Quick look: Literacy from Scratch

Scratch ProjectIf you’re concerned that young children won’t be able to grasp computing concepts, or are worried about how you’re going to teach it, have a look around the Literacy from Scratch website.

Managed – and, I think, written by – Lawrence Williams, the  website contains examples of pupils’ work in Scratch, cross-curricular ideas and examples, and notes on pedagogy.

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Review of Espresso Coding

esspresso code 1This application is designed to teach Computing at Key Stages 1 and 2 (a more sophisticated version for older pupils is being worked on).

What struck me immediately on using it is the amount of guidance available, both in verbal form and videos. There is quite a large range of modules to choose from, including “Starter” ones which take you through the basics and, where appropriate, recapitulate what has already been learnt.

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Review of J2Code

j2code 6As usual, I gave this application a workout without seeking help from a manual or anything like that – which is just as well because there does not seem to be a comprehensive manual.

There are three applications in one: JIT5, LOGO and Visual. This is quite useful because if you are familiar with LOGO but not JavaScript, you can start pupils coding in an environment that is familiar to you. Also, if you teach very young children, JIT5 is highly visual and colourful.

An advantage of J2Code as a whole over 2Code is that it covers the age range from Key Stage 1 (5-6 year olds) to Key Stage 3 (13-14 year olds).

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Preparing to teach the new Computing curriculum

Oh No!!I've been giving talks on preparing for the new Computing curriculum, and as well as waxing lyrical that also involves listening to others' concerns. It also means hearing about some innovative approaches that colleagues have adopted.

At the same time, I have been conducting a survey of what people have been doing to prepare for the new curriculum. I'll be publishing the results in due course. In fact, some of the resources mentioned in the collection of coding resources in the early July 2014 edition of Digital Education  came to my attention from that survey.

So, given that at the time of writing there's about 2 or 3 days to go till the end of term, what can you realistically do at this stage to prepare for September?

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Coding is not debugging

Sometimes I am not quite sure whether a statement is obvious or not obvious at all. In such cases I try to take the view that if it was that obvious, I wouldn’t need to comment at all. Take the statement “Coding is not debugging”. Of course it isn’t. But to read what some people have written you could be forgiven for thinking that an ability to write good code automatically confers the ability to be good at debugging. Well, like the old Porgy and Bess song has it, it ain’t necessarily so.
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Book review: Two girls, one on each knee (7)

ToC CrosswordYou could argue that crossword solving is a very good example of computational thinking. That is certainly what the security services thought during WW2 when they asked The Times to send them the names of anyone who could solve a cryptic crossword they’d supplied in 12 minutes or less. Those that did were invited to work at Bletchley Park, cracking codes for the war effort.
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How computers decrease efficiency

Burglar Bill at largeNot everything that is good, is good. Take this as an example. If I were to give my neighbour’s children some private tuition in return for a modest fee, I could go out and spend the money, thereby contributing to the local and national economy. Everyone benefits.

On the other hand, if I were to go on a really prolific one-man burglary spree, they would have to employ extra police or pay the existing police force more overtime, local residents would invest in updated security systems and the local economy would benefit even more from all this spending.

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