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.
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:
I’ve just added C# alongside Python and VB.NET to type.withcode.uk which means you can learn new code snippets and improve your typing speed by racing through competitive challenges online.
Type.withcode.uk is free to use with no signup required – I designed it for my students to be used as a quick starter activity as a different way of learning and remembering code snippets whilst also encouraging them to become efficient touch typists.
For each programming language you can choose a random code snippet or one from any of the following categories:
Variables and constants
Built in functions
Input and output
Repetition / Iteration
Procedures and Functions
Each challenge provides some code with an explanation of what it does which you then have to type out as fast as you can. There’s an onscreen keyboard to encourage your to touch type without looking at your fingers:
16th September 2019 is the start of National Coding Week so it’s an ideal time to for anyone to have a go at writing code for themselves.
To celebrate, here’s a free interactive activity that anyone can use to have fun writing code without needing to download any software or create any accounts.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, how much experience you have (or haven’t) got or what your gender is, hopefully there’ll be something in this python flappy bird challenge that will give you a taste of what’s possible with a few lines of python code.
One of the most powerful things that makes computer programs so useful is their ability to repeat tasks quickly and efficiently. Iteration means controlling how many times a section of code will repeat.
Page 1: Intro
Page 2: The theory: learn what you need to know as fast as possible.
Page 3: Try it: try out and adapt some working python code snippets.
Page 4: Debug it: Learn how to find and fix common mistakes.
Page 5: Extend it: Choose a project idea to use your newfound python skills.