Sphero Edu Commands Helpsheet

Sphero Commands Helpsheet

Regular readers of this blog will know that I teach primary computing and have recently added a Primary Robotics scheme of work to iCompute.  Part of this scheme involves working with Sphero and programming the robotic balls using Sphero Edu.  To help avoid repetitive strain injury by double tapping each block to find out what each command does, I’ve produced this handy Sphero Commands Helpsheet.

Download to get rolling with Sphero and Sphero Edu.

Sphero Commands Helpsheet

Download

 

Computing Pedagogy

for Computing Mastery

Since the introduction to National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 in England 2014, it has been a child’s statutory entitlement to a computing education from the age of 5. There have been many challenges along the way since 2014 for primary teachers, not least, due to the subject being introduced throughout schools where the vast majority of teachers had never been trained to teach it.

Despite a number initiatives to improve teacher subject knowledge, notably driven by Computing At Schools (CAS) and the Network of Excellence (a grass-roots organisation I represent as a Computer Science Master Teacher) the Computing Education Project Report (The Royal Society, 2017) – exploring the issues facing computing in schools – concludes that computing education across the UK is ‘patchy and fragile’. There is much to address in a system where many teachers do not feel confident teaching the subject and are in need of significant support.

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Coding Apps – Free Computing Lesson Plan

Coding Apps with a Text-based Programming Language

I’ve been busy writing lots of new units for iCompute this term and, during my research, came across the fabulous coding apps resource – Bitsbox.  Bitsbox uses a simplified version of Javascript, and provides tools that enable pupils to develop their own apps.

coding apps

Free Lesson Plan & Resources

It’s a great stepping stone from the blocks-based languages and environments your pupils may have already mastered (Eg. Scratch, App Inventor, Tynker etc) on to text-based languages.

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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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Easter Computing Activity

For Key Stage 1

Everyone likes putting a seasonal twist on lessons during the approach to Easter and I’ve been making Easter computing lessons for my pupils to add to iCompute‘s computing scheme of work

This time, I’ve put together a step-by-step computing lesson plan and teacher resources for Key Stage 1 pupils.  You can download the free Easter computing lesson and resources and use them your own classrooms for a little seasonal fun!

A spin on the Bee Bot app, this uses Scratch 2.0 and ‘BunnyBot’.  The children create algorithms and program the Easter Bunny to collect Eggs.

Easter Computing Lesson

BunnyBot

Easter computing lesson plan

Click to download lesson & resources

The lesson plan contains lots of ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment

  • predicting algorithms
  • identifying and using repetition in programs
  • programming against the clock
  • comparing and improving algorithms and programs
  • designing own game

Check out my other Easter computing resources for Key Stage 2 pupils.

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Cross Curricular Computing Lesson Plans

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

Free Cross-Curricular Computing Planning

http://www.icompute-uk.com/hoc

 

 

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://www.icompute-uk.com/hoc

 

 

Visit www.icompute-uk.com to find out more about our highly acclaimed comprehensive primary computing schemes of work and cross curricular computing pack.

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Free Valentines Day Coding Lesson

Valentines Day – Spreading the Love with Code!

 

Valentines Day

Click to download

Play and code this Valentines day with our free coding activity: a romantic themed Cupid game for pupils aged 7-11 using Scratch.

Throughout the year, I create free themed computing lessons, and I’ve written another step-by-step lesson plan and some teacher/pupil computing resources that I’m using in my computing classes and am adding to iCompute to celebrate Valentines Day.

Love is in the air but Cupid needs a little help aiming his arrow!  Challenge your pupils to program Cupid’s bow to respond to user input and aim to catch the heart of a love interest.

Valentines Day Coding Game

Valentines Day Resource

 

Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan.  Plus program templates and partially-written programs for teacher and pupil support. Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative!

 

Check out my other free themed primary computing lesson plans and resources elsewhere on this blog and by visiting icompute-uk.com/free-stuff.html

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Free Halloween Computing Lesson with HTML

Create a Halloween Web page

 

Free Halloween Computing Lesson

Click to download

Teachers and pupils alike love a themed lesson so I’ve created a new activity for Halloween computing that teaches basic HTML/CSS for pupils aged 9-11.

Each term, I create free themed computing lessons and I’ve written another step-by-step lesson plan and some teacher/pupil computing resources that I’m using in my computing classes and have added to iCompute’s primary computing schemes of work.  This activity has been adapted from a cross-curricular computing lesson in iCompute Across the Curriculum.

Halloween is approaching and you’re having a party! Using basic HTML and CSS your pupils will create an invitation to their party in the form of a web page.  In this activity children learn how HTML formats web content and CSS styles it using age-appropriate syntax and tools.

Halloween Invitation

Includes HTML template

 

Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan.  Plus HTML tutorial for teacher and pupil support. Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative!

Cheat Sheet

Check out my other free seasonal primary computing lesson plans and resources elsewhere on this blog and by visiting icompute-uk.com/free-stuff.html

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Primary Computing – Celebrate Ada Lovelace Day!

