Primary Computing with Sphero SPRK+

Coding with Sphero SPRK+ and Sphero Edu

 

This post follows on from a previous post detailing my experiences of teaching primary computing, coding with Sphero 2.0.  Following the successful loan of Sphero 2.0 from Lancaster University as part of my role as a Computing at Schools Primary Computer Science Master Teacher, my school bought a class set of Sphero SPRK+ to support teaching primary computing and use elsewhere across the curriculum.

The Sphero SPRK+ Edition is aimed at the education sector and includes the same sensors and electronics as Sphero 2.0 but, unlike the white shell, the clear polycarbonate material brings pupils closer to the robotic action. Children can immediately see the connection between the programs they create and how the insides of Sphero work and react.  Powered by Sphero Edu app, pupils can learn programming using drag-and-drop blocks and progress to coding using JavaScript.  I really like how making connections between the visual programming language (the blocks) and its text equivalent is literally at pupils finger tips: with just a tap, they can see how the block of code they are using is written in JavaScript code.  That’s great for progression in computer science.

Sphero Edu

Tap to see blocks written in JavaScript

 

 

Sphero SPRK+ is certainly more stable than Sphero 2.0.  Because they are equipped with Bluetooth SMART technology they are much easier to connect to devices and, thankfully, don’t require any of pairing and labelling that I needed to do with Sphero 2.0 for classroom management. Here, connections are made between your device and the robot simply by tapping them together.  That said, do check your devices are compatible with SPRK+ as they need Bluetooth 4.0 LE to work.  I found out only seven of our iPads at school work with my new set.  Luckily, we only have six Sphero but it could have been a very costly mistake!

Sphero SPRK+ has lights, sound and voice.  I made links to the work we had been doing in cryptography (iCompute, Year 5, iCrypto) studying Morse Code by using Sphero’s strobe blocks to flash lights representing the dits and dahs of letters in secret messages (changing colours between letters to make decoding easier).  For the solutions, the children then added speak blocks after each sequence of Morse code, which said verbally what the letters were.

Another great feature of the Sphero Edu app is being able to easily see (and export to other apps) Sphero’s live sensory data.  This is brilliant for cross curricular work, particularly maths and science.  Sphero is packed with sensors — gyroscope, accelerometer, location, etc… Pupils can see the real time value of sensors within Sphero Edu with visual graphs.  If you throw Sphero like a ball, pupils will see the accelerometer data rise and fall. Similarly, when they construct a maze, they can use the data to track location, distance, and speed.

Sphero Protractor

Click to download

Last, but not least, Sphero Edu with Sphero SPRK+ includes a Program Cam feature which allows pupils to take a videos or images of programs while they’re running. Pupils can narrate what they’re created, demonstrate their learning (and ultimately mastery) and share their work with a wider audience.

Pupils naturally love working with Sphero, they think they’re playing. Under the guise of play, they’re actually learning invaluable programming skills alongside learning about everything from physics to art!  That’s learning at its best.  The SPRK+ edition, combined with the Sphero Edu app, brings so much more to the table to support teaching and learning – particularly in STEM subjects.  They’re expensive but with the right blend planning and imaginative resources, using Sphero SPRK+ in your school can extend to all areas of the curriculum.

Ready to roll?  The possibilities are exciting!

Our school purchased six Sphero SPRK+ at full price.  I have produced lesson plans and resources for iCompute that use Sphero 2.0 and Sphero SPRK+ but am in no way affiliated with Sphero Inc.

 

sphero cover

Visit iCompute to find out more about primary robotics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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

George Boole – Primary Computing Resource

Biography for children – 200th birthday of ‘founder of Computer Science’ George Boole

Download our free biography of George Boole for primary aged pupils.  This works really well with our Binary Beads unit in iData which is available free as part of our contribution to this year’s Hour of Code.

The children encode their first names using binary and then make bracelets using coloured beads, where one colour represents zero and another represents one.

This resource will also soon form part of a computing and history unit in our forthcoming cross-curricular computing pack – iCompute Across The Curriculum.  Download the free lesson and associated materials from our Hour of Code page.

George Boole biography for kids

Click image to download the biography – for the associated lesson plan, visit www.icompute-uk.com/hoc

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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BBC micro:bit – Will it diversify computing and inspire the next generation?

BBC micro:bit

The micro:bit

The BBC have a track record in leading the way in technology and innovation.  I have much thank them for.  By providing my school with a BBC microcomputer in the 1980’s it provided me access to a new and exciting discipline that I was to be immersed in from that day to this – Computing Science.  Because of inspirational teaching at secondary school I studied computing at O & A Level and as my first degree before retraining to be a primary teacher.

