ICT becomes Computing

11 Dec

By Martin Hodge, Professional Officer (Education), September 2014 (updated December 2014)  

The new computing curriculum for England has been taught in schools since September 2014.  This article looks at what that means for primary teachers. 

Language

A brief analysis of computing language can seem very scary, with lots of technical words such as ‘algorithms’ and ‘program’, but that is not only what this curriculum is about.  It’s about learning to problem solve and be creative with computing devices, and finding out how they work so you can make them better.

Lots of activities you do with pupils already fulfil much of the new curriculum.  Basic computer programming can be explored through BeeBots and other programmable toys before moving on to written programs such as Logo (www.transum.org/software/logo) and Scratch (www.scratch.mit.edu). 

If you do not have access to computers, Computer Science Unplugged resources (www.csunplugged.org)  will introduce the concepts and the language.  Errors should be encouraged as this allows pupils to check their understanding, and ‘debugging’ their work allows them to evaluate and improve it. 

New curriculum and resources

One of the most comprehensive guides to the new curriculum has been produced by Naace and Computing at School (www.naace.co.uk/curriculum/primaryguide).  This guide is excellent and wide-ranging; however schools will still need to create their own schemes of work and resources.  

Another good place for resources is www.ThinkUknow.co.uk, which provides a wealth of materials on e-safety.  Hector’s World  is aimed at KS1 and uses an animated dolphin and his friends to explore the world of the Internet.   

PacketVille explains how the Internet works and how to keep safe.  Based around the character of Peter Packet, pupils complete missions delivering email and data across the World Wide Web and avoiding viruses and other nasties  (www.cisco.com/web/learning/netacad/packetville/index.html).  With comprehensive notes for teachers and parents this is also something which children could access safely at home.  

Use what you already have

It is important to use what you already have.  Schools have used Lego® products (www.education.lego.com) in maths, technology and ICT lessons for many years.  WeDo integrates into the new curriculum, giving pupils the opportunity to explore different forms of input and output such as sensors, buzzers and motors.  They can also be controlled, via an interface, through Scratch.  

An alternative programming language, Flowol (www.flowol.com), uses a flow-chart layout to control robotic models or mimic them on-screen.  This means pupils can see their program in action without requiring any additional hardware. 

Microsoft has produced a free resource (www.switchedoncomputing.co.uk/microsoft) showing how its software can meet the new learning needs – think about animations and transitions in PowerPoint as an example – or schools can buy into one of the paid-for resources (www.switchedoncomputing.co.uk) which are mapped against the new curriculum and provide an assessment guide too. 

There are a huge number of resources available for the new curriculum. Some involving new hardware such as tablets and iPads could prove costly to set up. Others, while free, will require teacher time and INSET training to fully realise.  What is clear is that there is no need to panic, and no time to lose. 

Resources are listed for information and are not endorsed by Voice. 

[Article written for April/May 2014 Your Voice.]   


Further information:

National Curriculum:
Programmes of Study & Guides for Primary Teachers:
Learning Activities:
  • http://naacecasjointguidance.wikispaces.com Definitions of the language used in the curriculum document together with a broad selection of resources to enrich teaching.  It is not comprehensive but is a great place to start.
  • https://sites.google.com/site/primaryictitt: a series of free resources put together by a small group of teachers and teacher trainers. All of the keywords are hyperlinked to explanations and resources to help cover them. 
E-Safety:
  • www.thinkuknow.co.uk:  advice and guidance for teachers, parents and all ages of children/young people from CEOP. Hector’s World is great for children in the 5-7 age range using an animated dolphin and his friends to explain the dangers of the internet.  There is a free downloadable teacher’s guide to support the site but you will need to register to access it.
Apps:

iPad:   

  • BeeBot Pyramid (£0.69)
  • Daisy the Dinosaur (free) – Learn the basics of computer programming with Daisy the Dinosaur! This free, fun app has an easy drag and drop interface that kids of all ages can use to animate Daisy to dance across the screen. Kids will intuitively grasp the basics of objects, sequencing, loops and events by solving this app’s challenges.
  • Hopscotch (free) – a visual programming language ideal for KS1.  

