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ICT / Computing

Published on January 3rd, 2015 | by What2Learn


Teaching strategies

Programming and computational thinking is going to be quite a jump for many pupils. Many teachers grew up in the era of the ZX Spectrum and similar early home computers where writing programs was all part of the experience. Magazines even came with the code for games which the reader typed in. This is not the case for the modern generation in the age of the games console. Computing will require the kind of thinking skills that many pupils will not have really used before. Combine this with the fact that such new and exciting content will result in highly motivated classes keen to make progress and achieve, and you have a recipe for potentially very demanding lessons.

As the class teacher you could quite easily exhaust yourself running around the class trying to resolve all the issues that arise and spot every tiny little syntax error which is preventing a program from working as expected. Even worse, pupils sitting waiting (quietly or otherwise) for attention are not making progress and this is something that will prevent you from attaining Good or Outstanding lesson observations.

A few minor tweaks could make all the difference though. Think about the displays that you have up in the classroom, on walls and on digital screens. Do they need to be now changed so that they reflect the shift in curriculum? Having code snippets or ‘how-to’ reminders printed large and around the room may help you to quickly and easily deflect some questions. You should also look to train your classes to support each other – for any question that might come your way there is bound to be another pupil in the class who has already tackled this problem and can provide an excellent answer to it, developing their own knowledge and understanding as they do so. An effective way to do this is to place a Post-it note on each computer prior to the lesson. When a pupil wants to ask a question they must write it down on the Post-it which is then read out by the class teacher. Pupils are then able to volunteer to go over and assist with solving the problem. This is particularly effective when tied in with an appropriate rewards system.

Use of classroom management software which allows pupil screens to be exhibited throughout the classroom is also key. When a pupil has completed a specific task their screen can be shown to their peers as they talk through the solution they have created. This provides opportunities for some to develop their understanding of how to attain the same result and the selected pupil reinforces his own knowledge. It also provides opportunities for whole-class ‘what next’ discussions looking at how the solution could be refined or developed.

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