Project Programming: An Innovation Project

Back in April we agreed a fourth round of BSF ICT Innovation Funding. One of the three school projects being supported by Leicester City Council is Project Programming from Alan Wileman, Head of ICT at English Martyrs’ Catholic School.  Staff at English Martyrs’ will be working in collaboration with students on a project which will create resources and activities for the new Computing Curriculum. The resources created through the project will be shared openly for other schools to use and build upon.

Alan discusses the project below:

english martyrs prog

Aims

The project aim is to create a range of resources to help inspire students to learn programming in a range of fun and practical ways. This will be achieved using the following tools:

  • We will be using Scratch and Kodu- 2 very simple and easy to use pieces of software. Both are free and Kodu has the additional option of use with a keyboard or Xbox 360 controller. Both systems reduce programming to its essence – allowing learners to develop an understanding of the computational thinking behind programming, through a simpler language.
  • We are also purchasing some Raspberry Pi kits to give an alternative dimension to the project. The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit card sized computer which can be plugged into a monitor and keyboard and used to run programmes such as Scratch and Python (a widely used programming language).
  • With a recent “boost” of funds from our entry to the eSafety competition, we purchased some Lego EV3 kits.  These will be used to help adapt learning resources to aid programming and robotics.

Initial Progress

To-date, we have procured the kit, some of which is still to be delivered, and with a year 9 class, we have looked at the EV3 kits.  We have also looked at how the xBox controllers work with Kodu and reviewed the benefits/drawbacks of these. Details on some of the findings will be added here and on our school project blog once a summary has been completed by the students. I have been pleased with the results so far of the EV3 kits and the controllers.  All students have been engaged.

A project blog and SharePoint space is under development and details of these will be issued soon to allow people to get involved – we would like to have others involved in the evaluation of the resources we create!

Our digital leaders group is still being developed, to move forward we have displayed posters and notices to students to “get involved” with the project.  We are looking for student Digital Leaders to help push the project and contribute every step of the way.  They will also be trained on simple problem solving solutions within the classroom environment e.g. log-on issues, whiteboard calibration and use of specific software.

Next Steps

Once the other items of kit arrive, the plan is to divide the Digital Leaders with others to create 3 separate groups to work on each aspect of the project.  They will create the resources and have a strong influence on the programmes of learning for the new curriculum from September ’14.

This is a very exciting time and there is a very positive atmosphere around the school with regard to the fantastic resources we have in the ICT department.  Students who have already displayed an interest are looking forward to being part of a new era within the school, especially with having a new building with an extensive push on new technologies.

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