Tag: communityPRIMARY

A CODE CLUB IN EVERY SCHOOL: CODING THE FUTURE – NORTH AYRSHIRE

Coding the Future – initiative to allow all 9-13 year olds to experience coding (@NAC_CodeClubs)

This post was written by Rosslyn Lee (@RosJLee), Digital Skills Coordinator for North Ayrshire Council. The programme has delivered Computing Science to primary and secondary learners across the authority. Most of the knowledge came from the team’s personal interests in coding and digital. Code Club Scotland and Barefoot Computing provided training that supported the programme.

 
Coding the Future has had an incredible impact on learners in North Ayrshire, and they have been unable to fulfil demand for code clubs and summer camps because of the high level of interest. Pupils learned a variety of digital skills apart from coding and was captured in photos, videos, saving programs and sharing and demonstrations to adults.
 
 

Coding the Future – North Ayrshire Council

 

In May 2017, North Ayrshire Council made a pledge to tackle the digital skills gap by providing access to Code Clubs for all learners aged 9–13 by August 2020.

The ‘Coding the Future’ project team, including staff from Customer and Digital Services and Education has the aim of expanding and supporting Code Clubs across the authority.  The first step was to look for volunteer staff to become STEM Ambassadors.  North Ayrshire Council allows their staff to volunteer within the community for 14 hours per calendar year.

Approximately 40 staff became STEM Ambassadors and were part of a ‘train the trainer’ approach.  Their objective was to support schools to set up their own clubs, taking a step back once the staff felt confident to run the clubs by themselves.  We had some training from Code Club Scotland to start us off.  This eventually led to a core group of 8-10 people delivering support to schools.

In addition to this training, some staff attended a Barefoot Computing session. 

Schools were advised that they could request help from a volunteer to start up a Code Club.  We tried to work this on a geographical basis, depending on where the volunteer lived. Some schools set up weekly clubs for a term, some for an academic year and some on a more ad hoc basis.

In addition to individual school clubs, two of the team ran a club most Saturdays at Irvine Library which was always well attended, in fact at times oversubscribed.

We ran two very successful Summer Code Camps in 2018 and 2019.  These ran for a week in July and operated from 10am until 3pm each day, with lunches provided by North Ayrshire Council.  The limit on participants was 25, although we could have organised a couple of camps such was the interest.  Unfortunately, this was not possible as staff were using holidays to run the camp.

At camp, the young people had a variety of activities to choose from including Scratch coding, Python, Raspberry Pis,  Microbits, Spheros, Virtual Reality headsets, Merge Cube AR, 3D printing, 360 degree photography and video making.

At the end of the week we held a challenge – participants had to make their own robot using a Sphero, plastic cups and various other craft items including balloons.  We invited parents to come in on the Friday afternoon to enable the young people to show them what they had experienced and created during the week.  We also had visits from the Leader of the Council, a couple of NAC Heads of Service and two of the Digital Skills Team from Education Scotland.

During these visits our young people very ably demonstrated and taught our visitors about the devices they had been using during the week, including a safety talk about the use of VR Headsets.

We also ran a successful Learn to Code Day for staff one Saturday in November 2019, supported and funded by a STEM Grant from Education Scotland.  Activities ranged from unplugged coding to Raspberry Pis and Codapillars to Python.  Participants were from primary and secondary schools as well as members of our Family Learning Team.

In December 2019 as part of Computing Science Education Week, we held an event where North Ayrshire Council employees could bring their children into work at the end of the day, to learn how to code.  This session attracted children of varying ages and we had children coding with Scratch as well as using devices such as BlueBots, Dash and Spheros.

We were delighted that the project won the North Ayrshire Achieves Award ‘Skills for Life’ in 2018 which recognised the work we had already done and our ambitions for the future.

In February 2020 we were included in EdTech50 for 2020 as one of the projects in the UK shaping technology across the UK.

Unfortunately the initiative was hit by COVID early in 2020 and has not yet resumed.   However we hope to run a Summer Camp in 2022 and depending on the virus, be able to support individual schools- in session 21-22 with clubs and staff with training.

 Coding the Future – North Ayrshire Council

In May 2017, North Ayrshire Council made a pledge to tackle the digital skills gap by providing access to Code Clubs for all learners aged 9–13 by August 2020.

