April 9, 2019
This month we’re focussing on Computing as a subject. As usual, there’s something for everyone -- including teachers! So let’s start there.
You may be one of those fortunate teachers who chose to take charge of Computing in your school. Or you may be one of the many teachers who suddenly found themselves in the role after the headteacher noticed that you could use a printer! Whatever your starting point, your first port of call should be the Computing Leader’s Toolkit.
This has everything you need to get started and keep going. Need a Computing policy? No problem. Use the example policy straight off the shelf or, better still, regard it as a template for your own.
Wondering how to put the policy into practice? Enter the Action Plan template and the Action Plan example.
And let’s not forget the very handy Tips for Computing leaders.
You’ll find the toolkit by entering “computing leader” in the search box.
The toolkit examples above are just that: examples. Take some time to have a good rummage around. There are documents like the staff survey questionnaire, to help you find out how much your colleagues (and you!) know about the subject and to therefore be able to identify training needs.
It’s always good to know how you’re doing, and taking the self-evaluation questionnaire at both the start and end of the school year will prove extremely useful.
Creating and refining policies and similar documents can take up a lot of time. In this day and age where both the DfE and Ofsted are concerned about teacher workload, save yourself some work by using the tools provided -- at least to start with. For example, there’s no need to devise a spreadsheet to keep track of your budget, because the Budget Tool (in the toolkit) is ready to use.
You have a choice. You can either start with the National Curriculum’s Programme of Study for Computing, or you can use the Scheme of Work available in Purple Mash. Quite frankly, it’s a no-brainer. The 2Simple Computing Scheme of Work not only provides a breakdown of what the Programme of Study means in practice, but it also suggests the applications in Purple Mash that you can use to help them do so.
As if that wasn’t helpful enough, the scheme overview s colour-coded. That means you can tell at a glance what needs to go on across the year groups.
You can then deep dive into the schemes of work for each year group. These schemes are not just ideas written on the back of an envelope. They contain the lesson aims and success criteria for the year group, and, as if that wasn’t enough, individual lesson plans. You don’t have to use them of course, but why reinvent wheels?
The scheme of work also includes units of work you can use with Reception children. There are some wonderful activities there which make use of programs like 2Go (see below) and 2Paint. Definitely worth a look! Find it by typing “computing” into the search box.
Everyone gets flummoxed over assessment, so if you do you’re not alone. The Assessment tools in Purple Mash make it very easy for you to check the criteria for each learning objective, and to note whether a pupil is at the “emerging”, “expected” or exceeded” part of the spectrum,. They also enable you to easily see what percentage of the whole class comes into each of these categories.
This application is a good way of introducing pupils, especially very young ones, to the idea of programming. If the children have used a floor robot, they will understand this application right away, because it’s like a screen version of that. And if you’re familiar with the decades old program Logo, you’ll recognise it immediately too.
What makes 2Go stand out is that it has several levels of complexity. The default starting point is very simple indeed: pupils click on an arrow to make the turtle go in one of four directions. But behind the scenes, which you can get to by clicking the Settings icon, are options to make the program more complex.
If you search for “2Go” in the search bar you’ll find a guidance document as well as “Challenges”. They will give you ideas for activities in lessons.
Thinking of starting a coding club in your school? Look for “Mash Club” in the search box. You’ll get ideas and resources for running a club in which pupils can develop their coding skills using 2Code -- which is what we’ll consider next!
This is 2Simple’s version of block coding. It’s a very visual and hands-on way to start learning programming. There are some very simple preset scenarios, starting with one in which the pupil has to make a bubble float upwards. Further down, there are increasingly complex challenges. In this way, even very young children can begin to have the thrill of giving a computer a command and watching it carry out your wishes. You can find 2Code by clicking on Computing in the home screen.
When you click on the 2Code folder you’ll discover a wealth of support materials: video tutorials, a glossary, and Coding resources and solutions. That contains guided lessons and how-to instructions. So, if coding fills you with terror, this hand-holding resource will see you through.
If you’ve already bought the Switched on Computing resources, search “switched” in the search box. This will take you to documents showing how the applications in Purple Mash can be used in each of the units of Switched On.
Finally, it’s worth spending time exploring the Computing Tools section, which you can find simply by clicking on Computing on the home screen. The reason is that as well as the programs like 2Code, which we’ve already looked at here, there are others which you might not at first thing of in terms of computing.
For example, 2Connect is a good way of getting pupils to think of ideas, and even introducing them to the concept of flowcharts.
There is also a version of Logo in Purple Mash, which would serve as a great way of bridging the gap between the very simple 2Go and the richer environment of 2Code.
Scroll down in the Computing section to the Writing Projects. There’s a brilliant resource called Program Design. There you will find a couple of excellent 2Connect activities: one to help you plan out what the experience of your computer game will be, and another to help you deconstruct a problem.
Computing isn’t just about programming of course. In the Writing Projects sections there are factfiles on Ada Lovelace and Sir Tim Berners-Lee as well as an invitation to explore how technology is used outside of school.
Computing is not the easiest of subjects, but the resources in Purple Mash have been designed to be useful to everyone, from very young pupils encountering it for the first time, to older ones who want to create exciting programs for themselves.
Terry Freedman is an independent educational ICT consultant and writer, having had a long career in Education, including teaching, advising schools and inspecting. He publishes the ICT and Computing in Education website at www.ictineducation.org, and the Digital Education newsletter at www.ictineducation.org/diged. You can follow Terry on Twitter if you wish:@terryfreedman.