Primary Computing Glossary

Computing Glossary of Terms

We Computer Scientists like our jargon but now (due to the National Curriculum for Computing) we are teaching pupils as young as five about how computers and computer systems work; teachers need to know – and be able to explain to children – what a plethora of confusing words mean.  As Kurt Vonnegut observed “if you are going to teach, you should either teach graduate school or fourth grade… and if you can’t explain it to fourth graders, you probably don’t know what you’re talking about.

Here I’ve put together a computing glossary of terms that I hope are useful to computing teachers and are used in iCompute’s primary computing schemes of work.

iCompute Glossary

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Managing iPads in Schools

Mobile Device Management

Having recently conducted some CPD for teaching computing with iPads, some of the teachers raised the issue of how best to manage their iPads in school.

iPads are 1:1 devices and were never intended to be used on networks or alongside file management systems.  When we first introduced iPads in my school, I researched many options and found  some quite sophisticated solutions out there but they came at quite a hefty price.

I’ve attached the following guides as to how I manage the iPads in my school that can be downloaded.  They may prove useful to those who are trying to manage iPads alongside a Windows-based school network.  I’d love to hear how you are managing yours so feel free to leave comments after this post to help other schools.

MDM

Click to Download MDM Guide

File Management Guide

Click to download file management guide

 

You may also find this post useful for some of my picks for iPad apps in the primary classroom.

 

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Primary Computing Curriculum Coverage

Have you got it covered?

The primary computing curriculum has now been statutory since September 2014 with the introduction of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.  All schools should now be teaching a broad and balanced computing curriculum that provides full curriculum coverage of the aims and objectives of the National Curriculum for Computing.  But are they?

computing-covered

Think you’re “doing” Computing?

 

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iCompute with Sphero – Free Primary Computing Lesson Resources

Teach controlling physical systems

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have recently written a primary programming robotics scheme of work as part of my role as a primary computing master teacher with Computing At Schools and having been kindly loaned five Sphero.  @cas_lancaster will be lending these lesson plans and resources out as part of their equipment loan scheme and the complete unit and associated resources, assessment guidance etc, now forms part of the iCompute for iPad scheme of work.

Today, I presented at #CASLancaster16 conference about my experiences of teaching with Sphero.  Check out my posts elsewhere on this blog for tips on teaching with physical systems and visit iCompute Free Stuff to download the free robotics resources I contributed to support The Hour of Code.

Also, check out this post which is an updated version of my teaching experiences with Sphero SPRK+ Edition.

sphero cover

Visit iCompute to find out more about primary robotics

 

 

Computational Thinking Puzzles for Primary Pupils

Develop Primary Computational Thinking Skills With Puzzles

Computational Thinking Puzzle Book

Computational Thinking Puzzle Workbooks

Computational thinking is at the heart of the statutory programme of study for Computing:

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

Since the introduction of the National Curriculum for Computing in 2014, schools now teach computing from the age of 5 and have developed curricula to meet their statutory obligations; however many lack a focus on developing computational thinking skills favouring, instead, to concentrate on the programming, or coding, objectives. In this post, I discuss computational thinking in more detail and how teaching it helps children become problem solvers which is important not just in computing but is an essential life skill.

There has been much research into the benefits of puzzle-based learning. Puzzles help children develop general problem-solving and independent learning skills.

According to Badger et al. (2012) engaging in puzzles means that pupils:

  • take personal responsibility;
  • adopt novel and creative approaches, making choices;
  • develop modelling skills;
  • develop tenacity;
  • practice recognition of cases, reducing problem situations to exercises.

Additionally, in solving puzzles pupils use and apply a range of strategies that cross disciplines in entertaining and engaging ways.

So what does any of this have to do with computational thinking? By selecting the right variety and complexity of puzzles, children will independently practise and develop computational thinking skills.  Computational Thinking is about transforming a seemingly complex problem into a simple one that we know how to solve.  It involves taking a complex problem and breaking it down into a series of smaller, more manageable parts (decomposition). Each part can then be looked at individually, considering how similar problems have been solved in the past (pattern recognition), and focusing only on the important details whilst ignoring irrelevant information (abstraction). Next, 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

This will enable them to find solutions and apply those already found to different problems, in different contexts. All of this helps lay the foundations for pupils to become effective problem solvers.  Skills that are increasingly important, as discussed in this post, given the digital world we live in and the need to prepare pupils to solve as yet unknown problems using tools and technologies that do not yet exist.