The Magnificent Ada Lovelace

iCompute Ada Lovelace Activity

Click to download

Ada Lovelace had it worse, but as one of the few women undertaking a Computing Science degree in the 90’s, I’m used to being a minority.  I’ve never understood why it is such a male dominated industry because I love it.  I don’t put this down to sexism.  Throughout my studies and beyond in the workplace as a software engineer and, later, project manager I have been treated with respect at all times by men in my field.

I have my own theories about why girls don’t take to computer science as wholeheartedly as their male counterparts and they are, in my opinion, largely down to teaching – or lack thereof.  Which is why it’s great that, here in the UK, learning computer science is statutory from the age of 5 because it allows us teachers the (almost unique) opportunity to engage girls early in this creative and fascinating subject.  Not just enabling them to enter into the tech industry later if they want to but because it’s absolutely crucial to know how to communicate, collaborate and express yourself in the modern digital world.

In her blog post of 2009 (when Ada Lovelace Day was born) Suw Charman-Anderson speaks of research pointing to need for women to need to see female role models.  If that’s true then, given the amount of women teaching computing in the UK, we should surely see an upsurge in engagement in computing by girls and, empowerment through it!  That is, if their role model’s are good ones; who show a passion and enthusiasm for the subject and teach it in creative, fun and challenging ways.  I hope that, since its introduction into the National Curriculum in 2014, we are making good strides towards achieving this.  There’s no excuse not to as there is a wealth of support and resources available to support teachers and schools.  I regularly produce free lesson plans and support materials to, hopefully, inspire and motivate teachers of primary computing.

This Ada Lovelace day (10th October 2017) I’ve put together a step-by-step lesson plan and supporting resources adapted from iCompute’s Cross Curricular Computing pack for teaching Computing with History.  Suitable for pupils aged 7-11, it involves researching Ada Lovelace and producing a webpage about their findings using basic HTML.

Download and use to show your pupils how women have been instrumental in the transformation of the technological world.

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Free Autumn Coding Lesson

How to code an Autumn leaf catching game

 

Free Coding Lesson

Click to download

Goodbye summer, hello a brand new academic year.  We know you’ve got plenty on your plate already with new pupils and all of the many other changes a new year brings.  Make your computing lessons easier this term and use our free coding lesson: an autumnal themed falling leaf game for pupils aged 7-11 using Scratch.

Each term, I create free (seasonal) computing lessons, and I’ve written another step-by-step lesson plan and some teacher/pupil computing resources that I’m using in my computing classes and am adding to iCompute this Autumn.

Autumn is here and catching a falling leaf before it hits the ground means you get one happy day!  Challenge your pupils to program sprites to catch falling autumn leaves.  Catch ten and program something awesome to happen any way they know how to!

Free autumn coding

Free coding lesson from iCompute

Autumn Pupil Support Card

Pupil Support Card

 

Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan.  Plus program templates and partially-written programs for teacher and pupil support. Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative!

 

Check out my other free seasonal primary computing lesson plans and resources elsewhere on this blog and by visiting icompute-uk.com/free-stuff.html

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iCompute and Pupils with Lakeland Radio

Computing in Primary Schools

This week Lindale CE Primary School were school of the week on Lakeland Radio.  Last Friday our author, Liane O’Kane, who teaches computing at Lindale (a Lead School on the Network of Excellence for Computer Science) met with Breakfast presenter Yakkers and featured on their Back to School with Yakkers segment.

The children and Liane spoke with Yakkers about Computing at Lindale Primary.  Lindale teach primary computing using iCompute for Primary Schools from EYFS to Year 6 and it was lovely hearing about how much the children have been learning and enjoying their lessons.

Summer Computing with Scratch

Coding an Ice-Cream Stand Simulation/Game

 

The Summer term is drawing to a close, the weather is warm and you’ll no doubt have lots of activities planned to take advantage of/celebrate the weather in your classes.  Let’s not forget about Computing though.  Take your pupils outside if you have laptops or mobile devices and use Scratch 2.0 with your Key Stage 2 children (pupils aged 7-11) and our free lesson for summer themed primary computing with supporting resources.

It’s a great end-of term opportunity for your pupils to showcase what they have learned all year in their programming lessons.

free lesson plan for computing

Click to download iCompute’s free summer computing lesson plan

I’ve written another step-by-step lesson plan and some teacher/pupil computing resources that I’m using and have added to iCompute to celebrate Summer.  Feel free to download and use in your own classroom.

Summer time and the weather is sweet.  Makes you want to make a nice cool treat…  Challenge your pupils to create algorithms and program an ice-cream simulation/game.

Free lesson: ice-cream simulation activity

Free ice-cream stand simulation programming activity

Ice-cream simulation pupil support card

Pupil Support Card

As usual, lots of opportunities for differentiation.  For instance, less able pupils could use pupil support cards (see Ice Cream stand card which is included in the pack) and/or concentrate on programming random customers and ice-cream combinations to appear.

Your more able pupils could:

  • program timers, scores and lives (e.g. customers leave ‘hide’ if their order isn’t made within time limits)
  • add a series of levels that become increasingly more challenging
  • generate random prices within a range
  • program your customers to pay
  • calculate and give change

Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan.  Plus program templates and partially-written programs for teacher and pupil support. Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative!

