Posted in Coding, Cross-Curricular Computing Links, KS1, KS2, Programming Devices

Module 4: Computer Science

 

The final Pick ‘n’ Mix module was all about computer science. Many of my previous blogs give information regarding the topics discussed within this module and they are linked below:

Unplugged:

Algorithms can also be taught using the unplugged concept. Children complete challenges which relate to that of an algorithm, for example, children describe to a partner how to complete simple daily tasks such as getting from one place to another, making a jam sandwich or even tying your shoelaces. Whilst explaining, children will have time to adjust and amend their instructions or debug them, creating problem solvers and computational thinkers.  Computing unplugged can be adapted for use in many lesson such as DT, English, Maths and PE.unplugged cs

Computer Science Unplugged offer some great activities to use within the classroom to help introduce and develop computational thinking.

KS1:

KS1 computer science is a little different to KS2 as they learn to:

  • Write and test simple programs
  • Manipulate data
  • Organise data

Below are some useful resources to use with the children when teaching and learning about the areas outlined above:

Write and test simple programs: understand algorithms and how they are implemented as programs on digital devices

Manipulate data: manipulating and retrieving data in a range of digital formats

Organise data: organising and classifying whilst working creatively using digital media

KS2:

KS2 has significantly more computer science aspects and these can be read about in detail on my KS2 National Curriculum blog.

Areas addressed within the module include (some are linked up to previous blog posts):

  • Analysing and presenting
  • Computer Networks
  • Control
  • De-bugging
  • Decomposition
  • Discernment
  • How an algorithm/program works
  • Programming
  • Repetition
  • Variables

Below are some useful resources to use with the children when teaching and learning about the areas outlined above:

Analyse and Present: use and combine a variety of software to analyse and present data and information

  • Google Trends – great way for children to explore and compare data series. Links nicely with Google Flu Trends
  • Piktochart: create your own infographics combining global and local data by adding images, text and data to ready-made themes. Alternatives are easel.ly and infogr.am. A successful Year 3 student project
  • worksheet to use with children in order to teach them the difference between random data and data organised in a table.  They initially attempt to answer impossible questions based on random data – they can only really guess the answers.  They turn over and answer the same questions once the data has been organised into a data table
  • Hackasaurus: mash up and change any web page like magic. Use ‘x-ray goggles’ to hover over a website to see behind the scenes, then remix, make and share webpages or create your own, all within your browser. This makes it easy for children to tinker and mess around with the building blocks that make up the web. Includes resources for teaching webmaking: printables, cheat sheets, lesson plans, assessment rubrics, and a slideshow.
  • Popcorn Maker from Mozilla makes it easy to enhance, remix and share web video. Combine video and audio with text, links, maps, pictures and live feeds to make your own interactive newscasts, pop-up videos, multimedia reports, fan videos, guided web tours and more. Remix your favorite videos on YouTube or sounds on SoundCloud, add your own comments and links, or drag and drop in content from across the web.The result is a whole new way to tell stories on the web.
  • Mozilla Thimble: Thimble projects are hackable webpages that allow you to complete a challenge, play a game or build something cool by editing the code of the page, and learn webmaking skills like HTML and CSS in the process. Beginners can tinker around with template projects such as ‘Build your own Awesome Animal’, ‘Make an Animated Avatar’ or ‘Make Your Own Meme.’ Or you can hack into a pre-made game, customise it and share with friends
  • Text2Mindmap: A simple way to organise and classify information and show it visually. Outline your ideas as a list of topics and subtopics and an animated mindmap is automatically generated. You can drag and bounce your mindmap around the screen, edit fonts, colours and lines, rearrange the layout and save as a .jpg. Provides a quick focus on the hierarchical relationships between topics
  • The Rebirth of Rails: Amazing infographicvideo from General Electric about capturing and converting energy from braking to power trains. Also see two more interactives on the theme of trains
  • Book Creator App for the iPad- simple book creation for children
  • CBB app for ipad Creative Book Builder
  • Popplet for the iPad- organising ideas
  • Whodunnit? – Analyse a database to solve crimes

Computer Networks: understanding computer networks including the internet

  • How the Internet Works A module aimed at Year 5 with activities and resources.
  • Modelling Google A class activity. [CC by-sa Graham Hastings]
  • CS Unplugged: computer science without a computer. A collection of lesson ideas aimed at primary students that teach Computer Science through engaging games and puzzles using cards, string, crayons and lots of running around. The activities introduce concepts such as representing information, networks, binary numbers, algorithms, procedures, and data compression, with practical guidance, worksheets, photos and videos.
  • The internet map: an interactive visualisation of the relationships between websites. Enter a well-known site and zoom in and out.
  • ScrabbleNet : Acting out the Internet An activity with Y7 to demonstrate the concept of how data is transmitted across the Internet.

