Computer Coding (KS2) – Task 8

In today’s session we looked at coding in the KS2 classroom.

Purple Mash

Firstly, we looked into purplemash.com which provided a range of coding resources that could be used in the classroom. Once logged in with a school/university login, you can explore many games within the ‘Tools’ section of the website that reinforce the learning of Computer Coding.

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The first one we looked at was ‘2Go’. This is a very simple piece of software that only includes the actions for up, down, left and right. Although there is not much to learn from ‘2Go’ in terms of programming, one advantage is that it shows the path in which the ‘bee’ has taken.

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The second tool we looked at was called ‘2Code’. This software provided tutorials to help develop the learning of computer coding. It also had a variety of games, such as, ‘Fun with Fish’ or ‘Snail Race’. In the game ‘Fun with Fish’, it gave you certain tasks to complete, all increasing in difficulty. This game was good fun and I found it very easy to use.

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The last one we looked at was called ‘Logo’. I believe this was the most useful and informative out of the three apps. It is able to teach children to use commands by using spelling and maths. For example, they must spell ‘forward’ correctly and then decide ‘how many units’ they want the arrow to move by.

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It draws on prior math knowledge, such as shape and geometry facts, including the understanding of angles. This was my favourite piece of software because I was able to experiment with different shapes and then I learnt how to use abbreviations in my commands which I also think would be very useful for children to learn.

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The next thing we were shown on ‘Logo’ was how to create a procedure. A procedure is when you make something in order to use it again. For instance, creating the commands for a square then being able to use this as a short cut or a tool for creating different shapes, like ‘flowers’ (seen below).

 

Hour of Code

The next website we looked at was code.org/learn or ‘Hour of Code’. There is no teaching or tutorials involved but instead the learning is obtained through practice.

I had a go at the ‘Frozen’ inspired Hour of Code. I really enjoyed this software because I believe the children will be more engaged if they are learning with movie or game characters that they adore. (There was also a ‘Minecraft’ version which may interest some children too.)

There were 20 set challenges that the pupil must complete in order to receive a certificate. These challenges became increasingly difficult throughout the task.

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I gained knowledge on the benefit of the ‘repeat’ block and how important it is to get the order of commands correct.

The software gave feedback after each challenge allowing the children to see where they went wrong and to receive information that may help them in the next challenge. As you can see (image above), the tasks became harder to complete and required concentration. I believe this level of knowledge needed would be more suited to a KS2 class rather than a KS1.

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I really enjoyed this piece of software because it was easy to learn from it and I liked making my own ‘ice art’ with the ‘Frozen’ characters.

Useful app related to Computer Coding

I discovered an app called Kids’n’Code on the App Store on my iPad. I downloaded it because it looked fun and it was free. I liked the design and layout of the app but I found it hard to begin with because there was not much help with what I was meant to do.

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I soon figured out how to work the app and I think it would be good to use an an extension task or maybe at ‘Golden Time’ in class to reinforce the learning of Computer Coding in the pupils. I especially liked the fact that it used the language of Coding such as ‘run’ and ‘program’.

Computer Coding (KS1) – Task 7

In this week’s session, we looked at the use of Bee Bots in the classroom. Bee Bots are controlled by programming and can help children develop their knowledge on sequencing and commands. We decided to focus this around the topic of KS1 Computing.

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The Bee Bots can be controlled by pressing the buttons on the actual ‘bot’ which adds a practical element into the activity. This way, the pupils can physically see which way the Bee Bot will go according to their instructions and the buttons they press.

Another way in which the Bee Bots can be controlled, is by using the Blue Bots app which allows pupils to use their iPads through the help of Bluetooth to move the Bee Bots in the direction they choose.

After learning about how the Bee Bots worked, we were given the task of designing a map for the bots to follow. Most groups in the class did their map in the style of ‘cars on a road’ but my group decided to create a Strictly Come Dancing themed activity. IF this activity was applied to the classroom, the children could come up with a dance routine for the Bee Bots to do and create dancer names for the bots as well. To get the whole class involved, the audience members (the other pupils watching) could give the performance a score out of ten and extend this by justify why they gave that score.

