these areas themselves.

The introduction of the 2020 Ofsted Framework for Inspection and the ominous threat of Computing Deep Dives galvinised many into action early in the year. A welcome push in my view to broaden curriculum focus. School closures put paid to that threat but, with them, came the realisation that, in many settings, the technology and skills required to continue teaching and learning outside of the classroom were simply not there.

The winners in education during these difficult times have been those that were already prepared for remote learning with infrastructure, technology and skills. The losers – our children.

I’ve been supporting schools with computing curricula, resources, teaching and training since 2014. I deal with the most progressive of schools. Those that understand the need for their children to be equipped with the knowledge, understanding and skills to participate, live and learn in an increasingly digital world. Their children will thrive. But I worry about the children left behind. Those who don’t benefit from teachers and leaders with the determination and commitment to provide a robust computing education. Those who don’t appreciate that technology has the potential to transform teaching and learning in their schools and choose to put computing on the back burner again. To look at another time. When Ofsted say they’re going to.

Thousands of children in England have missed out on around six months of education. When they return to school, the focus is likely to be on catching up with literacy and numeracy. It is imperative that Computing is not neglected. As the National Curriculum points out “Computing also ensures that pupils become digitally literate – able to use, and express themselves and develop their ideas through, information and communication technology – at a level suitable for the future workplace and as active participants in a digital world.” With the ongoing threat of closures due to local lockdowns, potential pupil/staff absences for sickness or self-isolation, social distancing measures and a myriad of other potential disruptions to the education system – schools must rise to the challenge and put learning with and about technology firmly at the forefront of their planning. Starting right now.

COVID-19: Get free access to iCompute

for schools affected by school closure due to coronavirus

UPDATE: This post has been superceded by http://www.icompute-uk.com/news/computing-home-learning-resources/

With the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) now affecting educational institutions around the world, your school may need to close.

At iCompute we recognise the huge impact this situation has on a school community and are offering free access to our online Learn Programming and Computational Thinking resources for any school (anywhere) that is closed due to coronavirus (COVID-19) during the period of closure.

Our Learn Programming and Computational Thinking resources are designed for independent pupil learning and can therefore be accessed by your pupils from home during school closure periods.

This access is offered free of charge for the duration of your school’s closure without any obligation or commitment to purchase any of our products.

Get Free Access

iCompute is passionate about preparing children for living in the modern digital world. We teach children about and with technology. In situations such as these, where external forces threaten our classrooms, the power of digital learning becomes increasingly evident – and important. We will continue to monitor current events and look for ways to support educators and pupils around the world continue learning, no matter where they are.

Find out more about Learning Programming resources here and our Computational Thinking resources in this post.

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

Computing and SEND

Computing – Including Pupils with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND)

iCompute Inclusion for SENAt iCompute we passionately believe that Computing has the potential to empower pupils with SEND and transform their lives. With the right blend of progressive, imaginative planning, exposure to a broad range of tools and technologies and comprehensive support it is possible that all children can fulfill their potential – in computing and throughout the curriculum.

Computing and Information Technology are essential tools for inclusion.  They enable children with SEND, whatever their needs, to use technology purposefully in ways that make the wider curriculum accessible, empower those with communication difficulties to engage with others and to fully include everyone in activities and learning.

iCompute offers children with SEND varied and engaging ways to communicate, collaborate, express ideas and demonstrate success.  From making and editing video/audio footage, programming animations, games and apps to creating rich web content – all pupils have an opportunity to participate, be challenged, learn and progress.

iCompute supports children with SEND by providing:

  • FamiliarityLessons follow similar patterns and all involve aspects that appeal to various learning styles
  • ParticipationActivities involve group or paired working with valuable roles for each member which encourages peer learning
  • Physical ActivitiesUnplugged activities (computing without a computer) makes it much easier to explore the concepts involved and to ask questions. This can be really beneficial to learners with communication or learning difficulties who find abstract concepts difficult and require a multimodal approach. Unplugged activities can include a range of sensory approaches, from physical movement to music, and from manipulating objects to drawing pictures.Unplugged activities enable the use of familiar contexts to teach new concepts and knowledge.  This approach helps to reduce cognitive load and has the additional benefit of being able to set the context in accordance with learner’s specific interests; which may motivate learning.

    Programming physical devices (E.g. Bee-bot) helps pupils learn to program by experiencing their code ‘come to life’ in multiple ways.  Devices with outputs that include sound, movement and light ensure learners with visual or auditory impairment are included.

  • ProgressionTasks are structured into smaller steps that build toward achieving the overall objective; which form part of progressive units of work providing full coverage of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2
  • FlexibilityAll units have Core, Easier, Harder activities as well as a number of Extension/Enrichment ideas allowing teachers to cater for the individual needs of their pupils
  • RangeA range of teaching approaches and materials enable pupils to access learning. E.g. colourful support materials; engaging worksheets; video screencasts; imaginative unplugged activities and interactive online activities support pupil’s learning enabling them to achieve
  • AssessmentComprehensive assessment toolkit supported by interactive pupil progress tracker spreadsheets enable teachers to accurately assess progress and set targets. Assessment starts from P1 to Year 6 (P-Scales based on CAS Include Working Party revised scales)
  • VarietyA wealth of free software and online tools allow SEND pupils to demonstrate skills and progress, express ideas, improve digital literacy and boost self-confidence

To find out more about how our acclaimed primary computing schemes of work engage, include and challenge all pupils please visit www.icompute-uk.com

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

Teach EYFS Computing – Computing in the Foundation Stage

EYFS Computing

Laying Solid Foundations for Primary Computing

EYFS ComputingOur children grow up surrounded by technology. Their everyday interactions and experiences involve it, whether that is inside their homes, at school, out shopping or playing. EYFS Computing - BETT Awards 2018

Their world is an ever-changing digital world. We owe it to our children to prepare them for living in it.  It is never too early for children to start learning the fundamental principles of computer science because, as Edsger Dijkstra famously pointed out “Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes” (attrib) .

Much of computing as a subject can be learned without using computers at all. Primary aged pupils are perfectly capable of understanding and executing algorithms. They do so every day: they use algorithms to solve problems in mathematics, learn letter sounds, spell, use grammar – I could go on and on! Algorithms are designed and can be applied in a myriad of different situations.  Understanding them has become a core skill because, increasingly, the world we live in is governed by them.

Computing is much more than the computer, the device or the tool. It’s about developing computational thinking skills (more on that in this post) so that our children can become effective, analytical, problem solvers. It’s also about equipping children with an understanding about how computers and computer systems work so that, combined, they develop transferrable skills which will enable them to design, develop or even just adapt to new tools and technologies in this ever changing digital age.  But much more importantly, they develop digital literacy: the ability to be able to express themselves and communicate ideas using tools and technology and participate fully in the modern digital world.

The best practice for Computing in the Early Years (EYFS computing) is where activities:

  • are imaginative and fun
  • challenge
  • involve being creative
  • require collaboration and sharing
  • involve listening, understanding, following and giving instructions
  • encourage describing, explaining and elaborating
  • encourage investigation
  • involve problem solving
  • include lots of ‘unplugged’ activities: computing without computers

By offering your children an imaginative, engaging, introduction to computing you help them make solid steps towards understanding the world.

iCompute’s expertise and innovation in teaching & learning with, and about, technology has been recognised by BETT and BESA with iCompute in the EYFS being nominated for two awards.  Find out what BESA (chair of the judging panel) has to say about the finalists:

iCompute ERA Awards 2017

iCompute BETT Awards 2018

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