Control: using computers to control simple devices such as toys

  • Pro Bot – classic floor turtle robot car from TTS. Not cheap but a great way into Logo.
  • Examples of worksheets for projects involving input/output control – Flowol based.  LighthousePelicanLevel Crossing.
  • Robots and computers activities from theOregon Museum of Science and Technology(OMNI). You can program a robot to complete an online obstacle course and download activity instructions for programming a friend around a maze or a robot to tie your shoes. Other online interactives include a binary number balance activity, manipulating colour mixing and resolution, how computer pointing devices work, exploring passwords, and the history of communication technologies.
  • Low Life Labs: a robotics activity from the Museum of Minnesota to find out how “CAPTCHAS” tests whether you are a human or a computer. Explore how you read letters versus how a computer reads them. Look at human vision and how human brains use “pattern recognition” to help us understand what we see.
  • Lego robots activities aimed at 8-13 year old girls: how do we design a robot that moves quickly and tuns in a tight circle? Extensions explore how to program a LEGO robot to perform specific tasks, testing and retesting modifications to maximise the effectiveness of each design feature.
  • Lego WeDo and Scratch – Resources for using Scratch to control the Lego WeDo control kit (for 8-12 year olds)
  • Education WeDo Resources for using the Lego WeDo software
  • Robotics Concepts for Kids from IBM: workshop materials that bridge the gap between computer science (programming using NetLogo) and engineering (designing and constructing a magnetic Braitenburg vehicle). The introduction uses a prepared presentation and film clips about artificial intelligence and the history of robotics. A computer simulation and construction of a mechanical vehicle that responds to magnetic force reinforces robotics as a practical pursuit. Suitable for Years 5 and 6.
  • Lightbot: control a robot by giving it commands using programming logic. A great introduction to simple programming with the more complex levels introducing recursion and conditionals.
  • Stencyl: a complete game-creation toolset based on Scratch blocks. Click and drag blocks to program your characters and choose from many ready made blocks.
  • Enchanting Scratch meets Lego NXT.
  • FlowGo Line Following Vehicle – sensing and control with feedback.  Ideal for KS2 extension and STEM project.  See Word doc at the foot of this page & video on Youtube

Decomposition: solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts

  • Before pupils create something in Scratch it can be useful to look at a working example and decompose what is happening. Spider Game on the Scratch website is here. Use right and left arrows to steer the spider. Spider Game planning is here.
  • Children (yrs 4-6) begin by working in small groups to develop a dance routine and record it on a flip cam. They break down the dance routine into parts and develop flow charts for each part.Pupils then edit screen gabs of them in different dance positions, whilst performing dance routine then import into Scratch costumes. Finally pupils use Selection and repetition to reconstruct the dance routine in scratch.
  • Thinking Myself: Computational Thinking in K-12 A peek into computational thinking through a series of lessons and games for children in grades K-12 defining the terms decompose, patterns, abstraction, algorithms and variables through examples and interactions

Discernment; Not believing everything that is read online

  • All About Explorers: what looks like a regular history site is full of inaccuracies. Activities are designed to help children learn to check facts and apply critical thinking skills to their research.
  • Internet Research (Fact or Fiction): Use this PDF guide covering urban legends, myths, hoaxes, opinions vs fact, web suffixes and dates to instigate class discussion around the accuracy of Internet information and maybe create your own urban legends. (from SNegreid on TES).
  • Media Smart – resources to help children and teachers understand digital advertising

How an algorithm works:

  • BrainPop animated movie on Computers: How does a computer work? What’s the difference between ROM and RAM? What’s an operating system? Covers what a central processing unit (CPU) is and how a hard drive operates. Also mentions modems, circuit boards, and sound and video cards. A related resource looks at Data Storage Devices: how CDs and DVDs, USB drives and memory cards store data. Resources includes a graded quiz, vocabulary activities and related information pages (subscription needed).
  • Jam Sandwich Algorithm Pupils program their teacher to make a jam sandwich

Programming:

  • Programming Basics A Prezi guide to some programming constructs with simple Scratch examples.
  •  Khan Academy Computer Science: an engaging and fun computing environment that has a coding pane and a canvas. You can change things in real time and explore how patterns, drawings, simulations and animations interact by changing core variables in Javascript or Processing. Watch the code and what is running simultaneously. This encourages you to experiment and make it your own, save to your profile and then share. You can listen to a tutorial as you interact on screen.
  • Redware lesson plans adaptable for upper KS1 and great for KS2 on Scratch.
  • A series of Scratch lesson plans aimed at KS2 and used with Y4-6 following the principle of not always showing pupils how to create each block
  • A series of Python lessons taught to Y6 pupils. Python needs MUCH more teacher time investment to teach successfully at KS2 – its a rarity just now
  • Python Video Help Files
  • Scratchel:introduces computational thinking through a series of problem solving activities set in Scratch based around Scratchel the robot and his friends.
  • Teaching LOGO in Lower KS2 series of lesson plans taught using programming principles
  • Series of Scratch Projects created by Phil Bagge and used in Y4-6.

