Skip to main content

Coding in Star Classroom iPad ideas

I'm very nervous of putting much out about Coding as we try really hard to explain to colleagues that "eLearning is not Computing." There is a lot that eLearning can add to help teach computing (and computational thinking) but we don't want to have that become too much a focus. That said, we do get asked a lot - so we will put out a few posts of ideas and help for colleagues looking to develop coding.

For the first installment here are some ideas for the iPad. All the Apps listed below are either already in the Self-Service or Meraki system for our academies, or can be in a matter of minutes - just ask your friends in IT Support. The iPad is perhaps trickier than the things we'll look at in the next post because it doesn't have Scratch, which has become by default "the thing you need to know about to teach coding in a primary school" (not true but certainly getting your head around Scratch, and code.org is a good place to start).

Episode 39 of the awesome Canvas Podcast is probably the best place to start in terms of ideas for coding with an iPad in school or at home - Fraser Speirs goes through the best options and explains them from the perspective of a teacher.

Some of the apps he highlights that we'd strongly support include:

Hopscotch
Hopscotch is not "Scratch for the iPad" but it hits all the same areas of learning and has a quite gentle learning curve for getting started. It excels for helping students build games, and the way the student can learn to package up some code they have written into a "behaviour" and then re-use that code in other places gets them thinking in terms of modules that will stand them in good stead when they move to more advanced languages.

Swift Playgrounds
Swift Playgrounds is probably the main claim Apple can have to say the iPad isn't just good enough to learn to code on, it is actually better. There are a wealth of eBooks that work alongside Swift Playgrounds that a student can work through, and instead of coding by dragging blocks, the students gets the experience of keying in code.

Scratch Jr 
Although it is nowhere near a full version of Scratch, Jr is really easy to use and ideal for 5-7 year olds - it makes no compromises in being a "proper iPad app" rather than some kind of half-baked version of Scratch itself, and the commands available are much more limited - but anything the student learns with Jr they will quickly be able to apply to the full version on the web.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

So External Hard Drives and Pen Drives are going to be banned...

We've taken the decision to ban external hard drives and pen-drives from all Trust computers and from all of our premises with effect from 1st January 2018. From that date they just won't work when you plug them into one of our computers. This article hopefully points the way for how to continue to work successfully without that trusted friend. This could inconvenience people - people that use them and me*

Every school still has one or two people that carry everything to and from work every day on that external disc they bought four or five years ago - I know of one colleague who has more than ten year's material on there, and another that lost everything when the drive failed and they had no backup. The ban comes from a security review where these devices were identified as one of our highest risks because:

From a data protection point of view, we know people know not to put any kind of personal or confidential data onto one, but there is always the risk of human error.The…

OneNote and Google Drive in Harmony

Many of our staff use OneNote well and happily, as well as being a great place to keep everything for a topic in one place presented visually and annotated (in many ways better than with a specialist interactive board app) it is useful to share what you have had on the big screen with your class with a single link.

Most also use Google Drive as the main place they keep all their files to collaborate, share resources and work on them from anywhere.

When word reached us that Brendan Brannigan from Bringhurst Primary School had combined the two and now works on his OneNote files at home and school using Google Drive we asked to make a guide for colleagues - this video (also available on dret.tv, login required) is the result.

I must admit, after watching it I had a "why on earth hadn't I thought of this?" moment - there is absolutely nothing wrong with OneDrive which is where OneNote prefers to live, but it is one more thing to worry about.

Now all I have to do is work out…

Guest blog post - Pixi Maths

We recently started a new Spring cohort of our Challenge for eLearning CPD course with colleagues from the Corby area, including the author of Pixi Maths, Danielle Moosajee.
As a plenary activity for the first session, we used and demo'd Plickers - 'a simple tool that lets teachers collect real-time formative assessment data without the need for student devices.' It's a great tool which we've blogged about before, and here are Danielle's thoughts on it after using it class post-training:

I left the first Challenge 4 eLearning session full of biscuits and inspired! In a way, it was a shame that the Easter break fell so shortly afterwards as I was keen to try out some of the things we’d been introduced to.
A couple of years ago, a colleague had shown me the Plickers app. Students each receive a QR code with 4 orientations (A, B, C and D) and they hold their cards up to be scanned by an iPad in answer to a multiple choice question. Previously, I had laminated these …