by Elliott Plumb
3 ways you can engage primary pupils in ‘Computing’ during your first year of teaching
Whether you are about to enter teaching or you have just finished your first year, there are always subjects that you feel you haven’t sunk your teeth into as much as you may have wanted (P.E. for me!). There may have been timetable clashes; a lack of resources or it may be a lack of confidence in the subject (Again, P.E. for me!). Computing can sometimes be that subject. 2014 will see huge changes for the Computing curriculum. ICT has evolved into ‘Computing’ and with the name change comes a huge shift in the content we are required to teach. Out go the PowerPoint presentations and spreadsheets and we welcome coding and algorithms. This article aims to provide three ways in which you can make the new Computing curriculum easier and more engaging for the children in your class.
A fantastic aspect of teaching is the community you are immersed in. As an NQT most teachers are willing to help and assist you with your practice. The same goes for the borough you work in and any education centres that you may be fortunate enough to have in close proximity.
Before you begin sweating over all of the new technical vocabulary, go along and see your Computing co-ordinator. If there is not a co-ordinator, ask your phase leader. Some schools have a Computing suite and some have trolleys of iPads and laptops. Importantly, every school should have a range of technology that you could incorporate into your lessons. Flip Cams, Raspberry Pi’s and a whole host of useful programs could all be available in your school. Don’t forget to ask staff for successful Computing lessons they may have completed in the past. They may even offer you the planning they used. You don’t ask, you don’t get!
Looking beyond your school is also a great way of finding useful Computing resources. There are so many different (free) resources available to schools from your local borough. Some boroughs have centres with computer suites that can be used by local schools for free. This could be a brilliant opportunity if your school lacks the resources you might be looking for. Do your research and search wide for what free resources are available to you.
Lastly, Education Officers and Advisors that are spread across your borough can be a great help. These people come in many forms; some work at local museums, some are class teachers and some work at your local Civic Centre. Developing strong links with the local council can provide amazing opportunities. They often have a great vision and access to resources that you might not have thought existed!
Cross Curricular Planning
Another way in which you can flex your Computing muscles is to assure that you consider Computing in all aspects of your planning. Whatever the subject may be, ask yourself – Could I incorporate any computer skills here? From Literacy through to Geography, you could take your topic of choice and make links with the new Computing curriculum. Not only will the children enjoy it but it could also give them a chance to consolidate learning. Children could make a game using ‘Scratch’, they could build Lego robots or you could use iPads to make animations or films. The possibilities are endless.
Finally, you must not underestimate the prior knowledge that the children of today have when it comes to technology and computers. Pupils have been an invaluable resource for previous projects as utilising their knowledge has benefitted everybody.
Ways in which you can involve children in the teaching of the subject can range according to how comfortable and confident you feel about your class and their knowledge and behaviour. Discussions as a class about their knowledge before you begin planning can be an extremely informative guide. Generating a discussion can draw out how much the children know already. This allows you to differentiate into ability groups and also differentiate the questioning in your planning.
Pupil-led computing sessions whereby particular children take the lead in groups and troubleshoot issues that may arise is worthwhile not only for the pupils, but for the teacher too. Being brave and letting the children guide the learning and the discussions can be hugely beneficial and more enjoyable for everybody.
2014 will see almighty changes across the Computing curriculum. Many schools are ready for this change and can offer fantastic opportunities and resources. If you are applying for a post or interested in taking on Computing in your current school, ask a plethora of questions about resources and where the school is going next with Computing. Computing is taking an extremely exciting new direction and rather that shying away, embrace it and let the children run with it!