#Naace14 Conference Friday Breakout Session 2

Phil Bagge Adding a strand of Computing Science into Computing/ICT

*These are a few of my notes from Phil’s excellent workshop – all resources available on his site here*

*Excuse errors – live blogging and note taking*

What percentage do you teach computing vs digital literacy? 30 / 70 (roughly). *Again, links to the idea that there is more to technology in schools than just computing. Don’t forget the rest! 

Phil has found that debugging is the most important aspect of computing. From experience, we as teachers want to fix things. Debugging is about empowering children to fix things themselves and giving them the responsibility. It is not the teachers job to debug pupil code and fix their problems – important to raise this point with classes when beginning to teach them. *This develops independence and allows them to make mistakes! Limited timescales in digital literacy aspects bring temptation to teachers to solve problems for the children. Through computing children should be empowered to solve the problems themselves.

Burgers, Sandwiches and Side Salads. Analysing and interpreting the curriculum for computing. What to focus on (the meat) and how to support this (the bun). *See Phil’s slides for more explanation.

Planning has been influenced by the children; they have given excellent ideas and inspired planning tweaks. All available online here.

Phil shared his software ‘best fit’ for where certain pieces of software have been used most effectively in different year groups.

Screenshot 2014-03-28 13.32.10

(source: http://code-it.co.uk/resources/primaryproglang.pdf)

Scratch – allows users to make what they want. Kodu is great but is limited to making games. Scratch provides a variety of types of programming for learners. Sharing the fact that children ‘buy in’ to Scratch and have gone home and downloaded, taking what they have learnt in school back home. Online community can provide children with a community to learn from outside of school with video resources included (flipped model).

Phases of programming

What can it do? Give children different experiences of things that they can change, adapt and move forward.

Decompose before build. Break a programme up into all the bits it took to compose it. As you make, refer back to decomposition. Why? Because they will be decomposing in the future.

Give children blocks without the order. Experiment – can you make it do what you want it to? Celebrate

Blocks and speech. Read and understand the blocks and what they mean. Read the code! *Code comprehension is really important. No point in slotting blocks together unless you actually understand what it means and what it is going to do. 

Similar but not the same. Give children a piece of code that is similar to the one they need to create.

Model physically. Allows children to understand what is happening – they can see it. E.g. the forever loop (modelled perfectly by the audience!).

Tinkering. Play with stuff! Learning through play. If they’ve completed the task and showed an understanding of the key concept allow them to tinker, explore and adapt code.

Extension tasks and challenge cards. Build into lesson in order to support and stretch pupils. *Important to remember with ICT/computing lessons in general that there are differing levels of ability. It is like any other lesson we teach! Sometimes I feel this can be forgotten. Similar issues with marking and feedback in technology lessons.

Decomposed games planning. Play a basic game. Plan own games using tactile resources (playground, chalk, paper, pen). Break up the idea and plan the game.


Training teachers to code. All start at the same level. Choose one language to start with. Teach a module. Classes teach relevant modules. Come back and evaluate.

Not all Computing Science needs to be programming. Playground games, making sandwiches, getting up algorithm.

Internet side salad. Taking apart and discussing ‘search’ using the classroom environment. *See website for more. 


Just for reference: Phil’s infamous jam sandwich video:


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