The 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.
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.
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?’