The ‘Coding the Future’ project team, including staff from Customer and Digital Services and Education has the aim of expanding and supporting Code Clubs across the authority.  The first step was to look for volunteer staff to become STEM Ambassadors.  North Ayrshire Council allows their staff to volunteer within the community for 14 hours per calendar year.

Approximately 40 staff became STEM Ambassadors and were part of a ‘train the trainer’ approach.  Their objective was to support schools to set up their own clubs, taking a step back once the staff felt confident to run the clubs by themselves.  We had some training from Code Club Scotland to start us off.  This eventually led to a core group of 8-10 people delivering support to schools.

In addition to this training, some staff attended a Barefoot Computing session. 

Schools were advised that they could request help from a volunteer to start up a Code Club.  We tried to work this on a geographical basis, depending on where the volunteer lived. Some schools set up weekly clubs for a term, some for an academic year and some on a more ad hoc basis.

In addition to individual school clubs, two of the team ran a club most Saturdays at Irvine Library which was always well attended, in fact at times oversubscribed.

We ran two very successful Summer Code Camps in 2018 and 2019.  These ran for a week in July and operated from 10am until 3pm each day, with lunches provided by North Ayrshire Council.  The limit on participants was 25, although we could have organised a couple of camps such was the interest.  Unfortunately, this was not possible as staff were using holidays to run the camp.

At camp, the young people had a variety of activities to choose from including Scratch coding, Python, Raspberry Pis,  Microbits, Spheros, Virtual Reality headsets, Merge Cube AR, 3D printing, 360 degree photography and video making.

At the end of the week we held a challenge – participants had to make their own robot using a Sphero, plastic cups and various other craft items including balloons.  We invited parents to come in on the Friday afternoon to enable the young people to show them what they had experienced and created during the week.  We also had visits from the Leader of the Council, a couple of NAC Heads of Service and two of the Digital Skills Team from Education Scotland.

During these visits our young people very ably demonstrated and taught our visitors about the devices they had been using during the week, including a safety talk about the use of VR Headsets.

We also ran a successful Learn to Code Day for staff one Saturday in November 2019, supported and funded by a STEM Grant from Education Scotland.  Activities ranged from unplugged coding to Raspberry Pis and Codapillars to Python.  Participants were from primary and secondary schools as well as members of our Family Learning Team.

In December 2019 as part of Computing Science Education Week, we held an event where North Ayrshire Council employees could bring their children into work at the end of the day, to learn how to code.  This session attracted children of varying ages and we had children coding with Scratch as well as using devices such as BlueBots, Dash and Spheros.

We were delighted that the project won the North Ayrshire Achieves Award ‘Skills for Life’ in 2018 which recognised the work we had already done and our ambitions for the future.

In February 2020 we were included in EdTech50 for 2020 as one of the projects in the UK shaping technology across the UK.

Unfortunately the initiative was hit by COVID early in 2020 and has not yet resumed.   However we hope to run a Summer Camp in 2022 and depending on the virus, be able to support individual schools- in session 21-22 with clubs and staff with training.

 

 

 

 

 

 

REMOTE TEACHING OF CODING, CARMYLE PRIMARY

Laura Di Pasquale (@LauraKeeney01) was previously acting principal teacher at Carmyle Primary School and Nursery Class in Glasgow City.

She has been delivering learning to staff to increase their confidence in delivering the learning to pupils:

“I have taken part in several computing science CPD sessions over the past two years and am now leading the Glasgow City (GCC) webinars for Swift Playgrounds on iPad. In the beginning, staff did not have a lot of confidence in teaching computing science, so I developed some further training to improve this.

I had already introduced the GCC trackers for Digital Literacy and Computing Science but staff were still developing their confidence with this too. So, I developed and delivered online training with staff in my school on computing science, coding and its place in the curriculum. I then created a staff pack of three coding lessons for each year group P1-P7 for staff to use. Finally, I team-taught a lesson remotely (I was shielding at home whilst the rest of the school returned) with each class to build that teacher’s confidence.

Throughout this work I have been able to demonstrate how accessible coding can be, and how each teacher already has most of the skills required to teach a coding lesson in the classroom. Colleagues took my ready made lesson for their own class and taught this – feedback was excellent! Staff are now much more aware of how computing science can be taught offline and are now more engaged in developing computing science in the classroom; some have actively sought out further CPD (such as digilearn) to enhance their skills and knowledge.”

