It was my pleasure to run a workshop at Hampshire/ Wessex Computing Conference on 30th June 2016. Expanding on previous presentations on teaching children about Creative Commons licensing and how to be respectful online, this workshop covered attribution and how to re-use online content.
I was delighted to present at the City of Leicester Summer conference along with my colleague, Nick Overton on Saturday 25th June 2016. We discussed how part of teaching children about being respectful online includes making them aware of who owns what and how they can re-use other people’s images.
We described how we have taught our children about Creative Commons licencing. The lesson plans are available on TES Resources (under CC-by licence of course!).
As a CAS hub leader, I intended to go to the CAS annual conference last year and just didn’t make it. It’s a crazy time of year with reports, assessment deadlines and transition to think about. This year I dragged myself out of bed, feeling glum after a hard week and set off to Birmingham. However, the opening two talks set the tone for the day. So much so that I felt I could have gone home at 10.00am!
Jane Waite, Wendy MacLeod, Paul Curzon and Nic Hughes gave a brilliant whistle stop tour of primary practise packed with fabulous practical examples, embedded in pedagogy and computational thinking.
They showed us a lovely model for using beebots by inviting children to create their own games to test their knowledge on any given subject using some simple challenge cards, a blank beebot squared grid.
A lovely idea was to use Scratch blocks to re-write signs around school. I could see how this would get children to really start thinking about how algorithms are everywhere.
Something particularly relevant to us as a Talk for Writing school is to use those principles to teach computing terminology using actions. Wendy had made a video showing her son demonstrating an action to help children remember different computing terms. I liked her suggestion that we could also think about applying the imitation, innovation and invention cycle to teaching computing.
The main keynote by Conrad Wolfram was fascinating. He very effectively raised the question of why our maths curriculum doesn’t take account of computing and computer assisted calculations. The mantra of using real life problems for children to solve has been well rehearsed. However, he put it in the context of how computing now allows us to ask questions of messy data that we never could before.
Ben Davies shared some super ideas for mini-activities, starters and plenaries in his presentation. In particular, ideas for getting children to apply what they had learned from one language to another. Could children predict what an approximation of a scratch code made from shapes in PowerPoint would do? What a lovely way to test and tease out their understanding!
Nic Hughes used his 40 minute workshop a slot wisely by challenging us to make a moving Crumble-controlled device. As a primary teacher, having some dedicated time to tinker is the best way for me to learn and gives me space to consider the pedagogy that is needed alongside the kit. His instructions were minimal which helped us think for ourselves.
Phil Bagge was awesome (as always!). He described his approach to assessing computing and made an app for assessment available. While the app looks great (utilising a matrix approach from simple/ complex to guided/independent), what grabbed me were the videos of his children talking about their computing. Phil hit the nail on the head when he said he realised that the majority of his assessment came through conversations worth his children. He took it one stage further by providing a simple way for children to reflect on their own learning using an iPad and stand to video themselves.
Crucially, he left the children to record these videos themselves (based around key questions he gave them). This enabled the children to provide their own answers without the pressure, guidance or interference of the teacher. He described how his conversations and the children’s verbalisations could be summed up as Talk for Computing. This chimed strongly with the Pie Corbett approach to teaching English that we’ve been using at school. A fascinating way to approach learning.
A session on helping primary teachers to feel confident in teaching computing had a couple of Talk for Computing gems in too. Talk to the rubber duck (link to blog by A Colley) is a great idea for children to voice their problems out loud to a rubber duck before asking the teacher. Usually verbalising their problem leads to a realisation of the solution.
The day ended with David Malan giving us a fast paced whizz through some of the early elements of CS50, an undergraduate computer science course at Harvard University. Surprisingly this contained many of the elements we teach in primary computing – search strategies and the famous Sandwich Bot which lead to the most hilarious mess of peanut butter, jam and bread courtesy of Phil Bagge’s reactions to imprecise instructions.
Finally it is worth saying that the conference was exceptionally well organised. The sessions were just the right length and there was plenty of time given over to lunch and coffee which gave space to network and drink lots of tea.
Overall I had a brilliant day, learnt loads, met some great people and felt inspired. Exactly what a conference should do! It was definitely worth getting out of bed for on a Saturday morning.
Our Spring Term meeting was focussed on Key Stage 1 and Early Years provision. Kevin McLaughlin shared some of his thoughts on how his foundation class responded some computing challenges beyond the expectations of the EYFS curriculum.
Kevin suggested that much of the computing curriculum aims for KS1 was part of everyday teaching in EYFS – pattern recognition (phonics), sequencing (story telling) and logic (questioning) . He has begun to explore computing without computers, focussing key computing skills. He demonstrated how his children could soon tell him about algorithms after linking them clearly to practical instructions. He had a child that could predict what shape would be made by a set of instructions to move a model crane around the floor. They took apart a computer and made their own from paper.
