The Hour of Code is Coming!
Not long to go now for the Hour of Code 2017 (December 4th – 10th) and we can’t wait to see how many pupils and schools participate around the world.
iCompute are delighted to partner with code.org again this year by providing lots of fun, creative, activities for schools to use as part of this event and throughout the year. We’ve put together, free, Christmas themed lessons and lots more, including saving Santa with Scratch, animating a snowman and delivering Santa’s presents with parrot drones! Included are detailed step-by-step lesson plans with built in differentiation and creative ideas for extension and enrichment.
The Hour of Code™ is a global movement and worldwide effort to celebrate computer science. Organised by Computer Science Education Week and Code.org it reaches tens of millions of students in 180+ countries through a one-hour introduction to computer science and computer programming.
In England, children have a statutory entitlement to a computer science education from the age of five. iCompute provides full coverage for the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.
Each year, we offer free computing lesson plans and computing resources to support the Hour of Code™ and help raise awareness of and engagement in computing science around the world.
Create a Halloween Web page
Teachers and pupils alike love a themed lesson so I’ve created a new activity for Halloween computing that teaches basic HTML/CSS for pupils aged 9-11.
Each term, I create free themed computing lessons and I’ve written another step-by-step lesson plan and some teacher/pupil computing resources that I’m using in my computing classes and have added to iCompute’s primary computing schemes of work. This activity has been adapted from a cross-curricular computing lesson in iCompute Across the Curriculum.
Halloween is approaching and you’re having a party! Using basic HTML and CSS your pupils will create an invitation to their party in the form of a web page. In this activity children learn how HTML formats web content and CSS styles it using age-appropriate syntax and tools.
Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan. Plus HTML tutorial for teacher and pupil support. Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative!
The Magnificent Ada Lovelace
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 (10th October 2017) 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.
How to code an Autumn leaf catching game
Goodbye summer, hello a brand new academic year. We know you’ve got plenty on your plate already with new pupils and all of the many other changes a new year brings. Make your computing lessons easier this term and use our free coding lesson: an autumnal themed falling leaf game for pupils aged 7-11 using Scratch.
Each term, I create free (seasonal) computing lessons, and I’ve written another step-by-step lesson plan and some teacher/pupil computing resources that I’m using in my computing classes and am adding to iCompute this Autumn.
Autumn is here and catching a falling leaf before it hits the ground means you get one happy day! Challenge your pupils to program sprites to catch falling autumn leaves. Catch ten and program something awesome to happen any way they know how to!
Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan. Plus program templates and partially-written programs for teacher and pupil support. Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative!
New Year, New Tech
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.
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.
Teach Controlling Physical Systems
I’ve been teaching primary robotics for some time now as part of the computing curriculum that I write for iCompute. I teach with and have produced schemes of work for robotics from EYFS to Year 6 using BeeBots, LEGO WeDo, Sphero and parrot drones to name a few.
Whilst teaching computing itself can be daunting for many teachers, the prospect of the added pressure of actual things being whizzed around classrooms through code can push many to avoid the controlling physical systems aspects of the National Curriculum for Computing altogether!
The rapid pace of advances in technology means children are growing up in an age dominated by embedded computer systems and robotics. It is crucial they have an understanding of its impact on the world and their own futures. Teachers need to be in a position to provide pupils with the level of knowledge, understanding and skills they need to live in the modern world.
Including Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM subjects) in early education provides a strong motivation for learning and an improvement in progression. Teaching robotics is a great way of connecting with children and enables schools to engage the potential engineers and computer scientists of the future.
Most curricula in primary schools cover science and mathematics, but we need to do more in teaching problem solving, computer science, design, technology and robotics.
The use of robotic systems and robotics as a subject offers an introduction to the engineering design process and sets children’s learning in a fun, meaningful, contexts. The fundamental principles of computer science are applied and made easier as models and devices can be designed, constructed, programmed and executed in front of pupil’s eyes. This makes it much easier to learn what robots can and cannot do: their capabilities and, crucially, their limitations.
We’ve recently put all of our robotics units into one primary robotics pack that covers the controlling physical systems aspects of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 (pupils aged 5-11).
I’m also including some free activities as part of our contribution to this year’s Hour of Code, adding to those already featured last year and still live. As the Hour of Code launches each year in December, I’ll be adding a nice festive twist to my teacher-led activities. Hint: Santa’s sleigh is broken but he has a drone! Here’s a sneak peek of the cover…
Check out my other blog posts for teaching tips and advice about how to manage programming physical devices with younger children. I cover:
The primary robotics pack is now available to purchase from iCompute.
