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’.

Online Task- is the website good?

For this weeks task we were asked to evaluate the usefulness and effectiveness of a website and the one that I chose to do can be found on the following link: http://www.interactive-resources.co.uk/resources

At first glance this website looks like a very useful one. It is entirely dedicated to producing and offering online maths resources got teachers and schools. You do need to subscribe and pay but you are offered a 14 day free trial to test whether it is worth getting the full subscription.

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This is the home page and it is clearly laid out with easy tabs and links to other options and resources that are open to you as a consumer. So I decided to test out one of the resources that are open to you as a teacher to use in a lesson! One of them was based on developing a quick recall of times tables.

 

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This is the screen that you are shown at the end. This gives the child an opportunity to track their progress but also allows the teacher to see which times table needs to be worked on, whether that be for an individual or a whole class activity.

This activity amongst many of the other activities that I tried are perfectly clear and easily accessible enough for children to access and complete during a lesson if it is open. The activity that is shown above is perfect for a plenary activity as a way of rounding off the lesson but also keeping their brains thinking and practicing key skills that they need to develop from a young age.

Things that I really like about this website:

  1. How easy it is to get around and find things. This is achieved through the clear and no nonsense labels and tabs taking you on through the website to further features that the website offers.
  2. I like the colours and the way that no page is very cluttered. It is using clear font that a child can easily read meaning that if a maths lesson was do various activities around the classroom; a child would easily be able to work their way around the website and find different activities that they may want to complete.
  3. That you can save and download the activities on your computer but also simply open them up through the website. Meaning that you can have the activity easily accessible during a lesson and are able to look up different activities when planning a scheme of work.
  4. I like that it has a key features page, so if as a teacher you were truing to sell the website and subscription to the school you can easily show them that page which perfectly and simply lays out the benefits that come from using the website.

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Things that could be improved about the website:

  1. If the website had a feature where you could track data that the children gather through the different activities then I think that would make it a more superior site to the others that are out there. This is because it offers a superior way of tracking the change in a child’s ability as well as making the activities and time that a child spends on there not entirely useless or fruitless.

Thanks so much for reading,

Miriam

Interactive Whiteboards in the Classroom

Interactive whiteboards have been in the classroom for 10 years and they have gradually become a bigger part of a lesson. However, the impact of the whiteboard on a lesson is totally dependent on the confidence that the teacher has in the technology and how he or she can use it. A teacher who isn’t particularly confident in their ability won’t use the whiteboard to its full extent. A teacher like this shouldn’t impact the childrens confidence in technology which admittedly is becoming less of a problem as technology is more accessible and children are exposed to it at a much younger age.

There are lots of ways that you can use a whiteboard in a classroom and these pictures offer a snap shot of the opportunities available to teachers if they knew how to access and use the technology.

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Pam then gave us the opportunity to explore what an interactive whiteboard could offer in a classroom. We made a resource based on a killer whale, but the tools on the interactive whiteboard offer various options for what you would do with it. For example you could label the different parts of the animal, you could insert other pictures of sea creatures for story time or an art lesson. This would be achieved by using the clip art tool or if you want other pictures by clicking on the clip art button you can also access Google which will give other options for pictures.

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The possibilities with an interactive whiteboard and how to use them are endless and should not be limited at any point. As a teacher creating exciting resources that support and extend the learning of the children can be challenging as you may not feel comfortable in your own ability and also may not feel that the time it takes to create a useful resource undermines the effect that the resource may have on the children. However, there is a whole internet full of resources for teachers to use.

Here’s one that I found: http://www.topmarks.co.uk/Interactive.aspx – with this website you can be very particular with what you are looking for i.e. the age group you are focusing on and the subject. If you click on a subject it will give you an opportunity to look on which key stage you are focusing on. This opportunity for a teacher is immense as for those children who’s intelligence and ability is maybe above the other pupils in your classroom, you could easily download something that will challenge them so that they are still actively learning in the classroom.

The following websites either contain helpful links to websites or are full of resources themselves:

  1. http://www.teachhub.com/free-interactive-whiteboard-resources
  2. http://www.whiteboardblog.co.uk/2009/07/20-interactive-whiteboard-resources-for-teachers/
  3. http://www.crickweb.co.uk

Thanks for reading,

Miriam