Friday, 27 May 2016

YEAR 6 THRILLS AND SPILLS PROJECT

The year 6 class at Rufford Primary School have just successfully completed their project for this halfterm. I can take no credit for the planning and execution of the majority of this; the class teacher has run the project alongside SATs and the residential experience that followed. She commented that making the fairground models acted as a great stress reliever and that pupils were able to be really creative.

When the project was first mentioned I suggested using our Crumble Boards (Redfern Electronics) to program the fairground models. I have to admit that I didn’t know how we were going to achieve this but it did seem like a great idea! The class have already used Scratch extensively and are going to use Kodu next half term but the Crumble Boards offered a great opportunity to program for a real purpose. You can watch a video of their work here:
video

It was fantastic! It was great to see children showing respect for the equipment, putting their circuit work into practice, solving problems and applying the programming techniques that they had used previously. They also enjoyed it. We could have used a battery pack to power the rides but the crumble boards allowed us to do much more including change speed, change direction and add lights.

We will definitely do this again. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Using Codebugs at Rufford Primary School

In the past on February 3rd 2016 I wrote about visiting BETT and seeing “codebugs”, a small device that can have programs downloaded onto it. In case you want to read more the relevant URL is www.codebug.org.uk


This little device is proving very successful at KS2. The programming tool is accessed on their website; this appears to be more reliably accessed on Chrome but is usually OK on Internet Explorer. New programming blocks are being added all the time which encourages children to explore.
I am not using this tool to introduce the programming requirements of the Computing curriculum; I prefer to use Scratch, Scratch Jr and a variety of other apps and websites for this. What is really exciting to observe is how easily knowledge previously gained is used in the Codebug environment. The commands in the IF and LOOPS folders are readily applied and any different terminology used creates opportunities for discussion.
The programming tool uses an emulator to test programs before downloading them onto the device. This has been a very successful medium to identify the testing process and separate it from the execution phase. Children find it exciting to use the emulator but excitement reaches a new level when they use the device.
Like most teachers I have very few original ideas but I excel in adapting those made available by other people. My lessons, depending on year group, prior programming experience and time, usually follow these ideas:
  • Drawing sequences of characters and designed sprites on the 5x5 LED matrix, using WAIT to allow them all to be viewed
  • Scrolling a string on the screen
  • Looping, either a set number of times or while a condition is TRUE
  • Incorporating inputs from the 2 buttons and using sleep to delay the start
  • Making choices depending on which button is pressed
  • Downloading onto the device
I then use a couple of ideas from the Codebug website:
  • Does this object conduct electricity?
  • Making a steady hand game
I don’t have any of the hardware add ons for the device. However, I have added the colourtail in the emulator and programmed that. This was very successful in revisiting variables and using them to create light patterns. I hope to try using sound soon if I can find some headphones!

I have experienced some problems using the programming tool when numbers become detached from blocks and can’t be reinserted. Children currently have to bin the whole block and replace it.
I’m prepared to forgive the shortfalls of the device in being used on battery power rather than connected to the computer because they are really appealing and cost effective, although I have to share devices which is a little inconvenient.
If you haven’t tried using this little device that give it a go. They are very favourably received by children, opportunities for the application of knowledge previously acquired is a real strength of the device.
 

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Computing Coordinator Conference Summer Term 2016

Moving Forward Together with Computing 

You are invited to join us for our our Summer Computing Coordinator
Conference on Monday May 23rd 2016 at the Top Valley Centre.

The linking theme will be “Awesome Websites to engage and impress”. We all become entrenched so this is an opportunity to take some new ideas back to your school. As usual there will be a mix of sessions including a variety based on programming at KS2 and also ideas for digital literacy at KS1.
The day will be structured with whole group linking sessions on the main theme and longer breakout sessions where you can pursue topics of your choice. All the presenters are teachers based in the Nottingham area; we want to support you in developing the computer curriculum in your school.
For more information about the event please click here or contact Janet.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

WHEN DID YOUR CLASS LAST TALK TO AN EXPERT?



Academics communicate at speed. Their vocabulary is technical and extensive. Their life experiences are very different to the average year 5 pupil. They have different education experiences and expectations. All of this makes it surprising that I have long advocated the use of Skype in the classroom; each time I use this medium I see new advantages.

Today at Rufford Primary School our year 5 class skyped Dr Ross Church from the Department of Astronomy and Theoretical Physics at Lund University in Sweden. The topic this half term has been “Space”.
We organised the morning by having three sessions: a classroom session on how to conduct yourself online and remain safe, a session about Dr Church and his work and we finished with an open Q and A on anything about space.
Technically, the Skype call was not without difficulties as the video quality was variable so we finished the session using IM to ask any outstanding questions. The children were really tolerant when the video quality deteriorated. They were genuinely interested in Dr. Church and what he shared with them. They listened carefully and were able to respond with follow up questions. They really liked having their questions answered immediately by an expert; they voted it better than books and Google. Terms like “Spaghettification” and the importance of looking for plants on stars and planets will be remembered for ever.

We would all like to say a huge “THANK-YOU” to Dr. Church for sharing his time and expertise with us. It was a great end to our Space project. 

Friday, 12 February 2016

THE WONDERFUL DIGITAL LEADERS AT RUFFORD PRIMARY SCHOOL

video

We started the digital leader group 2 years ago at Rufford Primary School. The members are drawn from each class in KS2. It’s interesting to see how pupils from different year groups work together and learn from each other. The original members were chosen by teachers but we have switched to having an open application system and hopeful Digital Leaders (DLs) are interviewed by a panel of pupils. Using this method, we have just recruited 6 new members.
video

The responsibilities of digital leaders are to help teachers, pupils and visitors with any IT problems they might have. They are skilled at connecting computers and tablets to the various boards and LCD panels around school. We meet after school once a week where we explore different things. This year we started by looking at online quiz tools. Each DL made a resource and delivered it in their classrooms. We have also learnt about cryptography and made some videos using greenscreen technology. Next half term we will be using the sublimation equipment to make mugs and trying out the codebots.
video

It’s a privilege to be a digital leader. It’s also a privilege for me to work with them. They are a lively, articulate and committed group. I see them grow in confidence as they learn new skills and contribute to the school community by helping others.  If you haven’t started a group at your own school then give it a go. Yes, it’s extra work, but the benefits more than outweigh this.

I hope you will find time to watch the videos that they have made. We welcome feedback and any suggestions you might have.
Nottingham e-Learning Community is part of Nottingham City Council, Children and Adults