This week’s message is all about our current topic…
What do we mean by topics?
Topics are the way we teach much of the learning in the foundation subjects (eg history, art, geography, DT). Each half-term topic has a driving subject – the main focus for teaching pupils the knowledge and skills they need. The driver changes with each topic to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum.
Although the learning in each topic comes from the driving subject, there are opportunities for enrichment through other subjects.
What is this half-term’s topic?
This half-term, it’s Computing. We’ll be developing our knowledge of computers and computer programming.
Computer programming is super. Creating games, animations and solving real world problems is fun, encourages creativity and is challenging! Importantly, the skills the children will use and develop are easily transferable to other subjects and areas of life. For example, the concept of decomposition in programming is concerned with breaking down a large task into smaller chunks. This concept could be used when writing a story, solving a maths problem or tidying a particularly messy bedroom! Debugging is the skill of identifying and fixing an error in a program. It requires systematic, objective thinking and plenty of resilience.
Each phase has age-related specific knowledge, skills and vocabulary that they’ll learn, use and apply across the topic. See page 13 and 14 of the curriculum statement document.
Years 1 and 2
Children will learn about how technology is used beyond school in our homes and all around us. They’ll begin to consider what a computer is and isn’t.
In programming lessons they’ll create animations in Scratch Jr by creating and debugging algorithms. They’ll then continue to use Scratch Jr to create an interactive quizzes.
Years 3 and 4
Children will reason about what exactly makes a computer a computer. Is a games console a computer? Is a TV a computer? Is a bedside lamp a computer? Next, they’ll learn about inputs and outputs and identify different examples of them in everyday technology.
They’ll then be introduced to Scratch and will learn how they can add or change sprites and backdrops and then begin to experiment with making their sprites move. They’ll look at programs created on Scratch and use logical reasoning to explain what will happen when these programs are run. They’ll learn about the importance of sequencing in programming when they recreate a well-known melody. Finally, they’ll create their own ‘band’ on Scratch by programming different instrument sprites to play sounds.
Years 5 and 6
Children will learn about what a computer network is and that the Internet is an enormous computer network. They’ll learn about the difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web. In programming lessons, they’ll be introduced to BBC Microbits – pocket sized computers which they’ll program to do lots of different things. This will allow children to gain a deeper understanding of concepts like sequence, selection and variables. Some of this vocabulary may sound alien to you. However, before the end of the topic your child will be able to tell you what they mean and give examples of how they’ve used them in their projects. Some of the projects your children will be making are:
- a magic 8-ball style program which will give you an answer to all your questions!
- a compass so you can confidently find your way to school in foggy conditions!
- a pedometer to count the number of steps they’re making
How can you help?
Talk to your child about what they’ve been learning in class. The Class News page is a good place to find out more about what your child is doing.
The school library and local libraries have lots of books about coding and computer games which your child will be able to borrow and develop both their reading skills and computing knowledge.
Finally, try programming with your child. There are loads of programming apps and software available to download, often for free…
Key Stage 1
- Daisy the Dinosaur (Apple only)
- Tynker Junior
- Scratch Jr5
Key Stage 2
- Scratch Jr
Finally, and importantly, talk to your child about our Being Online: Acceptable Use Agreement. (Page 8 is the one for early Years and Key Stage 1 children and page 9 is for older children). Discuss whether the points that are listed apply to being online at home as well as at school.