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This YouTube video shows how you might apply Bee Bots to the classroom.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq7vw4_B6RQ

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Programming

Today we looked at different ways of simple programming. We started off by looking at Purple Mash, the website I reviewed last year. There are three different forms of programming on Purple Mash: 2Go, 2Code and Logo.

2Go is a very simple version of coding, almost like the beebots. I would suggest setting it to use the more advanced settings of arrows so that when you click left/right it programmes the sprite to turn, not move left/right. You have a selection of potential backgrounds and it draws a line to show where it has been. You have to click the arrow and a number to write how far the sprite should travel.

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I have already explored 2Code on my blog before and so I won’t write much about it, however it is simply a way of programming by attaching ‘blocks’ of commands together. See my blog from before Christmas to see more about how it works. This can be as simple as moving a fish when clicking, or setting a firework to fire into the sky, explode and make a noise.

Logo is an app on Purple Mash that is much more suited to KS2, using an arrow as the sprite and using Logo language as the commands, e.g. repeat 4 [ fd 5 rt 90] meaning repeat x4 the sequence go forward 5 times and turn right 90 degrees. You can make more complex sequences and programme them to be procedures with titles, as seen below. This ties in well to Maths as you could challenge children to try and make hexagons and other polygons using their knowledge of angles. As you can see below I made hexagons and then attempted to make circles!

We then looked at SuperLogo,  a much more mature piece of software to programme. It uses the same commands as Logo on PurpleMash, however to add a procedure you have to add an object from a drop down menu. Here is an image of my procedure ‘Jack’ repeated and turned to make a geometric shape.

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On ‘Hour of Code’ children can follow challenges to code things. There are activities that  should fill an hour of coding themed around different themes, such as Frozen and Star Wars. As well as simple coding such as putting together commands almost like a jigsaw sequence (shown below in the BB8 image), you can attach commands to buttons, such as when the down arrow button is clicked the sprite goes down 1 (shown in the R2D2 image below).

As you can see you can even add commands to incorporate a points system, when you find a ‘good guy’ you get 100 pts, when you get a ‘bad guy’ you minus 100 pts. Sound is also now incorporated.

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The software becomes more advanced by allowing us to add our own creatures, and even when ‘catching creatures’ they can degrade into two other creatures.

After you have completed all the challenges you are given free roam of ALL the commands and events to try and make your own game. This is a fantastic software and below is an example of a selection of codes to make a simple cat and mouse game.

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Children also get a certificate when they are finished with the activities.

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Thank you for reading and I hope you feel inspired to have a go at coding!!

 

Jack

Programming BeeBots

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In this week’s Computing session we looked at using Beebots to teach programming and debugging. I think this is a really good activity to show children how sequences of commands can be used to programme movement, and it means that children can visually see when the sequence has gone wrong and make appropriate changes. We tried to use the iPads to programme a sequence however we found it hard to connect. I think it would be easier to use the app because you can see images of your sequence, however when programming using just the arrows it can get confusing because you have to remember where you are in the sequence. We programmed two BlueBots to dance around each other, on the image below you can see we attempted to draw arrows to show the sequence, however it was confusing as we had to remember that the bots had to be programmed from their POV, not from our view of the sheet of paper. Giving the children to think of a theme/map gives them a chance to be individual and have ownership of their idea. We created a ‘Strictly Come BeeBots’ board to show that the bots were meant to be dancing! Below is an image of the sheet.

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If you look at the following link you can have a look at an online BeeBot Emulator, showing the basics of programming them. You can select different mats to use and again it is easy to see when your sequence has gone wrong and debug it.

https://www.bee-bot.us/emu/beebot.html?Farm%20Mat

We ended the session by having a quick go on Scratch Jr. I have never used Scratch before, however I found it easy to see the basics. I have used a software called GameMaker before in my high school ICT sessions which was similar, designing sprites and programming them to move around when using arrow keys and pick up items etc to complete the game. I have never used the main version of Scratch so I am looking forward to that and hoping it is similar to what I have done before!!

I would recommend having a look at the Scratch Jr app and experiment to see how it could be used to programme simple actions and the possibilities in the classroom.