Repetition: 

These are largely a collection of downloadable PDF’s that you can use with Microsoft’s LOGO program.  Children’s activities on this sort of application are often enriched and enhanced by working in pairs due to the opportunities for developing mathematical language and reasoning.

Variables: 

  • Scratch Maths Quiz which uses a single variable to hold the score. This is increased if the user answers questions right and is reported to the user after each question. (Yrs 4 & 5)
  • Scratch Automated Maths Quiz This builds on the concepts explored in Maths Quiz. The numbers are generated randomly and stored in two variables. The two variables are multiplied and the result stored in another variable. The user answer is compared to total variable. (Y5)
  • Text Based adventure game in Scratch Main Planning Variables used for hitpoints help sheet
  • Python Code (Adapting a poem) This module looks at the creation and use of a variable within a poem. The variable can be created by the programmer or by the program user or selected randomly from a list of items. (Yr 6) I think it is easier to explain variables with Python than Scratch but Python needs MUCH teacher training time investment!
  • Creating a shape calculator in Scratch where the number of repetitions is dependent on the number of sides on a shape.
    Thinking Myself: Computational Thinking in K-12 A peek into computational thinking through a series of lessons and games for children in grades K-12 defining the terms decompose, patterns, abstraction, algorithms and variables through examples and interactions.
  • Duck builder – free simulation resource that allows you to change and test variables
  • Virtual experiments – many of these allow you to test variables
  • A sense of murder  – from Kent ICT. A way of engaging children with data logging equipment.
  • Creatorverse and monster physics are great little apps to promote this area of ICT

Computer science is a key aspect of the computing curriculum and underpins many of the teaching strategies. I would always utilise computer science where necessary within all of my lessons as I believe it helps to set children up for future life within this technological world.

Posted in Cross-Curricular Computing Links, KS2

Blippit

BLIPPIT is a tool in which children and teachers can create and publish apps.

Blippit has a wide range of uses:

  • as self-contained projects in their own right
  • as part of a wider topic in the classroom
  • to engage reluctant writers
  • to personalise learning & promote children as independent learners
  • to help you as a teacher assess children’s knowledge and understanding

The apps can be created and once published, accessed by iPhones, smart phones, tablets and even on a web browser. In addition, the apps created only need to be approved by the teacher before they can be submitted for the world to see. A quick guide and tour of the programme can be accessed here.

If in a 2 form entry school, one class of children could create apps on aspects of a book, or Viking life, whilst the other class could create an app regarding other aspects of Viking life or a different book. Collaboratively, the year group could have a book review app or two apps all about Viking life. This would therefore tick plenty of cross-curricular boxes as an activity such as the one mentioned above fits into computing, english, topic and DT. By using Blippit, children would be developing their digital literacy skills, whilst tapping into computer science and information technology so its a very useful resource to incorporate into the classroom and curriculum.

There is also a video outlining how to use and navigate Blippit which is extremely useful to use yourself and to show aspects of to the children ‘Blippit How to Use’

Blippit how to use
A screenshot of the Blippit How to Use video
Posted in Cross-Curricular Computing Links, KS1, KS2

Module 3: Children as developers and animators

The 3rd Pick ‘n’ Mix module focuses upon the information technology and digital literacy strand of the National Curriculum. It focuses in depth upon:

  • App making
  • Animation
  • School Radio
  • Immersive environments

blippitBLIPPIT is a tool in which children and teachers can create and publish apps. Blippit has a wide range of uses:

  • as self-contained projects in their own right
  • as part of a wider topic in the classroom
  • to engage reluctant writers
  • to personalise learning & promote children as independent learners
  • to help you as a teacher assess children’s knowledge and understanding

The apps can be created and once published, accessed by iPhones, smart phones, tablets and even on a web browser. In addition, the apps created only need to be approved by the teacher before they can be submitted for the world to see. A quick guide and tour of the programme can be accessed here.

