Tuesday, February 25, 2014

BB's Bizarre Beasts

This is a quick synopsis of a mini mantle that incorporates 4 days of maths and English. We became a Pet Company called BB's Bizarre Beasts, because children love animals and who couldn't be compelled to learn about these weird and wonderful creatures. Many of you who know me will be aware that the planning is sketched in my head and that I feel that writing it down comprehensively is a pointless exercise. I'd much rather put the time and energy into resourcing and enhancing my ideas - or sharing them! So hopefully these resources will inspire you!

The learning objectives are:

Identify and record the information or calculation needed to solve a puzzle or problem; carry out the steps or calculations and check the solution in the context of the problem

Solve problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication or division in contexts of numbers, measures or pounds and pence

Recognise all coins


When we became the pet shop I put on my work apron and cap, put my notebook and pen in my pocket and introduced myself as the proud owner of Bizarre Beasts, the best pet shop in the universe. I talked about all the creatures in our shop before playtime and shared little stories about them (trivial facts like what they ate, where they lived, who they lived well with). This took about 10-15 minutes.
I debriefed them afterwards, as some of my children were saying 'Is this real?' They needed to know that my stories were in my imagination and that it would be cruel to keep wild animals in a pet shop. My class liked the idea that we were using our imagination this way. After play, before we dropped back into the drama, we had a quick white board maths session when we thought about how we drew 'stories' to solve problems. We practised the skills we needed before the drama; problem solving is a whole class target and I wanted them to have their memories jogged about some familiar strategies. 

 In preparation for after play I had blue-tacked some of the animals around the room, with trickier problems where the higher ability children sit in class. When we became the pet shop again, I told the employees that there were lots of problems to solve in the pet shop today and that I needed their help. My class set off to work together to solve the problems, with a real buzz. They could work where they wanted. I asked some employees to work with me and help me solve the problems. The employees had activity sheets to write their answers on and were aiming to get a 'pay rise' for their hard work (they worked well to that incentive!)

The same activity sheets have been adapted for tomorrow, when unfortunately one of our Swedish employees has been giving the wrong change. I have written the cost of each animal in the end column and the children have to show the coins that are needed to pay, so that these posters can be displayed near the shop till. Mid ability children will show 2 different ways for each price, high ability at least 3 different ways of paying to help our Swedish employee. This will lead on to giving change from 20p, 50p and £1. 

Before they drop into the drama, they will have a quick maths skills practise, so that I know that they have the skills they need before they go off. This will consist of coin recognition and paying amounts, which will be no longer that 15 minutes. There are ways of doing this within the drama and I have considered jumping back in time to when all the new employees from other countries had money training, but I have an observation tomorrow and I am wary of being overly dramatic!

The last maths activity will be when we have the dilemma of not making enough money to pay the employees. The solution - half price sale!

For writing activities we are adding some descriptions of creatures to put by their tanks (this downloads better than it looks online)  and some persuasive posters for our half price sale. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Computing staff meeting

I was asked today to deliver a computing staff meeting tomorrow and can do lots without much preparation. I am very much a 'show a synopsis, let folk explore' kind of teacher, but the last time I delivered a staff meeting I had digital leaders offering 1:1 support for teachers, so now I need to be more prepared as I'm on my own! This post will act as a one stop shop for staff to find and follow links.

For computing ipad apps, look no further than my ipad site! It may be in need of an update, but the basics are there. I also used Espresso coding resources today, which are free until October. My class loved it! I will make sure that all staff get the opportunity to play with this during the staff meeting.

There is a comprehensive computing ITT and CPD document created by a group of notable ICT folk, which contains this hilarious sandwichbot by @Baggiepr.

I may have added my Gruffalo journey to that document, amongst other things (pretends to be notable!)

More free resources include the useful rising stars unit We are programmers and Rising Stars Switched on Computing with Microsoft written by @ohlottie

Naace have very kindly produced a guide for primary teachers, 'Computing in the National Curriculum'. It offers subject knowledge support and advice for planning and resourcing this curriculum area.