Nintendo DS in schools:

Programming: 

Iboard – simple programming activities available for free online:

Bee Bot and Constructa Bot:

  • by www.TTS-group.co.uk: The Bee-Bot App makes use of Bee-Bot’s keypad functionality and enables children to improve their skills in directional language and programming through sequences of forwards, backwards, left and right 90 degree turns.”

Logo:

It’s also available as an app for iPad

Scratch: 

KODU:

  • Kodu is a freely download visual programming language made specifically for creating games.  This Microsoft owned language will work on both XBox and traditional PC, meaning pupils can easily use it at home.  It does require an up-to-date graphics card so some older school machines may struggle to render it properly. Go to www.kodugamelab.com  and click on ‘Get Kodu’.

Flowol:

  • www.flowol.com: (£150 plus VAT primary site licence – upgrades are also available). There is a free 30-day trial version available to download.

Python:

SEND and computing:
Other resources: 

Real-World Computing:

Blogs:

How Stuff Works:

“Computer Science… without a Computer!”  http://csunplugged.org/:

  • CS Unplugged is a collection of free learning activities that teach Computer Science through engaging games and puzzles that use cards, string, crayons and lots of running around.  The activities introduce students to underlying concepts such as binary numbers, algorithms and data compression, separated from the distractions and technical details we usually see with computers.

Digital Schoolhouse:

  • A locally, nationally and internationally recognised project for the teaching of Computer Science and ICT.  There are some excellent resources and step-by-step guides to programming that will allow teachers to ‘get things going’. www.digitalschoolhouse.org.uk

Reaction to the new Computing Curriculum:

Voice’s Official Response to Reform of the National Curriculum in England:

  • The teaching of generic ICT skills is essential for preparing children for active participation as both citizens and workers in the modern world; however this is neglected in the proposed programmes of study at the expense of a very technical and rather detailed computing syllabus, which will be of little use (or interest) to many pupils and for which many schools lack the capacity to teach.
  • …it cannot be assumed that current ICT teachers have the appropriate skill set to become teachers of computing…
  • The DfE must act responsibly and decisively in funding and promoting appropriate support [rather than] allowing the market to be saturated by commercial organisations, which would provide services at a premium, without adequate controls on quality.

Voice’s Official Response to The New Programmes of Study and Attainment Targets from September 2014:

  • We welcome the greater prominence given to e-safety and using ICT responsibly…
  • …little thought of the implications for staff training and resources.
  • What is the purpose of five-year-olds “understand[ing] what algorithms are”?

Switched on ICT author, Miles Berry, gives his reaction to the new Programme of Study for Computing.
Copyright © www.risingstars-uk.com/blog/?p=799:

Computing at School video:

 


Your views

Do you have any suggestions for resources or comments on the new computing curriculum? Do let us know below….

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9 Responses to “ICT becomes Computing”

  1. Richard Fraser 11. Jul, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    TES: “Teachers unready for computing ambitions”: http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6437084

  2. Richard Fraser 11. Jul, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    On Twitter: Karl Bentley ‏@bentleykarl: “@tes @Voicetheunion Well if you let Unis be CAS hubs we could do something about that… :)”

  3. Richard Fraser 11. Dec, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    0837,11/12/14, BBC Radio 4 Today,:

    “The new computer science curriculum for primary aged children, which includes coding, was rolled out in September. One term in and teachers are struggling. The main organisation helping teachers to deliver the changes, called Computing at Schools, has had only £3m and doesn’t know if its funding will be renewed in April. Schools are being encouraged to reach out to the tech industry and be creative in the way that they deliver this new subject. But many are finding the changes tough. Catherine Carr reports”: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04tljjy

  4. Kirk 12. Mar, 2015 at 10:46 am #

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the greatest blogs on the net.
    I’m going to highly recommend this blog!

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