National Coding Week Reflection

A slightly different post this week as I look back rather than forward.  I’m looking back on the fantastic National Coding Week that we’ve just had – 17th-21st September, 2018.  As you will know from my twitter feed and previous blogs, I love coding.  I love the skills that it can help learners to develop.  I love the fact that we are really starting to teach it properly, and we’re aiming to give our children the chance to build their digital futures.

I celebrated National Coding Week in three ways; first, I wrote a blog on ‘The Digital Revolution’ for the National Coding Week Website, which can be found here.  Second, I wrote a blog on ‘Using Technology to Visualise Learning and Tackle Misconceptions’ for Twinkl Scotland, which can be found here.  Finally I published a series of resources and teacher help-sheets on twitter for each day of National Coding Week.  You will be able to find the resources below.

I’m also putting some of the best examples that I’ve found on Twitter of coding in the classroom from #NationalCodingWeek.  Hopefully, this blog will inspire you not only to continue/start coding with your classes, but also will give you the opportunity to connect with other schools and practitioners that are starting coding with their classes.

Day 1 – A great way to start coding with Scratch

Monday’s challenge was an introduction to coding.  This lesson has been tried and tested hundreds of time, and even formed part of Dr Amanda Ford‘s thesis (my partner in crime for creating these resources).

You can find the full downloadable image and accompanying teacher cards here.

The idea of the maze game, is that it’s a fun and fairly simple game for children to create, and each game is very unique to the designer as ‘design’ and ‘creativity’ are probably the biggest parts of it.  It also teaches about ‘looping’ and ‘conditionals’ – two of the most common concepts in computer programming and thus skills that can be transferred into most other programs.



Day 2 – IDL: Learning music through code

Tuesday was my first example of how coding can be taught across the curriculum.  Digital skills are officially becoming ‘core skills’ in the next update, and so will be a responsibility for all.  I have long believed that computer science should not be taught as a discrete subject, as the skills developed are transferrable to almost every aspect of the curriculum and life.  This set of resources were aimed at giving ideas for ways to teach aspects of music through computer science.  The featured resource was ‘Code your own musical instrument in scratch’, but I also published a breakdown of composition in Scratch and a ‘name that tune’ challenge card.  You can find all of the resources from day 2 here.



Day 3 – IDL: learning probability with code

Day three was my maths day (although, I did post an additional maths resource for #MathsWeekScotland on Twitter prior to coding week – you can find that resource here.) Something that I love doing in teaching maths is to use coding skills as an introduction into teaching probability.  For this lesson, we are asking children to program their own random number generator by create a dice that ‘rolls’ to a random number.  After the children have ‘coded’ the dice they then test out the randomness of each number using their developing knowledge of data handling, and also test their peers’ games.  Sure, I could have given them each a dice to do it, but I’ve found that this has been much more stimulating in the past and has allowed children to really want to test games and use their creative skills rather than just rolling a dice.  The resources from day 3 can be found here.


Day 4 – IDL: coding dialogue and animations

Whilst lots of my learners like creating their own games, many just want to allow their creativity to shine as they bring their stories and scripts to life.  You can do that in Scratch!  I used to love, as part of the children’s learning in literacy, to have the children write their own stories, establishing characterisation, and then bring scenes from their stories to life in Scratch.  The power of Scratch in creating animations is only limited by the children’s own imagination and their understanding of code – you literally can make anything happen, from characters teleporting, to animated talking, to importing your own drawings and bringing them to life.  Whilst they could have filmed each other acting out scenes, this can be limiting and also isn’t always inclusive as there are children who find that situation intimidating.  With scratch, everyone has a chance to create fantastic animations.  Day 4’s resource is a quick guide to creating a simple animation that includes dialogue.  The full resource can be found here.


Day 5 – extending learning in the maze.

Variables are a tricky concept to get to grips with.  Scratch does make them fairly easy to work with, however, learners need a lot of exposure to them in order to fully grasp how and when to use them.  By taking the maze game – a game that the children are already familiar with (from lesson one) we can extend the game and add challenge to it by using the variable ‘time’.  This is a great way to introduce the concept of a variable as ‘time’ (in addition to score) are the most commonly used ‘visible’ variables in gaming, and the children will be used to seeing them in the games that they play.

The full resource can be found here.




Your examples

There was so much amazing work going on across Scotland that it was hard to choose only a few examples to feature in this blog post.  You can see all of the tweets posted during the week by using #NationalCodingWeek.














I do hope that you’ve all enjoyed #NationalCodingWeek as much as I have!

Have a great week everyone, see you next week!