Whilst at Roydon I started to put together a 'progression in computing' document to support teachers to use our available resources. We were lucky, most of our Tesco schools vouchers went on ICT resources over the years and we had used them wisely. Having iPads are also useful as they are an easy way to get children and teachers to start thinking about the new computing curriculum. There are a lot of apps out there that help children develop their computational thinking skills, which just means that they develop the ability to find ways of solving problems, using appropriate algorithms. So they may not get the solution they want, but they have the skills to think about alternatives, make adjustments and try again. Skills that will support them throughout life.

I would be really grateful if you know of anything that can be added to  The crowd sourced computing doc or any notable resources to add to this post.


Scratch dressing up game for 6-8 yr olds by Phil Bagge


Python programming unit with some examples of code by @drchips_

@GeekyNicki has lots of great Kodu resources on her blog

Essential reading (copied from a previous post)

Computing at School by Miles Berry

Hour of code and @worrydream's Should Children Program Computers?

Tablets in schools: coding, creativity and the importance of teachers

New OfSTED guidance and ICT posted by @ICTevangelist

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Our curriculum tree

My first two days at East Harling Primary consisted of the usual INSET training days, one of which concentrated on the new primary curriculum. Amanda, (our headteacher) and Jane (senior leader responsible for curriculum design) put together our curriculum tree, which hopefully will be painted onto a wall at our school at some point. It may of course change, but for now it represents our curriculum at East Harling Primary School and Nursery

When both Amanda and Jane attended a curriculum course at our local professional development centre, they were asked to share their model with other schools, as it was an example of what the course was promoting. 

So now I am sharing it as I am sure it will inspire you to reflect on the curriculum that you want for your children, school and community. 

This is what Amanda has written on our school website:

Our 'curriculum tree' summarises our approach to teaching and learning at East Harling Primary School and Nursery. Our curriculum is more than what is taught in the classroom but embodies all of the learning that takes place within our school. We base our curriculum upon our core values and skills which form the roots for teaching and learning in our school. This is supported by our 'taught' curriculum (the tree trunk), made up of the national curriculum (which we are required to teach) and our school curriculum (the additional knowledge, skills and understanding that we choose to add to our curriculum). Our approach to teaching and learning is what brings the curriculum alive for the children and allows them to flourish (just like the canopy of the tree!).
Like any living thing, our curriculum tree is constantly growing and evolving! There will be times when it will need pruning (as we are constantly reviewing and developing our curriculum to ensure that it meets the needs of our children) and others when it will need to be fertilised (so that different areas can be given additional focus or a boost!).

Friday, February 21, 2014

Hot off the OfSTED press

I have been following many twitter threads about OfSTED over the past couple of days and the will they/won't they grade teachers and lessons debate. In my usual lazy style I will refer you to the more knowledgeable and articulate bloggers who were involved in the roundtable meeting and to @Joga5 who gave reasons for his regret at the lack of primary practitioners at this meeting (I could not support my reasons in the knowledgeable way Bill did with facts and figures, but I still felt miffed!) His post is much more than being irked by it of course and the comments at the end add to what I will call a healthy debate. Most likely his views will led to something being done, which we all (primary practitioners) should be grateful for.

So, like many other tweeters last night I felt confused by the mixed/cryptic messages from OfSTED and those teachers who had met with Mike Cladingbowl, although a simple tweet from David Brown made it clearer (I hasten to add that I responded to his tweet about OfSTED guidance being my friend as stretching it a bit far!)

 So today, instead of reading the updated blog posts, which I will list below for anyone interested, I will share a screen shot, hot off the OfSTED press, taken from

Why do OfSTED inspectors observe individual lessons and how do they evaluate teaching in schools? by Mike Cladingbowl

As a senior leader it is important to be clear about this, especially as OfSTED are due to visit East Harling. What I found interesting in this report was the fact that an 'all singing all dancing' lesson was graded inadequate because of the poor work in the books. A lesson where children were reading silently was outstanding for the same reason. This heartens me because although my children are making outstanding progress in reading and maths, their behaviours for learning are not as I would like them to be. Yet. I would hate to be judged just on the fact that they find simple transitions difficult.

I have to say though that I have read on twitter that some teachers who have recently been inspected have been judged and that some teachers are seeking judgements and getting them, which is contrary to what is being said. I think back to an esteemed colleague who was told just before she retired that her lesson was inadequate because in her role play (in EYFS) where all the children were dressed up as theatre goers to watch other children perform the Three Billy Goats Gruff, she told the children how the rich people would be seated first. This was not her being in any way discriminatory, it was her aim to add a historical context. Yes the inspector was gentle with her, but she was heartbroken and felt like she had let the school down, even though we were graded as outstanding. If only she could have been saved that. 