How to plan a Primary Computing Scheme of Work
Many teachers are tasked with planning computing schemes of work for their schools.
Having produced many for iCompute, I know how huge and time consuming the task is. Here I share my tips about how to plan a computing scheme of work which ensures your school has a broad, balanced, rich and progressive scheme of work that will engage and challenge pupils of all abilities.
- Use free software and tools – you don’t need to buy a thing in order to meet the objectives of the computing curriculum
- Practise – helps you understand the knowledge, skills and understanding the software and tools help develop
- Look for progression – you will start to see that particular tools are suitable for specific age groups
- Look for full coverage – Computing is not just about coding
- Understand how to assess computing – know where your pupils are and where they need to go next
- Adapt – make it fit your school, staff and needs of your pupils
Read on to find out more about each stage … Continue reading
Computing Tests & Tasks
iCompute’s Computing Assessment Tests and Tasks – designed to complement our comprehensive Primary Computing Schemes of Work and existing assessment toolkit – is out now.
Developed by our author – a computer scientist and primary computer science master teacher – the tasks and tests support schools in accurately assessing attainment, pupil progress and target setting in primary computing.
For each iCompute unit for each year, we have produced an associated end of unit online diagnostic test and an end of unit assessment project. Diagnostic testing assists progression planning and helps identify gaps and/or misconceptions. The end of unit assessment projects enable teachers to check skills in computing and computational thinking. The provided answers and assessment guidance informs assessment judgements and can be fed into our interactive digital pupil progress trackers.
Our diagnostic tests match the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. They are divided into iCompute units and are intended for use following each unit to assess pupils’ knowledge, understanding and skills.
Our interactive, fun, quizzes are played online and bring a gamification aspect to assessment. Aside from being a powerful tool in measuring pupil progress, they also help increase engagement, motivation and encourage children to challenge themselves.
Forming part of our acclaimed primary computing schemes of work, our Tasks & Tests pack is available to buy from iCompute.
Good or Better Primary Computing?
Inspired by the great set of questions produced by Miles Berry – for school experience tutors to ask when observing trainee teachers in Computing – I’ve produced my own set for schools to reflect on regarding their computing provision which, hopefully, can be used to inform future plans.
The questions cover most of David Brown’s (former HMI lead for Computing) thoughts for inspecting computing – with a few tweaks!
Computing in Primary Schools
This week Lindale CE Primary School were school of the week on Lakeland Radio. Last Friday our author, Liane O’Kane, who teaches computing at Lindale (a Lead School on the Network of Excellence for Computer Science) met with Breakfast presenter Yakkers and featured on their Back to School with Yakkers segment.
The children and Liane spoke with Yakkers about Computing at Lindale Primary. Lindale teach primary computing using iCompute for Primary Schools from EYFS to Year 6 and it was lovely hearing about how much the children have been learning and enjoying their lessons.
Coding an Ice-Cream Stand Simulation/Game
The Summer term is drawing to a close, the weather is warm and you’ll no doubt have lots of activities planned to take advantage of/celebrate the weather in your classes. Let’s not forget about Computing though. Take your pupils outside if you have laptops or mobile devices and use Scratch 2.0 with your Key Stage 2 children (pupils aged 7-11) and our free lesson for summer themed primary computing with supporting resources.
It’s a great end-of term opportunity for your pupils to showcase what they have learned all year in their programming lessons.
I’ve written another step-by-step lesson plan and some teacher/pupil computing resources that I’m using and have added to iCompute to celebrate Summer. Feel free to download and use in your own classroom.
Summer time and the weather is sweet. Makes you want to make a nice cool treat… Challenge your pupils to create algorithms and program an ice-cream simulation/game.
As usual, lots of opportunities for differentiation. For instance, less able pupils could use pupil support cards (see Ice Cream stand card which is included in the pack) and/or concentrate on programming random customers and ice-cream combinations to appear.
Your more able pupils could:
- program timers, scores and lives (e.g. customers leave ‘hide’ if their order isn’t made within time limits)
- add a series of levels that become increasingly more challenging
- generate random prices within a range
- program your customers to pay
- calculate and give change
Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan. Plus program templates and partially-written programs for teacher and pupil support. Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative!
Aiming High in 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 parrot 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!
Your Pupils need YOU not just a Tutorial!
