Building collaboration and problem solving skills Simon Haughton, Computing Lead at Parkfield Primary School in Rochdale, shares his experience of teaching with Discovery Education Coding and explains how the all-in-one resource delivers clear pupil progress and value for money. A COMPLETE CODING RESOURCE I’ve been using Discovery Education Coding since its launch seven years ago. I chose it because it was a complete coding resource and compatible with our iPads. I liked the fact that you can easily change the amount of command blocks offered according to age and ability. The templates for children to create programs are differentiated between year groups, which is great. These give me an ideal starting point to plan lessons that are varied and show progression in coding skills for the children as they move up through the school. COST EFFECTIVE Discovery Education Coding is very cost-effective as I use it for the majority of programming lessons from years 1 to 6, which is about a third of my overall curriculum time. This provides pupils with a consistent environment in which they can build on their skill set each year and makes their retrieval ability to interact with it as accessible as possible. The interface is perfectly designed for primary-aged pupils. It allows them to learn how to create programs using an increasing range of command blocks as they move up through the school, whilst not confusing them with unnecessary commands in the way that other block-based programming software does. PROGRAMMING BASICS I use Discovery Education Coding in almost every programming lesson. I deliver these in iPads which children have 1-1 access to, as part of whole class PPA cover each week. Discovery Education Coding gives the children a strong programming backbone that they can build upon as they progress through school. It also neatly complements other coding resources such as Lego robots, floor turtles etc. MEETING THE NATIONAL CURRICULUM The resource has really helped me to meet National Curriculum Computing requirements. It offers lots of suggestions which I use for planning lessons. I can follow steps for creating games in different year groups which is extremely helpful, or I can ask children to use the ‘Free Code’ screen if they want to program an app of their choosing. My pupils love having the freedom to create games based on their own imaginative ideas, as well as having the chance to share and play each other’s too. Teach your pupils to code! With Discovery Education Coding, pupils will gain a thorough understanding of coding concepts like algorithms, sequences and variables - as well as developing computational thinking skills through decomposition, logical reasoning and problem-solving. Learn more ➜ See pricing ➜ A CHILD-FRIENDLY SPACE Discovery Education Coding gives my pupils a child-friendly space to program fun games and apps. They can access it from any web browser across a multitude of devices–even beyond the school gate. By providing a grid-style design stage and a clip art gallery of pictures to include, children can effortlessly create their own programs. My pupils have developed a wide range of skills including sequencing commands and using variables such as game timers or score counters. I’ve also been able to use Discovery Education Coding to teach children how to use co-ordinates and data properties in their programs, such as setting an object’s speed or heading. HANDS-ON LEARNING With Discovery Education Coding, our computing lessons are always engaging. Recently I asked our Year 2 pupils to design a scene in which the player had to control a character to reach a destination whilst staying on a wiggly pathway and avoiding a baddy. This gave them the opportunity to showcase the skills associated with using button click events to control the movement and animation of objects they had been learning in previous lessons. The pupils designed some fantastic game ideas – a knight trying to reach a princess avoiding a nasty dragon, a whale trying to catch a fish avoiding a hungry shark and an astronaut trying to get to their spaceship whilst avoiding an evil alien! I challenged them to edit and improve their programs to make the games more interesting, such as by: adding a ‘Level 2’ button to make the baddy move or by showing a big ‘Well done!’ message when their target image is clicked on. I was particularly impressed with how independently they worked to code and debut them, as well as how relatively detailed some of their projects’ codes were to make the final games really fun to play! PUPIL PROGRESSION Discovery Education Coding has helped my Year 2 class to develop the programming skills they gained in Year 1, progressing from simply clicking on objects to make them move to adding buttons. As their confidence has grown, I’m now able to let them have more freedom in designing their own themed designs, as well as stretching more able pupils. I ask them to take screenshots of their work to insert into a Word document and type a couple of sentences alongside describing the aim of their programs and a short evaluation. As they move into Year 3, I’ll build on these skills by teaching how to program conditional events that cause events to happen, such as when an object hits another object (e.g. to collect or ‘eat’ it) or a particular colour in a scene (e.g. to stop moving when a wall is touched). COMPUTATIONAL THINKING SKILLS Discovery Education Coding is a brilliant tool for encouraging pupils to develop their computational thinking skills, both during the creation of apps and in the testing phase. Through its colourful graphical user interface children can easily: Explore different game design ideas Visually see the sequence in which commands are being executed and how this matches with their chosen algorithm Break down their code into different events Try out different values in the numerical command blocks and adjust these until the desired results are created. Coding really encourages my pupils to collaborate. They help one another, share interesting lines of code, test out each other’s games and share feedback. The children often approach and solve programming issues in completely different ways to how I’d imagined in my planning. It really is a joy to discover their solutions –which show what great potential Discovery Education Coding has with a little bit of tinkering! Recently a Year 4 pupil showed me that a variable with a starting value of 60, reducing by one every second, can be used as an on-screen countdown timer. I thought this was a simple but very neat idea! SUPPORTING TEACHERS For me, Discovery Education is a brilliant online coding programming service that is very cost effective. I find it very simple to use. It has clearly been designed especially for primary schools. It allows children to independently create a wide variety of apps and games and provides teachers with amazing lesson plans. It has enabled me to cover all aspects of the Computing National Curriculum and has given the children in my school a firm introduction to programming. I’m confident that this will enable them to excel when they transition to secondary school! Try Discovery Education Coding lessons with your class with our free sample lessons for KS1 and KS2 Already a subscriber? Login here.