Computing at Castle Hill School.
The national curriculum divides computing into three areas: Information Technology, Digital Literacy and Computer Science.
Information Technology: this involves effective use of search technologies and the ability to select and use appropriate software to accomplish specific tasks such as producing presentations or collecting and analysing data.
Digital Literacy: Pupils become familiar with the use of computer networks such as the internet and the world-wide web. Included within this area is the extremely important element of "Using Technology Safely", crucially the topic that is known as "Internet Safety".
Computer Science: Pupils are given the opportunity to grow from being users of computing technology to makers of such technology through the development of computer programs, web pages and "apps" for tablets and smart phones. Whereas much of the information technology and digital literacy elements are delivered by means of technology permeating all strands of the curriculum, the computer science element is formally taught as a separate subject (although knowledge gained is then used in other subjects). Throughout the delivery of this element of the curriculum, much thought is given to ensuring that the pupils experience a "wow" factor in carrying out their work. The different elements of computer science are now taken in turn.
Computer Programming: Pupils are taught to program (or "code") in Scratch: an amazingly sophisticated pictorial programming language developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is free and can be downloaded for use at home on Windows computers (see resource links below). Pupils will benefit from weekly 45-minute taught sessions at which we operate a "one computer per pupil" policy, the computer in question being one of the school's 48 Windows laptops. Each pupil having their own computer ensures that every pupil is fully engaged in the teaching and is given maximum opportunity to develop their skills. Pupils are introduced to Scratch in year 2 and teaching of the language continues in years 3, 4 and 5. During this time, pupils will produce animated stories and interactive computer games of increasing sophistication. For younger pupils, Scratch Junior, which runs on Apple and Android tablets, is used as an introduction to coding.
Web Page Design: Being able to produce a web page that can be uploaded to the World-Wide Web is a valuable skill. At Castle Hill, pupils are taught to program in HTML, the international standard for web pages. We do not use templates to produce web pages but, rather, code directly in HTML using simple tools such as Notepad. This means that pupils are not dependent on a template to enable them to produce web content and will allow them to evaluate the benefit of such templates should they wish to in the future. Additionally, HTML is a text-based language that introduces pupils to text-based programming (as opposed to Scratch that is highly pictorial in its functionality). In text-based programming, spelling mistakes and syntax errors must be identified and corrected before any pages are uploaded. As part of ensuring a "wow" factor, pupils' web pages are uploaded onto a specially procured website (www.castlehillpupils.org.uk) from where they can be viewed at home. Links are provided from the school website to the pupils' site (see resources below).
App Development: All our pupils are given the opportunity to develop real, live apps that run on Android (Samsung, Nexus, LG etc.) tablets and smart phones. They are uploaded to the castlehillpupils.org.uk from where they can be downloaded onto any compatible tablet or smart phone worldwide. This is achieved using a development tool (AppInventor) produced by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. See the link under resources for more information. The development process involves synchronising laptops (on which the programming takes place) with Android tablets on which the program actually runs. For examples of apps developed by pupils, see the link in the resources section.
Google Sketchup: This is a 3D drawing package that is proving very popular with pupils. From basic 3D shapes and simple housing structures, pupils are able to integrate Sketchup projects with their topic work. For example, year 4 pupils progress to building Roman temples, villas and mosaics; year 5 pupils build virtual Aztec pyramids and year 6 pupils produce a detailed wartime Victorian terraced house complete with Anderson shelter.
Data Gathering and Analysis. The school possesses 14 environmental sensing devices that record ambient temperature, light and noise levels. They can be synchronised with laptop computers and the data transferred to Microsoft Excel. Pupils can then analyse the data within Excel and produce graphs showing variations of the environment with time.
Robotics. We have ten sets of Lego WeDo robotics kits. These are Lego kits with an electric motor and proximity and tilt sensors. The are terrific fun to use. My favourite is the footballer's leg that senses the presence of a ping pong ball and gives it a good kick off the table.
Computing at School document: http://www.computingatschool.org.uk/data/uploads/CASPrimaryComputing.pdf
Examples of Pupils' Web Pages:
Examples of Pupils' apps: