I am going to explore several different software’s/ activities that can be used in the classroom to help aid children’s learning in computing. I have decided to do this one because we are currently carry out a project in digital literacy but also computing has become more recognised in the Primary Curriculum and these are software’s that can be brought into the classroom.
The first software that I have looked at is Scratch, this is an animation programme which allows children to programme the Sprites into making an animation or creating some sort of game for example programming the Sprite to walk through a maze and speak at the end etc. This software is a useful one which can be used in the Primary classroom, I believe that this software is more appropriate for children in KS2, however could be introduced at the end of KS1. Scratch allows you to share your animations online which allows you to learn about other people’s work, which helps children put their work into context and expand their computing skills.
Scratch can be used as a cross curricular piece of software not only can it help aid children’s knowledge in computing and programming, it can also be linked to aspects of maths as children are able to programme their Sprites to create different shapes such as triangles and squares. Scratch can also be taught in line with English when looking at story boards etc, as the children can create their sprite to act out the story.
Scratch is a unique tool when looking at computing as it is an easy accessible site that, is laid out well so that it is easier for children to use. The programming tools are set up like lego pieces that fit together, this helps children to understand the commands that come first and what comes after and they can follow the commands that they have asked their Spite to do. This software is very easy to amend any mistakes.
Personally I thought that Scratch took some getting used to and if I am being honest I am still getting to grips with how to use the software to its full potential. However I believe that once I understand fully how scratch works it will be a very beneficial learning tool to take into the classroom.
What do you all feel about Scratch? Do you believe that it’s a good learning tool to use in the Primary Classroom? Leave your comments here.
Another software that I have looked at is Kodu. Kodu is described my Microsoft Research as a new visual programming language made specifically for creating games.
Kodu combines the simple elements of computing into a fun learning activity for children to use. The game uses simple commands such as “when” something happens then the Kodu needs to “do” something else. Kodu allows the children to create their own little world that they can then set up their algorithms in. At first children may not understand that they are actually programming however as they progress in to the project it will become clear that what they are doing is creating sets of algorithms that their characters need to follow.
I liked the way that Kodu worked as it is very visual which suits the needs of some children. I felt that this programme was much easier to get the hang of than things such as scratch, this could be because there was a vast choice of tutorials on YouTube that gave you a step by step guide on how to use the software.
Kodu seemed to be the more popular software in our Uni group as well, most of the people in my group favoured this software to any of the others because of the easier layout and visual element of this.
What’s all of your opinions on Kodu I would love to hear from you all.
BeeBots are another useful tool that can be used in school that can help children understand the process of computing and processing. BeeBots are small robots in the shape of bees that children can programme to move in a certain way. Beebots are most appropriate for the foundation stage and KS1. In the foundation stage children can explore some of the simple contents of computing through play. Although the children may not understand that they are learning how to programme, they are given the fundamental skills that they need to progress their knowledge of computing into KS1. Not only can you get the BeeBots you can also download an online app from the Apple app store. This is very similar to the BeeBot however children would need to programme their bot to follow a path to get to the end of the maze. I favour this app as it has several different levels of ability so it allows all children to have a go catering for all abilities, this app also allows for differentiation in the classroom.
The idea of using the BeeBot is for children to programme it to move in a designated path, by using the control arrows, however there is no way for the children to remember what they have programmed their BeeBot to do so it is essential that you get your children to write down all the steps so the idea of programming is clear to them.
BeeBots are very child friendly, and is something that is relatively cheap to uses as a tool for teaching computing in the Primary classroom. The Beebot is a great tool to introduce the concept of algorithms to younger children, as it can be explained as a process of commands which can then be put into context using the BeeBots. The Beebots can also be used for cross curriculum work as well for example they could learn direction in geography my programming the BeeBot to go north, south, east and west, or could be used as an activity in maths for example programming the BeeBot to follow in the direction of certain shape patterns.
To conclude the use of the BeeBot to help aid computing in schools, I believe that it is a great tool, as they are easy to use and very child friendly. I believe that this activity is one that is should be carried out more in schools.
Another software that I have looked at is Lightbox this is another app that can be downloaded from the apple app store. This game involves having to move the robot around through several commands so that it can reach the light bulb and turn it on.
I believe that this app is very good for keeping children motivated while teaching them some of the basic elements of computing and algorithms. There are 40 different levels to this game and as a result children have the desire to complete the levels whilst learning about the loops and algorithms. Like the BeeBot I believe that it is a positive thing that there is different levels in this computing software as it allows differentiation in the classroom which can involve low achievers as well as those children that need to be pushed. I believe that this software is better suited to KS2, probably best for upper KS2, you may find with this software that although the early levels seem to be portrayed as quite simple, the levels become more intense as they develop the ideas of computing and programming.
Have any of you got any views on the use of Lightbox with children in the classroom? Has anyone used this in the classroom and proved it to be successful? Leave your comments here.
Another computing software that could be used in a KS2 setting to help aid computing in the classroom is an app called Cargo Bot. This programme involves problem solving and thinking logically about a problem that is given, which fundamentally brings in the concept of mathematics and mathematical reasoning.
A disadvantage is that this app isn’t useful for using in front of the whole class as it doesn’t show the programme on the screen correctly. This programme involves the children looking at the aspects of loops in computing. This programme looks at all aspects of the national curriculum so is good to use throughout the duration of the course, with children.
Personally I wouldn’t use this software on children any younger than year 5 as I believe that it covers some of the much more complex elements of computing.
Thanks for reading this I hope you have found out some new information from this. Please leave comments on your opinions about these software’s to aid teaching and learning in computer programming. I will continue to blog my views on other software’s relevant to computing.