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Coding and robotics at Intermediate level

Started by Heather Harper 11 Jun 2018 1:18pm () Replies (6)

I have been asked to start a coding and robotics programme up for students at an intermediate. Students experience range from none through to javascript and HTML experience. Wondering how to go about this and what resources (hands on, websites, programmes...) I sometimes wonder if the fundamental understanding of computational thinking, binary numbers and computer language... gets overlooked if students go straight into Scratch / Tynker / Hour of Code... Do they need that understanding?

I really like Coding Unplugged  activities, lego mazes, algorithm basics... I'm Looking for suggestions and ideas. I have had a look at the MIndlab Digital Passport.


  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 13 Jun 2018 2:26pm ()

    Kia ora Heather, great questions about starting where the kids are at, what background knowledge could be needed. Sounds like you're having fun already. smiley

    I'm currently examining at the DT progress outcomes more closely looking at what kinds of teaching tools, resources and lesson ideas are out there to support this new learning. For example, resources and support from Connected Learning Advisory (CLA) have helped me to think about breaking down the progress outcomes into actions ie: Computational Thinking :

    Progress outcome 3

    In authentic contexts and taking account of end-users, students decompose problems into step-by-step instructions to create algorithms for computer programs. They use logical thinking to predict the behaviour of the programs, and they understand that there can be more than one algorithm for the same problem. They develop and debug simple programs that use inputs, outputs, sequence and iteration (repeating part of the algorithm with a loop). They understand that digital devices store data using just two states represented by binary digits (bits).  

    In real-life situations and appropriate to people's individual needs…

    I can identify problems that digital technologies might be able to solve.  

    I can break down (decompose) a problem into step-by-step instructions that I can use to create algorithms for computer programs.

    I can use logical thinking to predict the behaviour of computer programs.

    I understand that different algorithms could be used to solve the same problem.

    I can create a simple program that uses inputs and has outputs. My program uses algorithms in the right order (or sequence). My program includes repeating part of an algorithm using a loop (called iteration).


    Having unplugged lesson ideas from experts like Tim Bell and the team at UC Computer Science Education, can also help to make correlations between the progress outcomes and lesson ideas before/during or at the same time you dive into codingThen there would be some students breaking away, ready for independent challenges to develop skills in this area like CodeclubNZ, Codecamp, Hackerank, Codewars etc. 

    I guess just as you would teach/explain/demonstrate writing elements, teaching computer science concepts/knowledge and skills (algorithms, binary, error detection etc) as well as design thinking (iterative process) is also important for scaffolding technological understandings (knowledge). The key words/reminders for me are: Real life situations and appropriate to individual needs. What do you think about this part too?

    But there are more experts than me that can help you, so I'll send out a request amongst the wider network (like DTTA) for some support. smiley

  • Heather Harper (View all users posts) 14 Jun 2018 9:43am ()

    Hi Tessa

    You always make such good sense and it is great to reconnect. I like the breakdown of the Progress Outcome. They all need to be made into kidspeak so we can understand them. I have had a look through Mindlabs Digital Passport as well. They break them down but go at quite a fast pace. Some great resources though.

    Any support you can help with would be most appreciated.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 15 Jun 2018 10:58am ()

    Ahh Heather tis always good to connect! smiley I think if you're needing some time 'breaking this down' (like a good dance move), then so will many others.

    The CLA can help as they've been doing some work around this as well, so will nudge @Anaru.White, @Clive.Francis and @Ray.Burkhill and Jess.Bond1 to come and dive in this discussion as well. I really like how the teachers created kidspeak progressions for literacy, so can't see why we can't do this here too.

    I know we're all going to want to explore the knowledge area of the Digital Technologies (and so we should), so we're more up-to-speed with the terminology and processes; as someone wise recently shared with me there's also the importance of keeping the Technology strands at the fore as well - ie design processes (Technological Practice) and understanding where technologies have come from and how they're changing - Nature of Technology. So lots to take in, baby steps for some of us, already doing it for others...

    There's a whole lot of support coming too, so as well as the Digital Passport, keep an eye out for professional learning support available. Oh and tell us how you get on...yes

  • anne robertson (View all users posts) 15 Jun 2018 3:58pm ()

    Kia ora Heather

    The 'kidspeak' progressions are available from the Connected Learning Advisory. And we can support you getting started with a "Start Up" workshop (or provide you with the resources to run it yourself if we can't make a face to face visit). Drop us a line at CLA via our online form, or call 0800 700 400. 

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Anne Robertson

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 16 Aug 2018 1:45pm ()

    Kia ora thanks for this @anne.robertson, do you have a direct link to those 'kidspeak' progressions please? Thanks again smiley

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Digital Technologies: Ideas, implementation, inspiration for the new curriculum.

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