Many subject leaders are now looking at tightening their coverage for their year groups to ensure National Curriculum skills are both progressive and detailed.
I have worked with other Computing leaders across my network of schools to help ensure there is a clear skills coverage and progression for each year group and tried where possible to use high quality free resources, apps and guides.
In the skills framework document, you will see skills linked into the Everyone Can Create schemes of work. Each set of skills covers different areas of the primary computing National Curriculum. Each term also involves an aspect of programming.
Many schools will need to adapt their framework based on their infrastructure, staff confidence and budget. However, working across multiple schools I have collaborated on these documents with other Computing subject leaders and found it both effective and flexible.
This document will be useful if you:
Are a primary school teacher
Are a Computing Lead
Are a year group or key stage leader
Curriculum development leader
Interested in Deep Dive coverage
Use iPads and Chromebooks in your school
Use the Everyone Can Create Guides
Want yearly skills coverage
Want to see e-safety linked to the computing curriculum
The EEF has identified the main barriers and issues with teaching children in a home environment:
Planning and teaching
Using these barrier as guides, there are 5 top tips to overcome that involve:
Activate (check prior learning & understanding)
Practice (independent work)
Reflection (be honest- what went well and what didn’t?)
Review (check for improvements, progress and go back if needed)
Let’s take a look in a bit more detail of the barriers and strategies to help parents with homeschooling during the Covid 19 pandemic.
Environment: Home school isn’t the same as ordinary school, and we will struggle if we try to replicate it, not least because the pupils that we teach will have a range of home contexts. Many parents are working from home themselves so won’t be able to monitor behaviour and work constantly like a teacher or teaching assistant would.
Structure: Many schools are understandably trying to maintain a degree of consistency and routine by encouraging students to follow the timings of a normal school day. This won’t be possible for all pupils, particularly the most vulnerable. If your school doesn’t dictate a timetable for you then use flexibility to your advantage and break up the learning in manageable chunks separated with breaks that link to yours. The key is the start. Get up and get the morning activities out the way. If it goes wayward towards the afternoon at least the main learning has been achieved.
Access to technology: Even if we use technology to try and overcome this reliance on adults at home, some households will have limited internet access or will have fewer devices than number of children. Many educational apps work on both Apple and Android devices but don’t be afraid to combine good old fashioned pen and paper to complete online tasks- if you school teacher wants evidence you can always take a photo and upload the work.
Planning and teaching: If we are to keep both pupils and parents motivated to engage with work we set, it is important that it feels meaningful and manageable. When time and resources are limited, we need to ensure that this work is as impactful as possible. There are so many websites and companies trying to get your attention for home learning at the moment it can be overwhelming. Take your school’s lead on this one- stick to the apps and websites you and your child are familiar with. Venture out when boredom hits in!
Self-regulation:Metacognition and self-regulation will be particularly important when we’re not physically with pupils, especially for the most vulnerable. Some children will have very good support at home, and well-developed self-regulation strategies, but others will find it more difficult to adjust to the ‘new normal,’ and they will need support.
To help teachers frame their thinking when planning for home learning, the EEF have produced a framework, focussing particularly on the final three issues. Rooted in the EEF’s Metacognition Guidance Report, they’ve suggested some approaches you can take when planning home learning, including online and offlineexamples, to take into account differing levels of access.
5 top tips to support home learning:
Activate: Teachers do this all the time. Take a snapshot of what your child already knows and can do. If you don’t take 5 minutes to check their level of understanding your pitch could be way off and both your and your child will get frustrated. Give your child a couple of test questions or do the first one together and ask them to explain their thinking- don’t settle for the classic “I just did it in my head” that doesn’t help anyone here! If you’re not sure about the best way to check what they should already know check out your school’s website for info on the topics they should have already covered. The school website should also have policies and documents on ways to teach and explain certain skills.
Explain: An integral aspect of any learning sequence will be explanations. A powerful way of doing this is to model your thinking, by focusing on the thought processes behind decisions you make, as well as teaching the strategy itself. Broadly, try to keep the amount of new information in each session to a minimum, progressing through explanations using small steps. It’s okay to use ready-made resources and video like YouTube. Check out Maths Antics, Khan Academy and KTV Online for video guides.