ERA 2017 Award

Best Educational Book

UPDATE: iCompute’s Computational Thinking Puzzle Workbooks 1-4 have been shortlisted for prestigious ERA (Education Resource Awards) 2017 for Best Educational Book.

 

 

 

 

References:

Badger, M., Sangwin, C, J., Ventura-Medina, E., Thomas, C, R.: 2012, A Guide To Puzzle-Based Learning In Stem Subjects, University of Birmingham.

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Primary Computing with Sphero

Controlling Physical Systems – Robotics

 

As part of my role with Computing At Schools (CAS) as a Primary Computer Science Master Teacher,  I have recently been fortunate enough to teach using Sphero, having been lent a set by @cas_lancaster.  The task was to produce a set of step-by-step Sphero lesson plans and associated teacher and pupil support materials for primary teachers to use.  That is all now done and I’ve had great fun creating our new robotics unit – iCompute with Sphero – which forms part of our iPad pack , as well as being available separately.  It will be lent out to other local schools by @cas_lancaster.  Teaching progressive lessons using Spheros enables primary schools to meet a number of the objectives of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 2 Specifically:

  1. design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts
  2. use sequence, selection, and repetition in programs; work with variables and various forms of input and output
  3. use logical reasoning to explain how some simple algorithms work and to detect and correct errors in algorithms and programs
  4. select, use and combine a variety of software (including internet services) on a range of digital devices to design and create a range of programs, systems and content that accomplish given goals, including collecting, analysing, evaluating and presenting data and information
sphero cover

Visit iCompute to find out more about primary robotics

iCompute Features Flowchart

iCompute – Features Flowchart

Here, I share my experiences of using Sphero 2.0 with primary pupils and give some general advice and classroom tips about how to use them effectively, engage and challenge your pupils.  See this post which details my more recent experiences of teaching using Sphero SPRK+ edition.

What is Sphero?

Sphero is a robot ball with several features that can be controlled though apps and also includes the facility for pupils to create their own computer programs. The main features are:

  • Rolling – Sphero can roll at specified speeds and directions
  • Colours – Sphero can light up to a specified colour
  • Bluetooth – Sphero connects to mobile devices through wireless Bluetooth

Preparation

As Spheros are connected to iPads via Bluetooth, preparing to use them in your classroom before your roll up brandishing them and creating general hysteria is vital!  Make sure all are fully charged and that your have paired each to a particular tablet in advance.  Each Sphero flashes a unique sequence of colours when they are ‘woken’ which can be used to identify them.  A Sphero will appear on your tablet’s Bluetooth list using the initials of the three colours it flashes in order, Eg. Sphero-RGB for a colour sequence of Red, Green and Blue.  Update: Connecting Sphero to tablets is much easier and more reliable since Sphero SPRK+ edition has been released (which I now have and teach with).  Here, you simply hold Sphero close to your iPad to make a connection.

For Sphero 2.0, I added stickers to each of the Spheros with their unique name, as ‘YGO’, ‘RGW’ etc., and also to the corresponding tablet I’d paired it to. This made distributing them and the iPads much easier when in class.  This isn’t necessary if using SPRK+.

Environment

You need lots of space to use these.  I used the school hall.  I refer back to ‘Preparation’ for this as it may be something you need to organise. I forgot on my first session and arrived with a very excitable class to a hall full of lunch tables. The first half of my lesson therefore involved getting those out of the way.

You can also buy covers called a ‘Nubby’ for outside use.

Sphero Nubby Cover

Sphero Cover

I tried this with one of my classes and we had to come back inside as it was sunny and therefore impossible to see Sphero’s tail-light: essential to be able to aim it to move in the direction you want it to go.  Also, we had iPads and the children couldn’t see the screens.  When our school went on to buy the SPRK+ edition of Sphero, we didn’t bother buying the covers.

 Lesson Ideas

Now on to the good stuff.   My specialism is teaching primary pupils aged 3-11.  I think coding with Sphero is suitable for Key Stage 2 pupils, children aged 7-11.

