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Computing and Low Levels

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by spurrells, Oct 23, 2015.

  1. spurrells

    spurrells New commenter

    Hi all

    I love teaching Computing. I think it is a great subject and the children get loads out of it, especially when they can get the computer to do something that they have told it to do, whatever the language and whatever the software.

    However, I have a new challenge this year. There are a lot of pupils in one of my Year 7 pupils who can't read, and certainly can't write. As we know, Computing is a subject about accuracy and getting words right, in the right order and spelled correctly. Or if using software like Scratch or Code.org then using the right blocks to make up the code.

    Has anyone come across the best way to teach Computing to children who struggle to read and write? I have started a blog (computingliteracy.blogspot.co.uk) as a summary of all the different things I am trying as I couldn't find much out there in the way of resources or reflections from people who have had the same worries as myself.

    Any thoughts greatly appreciated. I'm hoping colleagues out there are a generous bunch! :)

  2. madcat

    madcat Occasional commenter

    The first thing is to get a handle on the problem
    You state that some of the pupils can't read or write, so what do you mean by that ?. How severe is the problem, what are their reading ages etc. etc.

    If your SMT are worth their pay they should have provided you with a list of SEN students in your groups and English/Maths levels for all of the students you teach. So if you haven't go that information, go to your line manager and get it. Have you picked up all of the students finding the subject difficult or are there some "invisible children" ?

    If their basics skills are at such a low level then there should be some form of in-lesson support. Is that in place ? If not ask why not ?

    If yes then work with their support staff, go through all of the lessons you intend to teach over the next term. Get the support to draft (or help draft) some "Simple English" versions of any resources; look for alternatives etc . If there is no support then go direct to the SEN team and work with them.

    Try to avoid worksheets. Use video (yes I know you don't like them), animations, cut and stick, role play, verbal question and answer sessions, interactive resources etc etc.

    Finally choose your topics carefully, Computing is full of deathly dull ones .

    Oh yes, I notice on the blog you identify your school Experience tells me that is probably not a good idea , but it is up to you
  3. spartacus123

    spartacus123 Occasional commenter

    Are your SMT any good?

    (bearing in mind you've identified your school)

    You do understand online privacy issues? I think it's in the curriculum - and identifying your school must surely be one of those issues?

    Don't worry - you're not the first person I have seen who clearly identifies their school on here.
  4. spurrells

    spurrells New commenter

    Thanks very much for your reply. It gave me something to think about over half-term.

    Have thought about what you said about my school, have removed that now from the blog post. I guess I thought I was being as open as possible to get as much help as possible, but I see now where that may actually hold me back.

    Data coming from primary schools is slow. I do have most of their levels for English and Maths, but don't yet have data on reading ages. This would definitely help as it would show me much quicker who the stronger readers are, and therefore perhaps the 'leaders' when we do group work.

    What I am worried about with doing all those other activities (which are interesting and engaging for the children) would be a lack of 'evidence' in their files or in their exercise books. If we are doing role plays or verbal questioning, I will need to think of a way to get that evidenced for each child so that when their work gets scrutinised, there is evidence of progress, feedback etc.

    The other thing with that is when we do programming (which the computing curriculum definitely requires them to do some) how do I get around the fact that they can't read what is on the screen or can't type things accurately. Kodu and Scratch are excellent programs, as they ares drag and drop and Kodu uses pictures too, but not all modules use Kodu/Scratch as the language. This bit requires more thought and is the bit that concerns me the most.
  5. tjra

    tjra Occasional commenter

    Computing is not just programming. Why does everyone get hung up on the programming side and get worried about students not spelling syntax correctly? Sigh.
    wanet likes this.
  6. spurrells

    spurrells New commenter

    Well, for me I guess it is because it is the bit that is the most unfamiliar.

    I am fully aware that Computing isn't just about programming. Our first module is Online Safety, very different in many areas to programming, similar in others.

    If student's don't spell properly and get the wrong syntax, then the program won't work. Have you ever seen a pupil pleased with themselves because they haven't achieved what they wanted? I want the pupils to be able to create something that works, to be able to create something that shows progress. Like I said, it is these modules I am worried about the most.
  7. madcat

    madcat Occasional commenter

    Then adapt those particular modules so that they can be carried out with Scratch.
    While there is an overall KS3 requirement to use text based programming languages In the early stages and with low ability students the task is really to get over the basic concepts of programming (variables , loops etc). Scratch (and Kodu) more than cover these.

    As a plus you will also gain points for "differentiating the task for low ability students " or what ever 'neweduspeak' phrase is current

    I had forgotten about the current SMT fixation with "evidence" - what ever happened to professional trust BTW .
    Anyway I did work on a project some years back where we gave a target group of students MP3 recorders which they used to gather feedback, produce work etc which worked well . It occurs to me that ,as students now have phones, you could give them verbal feedback with something like Google Keep. which has excellent Speech to Text then get them to print out the note for SMT evidence.
    Keep even lets you send the note direct to Google docs for forwarding etc.
  8. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    If spelling is an issue then a programming language like MS Small Basic will help resolve the problem. However, i agree programming is not the whole of computing!

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