clip_image002

Welcome to Coding Corner-this is a column about computing and coding. Written by Dan Aldred (@Dan_Aldred) who is well worth a follow on Twitter. Dan’s article is about Programming Student Interest

Many teachers jump straight into teaching students code. They log on, load up the interface and start typing out lines of code. Those students, who can copy from the board, do so and are successful. For those students who can’t or who miss a part of the code, then the program fails and some students are just turned off, straight away. The key to enabling students to learn to code is getting them interested and teaching them to think about what they want the program to do before they start coding.

When first introducing programming, it is useful to get students to notate on paper how to direct a student around the tables in a classroom. It is good fun and gets the students thinking about the commands they need to create and when to use them. More able students can be stretched by allowing them only ten instructions or only the use of a whistle. A remote control car is great for lower ability students to develop the concept of control and getting them to plan what turns they will need to make and in which order,to direct the car accurately around a course.

A paper lesson starter is this quiz, http://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/The-Quiz-6260250. If the student follows the instructions then fine, if not they will be asked to carry out silly tasks. RoboZZule requires students to program a robot through various challenging mazes to collect stars, http://robozzle.com . Tower times have some great simulations of the roller-coaster at AltonTowers. Students can program them to get the ride operational.http://old.towerstimes.co.uk/media/games.htm.

These activities get the students thinking not just about the end result but the steps required to get there and this is the key to understanding how to program well. Students need to understand what steps the program needs as well as how to code these steps.

Teaching students to understand what they want to program is as important as how to program it. It reminds me of the Christian aid slogan, “give a man a cow and he will feed his family for a week, give him the tools to farm and he will feed a village for life”. Give a student some lines of code and they will copy it for that lesson, teach them HOW to code and they will develop their own programs.

For example, a simple beginner’s code such as print “hello world” can be copied and typed in easily, but if the student understands what the print function is doing then they can print anything. Suddenly students are displaying anything they want. Print “I like maths!”. Further still, it enables students to think through a solution.

We all use a password to log into a computer, how does the computer know the password is correct? I could just give the students the code, but better is to get them to understand what is happening behind the screen! This is where the previous activities can begin to develop thinking and planning skills.

The user enters their password.

The password is compared with a stored password.

If they match the computer logs the user on.

Now you can teach the student how to perform each of the above steps, so if I want to allow a user to enter a number into the computer, then I need to define a variable. A variable is like a storage box, I do this in Python with the simple command x = input, x is the number that the user enters in. Then I use a prompt to tell the user to enter the data, x = input(“please enter your password”), the students have learnt how to enter a password, but more importantly how to enter and store data.

Now students know how to enter and store a variable. The next question I usually get is, how do I enter and store text and letters? Already the students have taken the concept and applied it to a password that contains text. They are beginning to learn when to use the code rather than just a set of commands or program lines.

This approach helps to develop students programming skills as well as maintaining their interest. The next hurdle is helping students to remember the code!

 

clip_image004

Dan Aldred is a teacher of Computing and Head of IT. He is also a member of the school extended leadership team and teacher learning group.  He’s interested in how technology and software move learning forward.

He also has a very useful Scoop it page full of great links.

Written by Julian S Wood - www.ideasfactory.me/about/"rel="author"
About me
UK Primary School Future Learning Technologist.I am into Experience and Fun Based Learning.I use web tools to stimulate writing. I've been Playing and Learning since 1970. Have some fabulous ideas now & again.. Check out my about.me profile!
Click Here to View All Nominated Educators
My LinkedIn Profile

To see my LinkedIn profile, click here:

Julian S Wood
edublogs-nominated-bestindivtweeter-150x150
Subscribe
Email subscription to blog
Map
Privacy Policy
Privacy Policy - www.ideasfactory.me

Privacy Policy for www.ideasfactory.me

If you require any more information or have any questions about our privacy policy, please feel free to contact us by email at skyblue_jules@talk21.com.

At www.ideasfactory.me, the privacy of our visitors is of extreme importance to us. This privacy policy document outlines the types of personal information is received and collected by www.ideasfactory.me and how it is used.

Log Files
Like many other Web sites, www.ideasfactory.me makes use of log files. The information inside the log files includes internet protocol ( IP ) addresses, type of browser, Internet Service Provider ( ISP ), date/time stamp, referring/exit pages, and number of clicks to analyze trends, administer the site, track users movement around the site, and gather demographic information. IP addresses, and other such information are not linked to any information that is personally identifiable.

Cookies and Web Beacons
www.ideasfactory.me does not use cookies.

DoubleClick DART Cookie

.:: Google, as a third party vendor, uses cookies to serve ads on www.ideasfactory.me.
.:: Google's use of the DART cookie enables it to serve ads to your users based on their visit to www.ideasfactory.me and other sites on the Internet.
.:: Users may opt out of the use of the DART cookie by visiting the Google ad and content network privacy policy at the following URL - http://www.google.com/privacy_ads.html

Some of our advertising partners may use cookies and web beacons on our site. Our advertising partners include
Google Adsense

These third-party ad servers or ad networks use technology to the advertisements and links that appear on www.ideasfactory.me send directly to your browsers. They automatically receive your IP address when this occurs. Other technologies ( such as cookies, JavaScript, or Web Beacons ) may also be used by the third-party ad networks to measure the effectiveness of their advertisements and / or to personalize the advertising content that you see.

www.ideasfactory.me has no access to or control over these cookies that are used by third-party advertisers.

You should consult the respective privacy policies of these third-party ad servers for more detailed information on their practices as well as for instructions about how to opt-out of certain practices. www.ideasfactory.me's privacy policy does not apply to, and we cannot control the activities of, such other advertisers or web sites.

If you wish to disable cookies, you may do so through your individual browser options. More detailed information about cookie management with specific web browsers can be found at the browsers' respective websites.