Computing has been statutory for pupils from the age of five since 2014 and many schools have risen to the challenge and are teaching some excellent computing. We’ve seen the emergence of some amazing pedagogies, tools and technologies. Many companies, myself included with iCompute, have produced a plethora of resources to help schools teach computing creatively and well. There are dozens of great software and apps that support teaching and learning – see my Periodic Table of Computing Resources for an idea of what’s out there.
I advocate the use of some coding apps; however I’m becoming increasingly concerned as I’ve noticed a worrying trend in primary schools for ‘teaching’ computing primarily through the use of software and services that are tutorial driven. I’m talking about the kind of app, software or service where children work independently through challenges or levels with on-screen prompts. I spoke to one teacher recently who went from Scratch Jr (aimed at KS1) straight on to Swift Playgrounds (aimed at Year 7, but my able UKS2’s use it) without anything between because they were the only apps she could find that didn’t need her input! Aside from the fact that there are apps that could fill that gap, it doesn’t mean they should.
There is, of course, a place for these kinds of activities in computing lessons – I produce some myself – but I fear that many teachers are adopting this as their only teaching approach and that’s bad. Why? Because they focus on one aspect of the curriculum only and teachers are using it due to a lack of confidence and subject knowledge, not because they’re enabling true self-directed learning.
In Roger Hiemstra’s (Bull, 2013) essay about self-directed learning, he proposes six roles for the teacher attempting to adopt self-directed learning approaches:
- content resource
- resource locator
- interest stimulator
- positive attitude generator
- creativity and critical thinking stimulator
- evaluation stimulator
Using mainly tutorial driven tools for computing lessons means the role of the teacher is often reduced to little more than a resource locator. A teacher’s pedagogical subject knowledge is about having a range of teaching approaches and strategies that enable them to transfer specific subject knowledge to their pupils, which includes knowledge of how to make that understandable. In other words, they still need subject knowledge. Often I’ve heard members of grass-roots organisations, who aim to encourage and support schools in computing, suggest to inexperienced teachers that it’s absolutely fine to ‘let the children get on with it’. It’s not. As with any subject we are paid to teach, we teachers need to acquire subject knowledge and, especially in the case of computing, keep it up to date. Then teach it, properly, using a range of approaches and strategies.
Teacher apathy and lack of confidence is a problem in primary computing that we need to start seriously addressing. It’s not okay to opt out or only cover aspects of it. As I’ve said before, opting out of teaching computing is like not bothering much with Maths because you find it hard. Just because some teachers do not find embracing technology an important part of their everyday lives and/or find it challenging does not mean that it can be ignored. It’s vital for the children they are legally obliged to educate.
Of course I fully understand that many primary teachers feel as if they have been dropped in it, with little in the way of training on offer. I run regular CPD in my voluntary role as a Primary Computer Science Master Teacher. Time and time again, I’m training the same passionate, enthusiastic, teachers who are (crucially) released by their schools to attend sessions. I specifically developed iCompute for inexperienced teachers – to teach the teacher as well as pupils – well in advance of the introduction of the National Curriculum in 2014, as I anticipated that this was going to be a huge leap for most and I’m passionate about my subject being taught with enthusiasm, creatively and well.
We need a shift in attitudes about teaching primary computing. It is fundamental to the lives of our children and we owe it to them to prepare them to understand and be able to fully participate in the modern digital world. Instead of searching for apps or subscribing to services that provide tutorial based lessons, we need to encourage teachers to focus on improving their subject knowledge and push for training. Only then will they have the ability to know whether those apps and services offer any value in terms of learning and progression. They will be opting in, not out.
Charlotte Dignath-van Ewijk and Greetje van der Werf, “What Teachers Think about Self-Regulated Learning: Investigating Teacher Beliefs and Teacher Behavior of Enhancing Students’ Self-Regulation,” Education Research International, vol. 2012, Article ID 741713, 10 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/741713
Bull, Bernard, “What Is The Role Of A Teacher In A Self-Directed Learning Environment? – Etale – Ideas That Matter”. Etale – Ideas that Matter. N.p., 2017. Web. 4 Apr. 2017.
For Key Stage 1
Everyone likes putting a seasonal twist on lessons during the approach to Easter and I’ve been making Easter computing lessons for my pupils to add to iCompute‘s computing scheme of work
This time, I’ve put together a step-by-step computing lesson plan and teacher resources for Key Stage 1 pupils. You can download the free Easter computing lesson and resources and use them your own classrooms for a little seasonal fun!
