One of the main things I find myself struggling to get my head around with computing is how to teach it; how on earth can you fit Lego Mindstorms, for example, into everyday learning? It’s been suggested many times that in order for computing to “work” successfully in schools, that it needs to be put into context, that children can see where it will fit in with their everyday lives. This is why I personally feel that computing is most effectively taught within a cross curricular plan, overall.
In a recent seminar, we explored Lego Mindstorms, programming a robot to move and speak (he was a very cute little thing, although I’m not sure that’s the correct computational language). Once we had cracked this, we moved onto thinking how this activity could fit into a cross curricular scheme of work. When first asked the question, my mind felt quite blank, but when you work through each subject and study the curriculum, it becomes easier. I personally feel it’s very good practice to do this, as it can not only get you looking at the new curriculum, but gets me thinking like a teacher! (This may sound like a given, but when you’re not on placement and know you won’t be for a while, you can start to forget why you’re doing the things you are). Large cross curricular schemes of work were used also by the school I was previously on placement in and I thought they were amazing, so I’ve seen how well it can work in practice.
So, here are a few of our ideas, very briefly, subject by subject! We decided to base our topic around the Disney film Wall-E. This would be the basis for our plan, giving the children a context to work from. I’ve also attached our original mind map below, so you can see the whole range of subjects.
English – There are lots of ways to incorporate English into this topic. A few we thought of involved watching specific clips of the film and using this as a stimulus for a range of writing tasks: descriptive writing, writing instructions correctly (this could link to creating algorithms, debugging and ordering) and diary writing. English is always a creative one, so it can link in many ways!
Maths – This could link specifically to the coding task I mentioned at the start. Angles, translations, rotations and recording data could all work, alongside other more basic mathematical processes.
Art – Children could explore modelling and structures using paper mache or junk items to create their own lifesize robots. This could incorporate a range of artistic techniques and would be great fun! Design and Technology could come in here as well, with the initial design (graphics). We also thought of baking robot biscuits for food technology and creating flow diagrams.
Science – Circuits, electricity and light and sound could all be explored and discussed with relation to this topic.
The great thing about these ideas is they can all be tailored according to age and ability groups. We thought it was generally a really fun topic which the children would probably enjoy (and I’m sure they would appreciate being able to watch the film in full as a treat at the end!)
I hope you liked some of our ideas. Let me know what sort of cross curricular topics you use within your class/school and specifically how you are planning to implement computing into these 🙂
Also, I need to mention my course mates who I created these ideas with! Becca, Portia and Ryan – @Becca_Smallshaw @portiasmithh_ and @RyanVaughan2