I suggest your first session focus on teaching the children how to wake Sphero, Orient (aim) it and control it using the standard Sphero app. Each Sphero (2.0 version) comes with, amongst other things, a pair of ramps and once the children have got used to moving Sphero forward and backward with reasonable accuracy, add the ramps and other obstacles to make things interesting and develop accuracy further.  The SPRK+ edition, doesn’t have ramps but has tapes and measures instead.

Sphero App icon

Sphero App

A lesson, including step-by-step instructions for both teacher and pupil for this are available in our robotics pack.

iCompute with Sphero Lesson Plan

iCompute with Sphero

 

 

 

The following lessons progress to using the drive function of the Sphero Edu app enabling the children to gain greater control and begin to understand that Sphero can be controlled to perform specific actions.

I then move things on for the rest of the unit to programming Sphero using Sphero Edu.

We created quizzes that the children programmed Sphero to move and change colour to answer.  This presents great cross-curricular opportunities.  We create algorithms and program Sphero to be our dance partners for Physical Education. Also, mazes to navigate with excellent links to Mathematics for distance, direction and angle work.  The children also program Sphero to travel the globe, linking to Geography, using a free floor map from National Geographic.

Using robotics in the primary classroom presents creative and engaging opportunities for the children to extend what they have learned about algorithms and programming in Computing by understanding that physical systems can be controlled too.  With the right blend planning and imaginative resources, using Sphero’s in your classroom has the potential to inspire the next generation of software designers and systems engineers!  The possibilities are exciting…

Visit icompute-uk.com for primary computing lesson plans.

Primary Computing Assessment

How to Assess Primary Computing

Summary

  1. Evidence – Use e-Portfolios such as SeeSaw or maintain individual folders on the school network for each pupil to contain digital work
  2. Teacher Feedback – Face-to-face or using digital ‘marking’ strategies such as adding text comments in digital work or adding audio of your comments
  3. Self/Peer – Blogging, Vlogging or Video Screencasting provides excellent opportunities for pupils to reflect on work
  4. Diagnostic Testing – Creative online interactive quizzes (e.g. Kahoot) provide engaging opportunities to assess pupil understanding and bring a gamification aspect to assessment
  5. Assessment Projects – Using end-of-unit open-ended project tasks allow pupils to demonstrate learning
  6. Progress Tracking – Understanding where pupils are and planning next steps to meet age-related expectations

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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) enable pupils to get active and understand abstract concepts. 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

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.

CT Poster

Click to download the poster

Fundamentally, Computational Thinking is about transforming a seemingly complex problem into a simple one that we know how to solve.  It involves taking a complex problem and breaking it down into a series of smaller, more manageable parts (decomposition). Each part can then be looked at individually, considering how similar problems have been solved in the past (pattern recognition), and focusing only on the important details whilst ignoring irrelevant information (abstraction). Next, 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

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 cross curricular computing

cross curricular computing

Authentic cross curricular links

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.  It supports teachers with step-by-step cross curricular computing lesson plans and cross curricular computing resources.

We’ve put together some free cross curricular computing resources for embedding computing in other subjects.  Visit: www.icompute-uk.com/news/cross-curricular-computing-resources/

Visit www.icompute-uk.com to find out more about our highly acclaimed primary computing schemes of work.  iCompute is used by thousands of teachers around the world and features on BBC Bitesize for Primary Computing and the Hour of Code (code.org).

References:

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

 

Primary Computing Podcast Resources

Computing and History – Podcast Support

I’m writing a cross-curricular computing scheme of work and one of the best parts of doing that is creating the resources to support the step-by-step lesson plans.

Here are some free resources that I created to embed Computing within History by creating a podcast of an interview with a child evacuated during World War 2.  The materials for using Audacity to edit audio, add backing tracks, effects etc. support pupils’ podcasting and the guide for conducting an interview help pupils construct open questions.

Could easily be applied elsewhere within the curriculum.  Check out the other free resources on my Blog and enjoy!  Our cross-curricular scheme of work (iCompute Across the Curriculum) is coming soon – find out more here

Interview tips for a podcast

Click to download

Support for using Audacity to podcast

Click to download

 

iCompute Finalist for The BETT Awards 2016

iCompute Shortlisted as Finalist for The BETT Awards 2016

iPad image

iCompute Lite for iPad

BETT Finalist 2016Brilliant day at the office as the first ever ‘Tap-and-Teach’ app for primary computing developed by iCompute has been shortlisted as a finalist in the prestigious BETT Awards 2016.