ANIMATION

Film Education is a charity organisation which supports and promotes the use of film within the curriculum and classroom. The web page details about getting started, tasks for pupils to complete and resources on animated film.

Stop Frame animation is a technique that can be used and adapted within the classroom to create short videos on a variety of topics. Oscar Stringer is an experienced stop frame animator and produced an ‘Animation Course for Teachers‘ resource which introduces the basic skills to get started alongside some project ideas. model animation

Another great video to show stop frame animation in action is ‘Making a model from clay‘. It quickly shows you how to create an animated video from modelling clay in a simple yet effective way.

I believe that animation is a brilliant skill to teach children. It will know only give the children chance to use their creative side but as projects can sometimes be quite big, it allows children to communicate ideas, collaborate and create as a group. Animation could be used in every curriculum area, ranging from a persuasive advert in English, explaining a concept in Maths and re-enacting a historic battle or past time within Topic lessons. In addition. children could be split into teams and each team creates an informative animation regarding an aspect of Viking life, different aspects of a contrasting culture/country or even book reviews.

There are many different resources that can be used to enhance the children’s digital literacy and information technology. These include Monkey Jam , Pivot Stickfigure and Stykz.

The possibilities for effective use of animation in the classroom are endless and therefore teachers should try and incorporate these were appropriate.

SCHOOL RADIO

School radio is a great motivator for students to write for purpose within English. It gives children a contextual reason to plan, research, write, read, speak and listen. It may be a story for younger years or a podcast outlining important details about ancient Greeks for their peers. Teachers could also incorporate

AudacityAudacity is an app that can be used to record, rerecord and edit voice clips, particularly useful for school radio and podcasts. This would enable students to work individually or collaboratively whilst improving their digital literacy and information technology knowledge and understanding. Audioboom is another website which allows students to create and broadcast podcasts and school projects on a ‘school radio’.

Children could be split into teams and create podcasts about E-safety, informative talks and discussions about the decision made by characters in a book or furthermore, interview other staff and students at an event such as sports day or world book day. This would enhance the learning of students within English as well as developing skills they can use in later life. I believe a school or class radio would be invaluable to the learning of every student and that many students would thrive and prosper on such an exciting opportunity.

IMMERSION ENVIRONMENT

Many schools now have access to rooms known as immersion environment rooms. These rooms offer many opportunities to enhance learning and improve creative writing. Immersion rooms are where a projector projects moving images onto the walls around the room. These images could be space, world war 2, bonfire night, a forest etc giving the children chance to ‘immerse’ themselves within an environment they may not have had opportunity to visit or to give them an idea about what it was like. More recently, in newly built schools, rooms which have screens on every part of the all are built to facilitate the same effect as the projections.

immersionenviro
An example of one type of immersion environment

I believe that these immersion environments would be beneficial to children of all ages to enhance and facilitate learning of specific topics. It would create an atmosphere in which students can generate plenty of ideas to take back to the classroom and even then incorporate back into immersion environments. For example, a projection of a soldier within world war 2 could be accompanied by a student composed and read aloud daily diary entry to bring about emotions and thoughts amongst other children.

Animation and developments using computing and in particular developing digital literacy and information technology skills can greatly enhance other curriculum subjects aiding in the overall individual development of children. I will use plenty of these ideas and techniques within my own teaching as I feel they will be of great value.

Posted in Coding, KS2

Hopscotch

hopscotch logoHopscotch is an app that prides itself on creative expression and the belief that anyone can code.

By signing up and entering the app you are faced with many options to learn how to code. Once a game or training video is selected it takes you to a screen that allows you to create and code a game by following a smaller step by step video screen.

The video guides the learner through exactly what needs to be done to achieve the desired goal whilst also explaining and defining terms such as code, emoji, algorithm etc.

This app would be extremely useful within the classroom as it allows learners to work at their own pace by either following the pace of the video or a separate group could follow the lead of the teacher.

There are so many options available on this app, children would be kept captivated and engaged whilst learning how to code. It can be linked to instructional texts and even PE; by making instructions clear to a peer to carry them out, for example around an obstacle course.

I am no computer whiz, but I picked up this app and instantly felt confident in creating my own game. I managed to make a ‘whack-a-dinosaur’ and a ‘jump in’ game. It is super easy to follow and s the aspects of code are regularly spoken about, the children will learn definitions and computer vocabulary through free time and exploration on this app.

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The Hopscotch blog has many useful pages relating to the importance of coding, computational thinking and creativity. 

I will definitely be using Hopscotch within my teaching to enhance the knowledge and skill set of the children within my classroom. I feel the simple, yet effective app allows children to individualise coding to suit their interests and foster their creativity.