Practice: Our ultimate aim is that our pupils will be able to work independently, but they will need sufficient scaffolding and guidance to get there. As you plan any learning sequence, keep in mind how children will progress from being fully supported to being fully independent, bearing in mind that this is unlikely to occur within a single session. Give partial prompts for questions, which are reduced each time, or encourage children to use traditional frameworks, such as knowledge organisers, essay prompts, bookmarks, structure strips or model answers.
Reflect: An important aspect of self-regulation is reflecting on what you have done and using this to inform what you’ll do in future. You can encourage pupils to do this with targeted questions and prompts. If students submit work (either self-marked or to be marked by you) try feeding back to the child and looking the incorrect questions to help target support for the next lesson. Alternatively, you could compile short quizzes for pupils to complete after activities, which support them to think about what they’ve learned and what they found tricky. Check out Kahoot! What is important about this stage is that you shouldn’t move on with new learning until you are sure the child has fully understood the learning objective and skill. Teachers often spend a full week teaching one skill so take your time and keep practicing.
Review: Reviewing previous work, and retrieving key ideas from memory, aids long-term retention, particularly if this happens once you’ve started to forget what you’ve learned. You could use short online quizzes for this, incorporating questions from previous topics, as well as more recent ideas. Or, ask your child to write everything they can remember about a previous topic. Try and make it an open and non-restricted task so their ideas can develop – check out Sketchnoting for reviewing. The important thing here is that this is done from memory in the first instance, with resources used afterwards, as it’s the retrieval process itself that strengthens long-term memory.
Motivation is an important aspect of self-regulation so, once you’ve set tasks, try and show pupils why they matter. Where do they fit with what they’ve done before and what’s coming up? How will today’s work help them? Set concrete goals with clear success criteria, so they know what they’re doing is worth it. Use the carrot and link completed activities to intrinsic rewards (verbal praise and feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment) with external reward- yes you can now play on the PplayStation or Xbox!
A Final Thought
Every home is different. So is every child. Some parents are working full time from home while others will have limited access to online learning. We must accept that home school isn’t school, and some children will find it much harder to learn at home than others. Try not to worry about your child falling behind. The basics are key- daily reading, times tables and spelling. Look after their mental health and yours. If done correctly, home schooling can help to combat anxieties about academic learning and help to boost levels of self confidence and motivation by successfully completing activities. Remember you are not in this alone. Reach out to others for support and guidance if needed. Below are some useful links to help…
BarefootComputing.org is an excellent resource that provides free support to schools, teachers and parents for online safety and National Curriculum Computing work.
They have recently launched some new resources to support parents at home. The resources are mainly focused around Computational Thinking which involves problem solving, tinkering and perseverance.
Visit www.barefootcomputing.org/homelearning to find out more. With just one click (and no need for logins), parents/carers can continue to build their child’s computing skills in an enjoyable and accessible way – through popular lessons made into easy activities, fun ‘mini missions’ and interactive online games!
To get your pupils debugging, persevering and creating at home with their families please share our page far and wide; through your school websites, blogs, social media and your own individual networks.
Find out more about computational thinking / Downloads
It is important that whatever changes and investments we make in relation to technology in education they are backed up with credible case studies and research.
Here is quick summary of 4 recommendations by the EEF’s report support the implementation of new technologies in your school. I have also added some useful contacts and further supporting resources.
Every school will be at a different stage of their digital learning journey but its worth stopping to know exactly what state your current state is.
Your physical infrastructure- find out how new and up to date your WiFi, network and online storage is. If it needs upgrading to support x30 new iPad devices it will likely take more time and money.
What your staff use- how do your teachers share and communicate with planning and resources? Are you happy with this level of collaboration or do you want to upgrade your capacity?
What your children use- how often do they access devices and what apps they use will link into the type of technology you will want to invest in while keeping an eye on the 5 year plan
What training is required for teachers and teaching assistants?
What initial support will be required to introduce pupils to the technology being used? Will some pupils need additional ongoing support to use it effectively?
Is there appropriate space within or outside the classroom for pupils to use the technology?
How will delivery of the approach (implementing) be monitored to ensure effective impact?
Whether you are going for a new IT suite with Chromebooks or one-to-one iPad devices get in touch with your current school IT support and ask for a consultation about your next steps.