A spin on the Bee Bot app, this uses Scratch 2.0 and ‘BunnyBot’. The children create algorithms and program the Easter Bunny to collect Eggs.
The lesson plan contains lots of ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment
- predicting algorithms
- identifying and using repetition in programs
- programming against the clock
- comparing and improving algorithms and programs
- designing own game
Check out my other Easter computing resources for Key Stage 2 pupils.
Program the Easter Bunny with Scratch
Not long until Easter and I’m sure you’ll have lots planned for it in other subjects, but don’t forget about Computing. It’s a great end-of-term opportunity for your pupils to demonstrate what they can do with Scratch programming.
I’ve prepared a step-by-step lesson plan and some teacher/pupil computing resources that I’m using and have added to iCompute to celebrate Easter and/or Spring. Feel free to download and use in your own classroom.
It’s Easter and the Easter Bunny has forgotten where she has hidden all of her eggs. Challenge your pupils to create algorithms and program the bunny to get all of her eggs in her basket any way they know.
As usual, lots of opportunities for differentiation. For instance, less able pupils could use pupil support cards (see Egg Hunt card which is included in the pack) and/or write a more simple collecting less eggs. Your more able pupils could:
- program the ice-cream truck sprite to move across the x-axis
- program the hot-air balloon to fly
- add the Easter eggs to a list variable when collected
- add ‘enemies’ to thwart the Easter Bunny in her quest
- add extra, increasingly difficult, levels (e.g. mazes to navigate)
Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan. Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative.
Check out my free Key Stage 1 activity: programming the Easter Bunny to collect Eggs – a twist on the BeeBot app.
I recently published two new 4-6 week physical programming units to iCompute’s Key Stage 2 scheme of work; which I blogged about in my post Teach Programming with LEGO™ WeDo
I admit to a rising sense of panic as I approached my first session: young children, small LEGO parts, computers and stuff that moves! However, we’ve been having a great time and thought I’d share some of the practises I’ve found necessary to manage these very active learning lessons.
First of all, get organised before each session. I’ve found it’s much better to work on the floor to prevent bouncing bricks, so book out the school hall if you can or clear your classroom of desks. I’ve assigned each pair of pupils a LEGO WeDo Construction kit and a labelled basket for their models. I also arranged space in the classroom for a ‘robot parking lot’. Whenever I need everyone’s attention, or if we’ll be working on the same model a few weeks in a row, we park the robots in their baskets on top of the construction kit boxes. This helps keep the kits organised so that, combined, the model and the kit = a full construction kit.
You need to be really firm about pupil movement around the space you’re using with LEGO parts! I use hula-hoops placed around the hall with big gaps between them. I explain the necessity of keeping the models and construction kits within hoops to that we don’t lose the parts. The children have been great, understanding the clear rules and why we have them.
In order to work on the floor, you’ll need either laptops or tablets. If you don’t have either, the children can transport their models in their baskets (always with their kits) to the desktops; but make sure they have plenty of space between them to program and operate the models.
I used the amazing LEGO Digital Designer to put together building instructions as a basis for each of the models the children would be making and programming. Don’t worry, you won’t have to if you are an iCompute school because I’ve done all that for you. Simply print and hand out to the children. If you fancy having a go yourself, you can virtually construct a model of your choosing and then opt to create the build instructions which your can display in a web browser or print. Love it!
Whilst build instructions can be vital for some pupils, there are still plenty of opportunities for creativity for others and I allow those the freedom to design, create and program their own models with only a rough guide.
I’ve been really impressed with how well the children have responded to physical programming and how smoothly the lessons have gone. I hope some of you find my tips useful and please let me know how your lessons go.
Build and Code with LEGO™ WeDo
This week sees the launch of iCompute’s new six week programming unit for Year 3 and 4-5 week unit for Year 4 which uses LEGO™ WeDo to teach children how to program robots and models in primary computing lessons.
This helps schools address the controlling physical systems objective of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 2.
What is LEGO WeDo?
Lego WeDo is a fantastic opportunity for children to bring the physical world to life through code. They build models using the bricks they know and love and then program them interact with the world around them!
Using robotics promotes interest in science and engineering, as well as computer science and helps develop motor skills through model building. Mechanisms, built by and ultimately designed by, the pupils themselves set computer programming in a meaningful context. Children learn more quickly when a model executes a program, physically, right before them.
The robotics elements of LEGO WeDo include motors and sensors. Our new units do not require the full educational LEGO WeDo sets to be bought. Schools that already have plenty of bricks and parts can simply buy the robotics parts that will enable models to move, sense and interact with the physical world.
