Computing in our Curriculum

After a TEACH COMPUTING discussion on Twitter, I received an email from John Bevan asking me to share our schemes of work, to see how computing is taught at our school.

Schemes of Work – We do have published schemes of work, but there would be very little of interest from a computing perspective in these that would be worth sharing. Sadly, the published schemes of work do not venture very far from teaching MS Office / Open Office through word processing, spreadsheets , databases etc. They are far from where I want them to be. I am happier to share what I am most proud of.  Recently, in Year 8 ICT we introduced pupils to vector drawing using Adobe Flash, then leading onto creating animations in Flash and some use of Action Script to create some drag and drop games and quiz games. In Year 9 ICT pupils design, plan and create an audio clip using Audacity to promote a message – many were eSafety messages. However, all this is hardly revolutionary and it is not computing!

But – all this is currently changing.

Scratch at Key Stage 3 – About four years ago we introduced some Scratch visual programming into our curriculum. Small chunks at first, but each year this has grown and grown. This year we entered some of our pupils work into the SSAT Scratch Maths UK competition, and two of our Year 8 girls won. At first we were nervous about deviating too much away from the ICT National Curriculum, but not to do so was denying children a fantastic range of opportunites to engage with what appears to offer more challenge and reward.

At our school, all pupils in Year 7 to Year 9 have 1 x 1 hour lesson of ICT each week and we set homework evry fortnight. The majority of the courses we teach are supported through the use of our Moodle VLE.

Year 7 – This year, Year 7 the Autumn Term will start with some assessment and fundamentals, eg. logging in to the network and Moodle, use of email, printing, word processing assignment, a quiz to assess their prior knowledge and understanding. They will also be shown how to use Mahara and create some different Mahara views, a blogging environment that runs from within our Moodle. The Spring Term will introduce pupils to Scratch games creation, 8 bit games – starting with breakout, pacman and then space invaders. Their assignment will be to create some elements of a game in response a list of specific criteria. In the Summer Term, we will introduce some console programming using Python to create a guess the number game, based on the book by Al Sweigart “Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python” Pupils will be assessed on their use of Python to solve a series of short problems.

Year 8 – the Autumn Term starts with vector drawing using Flash. then leading onto creating animations in Flash and the use of Action Script to create some drag and drop games and quiz games. During the Spring Term, pupils will learn to design and develop a Maths game using Scratch (most pupils learnt some Scratch fundamentals in Year 7), Summer term – a more accelerated Python programming than pupils in Year 7 (Year 8s have had no prior experience of Python)

Year 9 – All pupils in Year 9 will study the OCR National First Award in Year 10 and Year 11 (1 hour per week, KS4), this will be a real challenge to fit into the time available, so pupils will study and complete the ‘Creating an Audio Clip’ unit in Year 9. In the Spring term, pupils will be asked to choose the GCSE options. In addition to the core ICT (OCR Nationals) that all pupils will study in Year 10 & 11, some pupils may wish to choose GCSE ICT or GCSE Computing – so, as well as completing the audio clip unit in Year 9, we will also be teaching some aspects of Edexcel GCSE ICT and OCR GCSE Computing to Year 9 pupils to inform their choices at GCSE.

Year 10 – From September we will have approx 90 pupils studying OCR National First Award, 50 studying Edexcel GCSE ICT and 18 studying OCR GCSE Computing. The GCSE Computing class will have two lessons per week in Year 10 and the same in Year 11. In Year 10, I  propose to have one lesson each week designated as a ‘programming lab’, and the other lesson will be ‘computer science‘ knowledge and understanding. Pupils will be learning to program in Python. September to December will be mainly programming in console mode, then after Christmas with PyGame modules. We will still use Scratch to develop understanding of some programming concepts, pseudo code.

Year 11 – All pupils in Year 11, approx 180 are studying OCR National First Award ICT (Single Award) in 2 hours per week. Some pupils will go on to study the OCR National Award (equivalent of 2 GCSEs). We introduce some computing science and small amount of programming. This is not on the specification for the OCR National course – we teach it because some of it is more relevant to the pupils than what is on the OCR National course!

In addition, this year we will TEACH COMPUTING to 350 children at our feeder primary schools, and timetable extra curricular computing classes for pupils, parents and teachers from other schools. Our next event is on 20th October, with two more in the diary and more to follow.

Some of the challenges- not all ICT teachers in our curriculum team are confident about teaching computing (myself included!), the national curriculum is currently ‘in review’ – I am not content to sit it out and wait to see what happens. We will make some mistakes I know, but that is inherent with risk-taking. If you think we are making some mistakes, including moving too slowly or too fast comment below on this blog or through twitter.

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