So here is a reading list of posts from the 'roundtable bloggers', although in all seriousness I would suggest that you pick one, or you will find that a whole evening flies past - and you'll never get that time back! I'd just like to record my thanks to them all 9and @Joga5) for taking the time to share their news and views.

Copied from Meet the Fockers

@teachertoolkit  5 go to OfSTED
@TomBennett Meet the Fockers
@headguruteacher Meeting OfSTED

Ross has created a great summary video. The original can be found here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The New Girl...

I have just looked at the draft of my 'Being SENDco' post that I have been writing since November and realised that it is a muddled recount of moving schools and becoming a SENDco. It wasn't what I set out to write. So before I re-write it as a New SENDco advice type post, I am going to share the reasons why moving schools was so right for me. I will include some reflections of  my first half year as a new Deputy Headteacher, but will start with some tips for changing jobs. This is not really a post full of advice, but more a journal entry of my experiences. I'm sure I will enjoy looking back at it in my old age!

1. Get your colleagues to complete a 360 review for you. Mine was incredibly positive and showed me that I was viewed as a leader at Roydon. The written feedback was constructive and the lowest score I got was given by myself! The only area that I needed to work on (according to my colleagues) was my ability to deal with conflict. They had mostly been tactful and pressed the neutral, middle button on the survey (or better), but I had scored myself low on this and felt that they may have been polite with their views. I know I need to get better at leaving my emotions out of it when tricky situations arise with people I care about. 

2. An obvious tip -think carefully about your next steps and your career progression. You may need to step sideways to achieve them. I always thought I would end up in an advisory role, but when these started disappearing in Norfolk I had to rethink. Another AST I knew went from the outreach role into a headship of a small school. I didn't feel I had the right skills for that, so being a deputy of a large school with strong leadership was what I needed to look out for if I wanted to change. 

3. Don't stay put just because you love your school. You will love another. The easiest way to ensure you will love it is to find a similar school, so do your research. I know other teachers who have the view 'I will only leave my current post if a job comes up at ...' and deputy at East Harling was mine. Why? Location, size and rural nature of school, ethos, reputation and the fact it was part of a cluster that my own children belonged to. I had worked with other headteachers in the cluster and knew that they were passionate, innovative and dedicate educators, with happy thriving schools. 

4. Trust your first instincts about the headteacher. You have to work closely with them; they must be someone you will respect. I am fiercely loyal and would support a respected colleague even if I disagreed with them (I would voice my opinions of course, but I know that there are many ways to skin a cat). Ask yourself if you would do that for the person you meet. 

5. Don't be afraid to say you don't understand/know something. I started my new role at the same time as a mature NQT who had already spent a term at East Harling. We joked that we were allowed to ask 2 stupid questions each day. I varied the people that I asked so that I didn't appear to be wholly incompetent, but you can't be expected to know where everything is. After spending too much time staring at shelves in cupboards, I realised it was much easier to ask someone if they knew where resources were kept. A simple time saver! Equally, I am not afraid to say I don't know about the big stuff, like Statement Review meetings. Better that I ask ridiculous questions than get it wrong. Even if I have to ask that same question twice because I have forgotten the answer ... I'm hoping it makes me appear more human!

6. Draw on other's experiences! I was asked if I felt threatened or pressured by the fact that there were two hugely experienced teachers at East Harling who had already held successful Deputy Headship posts. I hadn't given it a second thought! It may be that slightly ego-centric/ Asperger's part of me that was oblivious to it and not at all self-conscious, but I can honestly say that it makes me feel a whole lot better that there are experienced teachers who are passionate about the school to hold my hand if I ever need it. That's a huge bonus! 

7. Find a sustainable hobby so that you don't work 24/7. I bake, read and meet friends for lunch! Learning how to take on a new school, new way of teaching (Read, Write, inc), new roles and governorship as well as attending two different long term training courses doesn't leave much time, but free time should be filled with nice things!

