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Building collaboration and problem solving skills

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Simon Haughton, Computing Lead at Parkfield Primary School in Rochdale, shares his experience of teaching with Discovery Education Coding.

A COMPLETE CODING RESOURCE
I’ve been using Discovery Education Coding since its launch. 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.

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.

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.

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. 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!

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