by Taryn Hauritz
The new computing programme of study states that “A high-quality computing education equips pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world”. Wow! This is pretty exciting stuff. But, if you’re anything like me and don’t have a background in computer science, where on earth do you begin?
Earlier this year I started to write a new computing curriculum for a family of prep schools in London. Having taught ICT there for ten years, I thought that this would be a fairly straight forward process and I was excited about the possibilities. But, after several weeks of researching and studying, I found myself going round in circles. It was almost like there was too much information, but somehow not exactly what I was looking for.
After attending the BETT show in January, I realised that I wasn’t on my own. There was support out there and I just needed to be proactive about it. So, after several years of resistance I finally decided to join twitter. I started to build a network of experts and teachers from primary education in the UK and beyond and I was blown away with how many amazing resources and ideas were being shared there.
I finally I felt as though I had my finger on the pulse and was slightly embarrassed that it had taken me that long to join. If you’re new to twitter and are grappling with the new computing curriculum, I can highly recommend following these people as a starting point:
@mberry @CompAtSch @deputymitchell @digitalmaverick @computingchamps @DrChips_ @dughall @englandraider @esafetyadviser @ianaddison @lordlangley73 @MissPhilbin @naace @terryfreedman @yallsop @timbuckteeth @bobharrisonset @TimRylands @ZoeRoss19 @mwclarkson @suesentance @CodeBoom @andrewtuson @ICTEvangelist @dan_bowen @eyebeams @pegleggen @DrTomCrick @syded06 @ukedchat @tonyparkin @tarynhauritz
Alternatively, you could follow my “Computing” list @tarynhauritz where I have them all saved. There are plenty of guides for new twitter users online, but the best thing to do is to jump in and start playing. You’ll soon figure it out. Just don’t give up too soon.
After some extensive networking on twitter, I then attended a number of conferences and Computing At School events. I have learnt an awful lot about the computing curriculum over the last couple of months and I have to say it’s all pretty exciting. There’s no need to throw out your ICT plans though, because so many of them will still be suitable. They will just need some “tweaking”.
So that you can adapt your current ICT curriculum for September I have created the following algorithm (see what I’ve done there?) to get you started:
STEP 1: Read “Computing in the national curriculum: A guide for primary teachers” This guide is priceless. It explains everything you need to know to get started.
STEP 2: Download the “Computing Progression Pathways”. Familiarise yourself with each of the six strands. It’s important to note that primary children are expected to reach the end of the blue strand.
Alternatively, you could download the Progression Pathways divided into three strands: Computer Science, Information Technology and Digital Literacy:
STEP 3: Get out your current ICT curriculum and use the strands above to identify any areas of weakness in your current scheme of work. I actually found it easiest to download the child-friendly version (see step 7) and stick the descriptors on my yearly overview.
STEP 4: Join Computing At School and use the website to find resources (including CPD) to help you plan any new units of work to “fill in the gaps”. If you need more time to do this properly, plan to teach these units next summer.
STEP 5: Adapt the units of work you’d like to keep for the new curriculum by updating your medium term plans with the new Programme of Study and the progression pathways indicators in step 2. Usually it’s just about adapting the vocabulary and finding the relevant new PoS statements.
STEP 6: Add Computer Science Unplugged activities to as many of your units of work as possible. They really help encourage computational thinking across the curriculum and are great for kinaesthetic learners.
STEP 7: Download the child-friendly computing progression pathway statements from the CAS website and use them for pupils’ self and peer assessment. I would also use them for an interactive display so that you and your pupils can reference them regularly.
STEP 8: Design some computing badges for your children to earn for each of the six strands. An even better idea would be to get your children to design them in class.
My final advice to you is to “Reach Out”. Keep networking and discussing ideas with as many colleagues as possible – a problem shared is a problem halved and together, we really can change the world!
Taryn Hauritz and colleagues working on the new computing curriculum