Here is a free e-magazine, developed by Google, showcasing all the creative and innovative careers that you can do with code! Schools can request free hard copies through Refraction Media. What a great way to explore professions and real-world applications of computer science with your class!
Today we ran a workshop at the Australian Computers in Education Conference (ACEC2014) about Visual Programming for the primary year levels. In the workshop, we introduced different examples of visual programming systems, and explored example activities in combination with videos that show how visual programming can be incorporated at the Primary level, and integrated with other learning areas.
During the workshop, participants could choose to work with either ScratchJR or PlayLab.
Participants began by exploring the programming systems by following the tutorials (see ScratchJr examples in the ‘Teach’ tab) using a paired programming approach. Pair programming is great because it encourages learners to work as a team, solve problems together using a think-aloud approach.
Participants paired-up with one being the “driver” and the other being the “navigator” and mid-way they swapped roles. After completing the tutorial challenges, participants had some time for free-play to create their own version of the programs in ScratchJR or Playlab.
We then moved into a session where participants worked in pairs to think of a lesson idea or way of connecting the use of the visual programming system into a classroom activity or theme. We had some great ideas emerge, with links being made to mathematics (pattern recognition, numeracy, directional language) and science (the world around us and growth). Exploring algorithms and visual programming was also emphasised as lending itself well to oral language development (listening and speaking), particularly in the early years.
We had some discussion around the types of visual programming systems and where they would fit in terms of development and it was perceived that a system like Blockly would be great for explicit teaching of programming statements, which could then be practiced and developed in other systems like PlayLab or with other programs on Code.org. The tutorial based activities were perceived as great to introduce children to the programming concepts, which could later be explored in a more open-ended system like Scratch.
Our participants suggested a great range of topics that could be explored by children in the systems, such as recycling, creating stories (with story boards as support) as well as game-making by older students for the younger year levels. We even had a Zombie themed series of lessons, which could be taken as a model and used on any various topic. The proposed model emphasised, what was a common idea that emerged in the workshop – that the use of visual programming in learning activities doesn’t have to be the sole focus. There are a number of opportunities for developing skills and using visual programming as a springboard for a series of lesson ideas or as a platform for students to create a product. Further, students can also share and disseminate their work in a variety of different ways, such as through a presentation, by sharing with a peer, flipping the story or by designing some product that explains their work (poster, advertisement, book cover).
We had a great session working with the teachers and we hope they enjoyed the session too! We have made our slides available for everyone in case you missed out!
We’ve tweeted the images shared by participants at @cserAdelaide.
Tomorrow we’ll be running another workshop about hands-on primary (F-6) activities you can do for the Digital Technologies learning area, based on those generated for and from our CSER MOOC.
Resources & Activities
On this page, I will be posting links and resources that I come across relating to the digital technologies learning area. I will also post some ideas (existing or new) for plugged and unplugged activities.
In this sub-heading I have provided a link to the Australian curriculum and key concept descriptions. For more lesson ideas and inspiration I have been posting to the CSER Pinterest Page.