“The best part of all of this work has been the educational impact on the children! They were really engaged and could make the links between skills being taught in the classroom and those linked to the wider world. The learners were engaged in the tasks and really enjoyed follow-up tasks that used online activities such Scratch or Swift Playgrounds. Children were assessed using a lot of questions and watching how they engaged with the task and how well they could remember and use new technical vocabulary, such as commands and sequence.”

FIRST LEGO LEAGUE JUNIOR: PLAYMAKERS, DALMILLING PRIMARY

Elizabeth Cairns is a class teacher at Dalmilling Primary School in South Ayrshire. She has been using the First Lego League: Playmakers project to develop her learners’ understanding of coding, problem solving and design solutions. Elizabeth started by attending a webinar with the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) where she learned about the project, resources and advice on delivering the learning. The First Lego League is fully resourced with learning materials, guidance and instructions on the IET Lego Education site and the Lego WeDo 2.0 kit was purchased by the school. Using the Lego WeDo project is a great way to engage learners as the challenge has a context, relates to a real world problem and the Lego makes it hands-on with concrete materials.

Elizabeth noted that all of her class engaged with the project, especially those who don’t always engage with technologies or computing lessons. Research shows that girls, especially, engage better with technology when the learning is contextual, collaborative and based on relationships -which match the six core values of the First Lego League: inclusion, discovery, teamwork, innovation, fun and impact. Elizabeth felt that this learning was enjoyed by almost all of the learners and that they developed many skills, including coding, teamwork and problem solving.

digital xtra fund port ellen

DIGITAL XTRA FUND – CASE STUDY: PORT ELLEN PRIMARY SCHOOL (2019)

RESILIENT ROBOTICS TEACHING – THE NEXT GENERATION:

HOW TO CODE AT PORT ELLEN PRIMARY SCHOOL 

 

A robotics club from Port Ellen Primary School (@portellenps) on Islay has been hailed by Digital Xtra Fund as a great example of what schools can do to equip the next generation with the vital tech and interpersonal skills they will need in the future. 

Resilient Robotics was launched at Port Ellen Primary School in January by Class Teacher Jo Clark. A robotics club for children aged between 8 – 12, it teaches children how to code, create apps and build robots. Among other resources, the club uses Marty the Robot built by Scottish firm Robotical; an educational robot designed for kids.  

Jo Clark, who submitted the school’s Digital Xtra Fund grant application, explains the idea behind Resilient Robotics was to create a robotics club where the children not only learn new technical skills, but also develop resilience, improve self-confidence and, most importantly, have fun.  

She explains: “Developing children’s resilience and self-confidence is a key aim. Learning programming and building robots requires skills like investigating, debugging and perseverance. There is a lot of trial and error when it comes to programming; children need to know failure is part of the design process. Overcoming difficulties while creating robots develops resilience and, once they are successful, is also very rewarding.  

“I think lots of children don’t understand the outcomes of being able to code, but once they see what they can achieve, they are hooked. They follow instructions, generate algorithms, and use their skills creatively, developing progressively more complex ways of working as they go on. From simple exploring with Spheros using apps, to building a responsive robot in Marty using Scratch, to more diverse and creative programming using the micro:bit Inventor’s Kit – the children are inspired and motivated. 

“We are very pleased with the success of the programme and are especially delighted it is being adopted in neighbouring Primary schools and now at Islay High School. You can see how much the children are getting from it, and how much they are going to benefit from developing these skills at an early age.”  

 

Kraig Brown, Partnerships and Development Manager at Digital Xtra Fund, added: “It is essential we equip children with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in a technology-driven world, no matter what career or industry they may become interested in.  

“What is especially fantastic about Resilient Robotics is the success it has achieved in terms of sustainability. The original grant from Digital Xtra Fund supported the pilot programme at Port Ellen Primary School, however, it was quickly realised there was an excellent opportunity to expand this initiative across the island, including at the High School, as well as on Mull and Jura. The fact that some of the resources are also being translated into Gaelic will only add to the project’s legacy. It’s a fantastic programme which will make a real difference in the lives of young people from the islands.   

Brown adds: “Resilient Robotics is a shining example of the kind of initiative Digital Xtra Fund is looking to support. As a grant awarding charity, it is always the goal to see supported initiatives take root and grow and we hope other organisations and schools can take inspiration from its success.” 

