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.”
Assessment presents particular challenges for computing and many schools have not yet addressed how to accurately assess pupil progress and provide evidence of it. Let’s see what David Brown, former HMI Ofsted’s National Lead for Computing, had to say about computing in schools.
Mr Brown’s message is overwhelmingly that of outcomes with no specific advice about how to achieve them. Having taught Computing in primary schools since 2013 and developed a comprehensive computing assessment toolkit for iCompute, I have found that the time required to cover the programmes of study for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 is one hour of computing each week for Years 1-6, coupled with cross-curricular work to practise and consolidate skills in other subjects.
How to Assess Primary Computing – Summary
Evidence – Use e-Portfolios such as SeeSaw or maintain individual folders on the school network for each pupil to contain digital work
Teacher Feedback – Face-to-face or by using digital ‘marking’ strategies such as adding text comments in digital work or adding audio of your comments
Self/Peer – Blogging, Vlogging or Video Screencasting provides excellent opportunities for pupils to reflect on work
Diagnostic Testing – Creative online interactive quizzes (e.g. Kahoot) provide engaging opportunities to assess pupil understanding and bring a gamification aspect to assessment
Assessment Projects – Using end-of-unit open-ended project tasks allow pupils to demonstrate learning
Progress Tracking – Understanding where pupils are and planning next steps to meet age-related expectations