This is a short blog about ICT and programming in primary schools.
On Thursday 11th January, our workshop was on ICT and more specifically on programming. We were introduced to a variety of different programming applications that can be used in the primary classroom.
The one I will focus on is Textease Turtle. Textease Turtle is a Control Technology program where you can command a turtle to draw shapes on the screen. The turtle can be directed by a controller or by writing instructions. The reason I have chosen this is due to my previous experience of seeing this in my 1st year placement. It is a terrific way to teach the basic skills of programming to children and can be used for early and mid-primary school level.
Initially to get the children really engaged and motivated by the program, there can be a session introducing programming and how it is used in real life e.g. phone apps and games that the children may use. This will keep the lesson and topic stimulating.
The first steps would be to introduce the program to the children and discuss its purpose and how it works. The controls would be introduced and discussed, with the children copying the teacher to get a feel for the program. The class could then move on to follow instructions set out by the teacher to complete tasks and draw objects and shapes.
Once the children felt confident with the software the children could then get into groups of three. One person would be coming up with instructions for the turtle movements in order to make any sort of shape or picture and the other children in the group would listen and follow the instructions. The aim of this would be for all three children in the group to have the same shape/picture on the screen if steps have been followed correctly.
Now that the pupils have built up knowledge of the basics of programming, they can begin to be more creative and make their own instructions to create a picture to complete and for a partner to try and follow.
The task I witnessed in my placement class was that children were given a maze on their screens with the turtle at the beginning. The children then had to use the program to move the turtle through the maze and out of the other side. Differentiation was used in terms of support for certain children. The pupils were engaged and really enjoyed the task. Extra tasks could then be completed such as the children making their own maze and programming the turtle to navigate through that.