Digital Xtra Fund is currently accepting applications for the next round of grant awards. Grants of up to £5,000 will be awarded to organisations delivering extracurricular activities that teach young people skills such as coding, data analysis, cybersecurity, and computational thinking helping inspire Scotland’s next generation of technologists, developers and digital leaders.  

 

For further information please visit http://www.digitalxtrafund.scot/ 

INTRODUCING CODING AND COMPUTATIONAL THINKING WITH CODE-A-PILLAR

Dundee practitioner, Judi Regan has very kindly shared resources for some wonderful Code-a-pillar play activities for early level learners. If you were at SLF 2019, you may have been lucky enough to attend her seminar. Among the resources, there are the ‘human’ Code-a-pillar arrows for children to wear. Judi them laminated these and added string for children to wear to remind them which ‘direction’ they were during unplugged CS play and also when creating their algorithms with the Code-a-pillar . The children would decide on the directions the Code-a-pillar was to travel, and form a line, holding on to the person in front. The ‘head’ would listen for each child in turn to call out their ‘direction’ and would then move in that way to make the ‘human’ Code-a-pillar travel. This could be extended by planning in advance how to reach a particular object/area; recreating the actual Code-a-pillar algorithm and moving alongside as it moves or making a plan for moving in a shape, e.g., “let’s see if we can get our human Code-a-pillar to move in a square shape?”

We have popped all of Judi’s resources into a folder on OneDrive, you can access and download here.

WHY COMPUTING SCIENCE MATTERS

by Susan Ward, DHT Kingsland Primary, Scottish Borders

Finding the time for computing science can be tough. With a slimmed-down recovery curriculum to contend with and a ‘to do’ list stretching to infinity and beyond, primary teachers could be forgiven for consigning CS lessons to the ‘would be nice’ pile rather than firmly rooted in the weekly plan’s must haves.

But computing science is too important to be sidelined.

There’s a viral video doing the rounds just now of a toddler demanding that an Amazon Echo play her favourite song (Baby Shark, in case you’re wondering). The person filming watches with great amusement as the little girl talks to the machine as if it is alive: “Alexa, play my favourite song!” When Alexa obliges, the little girl claps her hands in delight: “Alexa you my friend!” she squeals.

And as any stumped parent will tell you, ‘asking Google’ quickly becomes a regular response to the steady stream of “But why?” enquiries from curious offspring from their earliest days.

The message inadvertently given to children is that technology knows best, that Google and Alexa are the smart ones, that they just magically “know”.

The point here is that to a generation used to asking machines to do everything from play CBeebies to shutting the curtains, making computing science visible becomes a real struggle. Technology is now so integrated into the fabric of everyday lives it becomes unseen, unknowable, just ‘there’.

In the absence of good-quality computing science teaching, we are faced with a generation growing up who will believe Alexa is the ghost in the machine. All-seeing and all-knowing, machines will provide all the answers and children won’t think to question how they know.

But if our children and young people don’t know how the machines work, how can they design them to work better?

Teaching children to think computationally is essential learning and should start as young as possible. Children in nursery can understand the importance of sequencing and pattern making, the idea that instructions have to be clear and sensible. Tinker tables where children can take machines apart and look inside make technology visible and encourage curiosity about how things work. Like the technology all around us, the principles of computing science are woven into our everyday lives. We just have to show our children where to look.

There are lots of nifty gadgets out there that can help and one of the best and most underused is the humble Bee-Bot. Sturdy enough to cope with enthusiastically sticky hands yet sophisticated enough to demonstrate simple programming, Bee-Bots are a brilliant option. In our school, P4 learned to program using Bee-Bots, initially by using paper ‘fakebots’, available free from Barefoot Computing, to design and debug before moving onto the real thing. Problem-solving and collaborative working were in plentiful supply as children sought out and tested their own solutions.

Once confident in their programs, P4 created some furry costumes and story mats and, in the era before class bubbles, they were able to head to nursery to teach the younger children what they had learned. Big fans of ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen, the Bee-Bots became bears and the nursery children learned how to program the bears to go through the swishy grass and oozy mud, just like in the story.

