Welcome to Coding Corner-this is a regular column about computing and coding in the classroom. Written by Dan Aldred (@Dan_Aldred) who is well worth a follow on Twitter and also has a great new website that has some brilliant ‘How to’ programming guides www.tecoed.co.uk. Dan’s article is about using programming Robots to dance in the Gangnam style!

clip_image001Last week I started coding with Yr7 students. We have spent some time looking at Binary and Hexadecimal calculations and getting an understanding that a computer basically processes instructions. We looked at the Turing test and they had fun trying to work out whether www.cleverbot.com is areal robot/program or a real person.

Then we moved onto coding. We have started with RoboMind, a free open source program that allows students to program a robot to move, see and grab objects around a variety of maps. The first lesson was a basic introduction to the commands and practicing each movement to perform and solve certain tasks. These included moving objects out of the way, escaping a maze and drawing a smiley face and various polygons.

At the end of the lesson I asked the students what they had learnt about coding, (I used Socrativean excellent whole class feedback tool.)


I then asked the students what they wanted to or needed to learn next. The students had already figured out that writing the command forward (1), forward(1), forward(1),forward(1), could be simplified into forward(4), but still too much typing involved. I was surprised how many students had already identified the concept of looping and making the program easier to code.


(What I need to learn next lesson, great response from some students who said they wanted to learn how to create loopholes!)

Last lesson we looked at the concept of looping. The students were introduced to the repeat function and the various required syntax. Some students struggled with when to use the brackets (), and when to use these {}. After explaining that instructions go into the {} and the number of times you want something to happen goes into the () it soon clicked. The finale of the lesson required the students to combine all their new coding skills to create and program a dance routine to enable the robot to move to Gangnam Style! (At this point the Head of Year 7 walked in!)

Again, at the end of the lesson I asked the students what they thought about learning to code, clip_image006

What do you think about programming so far?

Next week’s lesson we are introducing if and if else statements. They are a secret mission team that have to program the robot to drive automatically along a ‘safe’ white path. Then they will create their own maps and challenge their friends.


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.

Written by Julian S Wood - www.ideasfactory.me/about/"rel="author"
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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!
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