If you are currently teaching the ‘new’ GCSE Computer Science (9-1), it’s possible that you are in the middle of preparing your classes and ‘Resource Bank’ for your students to use in the Autumn Term when the NEAs are released by the examination and awarding bodies.
I’d like to share what I believe is a common sense approach as far as this NEA preparation goes. There’s a lot of advice I’d like to pass on – but in the interest of sharing this advice as rapidly as possible, I’ll publish this post now and then I’ll revisit this post and edit it later as I add more advice and resources. If you subscribe to this blog, you’ll receive updates.
I strongly recommend you provide your students with three types of resources:
- Your students’ own documented coded-solutions.
- Ideally, this will include the example exercises that you’ve been setting your students throughout Year 10 ie. their exercise books, folders, saved work.
- Since these examples are from the students’ own personal experiences of solving problems likely to be encountered in the NEA, this should prove to be the most useful resource they make use of. Note that the students can no longer access these outside of NEA sessions after Aug 31st.
- Quality examples of marked GCSE legacy coursework
- Examples of assessed students’ coursework from the legacy GCSE courses with marking commentary, for example A453 projects (OCR J275) to show standards expected. Here is a set you can download and use: https://www.dropbox.com/s/q9vnpyumvyio54k/A453_Examples_ALL.zip?dl=0
- Bear in mind that any examples provided should not bear close relation to the actual NEAs, and that the resources cannot be added to after 1st Sept. So, it may be wise to remove any examples deemed too similar after NEAs are published on Sept 1st.
- While these coursework tasks are different from the NEAs, they are still incredibly helpful resources for your students to refer to.
- A selection of good quality programming books.
- A ‘hand-picked’ selection of up-to-date programming books, either paper-based or electronically as .PDF in a shared area.
- Examples include, The Python Cookbook, Invent With Python, Think Python and all available for free download from http://pythonbooks.revolunet.com/ also see https://sopython.com/wiki/What_tutorial_should_I_read%3F
- Coding Club’s free to download code cards created by Chris Roffey at: http://codingclub.co.uk/codecards/
Some exam boards allow the use of the Internet during the NEA completion. I’m of the opinion that this is actually a massive distraction, since students who are desperately seeking solutions and help online are unlikely to use the Internet skilfully and this can lead to other problems.
There are some companies who have identified commercial opportunities from selling materials to support the NEAs to schools who are desperate to organise their own resource banks – if you have the budget, why not purchase the best quality ones. However, it’s worth stating that you can resource the NEAs completely for free.
While there is no requirement to send resources for the NEAs to the exam boards, students should reference their use of the materials appropriately to avoid any accusations of plagiarism. It would be prudent to ensure that your students understand what is meant by plagiarism.
Each exam board has provided clear guidance regarding rules and instructions on the conduct of the NEAs – teachers should ensure they are familiar with these instructions to avoid any issues later on and raise any questions they have with official representatives of the examination and awarding bodies.
Further advice and support: If you would like advice or support regarding preparing your classes for NEA tasks, try asking me or your local CAS Regional Centre. Through Exa Foundation, I offer a programme of face-to-face CPD events around the country, the vast majority of which are free to attend and listed at http://exa.foundation/events If you can’t find one listed near you, invite me (Exa Foundation) to your school – this page explains how it works: http://exa.foundation/training
- Ben and Tristan at Outwood Grange Academies Trust have put this absolutely essential resource bank together: http://www.computing.outwood.com/NEA/
- Python Cheat Sheets https://github.com/detailyang/awesome-cheatsheet and many more at https://github.com/detailyang/awesome-cheatsheet
- Python Crash Course cheat sheet: http://ehmatthes.github.io/pcc/cheatsheets/README.html
- Ilia Avroutine has shared a set of exercises and answers to support students with 2 dimensional arrays in Python: http://community.computingatschool.org.uk/resources/5226
- If you have any more to recommend, please comment below and please subscribe to this blog.
Finally: If you’ve found it a slog teaching the GCSE in Computer Science, the good news is, there is a better way. This video explains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iamJF2m_2EY