Coding Drones

Aiming High in Computing

Drone Lesson Plans

Aim High in Primary Computing

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

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

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

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

Children learn how to program 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!

Drone Lesson Plans

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

 

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Easter Computing – Programming an Egg Hunt

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.

Easter Egg Hunt

Click to download the plan and resources

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.

Easter Scratch Program

Easter Egg Hunt Support Card

Pupil Support Card

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.

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Computing with LEGO™ WeDo – Classroom Tips

Physical Programming

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.

pupils-with-lego

Organisation is key!

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!

LEGO Build Instructions

Build Instructions for LEGO WeDo

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.

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Teach Programming LEGO™ WeDo with iCompute

Build and Code with LEGO™ WeDo

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.

Robotic Parts

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

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Developing Computational Thinking

Preparing The Next Generation of Problem Solvers

computational thinking puzzles

Computational Thinking Puzzles

iCompute’s computational thinking puzzles for primary pupils are a ground-breaking new development in primary education. In the digital age, the benefits of computational thinking throughout education are increasingly being highlighted. Our, colourful, engaging and challenging puzzles are designed for children aged 7-11 to independently practise and develop the fundamental computational thinking skills that lie at the heart of the National Curriculum for Computing:

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

Computational Thinking is about transforming a seemingly complex problem into a simple one that we know how to solve.  This involves the use of abstraction, decomposition and generalisation when approaching tasks to remove unnecessary detail, split it into manageable parts and build on solutions we have used before.  Finding solutions involves spotting patterns and using logical reasoning – applying rules to find solutions, eg. if this happens then I need to do that, otherwise I need to do this…  Once we have a working solution, we then use evaluation to analyse it and ask – Is it any good ? Can it be improved? How?

Teaching computational thinking is not teaching children how to think like a computer.  Computers cannot think.  Computers are stupid.  Everything computers do, people make happen.  It’s also not teaching children how to compute.  It’s developing the knowledge, skills and understanding of how people solve problems.  As such, it absolutely should not be confined to computing lessons and should be used throughout the curriculum to approach and solve problems and communicate and collaborate with others.

Our puzzles help develop the fundamental computational thinking skills of decomposition, abstraction, generalisation and developing algorithms. This means children can find solutions and apply those already found to different problems, in different contexts. All of this helps lay the foundations for them to become effective problem solvers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

All four books are now also available in one complete workbook, on Amazon:

Computational Thinking Puzzle Workbook: Ages 7-11

Click for Amazon Complete Workbooks

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Digital Literacy and Primary Blogging

Developing Digital Literacy by Blogging with Primary Children

primary blogging

A Powerful Tool for Developing Digital Literacy

Blogging is a powerful tool for developing digital literacy in primary schools. It provides a responsive community-driven environment that gives pupil’s writing a voice, an audience and a platform.  When children share their world and their thoughts through writing, they understand how connected people are. They learn from each other, challenge one other, question and receive feedback.

My pupils love blogging and I often use it as a way to engage my reluctant writers.  See below some of the comments the children wrote about blogging in my classes.

love-conversation-1

blog-comment

When pupils know they have a genuine audience for their writing, especially when its other children, I see both an increase in motivation and in product; which in turn helps me more accurately assess their work.

To help other schools introduce primary blogging into their classrooms, I’ve developed six new units for iCompute primary computing scheme of work.  iBlog contains step-by-step primary blogging lesson plans and associated resources.  Existing iCompute Online schools have access to all new units at no additional cost.

I’ve also put together a free infographic about the benefits of blogging with primary children that you can download here.

primary blogging

Click to download

Primary Computing and Digital Literacy

Digital Literacy in Primary Schools

Digital Literacy

Teaching Digital Literacy

Now that Computing has been statutory in primary schools since the introduction of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 in 2014, many schools feel that they have got to grips with the objectives and have a view, if not a plan, of how to meet them.  With computer science being at the core of the curriculum, its perhaps easy for schools to neglect the other aspects of it – including digital literacy.

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eSafety – Checking the Reliability of Websites

Primary Computing eSafety

I’m writing a new six week unit for our primary computing scheme of work for Year 2 children about creating multimedia eBooks and thought I’d share one of the resources I’ve created for eSafety.  Most children, and many adults, think that the first result returned from a search engine is the best and likely to be reliable.

As I detail in this post, I make eSafety part of everyday discussion with my pupils and advise the teachers I train and schools using iCompute to do the same.  Feel free to use the attached resource with your pupils to help them develop a little healthy skepticism about the information available on websites.

eSafety Do's & Don'ts

Click to Download

 

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

Click to Open/Download

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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.  Here is the free programming unit that CAS Lancaster included in their USB Key given to all delegates.

Sphero Cover

Click to download free Sphero resources

 

 

Cross Curricular Computing Resources

Enrich learning with a cross curricular approach to primary computing

CT Poster

Click to download the poster

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 a blend of rigorous, discrete, subject teaching and equally effective cross-curricular links.  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.

I have put together a selection of free resources and links to others to help teachers get started with ideas and inspiration for enriching learning and exploring computing through a rich variety of media and technologies in cross-curricular contexts.

cross curricular computational thinking

Click to download poster

Computational Thinking

http://icomp.site/cthink

 

 

 

 

Cross Curricular computing

Click to Download

Free Cross-Curricular Computing Planning

http://icomp.site/xc (Download)

 

 

 

 

Cross Curricular Podcasting

Podcasting

Podcasting

http://icomp.site/podcast

 

 

 

 

cross curricular CT Diary

Click to Download

Free Computational Thinking Diary

http://icomp.site/diary (Download)

 

 

 

 

Cross curricular QR Codes

QR Codes enable mobile learning

QR Codes in the Classroom

http://icomp.site/qr

 

 

 

 

Cross curricular Robotics

Robotics

Robotics

http://icomp.site/spherolessons

 

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
iCompute Lesson Plans with Sphero Cover

iCompute with Sphero

iCompute Features Flowchart

iCompute – Features Flowchart

Here, I share my experiences of using Spheros with primary pupils and give some general advice and classroom tips about how to use them effectively, engage and challenge your pupils.

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.

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.

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.

 Lesson Ideas

Now on to the good stuff.   My specialism is teaching primary pupils aged 5-11.  I think Spheros are 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 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.

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 progresses to using the Sphero Draw N’ Drive 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 Tickle.

Tickle App Icon

Tickle

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.

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.

This involves the use of abstraction, decomposition and generalisation when approaching tasks to remove unnecessary detail, split it into manageable parts and build on solutions we have used before.

Finding solutions involves spotting patterns and using logical reasoning – applying rules to find solutions, eg. if this happens then I need to do that, otherwise I need to do this…  Once we have a working solution, we then use evaluation to analyse it and ask – Is it any good ? Can it be improved? How?

Teaching computational thinking is not teaching children how to think like a computer.  Computers cannot think.  Computers are stupid.  Everything computers do, people make happen.  It’s also not teaching children how to compute.  It’s developing the knowledge, skills and understanding of how people solve problems.  As such, it absolutely should not be confined to computing lessons and should be used throughout the curriculum to approach and solve problems and communicate and collaborate with others.

Search our blog for our free cross-curricular computing resources and try six free units from our cross-curricular computing scheme.

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

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

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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