The BETT Awards celebrate innovation in technology and education as well as recognise, reward and promote excellence.  They are regarded as one of the highest accolades in the industry.  The selected finalists have been chosen by a panel of independent teachers and educationalists and are recognised as ‘best of breed’ amongst the sector.

Debbie French, portfolio director at i2i Events Group for Bett and the Bett Awards, says: “The 2016 awards highlight the most effective and pioneering companies and solutions in education, and all finalists are to be applauded for their contribution to education. This year’s awards have seen an incredibly competitive cohort of entries, and we hear that the judging process to select the finalists was challenging in the best possible way. This is testimony to the world-class level of innovation in the education supplies industry, and it is a true pleasure to recognise these companies for their excellence.”

Liane O’Kane, Director of iCompute said :  “We are thrilled to be shortlisted again this year for another of our ground-breaking primary computing products.  We lead the way in providing educational products and materials that support schools in creatively teaching primary computing.  As an organisation that passionately believes in engaging all children in the creative use of technology in education, we work hard to ensure that schools have high-quality support and resources to teach computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.  Our iPad app puts these resources at teacher’s fingertips.”

 

iCompute Lite icon

Click/Tap to find out more

Download on the App Store

Ada Lovelace – I Look Like An Engineer

iCompute Author Liane O'Kane

iCompute’s Liane O’Kane marks Ada Lovelace Day with #iLookLikeAnEngineer

I’m not cut out to be a participant in online social media campaigns.  I’m a Computer Scientist and a teacher.  Case in point: I’m having a touch of  angst about a selfie I posted on Twitter yesterday to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day.  I’m now wondering whether I’ve addressed sexism in the technology industry or perpetuated it?

Being a graduate of computing science in the 90’s where I was one only one of three women in my year and now as a teacher of computing, I was thrilled to see that #AdaLovelaceDay was trending on Twitter yesterday.  I had just written a computing unit for primary pupils featuring her contribution to history as the worlds first computer programmer as part of my primary computing scheme of work.  I then saw that it was being celebrated by thousands of women around the world in technology/science/engineering/maths posting photographs of themselves at work with the hashtag #iLookLikeAnEngineer.  I joined the many women keen to dispel the stereotype of what constitutes an engineer – in my case a software engineer – by adding my photo.

All good.  Except that I then spotted the BBC headline “‘Too hot to be an engineer’ – Women mark Ada Lovelace day”.  The connotations of that headline and my contribution marking Ada Lovelace Day did not sit at all comfortably.  Some posts on Twitter, by women, added to my unease: asking whether women posting images of themselves inevitably focused the conversation towards looks, thus perpetuating perceptions of women in technology.  True, if that’s what is is about.  But it’s not.  Note the quotes in the headline – ‘Too hot to be an engineer’.  That is a comment made by male colleagues to a female software engineer after she took part in a promotional campaign for her company.  To put it diplomatically, they questioned whether her image fit that of a ‘typical’ engineer and suggested that people would find it unlikely that she was one.  The Twitter campaign, #iLookLikeAnEngineer, has taken flight because women working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) want the world to see that women are engineers – in my case a software engineer.

I’m not interested in showing men that I’m an engineer because I have never, in all my many years in the computing industry, encountered what I would call sexism.  I’ve never missed out on a job, had my contributions dismissed nor been promoted because I’m a women.  I’ve been mistaken for the tea lady in meetings but I didn’t get hysterical about it – I simply spoke with some authority on my subject and they no longer expected a milk with two sugars.  I’ve also been asked, when taking notes, if I was writing a shopping list for making my husband’s dinner. That was a joke and I laughed.  We women need to lose the silicone chip on our shoulders.  They’re not out to get us and we’re not posting pictures of ourselves to look good.