LEGO WeDo has two versions 1.0 and 2.0. Our units provide support for both and the principle robotic parts remain the same at their core (albeit with enhanced features for 2.0).
- The Hub: The WeDo hub connects models to your device. You can connect up to two sensors (motor, distance sensor, or tilt sensor)
- The Motor: When connected to the hub, the motor can be programmed to turn on/off. It can also be programmed to adjust power, direction and duration
- The Distance Sensor: The distance sensor can detect how far away an item is in front of it
- The Tilt Sensor: The tilt sensor detects how far it’s tilted from left to right.
You can also connect and program LEGO Power Function lights which do not come with WeDo packs as standard but can be bought on their own and connected to the hub too.
As already mentioned, you can buy the robotic parts separately if you have plenty of LEGO bricks; however it is still possible to pick up education sets of WeDo 1.0 at a fraction of the price of WeDo 2.0. Search online for LEGO™ Education WeDo Construction Set 9580 (make sure it’s the construction set you are buying). I managed to buy 6 sets of WeDo 1.0 at £70 each compared to £150 each for LEGO™ Education WeDo 2.0 Core Set 45300.
Programming LEGO™ WeDo
iCompute uses MIT’s Scratch to program models. LEGO WeDo does have it’s own software that comes as part of the kit, but I don’t feel it offers the same opportunities for enhancing physical programming through storytelling so have chosen to use Scratch instead.
There are two versions of Scratch: 1.4 and 2.0. Scratch 1.4 is an offline editor that you download and use without the need for web access. Scratch 2.0 is available as both an online and offline version. Regular readers will know that I prefer 1.4 for primary aged pupils as the interface is cleaner and the debugging options are better. Scratch 2.0 however does allow models to be connected to tablets, as well as computers. You can use both versions of WeDo with Scratch 2.0, however you need to install a device manager and extension in Scratch 2.0 for them to work.
The teacher guides contained within the unit provide comprehensive guidance on the options and their respective setups.
Using Scratch and LEGO WeDo enables pupils to create some amazing models and stories to accompany them.
What Pupils Can Do with LEGO™ WeDo and iCompute
- Programming, using software , designing and creating working models
- Using the software to acquire information
- Using feedback to adjust a programming system output
- Working with simple machines, gears, levers, pulleys, transmission of motion
- Measuring time and distance, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, estimating, randomness, using variables
- Doing narrative and journalistic writing, storytelling, explaining, interviewing, interpreting
- Design: Use STEM principles to explore Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics and design models
- Build: Improve motor function, communicate and collaborate with others in building working models and robots
- Program: Create animated stories, and program models to interact with the story & physical world
- Digital Literacy: Create factual and imaginative animations and narratives that explain, interpret and tell stories
- Test : Use physical output as feedback to to detect errors easily
- Debug: Correct errors found when models don’t behave as expected
- Evaluate: Critically analyse work and that of others and discuss what is good, or not so good, about them
- Improve: Revisit models and code then cycle through this process from ‘Design’ onward to make things better
Learning to Program with Tablets & Scratch Jr
Introduce your KS1 computing pupils to algorithms and programming in a fun, intuitive way, using Scratch Jr on tablets. I’ve put together a 6-8 week KS1 computing unit and associated teacher/pupil resources that uses Scratch Jr and am struck by just how quickly my pupils pick up some of the fundamental principles of computer science.
I based the unit around Michael Rosen’s “We Going on a Bear Hunt” to give the children’s coding context and purpose. Over the weeks the children move progressively from adding sprites and programming some basic movement to programming sprites to go a more complex journey in the form of a hunt – just like in the story. The concepts covered that I found they grasped really quickly are:
- Understanding and developing algorithms
- Programming: sequence, selection and repetition
- Computational Thinking: logical thinking; abstraction; decomposition; generalisation; recognising patterns & relationships
- Testing & Debugging
Alongside that, the children learn to work collaboratively, develop digital literacy skills as well as persistence and resilience in problem solving.
You can download our glossary of computing terms for help with any of those concepts. I’ve also created a periodic table of Scratch Jr blocks which have editable blocks use in unplugged computing activities, and some basic blank Scratch Jr blocks for cutting/sticking activities which help support learning.
There are many creative ways to plan primary computing using Scratch Jr and I’m looking forward to starting another unit for our iPad scheme of work very soon!
Get it now and get creative in your KS1 computing classrooms.