Check out my other free seasonal primary computing lesson plans and resources elsewhere on this blog and by visiting icompute-uk.com/free-stuff.html

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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 Activity

For Key Stage 1

Everyone likes putting a seasonal twist on lessons during the approach to Easter and I’ve been making Easter computing lessons for my pupils to add to iCompute‘s computing scheme of work

This time, I’ve put together a step-by-step computing lesson plan and teacher resources for Key Stage 1 pupils.  You can download the free Easter computing lesson and resources and use them your own classrooms for a little seasonal fun!

A spin on the Bee Bot app, this uses Scratch 2.0 and ‘BunnyBot’.  The children create algorithms and program the Easter Bunny to collect Eggs.

Easter Computing Lesson

BunnyBot

Easter computing lesson plan

Click to download lesson & resources

The lesson plan contains lots of ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment

  • predicting algorithms
  • identifying and using repetition in programs
  • programming against the clock
  • comparing and improving algorithms and programs
  • designing own game

Check out my other Easter computing resources for Key Stage 2 pupils.

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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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KS1 Computing with Scratch Jr

Learning to Program with Tablets & Scratch Jr

KS1 Computing Support Card

iCompute Pupil Support Card

Introduce your KS1 computing pupils to algorithms and programming in a fun, intuitive way, using Scratch Jr on tablets.  I’ve put together a 6-8 week KS1 computing unit and associated teacher/pupil resources that uses Scratch Jr and am struck by just how quickly my pupils pick up some of the fundamental principles of computer science.

I based the unit around Michael Rosen’s “We Going on a Bear Hunt” to give the children’s coding context and purpose.  Over the weeks the children move progressively from adding sprites and programming some basic movement to programming sprites to go a more complex journey in the form of a hunt – just like in the story.  The concepts covered that I found they grasped really quickly are:

  • Understanding and developing algorithms
  • Programming: sequence, selection and repetition
  • Computational Thinking: logical thinking; abstraction; decomposition; generalisation; recognising patterns & relationships
  • Testing & Debugging

Alongside that, the children learn to work collaboratively, develop digital literacy skills as well as persistence and resilience in problem solving.

KS1 Computing Lesson Plan

Snippet of iCompute Scratch Jr Lesson Plan

You can download our glossary of computing terms for help with any of those concepts.  I’ve also created a periodic table of Scratch Jr blocks which have editable blocks use in unplugged computing activities, and some basic blank Scratch Jr blocks for cutting/sticking activities which help support learning.

There are many creative ways to plan primary computing using Scratch Jr and I’m looking forward to starting another unit for our iPad scheme of work very soon!

Scratch Jr is a free app, with a drag and drop interface for visual programming, developed by MIT and available for tablets on the App Store, Google Play, Chrome Store and Amazon

Get it now and get creative in your KS1 computing classrooms.

 

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Editable & Printable Scratch Jr Blocks

Scratch Jr Blocks for Display & Computing Unplugged

I’ve created editable, scaleable, Scratch Jr blocks for you to download and use in your coding lessons.  Click/tap the Periodic Table of Scratch Jr blocks image (see below).  The blocks can be edited using image editing tools (e.g. Illustrator, Inkscape, Vectr).  They are also included in .png format for printing.

It’s important that young children have the opportunity to interact with concrete materials (i.e. printed Scratch blocks) to help them understand both their function and the underlying concepts.  I use them in groups for the children to program me and/or each other before moving on to programming using Scratch Jr itself.

I’ve also made a full set of Editable, Printable Scratch 2.0 blocks in another post, which you can also use: download: Editable, Printable Scratch 2.0 Blocks

Scratch Jr Blocks

Click/Tap to download

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Christmas Computing – Make a Santa Game with Scratch

Saving Santa with Scratch at Christmas

iCompute Xmas Plan

Click to download our free lesson plan and computing resources

Looking for Christmas Computing lessons and activities? Christmas is just around the corner and it’s time to have some fun and challenge pupils to show what they know about coding in Scratch.

I’ve prepared a step-by-step lesson plan and some teacher/pupil computing resources that I’m using in my computing lessons to celebrate all that is Christmas and festive.  Feel free to download and use in your own classroom.

Scratch-Santa-Game

 

It’s Christmas Eve and Santa is off on his travels around the world delivering presents when catastrophe strikes!  He’s fallen out of his Sleigh!  Challenge your pupils to create algorithms and program Santa to get back into his sleigh in any way they know.Pupil Support Card

Lots of opportunities for differentiation here.  For instance, less able pupils could use pupil support cards (see Catch Me Card which is included in the pack) and/or write a simple program where Santa is moved using arrow keys.  Your more able pupils could:

  • program Santa to follow the mouse
  • change the sleigh to make glide randomly across the sky
  • add sound effects when the sleigh is caught
  • program presents to appear/disappear
  • program presents to change effects (e.g. colour or size)
  • program presents to fall, so the player must dodge them
  • program Santa to throw snowballs at randomly appearing presents – Angry Birds style

Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan.  Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative with my gift to you!

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