I participated in the campaign because I’m a teacher and I want more girls to take STEM subjects.  I want girls to know that they won’t be the first woman in technology (thank you Ada Lovelace) and that there are lots of us out there continuing to make a contribution. A contribution that we’d love them to be a part of.  So girls, here is what an engineer looks like:

Primary Algorithms outdoors

#iLookLikeAnEngineer

girls with ipads

#iLookLikeAnEngineer

Girls outside with iPads

#iLookLikeAnEngineer

Girls outside with iPads

#iLookLikeAnEngineer

Girls with iPads

#iLookLikeAnEngineer

primary algorithms

#iLookLikeAnEngineer

Primary Computing Keywords Poster

Computing Keywords Classroom Display

Primary Computing Keywords Poster

Click to download

Download iCompute’s free primary computing keywords classroom display poster.

Also use our teacher guide for computing  terms which is available here.

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iCompute for iPad app – teaching resources at your finger tips

iCompute iPad Apps

Click to find out more

At this time of year, with the gorgeous weather we’ve been having throughout the UK, it’s not hard to see the benefits of teaching primary computing with iPads.

One of the main advantages that my pupils point out about iPads over pcs/laptops is that you can pick them up and carry them around.  So carry them around we have throughout this summer term.  I’ve been teaching from our iPad pack and taking our computing lessons outside.

children with ipads

Taking computing learning outside

Teaching our iPad units just got easier with the launch of our iCompute for iPad apps that now also sell as individual year groups on the App Store.

I can now tap and share resources like pupil support materials and worksheets using AirDrop, play our video screencasts and model how to use the programming apps on the interactive whiteboard using AirPlay.  Our teaching resources are now literally at my fingertips.  All I need is my iPad, iCompute for iPad and appropriate programming apps and I’m good to go.  Anywhere.

children with ipads

Fun in the sun

The possibilities are limitless and I’m so enthused by the success of teaching computing using iPads that I’m currently developing a new product – iCompute Across the Curriculum.  This will help consolidate the children’s learning in computing, allow them to practice their skills and enhance other areas of the curriculum.

For now though, the children are enjoying the great outdoors and creating some fantastic apps to compliment their forthcoming sports days.  Fingers crossed the weather plays ball!

 

Find out more about our whole-school scheme of work and iPad packs at http://www.icompute-uk.com

iPad Apps for Primary Computing

Primary Computing

with iPads

Pupils using iPad Apps

Maximise the potential of iPads in your classroom

With the introduction of the new primary computing curriculum in September 2014 and Ofsted inspection guidance emphasising the need to use mobile technologies in classrooms, more primary schools than ever now have iPads.

One question I get asked frequently as a primary computer science master teacher and author of iCompute, a primary computing scheme of work, is how best  teachers and schools can make full use of their iPads to, not only teach computing discretely, but also to embed it in other subject areas.

The list is by no means exhaustive and will be ever changing, but I’ve put together a document you can download and use outlining what I consider to be some of the best iPad apps around  the moment that offer potential for enhancing and enriching teaching and learning in primary computing and embedding it throughout the curriculum.

I’ve also cross-referenced the apps against the three areas of primary computing – Digital Literacy, Information Technology and Computing and highlighted which our iPad Pack use explicitly for structured half-termly units of work with step-by-step lesson plans and pupil worksheets/support materials.

Primary Computing iPad Apps

Click to download

I’m developing new schemes at the moment aimed at enhancing teaching and learning using iPads across other subject areas.

Coming soon will be the first in a series, iInvestigate, providing units for engaging, practical, primary science investigations that also use iPads and some brilliant iPad apps.

 

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Computing in the Early Years Foundation Stage

Computing in the EYFS – Early Years Foundation Stage

EYFS Computing

BETT Awards 2018

Introducing Computing in the Early Years Foundation Stage. Ideas for activities & continuous provision incl. assessment. Creative EYFS computing lesson plans & resources.

This post has now been superseded by an updated version – Computing in the Early Years Foundation Stage.  Click the link or the image below to visit the new version, which gives more details about the benefits of introducing children to computing early and has further details about our computing in the EYFS scheme.

eyfs-computing

Click to visit updated post

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Teach primary computing with iPads

iCompute for iPad

Teach primary computing with iPads

Our best-selling iPad pack is now available in the Cloud!

Instant access to comprehensive lesson plans and all the resources schools need to teach primary computing using the very latest apps with iPads.

We have big plans for our iPad pack and will soon be adding a new pack – iInvestigate – step-by-step lesson plans and resources for enhancing Primary Science using iPads.