Semester 2 Seminar 1: Key stage 1 Computing Curriculum
To begin our thinking today, we discussed the three strands of computing: digital literacy (reading, writing, speaking and listening), computer science (coding, algorithms, debugging, decomposition and abtraction) and IT (skills: creating and consuming).
Even before children start school they encounter technology, often in their homes. This may be in the form of iPads, radios, television remotes and toys such as children’s laptops, phones and tills with card machines. This provides children in today’s society with a great advantage when they begin their formal computing learning at school.
When teaching programming, the ‘Cat and Mouse’ game can be used as an introductory activity which explores instructions and directions (which the children respond to). Children stand in rows with their arms out either side of them, to block entry. When given an instruction, the children turn in a certain direction by the given amount of degrees. One child acts as the cat and another as the mouse, they move around the maze and the aim is for the mouse to not be caught by the cat.
The main activity of the seminar was looking at Bee-Bots. These are devices which can be programmed to move by pressing arrows in the desired direction located on top of the Bee-Bot. More recently Blue-Bots were created which work using the same principles, however they are transparent and can be programmed using a corresponding app through Bluetooth, which visually displays the instructions that have been given on a device such as an iPad.
- Our first task was to program a Bee-Bot/Blue-Bot to follow a course made using tape, in order to meet another Blue-Bot. The most successful group was the one which came closest to this Blue-Bot.
- Secondly, we used our knowledge of how Bee-Bots/Blue-Bots work and our learning from the previous activity, to program our Blue-Bot to move to create a T shape. In order to do this we wrote the letter T and added to this plan how many movements in each direction we thought that the Blue-Bot should make.
- After this we were given the task of repeating the activity above, but with a more difficult letter. We were also told that we could be creative by altering the usual letter formation. My group chose the letter R and decided to change one of the straight lines to a zig-zag line.
We were then intoduced to Pro-Bots which are larger, car-like models. We explored how these and Bee-Bots/Blue-Bots may be used in conjuction with a map as an activy, by programming one of these resources to reach a cetain destination. It is also possible
to make this more complex and require deeper thought, by asking the children to create their own maps based on a particular topic – which could either be given to them or left open. This provides cross-curricular links not only to geography but to any subject that the children can imagine. For instance, a grid could be drawn with numbers in each section (perhaps inserted in transparent pockets so that they can be changed); the teacher could ask the children a calculation and they could respond by programming the Pro-Bot/Bee-Bot/Blue-Bot to move to the number which is the correct answer. This could be done as a whole class or as a group activity, and could also be transformed into a competition; dividing the children into two teams and giving each team a programming device. The team to reach the correct answer first wins. Before carrying out these activities, children would need to have a good understanding of direction and angles, as well as knowledge of how to program these devices.
Here is a link to the Bee-Bot website, which shows their range of products and explanations:https://www.bee-bot.us/.
I also came across a map which can be downloaded, on a website called ‘Twinkl’ – providing an excellent resource for teachers:http://www.twinkl.co.uk/resource/t-c-1300-bee-bot-mat-uk-map.
This TES article (https://www.tes.com/article.aspx?storycode=6002692) explores the use of Bee-Bots and the successes of Pro-Bots in mathematics in particular, providing great inspiration for lesson activities!