8. Ask yourself if you have had an impact. Think about the changes you have made both at class and whole school level. It may be that you have to settle in before you make a big impact, but to give an example I have introduced these things so far: year 6 Film Club,  group education plans, learning profiles, blogging in class 2 (whole school blogging soon I hope!) a class 'VLE' (BB style) and a 'maths wizards' blog to help children with mental maths skills.

9. CARRY ON LEARNING! Don't sit still because you've got your ideal job! I have become a SENDco, Deputy and Governor and my head is buzzing! I know the hours I do will reduce as I become more familiar with procedures and I get used to managing the SENDco role. In the meantime, I am still working hard to be the best teacher I can be, whilst learning to be an effective and hopefully inspirational Deputy/SENDco. 

10. Lastly - don't feel like you have to justify it if you stall. Your brain may need a rest!

Monday, February 17, 2014

My 'post Game of Thrones' reading list

Getting to the end of A Dance with Dragons was bittersweet. Who knows when the next one will appear and even the debates/discussions/theories/opinions that I have shared with my son (and others) have not filled the space that this book has left. I have read lots of blog posts, teaching books and research, but a spot of fiction is much needed at bed time. So here are a few of the books that have kept me going and helped me nod off to sleep at night!

The Magician was recommended by my son who has a plethora of Feist books. I have read the first two books of the Riftwar saga and no doubt will read more, but I don't feel they are on the same level as Game of Thrones. That said, they are a good read for fantasy fiction fans.

The Daylight War (The Painted Man, book 3) another much anticipated book that didn't disappoint. I read books 1 and 2 again before reading this - mostly because I was in the post GoT void. I loved these books, even though the first time I read book 2 I felt that Brett had written it for TV (I didn't feel this on second reading funnily enough). Now I have to wait for book 4...

The 100 year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of a Window and Disappeared - I started this, found it too twee and only picked it up again recently, thinking I had to finish it really as other people were commenting on it. I found it a bit too Forest Gump and am ashamed to say that I didn't particularly enjoy the historical references. It's a bit silly and I only bought it because I liked the title (and it was 99p on my Kindle recommendations list) so i can't complain for the price!

Pigeon English was recommended by Jenni H and was a massive change from the fantasy fiction I had been reading. I thoroughly enjoyed it! It's easy to read, but thought provoking. And heart-breaking. More sobbing!!

Ketchup Clouds is an easy teenage fiction read, written by the same author as My Sister lives on the Mantlepiece. 

The God of Small Things has sat on my book shelf for a while as another boot sale bargain that caught my eye. It is set in Kerala, which (having been there) was why I was keen to read it. The prose was a bit too 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' for my liking when I first picked it up and reading it coincided with starting my new job, so I put it down until October half term. It is not an easy read if you don't like overly floral language, and I admit it took me a while to get into it. I am pleased I persevered though because it is a beautiful and moving story. Another one that made me cry (sob).

Divergent when I went to see The Hunger Games II at the cinema we were all given the first five chapters of this book, which is a clever way to get folk to buy the book. I enjoyed this, but not enough to pay full whack for the next two books. An easy read, but I'm happy to wait until they come down in price.

At this point I decided that the best way to keep up with my reading and to try new genres was to start a book club. I phoned a few friends from my old school who often read similar books to me and it started from there. We are only on a first book, but we have selected our next four, so I have got ahead in case work takes over.

A Tale for the Time Being was my choice for the first book. It is a story that I know will stay with me for a long while, partly because it reduced me to tears in more than one place and partly because I learned a lot of new things from it (facts that no doubt I will never remember). I found it harrowing at times, but it is a very believable story and I would recommend it.

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul was a much easier read than the previous book and is essentially a romantic novel. I was grateful for this at the time as it didn't take a lot of brain power to read, but equally I found it very annoying at times and lacking substance. To me it felt like it had been written in the hope that it would be made into a chick flick with the kind of sentimentality (and sickly happy ending) that American films often have. If you want an easy read, it won't disappoint, but you have been warned!

Goldfinch was another recommendation from my cousin - and I have always enjoyed her recommendations (Middlesex and vernon God Little were both great reads). I  am only about one fifth of the way through, but it has me gripped...

