Sunday, 22 June 2014

Programming Made Easy


'Programming Made Easy' on iPads will be launched on the 8th July to address the current challenges facing many primary school. How do they give teachers the confidence to teach the new Computing curriculum? Based on a popular training course this book offers 35 lesson plans for 5 - 11 year olds and will give primary teachers an invaluable assistance when it comes to teaching code to their pupils. 


A pupil in Key Stage 1 using logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of simple programs
Programming - Why is it important?

Learning to program is now an entitlement and a vital skill for children to learn. As technology becomes more and more ingrained into our everyday lives, it is important that our pupils have practical experience of programming and an understanding of technology and how it works as we prepare them with  the skills and creativity needed for the future workplace.




Businesses are in need of good programmers. Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group states “whether we’re fighting climate change or going into space everything is powered by computers, and we don’t have enough people who can code.” Not only is programming an employable skill for the 21st Century but a highly useful skill too. Maria Klawe, President, Harvey Mudd College says “Coding is today’s language of creativity. All our children deserve a chance to become creators instead of consumers of computer science.”
   
Alongside any programming lessons the pupils should begin to develop a sound knowledge of computers and how they work. For example:

  • Do they know the components that make up the inside of a computer system? 
  • What’s the difference between hardware and software?
  • What is an operating system? 
  • What is a network? How does it work?
  • What is programming and what are some of the programming languages used to make
  • programs work?

Embedding Programming in other Areas of the Curriculum.

Should programming be discrete or embedded? Both. There may be times when a programming skill needs to be taught as a discrete skill but there are so many opportunities to embed programming into other subjects to provide interesting objectives for student’s programming projects.




For example, if the pupils have designed a game using the app Sketch Nation there are opportunities for cross-curricular writing. The project could incorporate digital literacy skills and include designing logos and posters, using garageband to create a radio advert and jingles. They could write a persuasive advert as if their game appeared in the App Store as in the popular blog post 'Game Design as Part of an Integrated Project'. Information Technology skills could be incorporated. The pupils could design a spreadsheet to work out how much money the game will make if it sells at x number at £0.69? What if the price increased? Etc. The project could form part of a business and enterprise project, in which the pupils collect tokens from pupils who wish to play their game.

Learning to program enhances other areas too. Including problem solving, critical thinking and logical thinking and can be helpful in understanding other subjects, such as mathematics. 


Audience

Opportunities should be given to students to share their finished programs with an audience. This could be fellow students, another class, on a blog, with parents/carers or on twitter. Providing the opportunity for pupils to create something for a specific audience is a crucial part of the learning process. Not only will this give the pupils a real focus and sense of ownership but it will make their work matter - especially if they have an opportunities to showcase their work and get real focused feedback by writing for a specific audience (see Guest Markers & Game Design Project blog posts).

A game could be designed for a specific audience and pupils in the school could invite other pupils to play a game they've design by organising a games fair. At Bellfield Primary they held a 'Dragons Den' afternoon and invited parent/carers in. The pupils pitched their games and had to persuade to their audience to play their game - giving the pupils' project a real purpose and audience for their work. As the new curriculum aims states 'pupils are competent in the art of speaking and listening, making  formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate'

Pupils at a Games Fair.
Learning Wall - Each Pupils Advertisement for their Game
An example of a pupils Advertisement for their game

35 lessons Programming Lessons for 5 - 11 Year Olds

A specific number of pertinent apps on iPads have been hand-picked in order to give teachers extra confidence and make the crucial transition to programming fun. In each lesson, pupils will become familiar with key programming concepts, which they will revisit as they progress to more complex lesson plans. The lesson plans focus on getting students to understand the breakdown of programming terminology using clear examples and enjoyable tasks.



This comprehensive product includes:
  • 35 lesson plans for 5 - 11 years old.
  • An easy to understand breakdown of key terminology of programming terms with clear
  • examples and screenshots from the programming apps.
  • Focused objectives for each lesson.
  • Fun challenges.
  • Questions to ask the pupils, so they remain involved and attentive throughout.
  • Extension activities.
  • Screenshots with annotations to explain key concepts to make sure understanding is clear for all involved.
  • Examples of how the pupils can reflect on their understanding by combining creative apps.
  • Ways the pupils can keep digital portfolios to show clear progression of skills.
  • Ideas how pupils can incorporate crucial spoken language skills by explaining key
  • concepts through the power of the technology. 
These engaging lessons teach pupils the fundamentals of programming and will provide an excellent springboard to learn text-based programming languages in Key Stage 3.




Free Sample
During the ‘A.L.E.X’ lesson, pupils will design and create a purposefully challenging level. They will then record the best ways to overcome the level’s demands, capturing screenshots along the way, and ultimately invite other pupils, teachers and parents to play them.



A game designed by a pupil in Year 5 - demonstrating their understanding of solving problems by decomposing them into smaller parts.



Click on the link below to sign up for FREE Sample lesson plans from Key Stage 1, Lower and Upper Key Stage 2. Also included; contents page, introduction, objectives and a guide to the key terminology. 



“I saw this product after attending the ‘The New Computing Curriculum Made Easy’ courses by Mr Andrews Online,” said one headteacher at a NAHT conference. “It is a fantastic resource! The lesson plans are really easy to follow, and will give the staff at my school the confidence to teach programming skills.You can tell it’s created by a teacher who understands the classroom”.







Programming Made Easy is now available at £75 + VAT. For more information and to pre-order a copy, visit www.mrandrewsonline.com or contact info@mrandrewsonline.com.




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