Friday, January 17, 2014

Espresso computing resources

I have written posts before about computing and as always am trying to reduce the anxiety that it brings to some teachers by sharing resources that are simple to use.  The crowd sourced computing document is a useful resource, though I am aware that it may feel a little overwhelming to some teachers who do not have expertise in ICT.

Espresso have cleverly made their coding resources free until October 2014 - enough time to let you have a good play with them! What I found useful was that they work on an ipad too, which will really complement our ipad computing resources.

Here is what I have learned so far. The initial page is clearly set out in year groups, starting at year 1 (children in EYFS can easily access these resources, but as the computing curriculum starts in ks1, that is where it starts.)  There are handy tutorials for some of the activities and clear instructions on each screen. Lesson plans are provided for those who have paid the subscription though some samples are provided. Likewise there are quick start guides.

Although I haven't played with them all, it seems like there is clear progression through the activities. As with many activities, children may progress past their year group quickly - I would certainly expect children who have been computing regularly using existing resources to find this quite simple. That said, I had to think about the year 6 activities and as someone who jumps right in without reading instructions, I found I didn't know what to do, so had to reverse up a bit. This is what you see if you click on unit 6d

and if you press start, you go straight to the activity. In order to access the tutorial, you press the link where it says Step 1: Walk the dog. Although I believe it is essential that you have listened to the tutorials and had a play yourself, you have the safety net of somebody else talking the children through the activity. You could do that as a whole class thing, or why not give the children headphones and their independence?

This is what Espresso say about their resource:

Espresso Coding has everything you need to deliver the coding part of the curriculum for years 1 to 6 including:
  • a comprehensive Scheme of Work linked to Curriculum 2014
  • 70+ step-by step lessons and tablet-friendly activities for pupils to create apps
  • full lesson plans for each activity by December 2013
  • a bespoke website area where apps can be published and shared
  • an introduction to coding using elements of JavaScript (an industry standard)
  • short, helpful video guides
  • additional CPD training is available

Find out more on their pages here or their helpful faqs.

Update: I have just found a useful blog post here by Aled Williams about Espresso computing.


  1. Good to see someone else using this - I've just started teaching the first unit for Year 3 (sequencing), and I have to say, it's working better than I expected. I was initially not too keen at what I saw as quite a closed environment (i.e. you only get the code you need, as opposed to scratch where you have to select what's useful), but the kids are lapping it up, and I'm actually quite surprised at their creativity with a relatively small amount of code - yes, getting the rocket to the planet is all good and well, but making the planet and the rocket dance round each other is far more fun!
    Overall, so far so good. It will be interesting to see what the rest of the teachers at my school (who are generally far less tech-y than me) will make of it.

    1. That comment was kindly written by Miss Horsfall, but my clumsy fingers pressed delete instead of publish. Apparently there's no second chance in Blogger! Thank goodness for the email acknowledgement hey?!

      Great to hear about your experiences and it would be nice to hear how the other teachers get on with it.

  2. Glad you are finding Espresso Coding useful! Re the closed nature of the activities - after spending a lot of time working in classrooms as I was prototyping the software I found limiting the available code made it much simpler for teachers to code and enabled the learning to be more scaffolded. This means Y2 kids only have access to the code icons they need and have been taught, and don't get distracted or confused by code they don't need yet.

    I have added 'free code' lessons at the end of each unit, where pupils can apply what they have learnt in a much more open environment - choosing to access a large range of images & code icons etc. This is where some of the most exciting learning takes place, but it seems to be particularly effective once pupils have been through the closed lessons.

    Let me know what you think - it is still evolving. I am still adding code & working with classes most weeks to try things out!

    All the best

    Max Wainewright (creator of Espresso Coding)


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