I'd love to know what you have been reading!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Maths stories

I have enjoyed teaching maths through mini mantles before and my children have risen to many challenges. My favourites were Swift Air, Nature Park and of course Chadbury's chocolates. I will share a brief synopsis of each. The links will take you to class blog posts, but be warned they may be a little vague!

Swift air

Swift Air announce new flights and holiday packages from Norwich International airport. Cue lots of problem solving with money and time. Swift air had to respond to customer requests and produce itineraries for them, which were carefully priced. Some were on offer at 50% off (year 4/3 set) and the G&T children had to calculate time zone differences. If you look closely at the photo you will see how the children were working with large amounts of money, then writing their responses to the customer phone calls (on the pink paper).

Party Planners and Chadburys chocolates

There are a range of possibilities when you become a company like Chadbury's chocolates and mine went far beyond the daily maths lesson. You can read about the full mantle here, which involves a giant problem!

I have used the theme of Chadburys for other maths too, such as data handling, designing boxes, weights and measures and also incorporated it into Party planners, who take customer orders and fulfil them! A great mantle for Easter.

Childerwood Nature Park

After a lottery award (we needed to problem solve with money) the Nature Park folk decided to spend money on a new adventure playground, before designing and creating more animal pens. This covered shape, space and measure (including area and perimeter) as well as a lot of problem solving and calculating. Of course collaborative working was another key skill.

In KS1 I have used maths stories more, though maths has crept into many other mantles, such as when we have had to measure polar bears in order to transport them in trailers and design and create things like fire engines, wheel barrows for Percy the Park Keeper and feeding platforms for orangutans. There have been many occasions when grid references, position and direction have been included and their have been many opportunities through geography and science to practice basic maths skills.  It puts the maths into a context, therefore giving more meaning.

As a KS1 teacher I have looked for stories that support mathematical understanding too. There are many! I have used the obvious (How Big is a Million?, 365 Penguins and Olivers Vegetables etc are great), but have started to look for others. I won't reinvent the wheel, but thought it would be useful to collate a bank of resources so that I don't have to keep dearching for them. here are some I've found. Please leave a comment with links to your maths stories posts or favourite resources. I love using other folk's successful ideas!

Maths from stories a great book list, mind maps linked to books and plans for different year groups can be found here. A useful resource!

Maths Stories lots of links to maths resources, not just from books

Gingerbread man themed maths

Maths Contexts you have to have a Norfolk nsix account to access these

Maths Story  has stories, poems and songs from the USA

And of course it wouldn't be complete without a great Pinterest page (thanks to Jan Pringle)

Please share your maths stories!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Keeping one eye on the ball

I followed the thread of some tweets this morning by @andreacarr1, @hubmum and @ohlottie, which led me to reading these posts about the Year of Code controversy. Forgive me for not adding my own opinions, you will form your own after reading these.

7 reasons why the year of code is just am dram by Emma Mulqueeny (@hubmum)

Festival of code tweeted by @hubmum 

Lottie Dexter should quit and take the year of code board with her shared by @digitalmaverick

You can see why here (6.26 got my back right up!) Amongst other sweeping statements, she doesn't seem to realise that lots of teachers have taken coding into the classroom, many won't be able to pick it up in a day, coding alone won't help you create a business and also many folk have made websites without understanding code. What's with the e-card too?!

Are educators ready for Gove's new computing curriculum? (can't remember who tweeted this - sorry!)

The initial thread prompted me to write this post, which is a personal reflection of my career changes, my attempt to keep one eye on the computing ball and most importantly share another opportunity for great free cpd. It's personal babble really. The juicy posts are above - or another great post by @ohlottie that was also prompted by discussions this morning.

I have been in the process of writing a post about leaving behind Roydon Primary School and becoming a Deputy and SENDco at East Harling Primary School and Nursery for about three months. I wanted it to be advice for anyone thinking about or undertaking the same role. I will finish it one day.

The biggest challenge for me was giving up my outreach work and letting go of some things that I am passionate about. With my outreach work I initially begrudged the fact that I was getting requests to support schools with ICT rather than my passion (dramatic inquiry) though I realise that it pushed me to learn and opened many doors for me. I had lots of exciting opportunities within my role and became passionate about promoting the employment of digital leaders in schools to sustain developments in ICT.

At my new school the ICT coordinator had seen me speak at the Norfolk ICT conference and had started the digital leader journey. I was chuffed to bits, but also a little bit gutted that this would not be my responsibility. Yes we work together and have a fantastic working relationship, but I am learning to let go and let others take the lead. Learning to let go is a challenge.

Of course this doesn't mean that I won't continue to promote digital leaders or continue to polish my ICT/computing skills. Balancing my passions has become extreme plate spinning and I've had to drop some, like the Bett show this year. Yes I'm gutted about that. Rising Stars were giving out leaflets about digital leaders that I had written. Many of my #DLchat friends were there and I felt like I was missing out, but back in Norfolk I was juggling an internship (at a fantastic school), SENDco training and some extreme challenges in my classroom.

That said, I can't quite let go of some things and am keen to keep one eye on the ball (plus the word FREE is always persuasive). So this week I have started a free computing course by the UEA, just to make sure my basic skills are intact. You can access the course here. I'm pleased to say that I was ale to complete week one whilst writing reports. The end of unit assessment didn't prove to be a challenge; it's what I know and have been pushing for the last few years. A colleague and friend of mine completed it and said she learned new vocabulary (she is an able ICT teacher). I think this course will be highly beneficial to teach the basics and boost the confidence of teachers who feel anxious about computing. And it's free CPD! So be proactive and sign up! Carry on learning! 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Why computing?

I received a bit of a twitter bashing last Saturday night and was asked to have an original thought about computing. I politely declined. I have never pretended to be anyone else other than a teacher who learns from, or is inspired by, others. You may have 'got' that from this blog address. What I am is a grafter who likes a challenge and is competitive enough to want to be the best I can. I don't have to have an original thought when there are folk like Steve Jobs who I can learn from. I blogged this in Feb last year.

 I don't know why I feel it necessary to justify that I do actually understand the purpose of computing, I think it's because I don't like being subjected to Saturday night sport. I haven't captured all tweets, but you'll get the gist.

I dunked out of the conversation relatively quickly (I was busy!) but @kvnmcl did get me thinking about how nobody has really blogged about the 'why' of computing. I rarely write posts at an academic level - they are meant to be practical advice for fellow teachers and others do it better than I. So I will write about my experiences again and how I have tried to teach ICT/computing well and hopefully someone will learn something! Please be considerate if you leave a comment, this is a first draft and has taken a week already (5 mins here and there, not literally a whole week!)  I am juggling lots of plates at the moment and dropping some ...

In the beginning ...

Although I had always considered my ICT skills to be good, when I began to teach the programming and control aspects of ICT to year 6/5 in 2006 I realised how limited my understanding was, despite doing 'computing' at high school. Using flowol was a new challenge and I admit that I didn't particularly enjoy it; it failed to inspire me. I hate the feeling of failure though, so persevered and tried not to shy away from the difficult bits, even though I felt my teacher training had left me somewhat unprepared for upper KS2. A few years down the line, when I became an AST, this part of ICT was what I was requested to support with the most as it was the area that was taught least well in schools. The difficulty for me was that the main reason I had become an AST was because of the way I taught through dramatic enquiry and yet the ICT requests were taking priority. It wasn't challenging me professionally as schools were not teaching the basics, so that's where I started. Resources in most schools were scarce; the one school I worked with that was resourced well couldn't keep their ICT coordinator in role beyond a few months; another school had a HLTA teaching all ICT. Don't get me wrong, she was amazing, but to me it kinda said something about the attitude towards ICT in the school. And so, it felt like a battle at times.

Where hardware was unavailable in schools it was a relief that free software was becoming available online.
I continued to develop my own understanding by attending conferences and training, such as the google academy and Naace hothouse (where I learned loads!) and teachmeets such as the Cambridge RaspberryPi one (where I purchased my own to play with). Having digital leaders in school meant that I had a group of beta testers to give me their opinions of the best ones to use in class.

Teaching KS2

When teaching control and programming to upper KS2 I have sometimes compared it with playing chess. You have to learn what the different pieces do (commands), you have to have an awareness of what you want to achieve and the strategies needed to get there. It is always good to show your children how some things are challenging and require determination (brain stamina, but that the learning process promotes both logical and strategic thinking - transferable skills. By using and apply scientific and mathematical skills in a different context they are consolidating and strengthening their understanding. This includes knowledge and understanding of cause and effect, variables, coordinates, directions, angles and shapes, as well as number work.