Considering new iPad devices? Ask for a free consultation from Jigsaw24.
Modelling and differentiation
Technology can help to break down learning barriers and support metacognitive pedagogical approaches to learning but only when effectively used.
The introduction of the interactive whiteboard (IWB) is a good example of how new technology can support a wider range of inputs and model formats. However when the board breaks the teacher goes back to pen and paper again. What the research shows it that it isn’t the use of technology to help support modelling but the way that the teacher deliverers it to the student. Moreover schools should spend time supporting their teachers and staff to effectively use new technology in the classroom.
Ensure your staff can model effectively and share examples of work using screen mirroring. You can connect an iPad device to the IWB a number of different ways. The most popular are: AppleTV Air Play, AirServer, Reflector or using a physical wired connection for your HDMI or VGA adapter.
A lack of confidence to use technology for modelling is one of the biggest barriers our profession faces when it comes to using technology in the classroom.. It is worth starting small and getting familiar with a handful of apps to ensure your staff develop their own skill set.
Finally, the research suggests modelling with technology may be most effective when used as a supplement rather than a substitute for other forms of modelling. This is true. Adapting to the needs of your pupils will inevitably mean you will need to dip in and out of technology. However, the accessibility tools for Lower Ability, SEND and EAL children is a wonderful addition to your classroom modelling and differentiation armoury.
Technology offers learners to opportunity to become fully integrated with their learning. Educational apps can assess, track and evidence pupil performance and feed the information back to the pupil, parents and teachers instantly. If used effectively, these tool can help save time with formative and summative assessment as well as provide information on gaps in learning.
Technology can also support retention and recall knowledge through interactive and engaging quizzes. Kahoot.com it is a great place to create and play quizzes in your classroom for pre and post learn assessments.
The research acknowledges that technology can be engaging and motivating for pupils. However, the relationship between technology, motivation and achievement is complex. Ensuring your schools identifies and supports children who are not regular uses of technology at home can help reduce the risk that technology becomes a tool that widens the gap between successful learners and their peers.
Educational apps like Seesaw and Showbie have enabled teachers to adapt practice effectively. For example these apps allow pupils to choice their own level of challenge and access new contexts in which students are required to apply new skills.
Technology has the potential to improve assessment and feedback, which are crucial elements of effective teaching. Verbal ‘on the spot’ feedback can be mimicked with instant virtual marking. Teachers can access current work using something like Google classrooms and provide written and oral feedback that can be re-played and responded to in real time.
The research goes on to state technology can increase the accuracy of assessment, and the speed with which assessment information is collected, with the potential to inform teachers’ decision-making and reduce workload. Reducing teacher workload is an important element to consider when investing in new technology and software.
The Be Internet Legends Teacher and Home School eBook provides an easy-to-follow guide that supports the Pupil Journals. This book maximizes the features of an eBook using screenshots and video tutorials guides with free apps and activities that anyone can use!
Online safety is becoming more and more important for teachers, parents and pupils.
Since the worldwide closures of schools, pupils have needed to access the internet like never before. But how safe is their practice? Are their parents able to provide the right level of support? And most importantly for you, are educators equipped with the right knowledge and advice to help facilitate online learning from home?
The Covid-19 pandemic forced pupils to access the internet at home like never before. It is vital as educators, parents and users ourselves that we equip our children with the right knowledge to navigate the risks and develop critical thinking skills which help to protect their best interests.
This guide is designed to help teachers plan and deliver free and engaging e-safety lessons using iPad technologies and apps. Each activity is linked to the computing National Curriculum.
Activities have been designed with different schools in mind. Every school will be teaching computing skills and online safety differently. The pupil eBooks can be used once a term or last throughout the academic year. Although the same apps are used in each year group, the skills are progressive and build on previous experience.
The walkthrough guides and video tutorials are designed to give the teacher a quick and informative introduction to the various apps. You can teach lessons in isolation or give your pupils the choice of activities each week to compete, depending on their confidence with each activity. Video-based and audio-based activities can be taught using shared iPads for those schools without one to one devices.
The Pages pupil eBooks are designed to give greater flexibility and creativity to showcase learning. Feel free to add pages to pupil books for additional work/evidence.