by Yasemin Allsop
I am aware that the computer science aspects of the new computing curriculum creates extra work for some teachers as they need to learn many unfamiliar concepts. I know this can be challenging and time consuming, but I think we are very fortunate because there is a vast range of free programming environments /apps available for teachers to use for teaching computer science elements to children. What we need to remember is that the program itself doesn’t just make children develop computational thinking, the context we use, the pedagogical approach we employ shapes the learning experience of our students.
On the next page I have shared a simple activity which can be used as a main task or as an assessment task at the end of a coding session. The aim is to support children to design solutions for a specific purpose by selecting and using correct blocks in a sequence. These activities can encourage them to think in logical steps which is the main foundation of problem solving skills and at the same time provide opportunities for peer or whole class discussions.
Before this task there are some hands-on activities that you can do with children that will help them to design and use algorithms, which is a key element of programming. You could:
1-Ask the children to design their own dance routines in small groups on paper. Then let them try out each others dance algorithms. Remind them to use functions such as ‘repeat’, ‘If’, and ‘forever’.
2-Download the vector version of standard Scratch Blocks created by Paul Heather from the link below:
Print the cards and laminate them. You can use these cards to practice specific actions with the children before moving onto the on-screen program. The children can work in small groups to give instructions to each other using the Scratch cards.
An example solution for the dance task can be seen at: http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/43629216/
Click here to download the ‘Let’s Dance’ task in pdf