When I first introduced Scratch to my class of year 5/4s in 2008 I showed them the basics and what could be achieved, then set them off on some of the easier tasks. As they became more profficient I asked them to have a vision of what they wanted to create, based on their knowledge of what could be done, before thinking about the steps to achieve their goal. At this point I was thinking how Scratch could enable children to decide on an outcome, then think about/learn the processes involved in achieving that outcome. I told them they were using the same skills that a teacher does when planning a unit of work at school. I didn't spoon feed them, because I know that I learn best by doing. I guess it was partly the age of the children, or maybe it was more about their ability, but not one of them ventured past creating copies of the models already provided; they mostly created dancers, race tracks and chasing games, spending a lot of time on the paint part of Scratch.

 Equally, I know that when I get stuck, I do like to be shown or told the next step-as a time saver
more than anything. We talked about this as a class and when questions were asked, I asked if anyone else could help. I couldn't always answer the questions and my children often found out things that I didn't know. Did this make me feel threatened? No. I realise that in ICT/computing they will exceed my skills quickly-partly because they have more time to play. Some of them were so enthused about what they could do, that they 'played' at home, extending their skills far beyond what I could offer them.

When a secondary ICT advisor told me about a new resource -Kodu -I realised that this could take their imagination further, as they would have to have a vision about what to create. This is one of the reasons I don't understand the 'computing is boring' view. When I first played with Kodu I followed a few tutorials, but quickly decided that I wanted to get creating. My idea was to mimic a Game of Thrones world, which in hindsight was a tad ambitious. Although I didn't give it any consideration at the time, this is the difference between what @ethinking describes as architecture and bricklaying. I had the vision - I needed to think about the processes to get there. In terms of bricklaying, it took a lot of trial and error to achieve just a small part of what I had envisaged. But this is good, right? I can speak honestly to the children I teach and tell them my experiences, that I aimed high but didn't quite get there.

When I introduced Kodu to a group of year 5s as an enrichment afternoon, they quickly designed their own worlds, based on their interests. These ranged between shoot 'em style chasing games to a Kodu wedding and a war on a disco dance floor. The way that you could toggle between playing and creating meant that my digital leaders could see the effect of their algorithms quickly, and check if adjustments needed making. Did they find it challenging? Yes. Was it time consuming? Yes-although in one two hour session they had all created a mini world. The sense of achievement was wonderful.

Interestingly, although I assumed that the graphics and gameplay of Kodu would inspire children more, when my digital leaders reviewed them they generally preferred Scratch. I regret not asking more questions, because their responses of 'It's easier,' tells me very little. They felt that Kodu was trickier and took more time to achieve results; they needed to develop their stamina (plus Scratch offered Angry Birds ...)

When I was introduced to Hackasaurus, I had a play and immediately loved the potential of it for my 'dramas in the classroom'. I could be whoever I wanted to be - headline news! I have already blogged about it here, so won't repeat myself apart from saying that it is another great resource that requires children to have a vision, then think of the steps they need to get there.

Teaching KS1 

Moving on to KS1 was a huge (massive) jump (challenge) for me, though the ICT side of it felt relatively easy. Before we bought the ipads, the control element consisted of Beebots and floor turtles, Sherston's Charlie Chimp and textease turtle. The ipads don't add anything to these great resources apart from the fact that the children are excited to use them - in the same way that they are excited to use the Beebots.

When the draft computing curriculum appeared I was employed as an ICT consultant in the cluster and there was a lot of anxiety around. I delivered workshops, staff meetings and cluster based computing mornings. During the latter I have always started without technology. It's the easiest way to get the children (and visiting adults) to understand what an algorithm is and what they are learning to do. Don't shy away, they love learning new words! Examples of computational thinking without the computer can be found here.

Free resources

The crowd sourced computing doc

Rising Stars Switched on Computing with Microsoft written by @ohlottie

Scratch dressing up game for 6-8 yr olds by Phil Bagge

There are some free ipad resources shown here

Essential reading

Computing at School by Miles Berry

Hour of code and @worrydream's Should Children Program Computers?

Tablets in schools: coding, creativity and the importance of teachers

New OfSTED guidance and ICT posted by @ICTevangelist