Coding Curriculums: Part 2

October 22, 2015 by wendy

CoderDojo Linz
CoderDojo Linz by Rainer Stropek is licensed under CC by 2.0

In the first part of this series, we began to explore the National Curriculum in England, which outlines students’ learning objectives in computing across four key stages from ages 5 to 16. This week, we take a closer look at the guide for primary teachers, and we focus on how teachers working with students between ages 5 and 7 can introduce coding in their classrooms.

Building the foundation

Key stage 1 builds the foundation for students. It is important for them to realize that we interact with computers all the time, not only at school, but also at home with our appliances, in our car, and outside when we cross the street. They should be aware that computers store information digitally as files, and they should be able to save, organize, manipulate, and retrieve files effectively.

Introducing coding

In terms of coding, students first need to understand that computers need precise and unambiguous instructions. They should have the opportunity to design their own algorithms or programs, sequences of instructions that accomplish a task. In most cases, their first attempts will have mistakes or bugs. Debugging, or fixing these mistakes in their programs, can be a chance for students to collaborate. In addition to creating programs, students should also predict the behaviour of existing programs to develop their logical reasoning.

Here are some tools that students can use to create their first programs:

Being safe

Finally, students will most likely be using the Internet. It is important to review with them how to use technology safely and respectfully, why they should keep personal information private, and where they can go for help and support.

Planning lessons

The guide suggests four different approaches for planning lessons.

  • Structure lessons around themes, such as computer science, information technology, and digital literacy.
  • Use a project-based approach that integrates topics from other subjects.
  • Adapt from existing lesson plans.
  • Use a student-centred approach in which students choose from a set of projects or design their own projects based on an overall topic.

Beyond key stage 1

In part 3 of this series, we’ll continue to explore the National Curriculum in England and their guide for primary teachers, and we’ll focus on the main elements of key stage 2.

Coding Curriculums: Part 1

October 14, 2015 by wendy

Students at Dimmitt Middle School learning to code
Students at Dimmitt Middle School by Jay Inslee is licensed under CC by-nd 2.0

In August, the CBC published an article entitled, Back to school: Canada lagging in push to teach kids computer coding, which discusses the international trend of making computer science a mandatory subject for all students. Educators in England and the US are teaching children not only how to use computers, but also how computers work. If Canada were to follow, then we should take advantage of the work that has already been done.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore coding curriculums that educators are already using today. This week, we’ll take a brief look at the National curriculum in England, which consists of four key stages.

Key stage 1: Ages 5 to 7

In this first stage, students are introduced to algorithms. They come up with lists of instructions and break down familiar routines, which can even be done without a computer. Eventually, they write and debug simple programs of their own, and use logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of programs.

Key stage 2: Ages 7 to 11

Students write more complex programs by incorporating concepts such as variables and loops. They also learn about computer networks, like the Internet. They explore how the Internet works and how they can use it effectively and responsibly.

Key stage 3: Ages 11 to 14

In key stage 3, students use at least two programming languages and experiment with concepts such as data structures and Boolean logic. They understand how computers are built, how they communicate, and how they store information. Students also have the opportunity to build creative projects that combine multiple technologies.

Key stage 4: Ages 14 to 16

Lastly in stage 4, students study an aspect of computer science in depth to help them progress to a higher level of education or professional career. They learn how to develop their capabilities and knowledge in computer science, and how to apply their skills in critical thinking, problem solving, and design.

Coding for primary teachers

Next week, we’ll take a closer look at the guide for primary teachers, which aims to help teachers, who work with children ages 5 to 11, get started with introducing coding in their classrooms.