The BBC’s latest move is to provide every year 7 schoolchild with their newest innovation – the micro:bit.  As part of their Make it Digital initiative and in collaboration with a number of others, the main aim is to inspire the next generation of ‘coders’ with the hope of bridging the huge skills gap we face in the forthcoming years and diversify computer science by appealing to girls.  But will it achieve those laudable aims or create it’s own set of problems?

I, more than most, am aware of the stereotypes associated with computer scientists.  Geeks and nerds.  Oh, and mainly male.  I’m proud to dispel most of them – I think!  But I am female (was one of two in my university year) and I have taught both genders computing for longer than most as I introduced it before it became statutory.  I feel I’m qualified to comment on what inspires and motivates both boys and girls in becoming digital creators rather than consumers.  The thing is, I’m not sure this is it.

In a previous post about a similar device, the Raspberry Pi, I expressed my concerns about introducing bare board computers to primary children.  Thankfully, the partnership behind the micro:bit favoured year 7 children over the proposed year 5’s so the issues I have with the fragility of such devices do not necessarily apply with that age group.  I have other concerns though.  Firstly, the devices are going directly to the children.  They can take them home, investigate, explore and keep forever.  Or – as I fear is more likely without some speedy training and resources in place – not.  Some are going to teachers just before they are given to the pupils in October, during the summer.  So that teachers can have a poke around and play using the supporting website and wealth of resources that will be up and running during the summer too at www.microbit.co.uk.  Summer?  Teachers?

Then there’s my worry that, well, they’re just not that interesting to children.  Remember, today’s 11&12 year olds have incredibly powerful computers on them most of the time that do really great things already – without having to add bits to them: their smartphones and tablets.  There’s a danger that handing them a device (without exploring their potential beforehand) that, on the surface, does nothing will see them gathering dust on the bookshelf – next to that book their mum said was a ‘must read’.  I can’t see children engaging in self-directed learning with them.  Sinead Rocks, Head of BBC Learning, stated here that ‘We happily give children paint brushes when they’re young, with no experience – it should be exactly the same with technology’.  Most though, I’m afraid, don’t go on to be the next Monet.  To me, it’s like suggesting we give kids a bunsen burner each, minus the gas and chemicals, and see how many of them get into chemistry.  Interest and talent needs inspiring, nurturing and, arguably, directing.  Budding computer scientists need, as I did, someone to inspire and engage and I’m not sure that hardware is that inspiring or engaging – especially to girls.  In my experience, without wishing to generalise, girls are less interested in the engineering of devices than in how the software that sits on them can be engineered in creative and expressive ways.

The micro:bit has a lot of competition on its hands for children’s attention in the digital world we live in but I’m confident it has it’s part to play in computing classrooms.  I’m just not sure it’ll make it into them after they’ve been given to the children.  Teachers are already grappling with a subject few of them have been adequately been trained to teach and the micro:bit risks creating further fear and panic.  The BBC and its partners are to be applauded for their efforts in resourcing and promoting a subject I am passionate about. I would have preferred they be given to schools, backed up with a fully developed, creative, curriculum and robust training that would allow the people we pay to teach computing to do so with confidence and, above all, enthusiasm!

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

iCompute launch iPad app on the App Store

iCompute for iPad

Click to view on the App Store

iCompute, the digital computing scheme of work for primary schools, is proud to announce the launch of its iPad app on the App Store this week.

iCompute for iPad is a digital primary computing scheme of work matched to the algorithms and programming objectives of the 2014 National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.  Designed and authored by a computer scientist and primary computer science master teacher, it provides step-by-step lesson plans and all the materials schools needs to teach primary computing creatively and with confidence from Year 1 to Year 6 using iPads.  iCompute has been specifically designed to teach the teacher, as well as the pupils, with innovative and engaging activities that use the very latest tools and technologies.

Liane O’Kane, founder and author of iCompute comments: “We are so pleased that our iPad app is now available on the App Store. As a leader in providing innovative digital educational curricula and materials, it’s fantastic that teaching primary computing using iPads just got easier for schools.  We were the first UK company to provide a primary computing scheme of work and lead the way in providing innovative, engaging and challenging teaching materials and resources that improve teaching and learning in computing.  Our iPad app is the first of many to come. Watch this space for our forthcoming, fab, programming app for Key Stage 1!”

For more information, please visit www.icompute-uk.com or

Download on the App Store

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.

 

Article in the Westmorland Gazette about iCompute

 

iCompute in the news

Click above to go to the website or read the article in full below

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Computing scheme is up for an award

A SCHEME which has helped teachers across the world cope with a shift in the national curriculum is up for a prestigious award.

Designed by Liane O’Kane, a computer scientist and teacher at Lindale CE Primary School, iCompute provides step-by-step lesson plans and all the materials schools needs to teach ICT creatively and with confidence from Year One to Year Six.

It launched six months ago and has been taken on by schools across the UK and in many international schools, as far afield as the Middle East, Asia and North America.

And now the product has been shortlisted as a finalist in the BETT Awards 2015 in the ‘Primary Digital Content’ and ‘Best Whole Course Subject Curriculum Resource’ categories.

“We are thrilled to have been shortlisted for two, much coveted, Bett Awards, which are considered to be the highest accolade in the industry,” said Ms O’Kane, a computer science graduate from Newcastle University who has also worked as a software engineer for blue-chip companies.

“We knew that teaching computing as part of the National Curriculum would prove a challenge for many schools because the vast majority of primary teachers have never been trained to teach it.

“So we developed iCompute specifically to support teachers who are not specialists in computing. We’re delighted it has resulted in schools feeling more confident about teaching computing in creative, engaging and challenging ways.

“We’re proud that, as finalists in two categories, our expertise and innovation in computing teaching and learning has been recognised. Thank you to all the teachers and pupils who provided valuable feedback, which helped us achieve this.”

Moving away from the previous ICT curriculum, which focused primarily on children’s ability to use technology, the new curriculum is designed to equip children with the knowledge, skills and understanding of computing that they will require throughout their lives.

The winners will be announced at the annual dinner, hosted by comedian Josh Widdecombe, at The Brewery in London on January 21.

For more information visit www.icompute-uk.com.

iCompute Finalist in two Bett Awards 2015

iCompute shortlisted for two BETT 2015 Awards

iCompute celebrate

iCompute finalists for two BETT Awards – 2015

iCompute, the digital computing scheme of work for primary schools, is proud to announce being shortlisted for the ‘Primary Digital Content’ and ‘Best Whole Course Subject Curriculum Resource’ BETT Awards 2015 for its whole-school and iPad computing scheme of work.

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Primary Computing – Model Computing Policy

Computing Policy

iCompute Model Computing Policy

Click to download

With the introduction of the National Curriculum for Computing at KS1 and KS2, we’ve had requests from many schools using iCompute’s Primary Computing schemes of work to provide a model computing policy for them to adapt and use in their school.

 

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Primary Computing – Classroom Tips and Advice

computing lcassThe new primary computing curriculum becomes statutory in September with the introduction of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.  Primary schools are now beginning to think seriously about, not only how to teach this new subject, but what it means for them in practical terms.  I’m being asked lots of questions in the run-up to its introduction, the most common, aside from improving subject knowledge, being: Should it be taught in a cross-curricular way or discretely?  How long for?  What about new hardware/software?  How will they cope with pupil support?

I’ve been teaching computing to primary children for a long time and here are some of my tips for what you will (and won’t) need; along with advice on how to manage your class and some possible teaching techniques you could use when you start teaching computing in September.

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Primary Computing – A Teacher Guide for Mozilla Thimble

Mozilla Thimble

Create and share your own webpages with Mozilla Thimble

As part of my role as a primary computer science master teacher, I train teachers on how to teach the new primary computing curriculum.

When covering networks, the internet and the world wide web, I can’t wait to introduce teachers to the delights of Mozilla X-Ray Goggles (which everyone loves!) and basic web page creation using Mozilla Thimble: an online HTML editor.

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The Primary Computing Curriculum – You Go Girls!

girls computing

Computing is not just for boys

One of the reasons the new primary computing curriculum is being introduced is to address the issue that far fewer girls than boys study computer science in further and higher education and are therefore under-represented in industry.  There’s a perception that computer science is a bit of a boys subject and various laudable, although I feel somewhat patronising, efforts to ‘get girls coding’ usually take the form of designing activities that play to stereotypes: dressing up etc.  I’ve been teaching primary computing for a long time now and I’ve yet to have a single girl not be engaged in my lessons; although I do accept that this could largely be influenced by the fact that it is me teaching them.  And I’m about as girlie as you can get.  It’s difficult to judge which question I get stopped and asked most about in school – ‘Are we doing computing today?’ or ‘Where did you get your shoes?’

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Primary Computing – ‘Holding Back the Years’ Fears

Worried Computing Teacher

Worried your pupils will be ahead of you in computing?

The new National Curriculum for Computing at KS1 and KS2 is, arguably, one of the few subjects that primary teachers fear their pupils will know more about than themselves.

A question I frequently get asked is ‘How do you cope when the children know more than you do’?  As a Computer Scientist, it takes a lot to out-geek me but I know many teachers feel they have no hope of keeping ahead of the children they will be teaching.

There’s no need to.  Children seemingly racing ahead with what look like quite sophisticated software and systems is no guarantee of them making progress in computing; because you’re teaching them much more than just programming.  Here are a few tips on how to facilitate learning in computing whilst not holding your pupils back.

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