He recommended Hello Ruby, which has ideas, lessons mad practical activities for exploring computers and computing with young children.
We then had a swap shop and shared ideas, tips and equipment that people had brought along. There was a wide range of discussion, from makey makey and book creator to a Rising Stars scheme of work and phonics apps with physical letters to put on your iPad to listen to their sounds. Time to network and talk with other teachers was time well spent and hopefully everyone came away with something new!
The next meeting is 25th May 2016.
During this CAS hub meeting, we focussed on the use of input and output to investigate how computers can control devices connected to them. This is an area that often gets taught at KS1 using robots, such as Beebots and Roamers, and can be more problematic at KS2 simply because it requires some equipment for children to be able to control!
Fortunately, we had some experience educators to help us look at some of the equipment available for control.
Nick Page, Primary Computing lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, works with trainee teachers on the computing curriculum. He has recently been investigating using a Crumble controller in the classroom and brought several projects along to demonstrate how they could be used and integrated with the Design and Technology curriculum. Particularly fun was the ability use conductive thread to sew connections between lights to make a circuit, a lovely way to combine sewing, electronics and programming to make a felt Christmas Tree with a sequence of flashing lights! A big advantage of Crumble is that it is cheap to buy and can use electronic components that you may already have in school such as crocodile clips.
Claire Robinson, from Holme Valley Primary school in North Lincolnshire, is a HLTA with a passion for computing. She has been using two very cute robots, Dot and Dash, at her school and demonstrated how they could be used in the classroom with the various attachments they have from Lego adapters, to an iPod holder and even a xylophone.
We also had a number of attendees bring along other control equipment to play with during an open workshop. There were Spheroes, Ozobot, more Crumble projects using traffic lights, a Lego Wedo toilet fan and iControl.
There were 46 people at the meeting and the overwhelming choice for a subject for the next hub meeting was for us to look at Computing in Early Years and KS1. We have already secured Apple Distinguished Educator Marc Faulderfor our meeting on 25 May 2016 and are looking out for someone to present at our Spring meeting on 4 February 2016. Get in touch if you could help or would like to recommend a speaker or workshop topic.
At the end of my Master Teacher in computing training with Computers At School, an email from CAS came round asking for volunteers to demonstrate computing lessons for the DfE. I volunteered and was rather surprised when the week before the end of our school year I was contacted by the DfE to book a time to film a video for their YouTube channel.
The film maker, Lee, was camera man, sound engineer and editor all in one, which made the process easier for me and the children. As it was he day before the end of the school year, I chose 10 children from my class to take part in a Lego WeDo lesson. Lee had sent me some questions in advance for a piece to camera and I’d explained how the lesson would work.
The lesson was from Phil Bagge’s plans for making a toilet fan. I started the children off by explaining the task and they made their models in pairs before Lee arrived. The children were great and really enjoyed making their fans and couldn’t wait to get started controlling them using scratch. Once Lee arrived, we continued with the lesson and they soon forgot their nerves at being filmed as they were completely absorbed in their programming!
Tuesday 24 March 2015 : Rushey Mead Primary School, Leicester
Barefoot computing – Zoe Ross. How to use the resources available on the Barefoot project website to teaching the new computing curriculum in KS1 and KS2.
Zoe gave us a great introduction to the Barefoot site and in particular how each resource is linked directly to a statement from the computing curriculum. Each activity includes an explanation of the terms or concepts used so that you can check your own subject knowledge. Sign up for free to use the resources on the site. Barefoot are still offering FREE WORKSHOPS in your school until the end of this school year. Contact them to book one quick!
What will children be learning at KS3? Dave Abbott, Stonehill High School, Birstall.
Dave showed us what children will be doing in years 7 – 9. As a computing specialist, he was keen to support our use in primary of the correct terminology that so many of us are struggling to comprehend! He recognised that our teaching of the key concepts at primary was essential for him to progress computing at KS3 and was delighted to start seeing children who already knew what an algorithm was. Rather than teach specific languages, Dave uses projects, such as making games in Scratch to teach the principles of programming. Dave includes eSafety in his first term of teaching at year 7 and uses a video project to ensure that children can locate, transfer and save files using a USB, hard drive and online storage. Something that not every year 7 child can do but a real stand out message for us to start looking at teaching in primary school.
Schemes of work – led by Jo Badge, Rushey Mead Primary.
We discussed as a group the various schemes of work that we were using in the region and looked at a few other examples including Pete Richardson’s comprehensive WLD scheme (@primarypete_), Rising Stars switched on computing and the Somerset ELIM scheme. A valuable time for everyone to network and learn from each other, there was lots of great sharing going on!
We also gave out free copies of the Primary Quick start guide to computing which is a really useful guide to teaching the new computing curriculum.
Our next meeting will be on 10 June 2015. I hope you can join us!