Free interactive Python tutorials for beginners

Try it, debug it, extend it
Try it, debug it, extend it: Python tutorials

Over the next few weeks I’ll hopefully be publishing a series of 20 free interactive python tutorials for beginners.

Here’s the link to the list of resources

Each activity has four sections:

Theory: what you need to know if you’re in a hurry

Try it: working code snippets that you can adapt and use

Debug it: code sabotaged with common mistakes that you can practise fixing

Extend it: open ended project ideas for your to apply what you’ve learnt.

You can track your progress through each activity and generate a free PDF certificate showing your score at the end.

The first activity is all about getting your python program to output to the screen:

Making computing accessible for all

Making computing accessible for all

This series of posts aims is aimed at UK secondary school teachers to give some free ideas and resources in order to help make computing lessons engaging and inclusive in order to help attract more and more students to continue with the subject at GCSE and beyond.

When students are choosing their GCSE options they seem to love asking teachers why we chose to teach our subjects.

Often, I can almost see the cogs turning inside some of my students’ heads, weighing up whether they should choose Computing over Art; ticking off the benefits of each subject as they make the first real choice that might affect the rest of their lives.

Whatever they use to make up their mind – who teaches the subject / what their friends are choosing / what they’re good at / what they enjoy – there’s clearly a lot more that we can do to promote Computer Science as a viable, challenging, enjoyable and worthwhile option. The national figures show a pretty poor GCSE uptake of GCSE Computer Science compared to other eBacc subjects and an abysmal uptake by girls. Boys, whilst outnumbering girls at KS4 and beyond, are being outperformed by girls from KS2 onwards. So there’s definitely something not right there that needs addressing.

CAS include
CAS #include. Making computing accessible for all

I’ve been slowly working through the brilliant advice on the CAS #include site about how to ensure that my Computing lessons aren’t just catering for people like me and it strikes me that the way to be inclusive for all also looks and sounds like the way to be engaging and stretching for all. This post aims to share some of the mistakes I’ve made as well as some of the things I’m trying to put right to make sure that all students get the most out of their computing lessons, hopefully also boosting recruitment at KS4 too.

I’ve come up with 6 Cs to use as a checklist for planning engaging and inclusive computing projects:

Free iMedia R081 Revision Games

I’ve got some fabulous iMedia students in my classes this year. Some of them are really keen to pick up and apply practical skills but struggle in an exam to understand and use the right key words.

I’ve been meaning to put together a selection of game based learning activities for ages and so I thought it’d be useful to try to make some that students could pick up and play with a spare 5 minutes, either at the start of a lesson whilst I’m checking homework or whilst they’re on the bus or wherever.

So, this is a work in progress, but I think it’s ready to be shared: tools.withcode.uk/keywords

Free iMedia R081 revision games

There are 18 learning objectives, split into 4 topics for the R081 Pre Production Skills examined unit. Spread across those learning objectives are over 150 pairs of keywords with matching definitions.

The plan is to have a load of micro revision games that you can use to learn or test yourself. So far I’ve made 4:


Snake: press W, A, S or D to direct the snake to eat each letter of a keyword when you’re given its definition

Eliminate: Rule out all of the keywords that don’t match a definition until you’re left with the right one.


Hangman keyword: Guess letters of a keyword when you’re given its definition.
and 
Hangman definition: Guess letters of a definition when you’re given a keyword.

Alternatively, you can choose any game at random

Randomly play any of the above games

You’ll notice each of the games displays the keywords or definitions in a funny looking font. This is a bit of an experiment based on some research at RMIT University in Melbourne Australia on how to make your brain engage more to remember what you read.

Some of my students find this useful and some find the font really annoying. The jury’s out on that one, so you can turn it off on the About page if you find the text too hard to read!

I hope it’s useful. Let me know if you have any suggestions or spot any mistakes.

Free GCSE Computer Science Revision Games

I’ve got some brilliant Computer Science students in my classes this year. Some of them are really keen to understand how stuff works but struggle in an exam to understand and use the right key words.

I’ve been meaning to put together a selection of game based learning activities for ages and so I thought it’d be useful to try to make some that students could pick up and play with a spare 5 minutes, either at the start of a lesson whilst I’m checking homework or whilst they’re on the bus or wherever.

So, this is a work in progress, but I think it’s ready to be shared: tools.withcode.uk/keywords

Free GCSE Computer Science revision games

Most resources online seem to be for OCR or AQA GCSE Computer Science but I teach the Edexcel GCSE Computer Science so I wanted some resources that students could use to revise for that.

There are 84 learning objectives, split into 6 topics. Spread across those learning objectives are over 500 pairs of keywords with matching definitions.

The plan is to have a load of micro revision games that you can use to learn or test yourself on each of those keywords and their definitions. So far I’ve made 4 games:


Snake: press W, A, S or D to direct the snake to eat each letter of a keyword when you’re given its definition

Eliminate: Rule out all of the keywords that don’t match a definition until you’re left with the right one.


Hangman keyword: Guess letters of a keyword when you’re given its definition.
and 
Hangman definition: Guess letters of a definition when you’re given a keyword.

Alternatively, you can choose any game at random

Randomly play any of the above games

You’ll notice each of the games displays the keywords or definitions in a funny looking font. This is a bit of an experiment based on some research at RMIT University in Melbourne Australia on how to make your brain engage more to remember what you read.

Some of my students find this useful and some find the font really annoying. The jury’s out on that one, so you can turn it off on the About page if you find the text too hard to read!

I hope it’s useful. Let me know if you have any suggestions or spot any mistakes.

Type with code!

Type with code!

Free tool to help you improve your typing speed whilst learning to code.

I have a few students who love tools where you can practise their typing skills to keep improving their word per minute (WPM) score.

I really like the competitive racing feature in Type Racer where students can race against each other but students can get frustrated because whilst it’s fun to play, it’s hard to improve because it doesn’t show you where the next key is that you need to press.

Some of my students thought it’d be fun to have an online tool where you can learn new programming skills as well as learning how to type faster.

I’ve put this typing tool together so that students can learn new Python or VB skills from the quick reference guide whilst also competing to get the fastest WPM typing score.

You can choose a specific topic in python or VB or jump into a random snippet of code and type it out as fast as you can.

  • Variables and constants
  • String manipulation
  • Builtin functions
  • Input and output
  • Arrays
  • Conditional logic
  • Repetition / Iteration
  • Functions / Procedures

Here’s the link: https://type.withcode.uk/