Thank you for reading,

Jack

Key Stage 1 Computing

In our ICT seminar this week we looked at computing in KS1, specifically at the use of Bee Bots. These are used for teaching children about algorithms and programming as they can be programmed to move in different directions. They are effective as children can see a visual representation of what they have created.

An extension of this is to use Blue Bots, which are the same as Bee Bots, except they can be programmed using iPads over Bluetooth instead of the physical buttons. The app is easy to use and helps children see the connection between the sequence they create on the iPads and the movements the Blue Bots make.

In our exploration of this, we were asked to create an activity or map using the Bee Bot software. Our activity was ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ themed where the children would make a dance routine for the Bee Bots to do. This can be used in teaching counting steps, symmetry because the children could be asked to make the Bee Bots mirror each other in the routine, and dance as the children could perform the routine themselves after planning it using the Bee Bots. They could also design their own stage for the Bee Bots. As an extension, the children could add a third Bee Bot and see how it could fit around their existing routine, or use the Blue Bot software on the iPads. Similarly, to simplify this activity, the children could begin with only programming one Bee Bot.

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Our activity could be improved by creating a visual path or map for the children to program their Bee Bots around as some children may prefer this.

KS1 Computing – Bee Bots

The national curriculum on programming says:

‘design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts’.

 

In this weeks ICT seminar, we began looking at computing in Key Stage 1. The curriculum aims to help pupils explore ICT and learn to use it confidently and with purpose to achieve specific outcomes. They start to use ICT to develop their ideas and record their creative work. They become familiar with hardware and software and this is the aim that we focussed on today. The session was built around using Bee Bots and what these can be used for in a lesson, they help children with debugging and programming. I think this technology is great for a classroom as it helps children through the visual aid of the Bee Bot to understand programming and the relationship between sequences of steps and what actually happens in real life.

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This activity will help children understand how technology works as you programme steps into the Bee Bot and then something happens; this is the same for all technologies even to the simple technology such as a keyboard.
In our group we named our Bee Bots Toby and Terrence and we decided to make them dance in “Strictly Come Bee Bots”. This involves programming a sequence of movements into each Bee Bot which proved challenging at first because either the Bee Bot went off the table or they bumped into each other, but it proved to be a lot of fun.

This is just what our group decided to do. Many groups decided to act like the Bee Bot was a car and you had to drive it around the roads that they had drawn on their pieces of paper. These are both activities that you could do in a classroom either at Key Stage 1 or Key Stage 2 level.

At the end of the session we tried out Scratch Jr as this is another piece of software that children will use in schools. I remember using it at Secondary School but when I went into school for my pre-course placement the children were using it then. It was a cross curricular project between ICT and maths and it was all based on algorithms and getting your scratch character to do a times table. The extension task was to then get the character to ask the user a question which they answered; if answered correctly they received a “Well Done!” message, if not they had to do the game again.

Thanks for reading,

Miriam

School Experience ICT Badge

On our school experience, we saw many ways that ICT can be used in the classroom and were shown majority of the resources available for us to use. In our Reception class there were two iPads. These were occasionally used by the children, but were mainly used by teachers and supporting staff to assess the children’s progress using an app called tapestry. This app allows teachers to make observations of the children’s work during discovery time and select the areas of the EYFS curriculum that the work applies to. Parents also have access to the observations written about their children, and can make their own observations of children at home, which is useful for the class teacher to track progress and keep parents informed.

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We also had access to the teacher’s computer and interactive whiteboard in the classroom. This was used throughout the day for many things such as the register, choosing lunch options, and songs. It was especially useful during discovery time as children could use the ‘ActivInspire’ program without adult input to practice letter writing, mark making, and drawing. The ‘ActivInspire’ software was also used by the teacher during phonics and ‘speedy maths’ sessions where the teacher wrote letters and numbers on the board for the children to see.

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During our time on placement, the school participated in ‘Anti-Bullying Week’, where a focus on preventing cyberbullying was strongly emphasised. The children were given an assembly on the importance of stopping bullying both virtually and in real life.