Alan Wileman, Head of ICT at English Martyrs’ Catholic School provides us with this update on the school’s Project Programming work. 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. The school is also setting up a student Digital Leaders group.
Project Programming began earlier this year with an idea to get students learning a variety of programming languages and hoping to create lots of resources in the process. The small group of students who have been working with me are making some excellent progress and below is an update on the project so far.
To date, we have looked at the use of scratch in Year 7 and downloaded several learning resources to review, focusing on providing students with a useful and practical experience of simple 2D programming. The resources we have looked at are free to download and use from a variety of teaching websites. The main site used was TES Resources and were created by David Phillips.
The students are now working on creating the Scheme of Work to enable staff to teach the students how to program.
Our Year 8 students will soon be learning Kodu. Anyone can program in Kodu using keyboard controls, however, the software is designed to work well with xBox controllers as well – these and have had a fantastic impact on the students and their “love” for programming in the software. Likewise with the scratch resources, lots were obtained online and reviewed. However, there wasn’t as many resources out there that aided a student from a very basic level to learn the software without completing just the online tutorials, so this proved to be more of a difficult task for my group of students. All the ones they sourced and reviewed, are available from a variety of site, however, I found the site created by Nicki Cooper – Interactive Classroom to be the best. Nicki’s teaching resources are licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, which means they are free for educators to use, share and remix, as long as proper acknowledgement is given.
The students are now in the process of creating a Scheme of Work for staff to use in classes. A completed copy of the finished workbook will be available at the end of the project once the files have been combined into a new document.
In addition to the xBox controllers, we have been using Lego Mindstorms EV3 kits with learners. This was going to be, and we are still hoping for it to be, the year 9 programming language of choice. So far, the students have had fun making some of the models. Next steps are to get the software installed and complete training by Lego. Training will also be offered to local schools to attend to see the benefits from using Lego Mindstorms EV3 kits in a classroom environment.
We are also planning to use some newly purchased Raspberry Pi kits that came with manuals, bread boards, keyboards, mice and the main Pi board. Unfortunately we have hit a small hurdle with regard to the monitors we have, which are not compatible without purchasing some new leads, something we are sorting. The other option is some dedicated monitors. We will be working with these and creating some useful resources.
All resources we have added to the booklets will be available to all at the end of the project.