1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Use of Block languages

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by up730691, Feb 8, 2018.


From your experience, are block languages an effective way of teaching?

  1. Yes

    6 vote(s)
  2. Most of the time

    0 vote(s)
  3. Sometimes

    1 vote(s)
  4. Rarely

    0 vote(s)
  5. Never

    0 vote(s)
  1. up730691

    up730691 New commenter

    Hello all,

    I am considering using block languages (such as scratch) to teach students basic programming in an after school club I have been asked to set up.

    I would like to ask the community if block languages are a good method of teaching or if I should start getting them write basic python functions.

    Thank you all for your time.
  2. madcat

    madcat Occasional commenter

    If it were me I'd do a bit of everything
    Scratch >>Logo>> Small Basic>> Microbit >> Trinket >> Python
    is a route I've used before
    SundaeTrifle and up730691 like this.
  3. up730691

    up730691 New commenter

    Thanks, after looking at the tools its seems a good link of progression.

    Votes still appreciated as I can use this as a metric to present to the school
  4. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    What age students are you talking about?

    I never actually used block languages, when I was teaching, but I would imagine younger ones may find it easier to use something like Scratch, rather than asking them to write their own functions?

    Using blocks would allow them to concentrate on how the different elements contribute to the overall result, without having to remember stuff like syntax, and scope of variables etc?
  5. bonxie

    bonxie Lead commenter

  6. MigsAna

    MigsAna New commenter

    Scratch is wonderful. Students can "join" scratch for free and so save stuff on the scratch cloud and continue at home .. there is even a free offline version if access to the internet is an issue ... To teach them "proper" programming try this book:
    Learn to Program with Scratch: A Visual Introduction to Programming with Games, Art, Science, and Math Paperback – 23 Feb 2014
    by Majed Marji (Author) with the downloadable code snippets and lots of "problems" you're on to a winner and can be used with kids in KS3 or even KS4 i.e. 11 to 16 .. there are plenty of other books but I find this one particularly useful as scratch is so "attractive" and there are so many "games" out there that it is easy for students to "just play" and not really learn very much ... a class set of these books or maybe the publishers can licence the pdf version??
  7. notrevlim

    notrevlim Established commenter

    Blockly and some variants have the advantage that they will also display the source code in C++ and python.
  8. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    Scratch is ok for primary, maybe y7. Students tend to learn Scratch rather than programming in my experience.
    My view is that students need to be exposed to text-based languages as soon as possible. I have taught Small Basic to y5 and y6 and even Java to a particularly good y6 group. Python is the worst possible language to teach programming, in my opinion. Small basic, Visual Basic are much better alternatives, in my opinion.
  9. notrevlim

    notrevlim Established commenter

    The huge problems with block languages is that you can dump blocks and make things happen. That suit students who get some sort of result, and teachers who can't program.
    Like any programming method, you need structure and organisation. Scratch has a whole new character when you use it properly. It turns (almost) into a programming language.
    That sort of organisation and structure comes at a cost. You have to teach it. You can't just let them get on with it.
  10. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    This post originally asked for help with delivering 'computing' to Primary school age children, for an after school club. I don't really understand why people seem obsessed with the idea of children of that age acting and thinking like 'programmers'. Surely, at that age, they should be acting and thinking like children, shouldn't they?

    Would the average primary school child derive much beneft from seeing " the source code in C++ and python", given their current level of literacy? Seeing it is one thing, but understanding it in context is another.

    True, but is that not what the majority of Primary school age children are looking for? So expecting them to get a grip on little more than "being able to string stuff together, so they can make the cat dance", is not unreasonable.

  11. notrevlim

    notrevlim Established commenter

    I've taught scratch to year 6 and found that they can grasp more complex concepts than we give them credit for. For example, left to their own devices they can write a program that plays a tune. Given the proper teaching they can have a program that plays whatever tune the program points to.

    Seeing the the blocks as a set of instructions might allow a more able student to experiment.
  12. notrevlim

    notrevlim Established commenter

    This is beginning to remind me of the conversation where I was told that Computing and ICT are trivial and worthless subjects taught by people lacking the intelligence to teach other subjects.
  13. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    Not sure were that came from. I certainly don't believe either of those statements to be true, and I've never suggested otherwise. But given that not every school has access to a qualified CS teacher, I imagine that in many cases someone gets 'volunteered' to teach programming, on the basis that 'they are the best fit'. Therefore management's take on that, is that 'you don't need to be a CS grad to teach Computing'. On that basis anyone could teach it, but how well they are able to teach it is another matter entirely.

Share This Page