Tomorrow myself and my computing/ICT peers are heading to a local primary school to deliver after-school INSET to the staff around computing. Whilst a potentially daunting experience, I’m really excited about finally putting pieces of my knowledge to (hopefully!) good use, and convincing some teachers that the new computing curriculum isn’t all bad news and is, in fact, extremely doable.
Although it might make more sense to write this post tomorrow after it has happened and feedback on the experience, I just wanted to blog now, mainly to consolidate my thoughts about it before I go in and do it for real! Also, it may help some of you who have to undertake a similar task, or are just looking for some teaching ideas.
Our brief was to deliver some ideas/activities around introducing algorithms initially, and then a little bit of information on Scratch. Together, we figured out some activities that we could show which were fun and relatively easy to do. Please bear in mind this is entry level and designed for KS1 children who have no previous knowledge. Also, I won’t explain activities completely in depth, but will provide an overview and include links to original sources.
- Crazy Characters – I would first of all like to point out this is not my idea; I got the idea from Barefoot Computing (link below) which is an amazing website featuring a wealth of FREE resources for teaching computing. This activity involves lots of pupil engagement and some drawing of monsters, which is bound to keep children excited. The activity helps to introduce the idea of algorithms, of which a common misconception is they are extremely hard. It also has the potential to initiate ideas of debugging, decomposition and logic.
Link here (but you will need an account to access the activity): http://barefootcas.org.uk/
2. Jam Sandwich – Coined by Phil Bagge, this is a really fun activity which gets children thinking computationally. The basis is, children must instruct you to make a jam sandwich. Sound simple? Not unless you give specific instructions. Hilarity ensues.
Link to YouTube video of Phil Bagge performing the Jam Sandwich task: https://youtu.be/leBEFaVHllE
3. Sharing Sweets – Taken again from Barefoot Computing, this task approaches algorithms and patterns, so could be a good activity once the basics of algorithmic thinking have been established. Also, it could involve real sweets, which is bound to keep children engaged.
These are just a few activities which could be used to introduce computing; we only have one hour approximately and this is only a part of the INSET, so time is tight! Hopefully it’ll show how computing can be taught through everyday, real life contexts and isn’t just about the complicated HTML code.
Just a short post today, but need to go to finalise thoughts for tomorrow! Will keep you updated on how the session went.