This is a small example of how computing science can open doors to learning and collaboration across the curriculum and across your school. It is a great leveller, a chance for children to shine in unexpected ways when the pursuit of a logical solution becomes a shared goal.

Computational thinking doesn’t require lots of resources or even constant access to a computer. It’s not about ‘doing coding’. We can grow problem solvers, careful sequence checkers, creative thinkers and logical predictors long before the word ‘algorithm’ is ever mentioned.

Showing children and young people how machines work, drawing back the curtain on the ‘magic’ and opening their eyes to the amazing and inspiring power of computational thinking will ignite your classroom and the potential that lies inside every child.

When you get right down to it, computing science is about careful attention to a problem and the curious and methodical pursuit of an effective solution.

 

What weekly plan cannot make space for that?

DEDRIDGE PRIMARY SCHOOL CODE CHRISTMAS

Dedridge Primary School, West Lothian shared this wonderful example of how early level learners created algorithms to programme BeeBots to retell the nativity story at Christmas time. How many areas of the curriculum can you identify in this clip? 

We would love to continually add examples of how you are embedding computing science through play in ELC settings and with the young learners you are working with. Please click on this link to share your examples of unplugged computing science and how children are exploring programmable devices if you have access to them 

EMBEDDING CS IN MATHS WITH CODE.ORG EXAMPLES

There is so much maths in computing and that presents excellent opportunities for interdisciplinary learning. Why not plan to introduce directional language through these engaging challenges form code.org? Learners simply drag blocks of ‘code’ together like jigsaw pieces to solve mathematical puzzles. There’s help videos and hints for each challenge and even an educator section to support you teaching it.

Here are some great places to start your maths/coding adventure:

Pre-reader challenges – Ice Age

The Ice Age-themed ‘pre-reader’ challenges only ask learners to use one or two blocks of code at a time and the directions are represented by arrows, so they can start to code without needing to read.

Play it

Introducing directional words – Star Wars

This Star Wars-themed challenge introduces the use of directional words on screen. So as your learners develop confidence with directional language, they can try more challenging code too.

Play it

Exploring degrees – Frozen

This Frozen-themed challenge introduces the use of degrees and angles to control the characters on screen.

Play it

TEACHERS’ REFLECTIONS ON ADDITIONAL TEACHING QUALIFICATION IN COMPUTING

Jonathan Henderson, Lasswade Primary School, Midlothian, @MrHenderson321
Emma Hedges, Victoria Primary School, Falkirk, @MissHedgesVPS

We are delighted to be part of the first cohort of a new program of CLPL aimed at up-levelling primary teachers’ skills in delivering the Technologies curriculum. This online program leverages some of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)’s existing courses for cross-qualifying existing secondary teachers into Computer Science but provides primary teachers with the expertise necessary to deliver the computing curriculum up to SCQF Level 3. This course has been designed and supported by the British Computer Society, Microsoft, Education Scotland and the Scottish Government.

Currently, we are in Week 4 of the first 12 week module on Databases and Computer Systems, with a second module planned to start in September which will focus on Coding and Web Technologies. So far we have learned about Software, Hardware, Numbering Systems and Logic Gates, and we will soon be moving onto learning about databases and SQL. The work for each week is split up into sections which has contributed to making the course manageable to fit in around a full time teaching job. Each week has involved gaining new knowledge via videos and Sways. There have also been interactive elements such as mini quizzes and using what we have learned to complete tasks such as calculations involving binary numbers. There has been a feeling of satisfaction when we have been able to use our new found knowledge, or from learning from our mistakes, to complete these tasks.

We have also been given the opportunity to complete an additional entry-level Cisco course about Linux which many participants have signed up to complete.

So far, it has been fascinating to go further into subjects which are beyond the normal scope of the primary curriculum and refresh and update our understanding of computing. Through being provided with this opportunity we are once again in the role of the learner. This has been an interesting experience and has made us consider the different ways in which we can share what we are learning to the wide range of needs of our learners, as well as with our colleagues.

We are also enjoying the opportunity to network with colleagues from across Scotland as well as across primary and secondary education. It has been interesting to learn about the different backgrounds of our colleagues who are also enrolled on the course and to be able to interact with them online either on the UHI learning space or on Twitter. With the submission date of our first assessment approaching, we’re very much focussed on doing our best in order to get the most out of the course both for ourselves and for our pupils.

Find out more about the qualification here