Teaching Computing – But I Can’t Program!

With the imminent arrival of the new computing curriculum, there are LOADS of resources out there to enable our learners to code.  Here are some of the best that I’ve come across, and what key stage I recommend using them at.

Before You Start

Just before that however, if you’re only going to click on 2 links in this post, then make it these two:

Computing At School – Join it. There are loads of CAS members contributing resources and educating teachers (including myself) all over the country. A goldmine.

Primary ICTITT – A site set up by ‘a small group of teachers and teacher educators convened by the DfE’s Teaching Agency and chaired by Bob Harrison’  with resources linked to the requirements of the POS


KS1 – Bee-Bot app – iPad – works just like the physical bee bots. Simple patterns programmed and executed.

KS1 – Daisy the Dinosaur – iPad – Simple introduction to programming covering loops, events and sequences. Drag and drop.

KS1 – How to train your robot – No languages, no computers. A great ‘physical programming’ activity.

KS2 – Hopscotch –  iPad – Visual programming with simple drag & drop blocks. Starts to introduce interactivity, loops & variables.  Nice tutorials too.

KS2/3 –  Python – A text based programming language that lots of schools are adopting for GCSE Computer Science.  To get learners started early, here are some fantastic Python tutorials from the wonderful Phil Bagge @BaggiePR. Click here for the tutorials.

KS2/3 Scratch – My favourite and the spark for some of the best lessons I’ve ever taught!  Drag & drop code that fits together. You can code anything from a simple animation to complex games.  Start by downloading version 1.4 to your computer, then iIntroduce pupils to the Scratch 2.0 online community in Y5/6 and watch them fly. Find some project ideas on my Youtube channel.

KS2/3 – Kodu – 3d Drag and drop programming by Microsoft. Loads of resources available and can also be downloaded for XBox.  @mattbritland (website) & @GeekyNicki (website) are the two Tweeters I look to for advice about this one.

KS3Greenfoot – A half visual, half textual JavaScript coding tool.  I was introduced to this by the rather awesome Neil Brown (@TwistedSQ)from the University of Kent at a computing INSET day that I organised.  I haven’t had a proper chance to play with it yet, but it is bubbling away at the top of my list and looks like a great bridge between Scratch and purely textual languages.  For the moment, here is the project that we worked on on the INSET day and the YouTube channel from the University of Kent.

KS3/4Code Avengers – HTML, CSS and JavaScript with a superhero theme.  I did the HTML project with a mixed ability Y9 group and they loved it. Pupils could instantly see the effect of the changes to the code in the preview window, which worked really well.There were even boys competing to earn the most points in a lesson!  It seems a lot less ‘dry’ than some of the other online programming tutorials around.

I would probably use the HTML at KS3 and the JavaScript at top end KS3 & KS4 at the moment with a view to moving it further down the year groups as they get more coding experience in earlier years.

KS3/4W3Schools – A great site with really comprehensive web coding tutorials covering everything from HTML & CSS to SQL & PHP. Very nice indeed.

KS3/4 – Python

There seem to be more & more online python courses around all the time.  The ones I have used are:

LearnStreet –  Simple interface and chunked lessons. Projects need some experience to jump into.  Nice class creation and pupil/progress tracking metrics. Also does Java & Ruby.

Code Academy – Similar in format to LearnStreet. Simple interface and points for achievements. Covers Python, JavaScript, JQuery, HTML/CSS etc.

Anther great Python resource is:

Invent with Python – free pdf textbooks covering game programming, games with graphics and hacking secret ciphers.

Teachers – Python School is aimed at skilling up teachers for teaching computing to KS3/KS4/A Level.


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