Welcome back Teachers! – Computer Science Vine



Over the summer I have been spending some time making a few resources ready for the computer science change over. One of the things which I have been working on is Vine videos. I’ve only made 5 so far but I want them to be available to my students during revision sessions. The idea is to remind them about some of the techniques we use in lessons.

I must admit, I have been an avid viner for a while. I had never thought about using it in a lesson until I saw an American teacher using it to complain about her day. I thought that it could be used in a much more efficient way. What if we were forced to teach things in 7 seconds. It really makes you think about what you’re going to say in order to get your point across. Not…. like… this little essay I’m writing here.

I am going to continue updating this Vine channel for me and for the general public and feel free to refer to them or use them for inspiration. Here are 4 of the videos below.

I’m looking at doing this as an activity to get my students remembering terms. I will post any vines that they develop in the future.


Good example of an algorithm

Bad example of an algorithm
Cloud Computing Disadvantages
Cloud Computing Advantanges

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Multi-Dimensional Data Structure – Example

Some people have looked through the guidance for the new computing curriculum and have asked me what a Multi-Dimentional / Two Dimensional Data Structure is. Using OfficeMix, I have managed to produce a quick video which shows what a single data structure looks like. I have used an Array for this example. I have moved on to explain how Two-Dimensional Array’s work. This video should give you a rough idea.

The reason we use them is so that we can organise our data in a way which is easy to use/sort when programming. It would be much easier to increase the position of the Array by one using a variable. If we had 5,000 different variables it would be difficult to trace each one. This is why we use Array’s as a Multi-Dimensional Data Structure.

Multi-Dimensional Array
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Moore’s Law

With the new computer science curriculum in September, you might be covering Moore’s Law. I had a look around the internet and there wasn’t much available. I have produced a work sheet using a website and the idea of the task is for the students to find the information using the website. They will need to use quotes and then will have to explain what they’ve learnt. If you’re looking for a quick worksheet then this might be useful to help you with your students.

This website : http://computer.howstuffworks.com/moores-law.htm Will tell you all that you need to know about Moore’s Law.

Click here to download the worksheet for Moore’s Law.

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Python Posters – Ready for Computing?

leaflet hold So as part of next year’s computing curriculum. I mentioned briefly that I would be planning on producing some resources to help other teachers. Here are some useful resources to help you and your students. In our classrooms we are using these plastic displays which allow you to change what goes inside them. The idea is that we have about 20 of these around the classroom with different pieces of code in them. We also change them up for different units of work and it gives you and your teachers hints.

howtohelp For each unit of work, I will be producing leaflets / posters which help with the delivery of the topic. There are multiple copies around and it allows the students to be more independent. When my students can’t remember how to do something, they can get up and find the piece of code that is relevant to the task they’re working on. I have produced my first set and they have been used before we broke up from school. I thought I would share them with you so that you can make use of them in some of your own lessons.

The idea of these python help sheets are that they can help you but also help your students. If your student asks you a question about a variables or some logic behind a question, you can have these near you to refer to. I hope they’re helpful.

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Kodu Kup – 2014

Last year saw the launch of the Kodu Kup and it was amazing to see all of the entries and the hard work being put into each of the entry. This year I launched the Kodu Kup in a big way and went into a few assemblies and told the students about the opportunities. When I mentioned that the students had the opportunity to go to the Microsoft HQ in Reading, their eyes lit up in a big way.

In year 7/8 we have been doing a lot of programming over the last 2 years. We decided to get a head start on the new curriculum and have been using Kodu as a way in for our students. They connect with it and they relate to it. Our students use Xbox controllers to program their games, but you can use alternatives such as the keyboard and mouse.

This year the brief had changed slightly and the students were allowed to make a game on whatever they wanted! They had to come up with a concept, studio name and all of the background information for their game. We had a number of entries from Uppingham Community College but were really shocked when we were shortlisted. It was such an honour to get just a nod to say congrats on your hard work.

selfie This meant that the team ‘MADD HATT GAMES’ were invited to Reading on the 17th of July to present their game concept. The interesting thing is that it’s a bit of a fairy tail this story. When I told the students we all realised that the date of the competition was the date we were all due to go France on a trip. The students weren’t sure whether they would be able to cancel their places on the trip. They went home and spoke to parents and decided that they would cancel and give their place up for another student. What a choice to make, particularly when it’s a whole year group residential.

The students in this team were Joe Banerjee, Alfie Finch-Crichley and Jonathan Haley. They were a group made up from year 7 and year 8 and had been working on their Kodu game at home through the use of Skype. They would share their levels and collaborate in order to make sure their game was effective.

We arrived at the train station in the morning and the students had so much ‘kit’ with them. It was interesting to see all the work they had put in. They had brought a guitar, monopoly board, key chains and even loom bands! These guys meant business. After a 2-3 journey on trains and bus’s we arrived at the Microsoft HQ to be greeted by lots of lovely people. The students were very humbled by many of the people who struck up conversation but you could see they were really nervous.

The first half of the morning brought excitement. There were many schools who stood out for me. A primary school ‘Exmoor Federation School’ had a team of 7 year olds who went by the name of ‘Gryphon Games’. These guys were so on point. There was a young lad called ‘Guy’ who knew the game inside out and had a lot of charisma. I really enjoyed their presentation and it was great to see some of their merchandise they had produced. They did a fantastic job.

Another group who stood out were a group of young women who were encouraging women to get into technology. They had a great campaign behind them ‘#likeagirl’. The idea being that many people stereotype and say things like ‘you do it like a girl’. They were proud to be girls and they wanted to show that they like things just like any other person. It was a great message and I can see big things on the horizon for them.

lunch We broke for lunch (the important bit) and it was interesting to see what MADD HATT GAMES were tweeting. They were clearly loving the lunch provided by Microsoft. I have to say, I love the mini cheeseburgers.

It was after the lunch break that it was time for MADDHATTGAMES to present their game. They started off by talking about the team and explaining where they were from. They took some pride in coming from the smallest county in England ‘Rutland’ and they made a point of this which made me koduloomchuckle. They told jokes and then the merchandise game out. They had talked about some of it on the train but their presentation really showed how much they wanted it. They had included onesie’s, flip flops and even went as far to talk about making games consoles! I was impressed! They then presented the audience with Kodu Loom bands and even some key chains. They had put together a business plan! Things were only just getting started, the next minute they pull out their guitar and perform a song in front of the whole audience. This takes guts, I couldn’t do this and I commend them for doing this. They finished their presentation and you could see the relief on their face. The hard work was done.

A few more schools presented but they were all just as good. In the second half, the school that really stood out for me was ‘Marsden Primary School’. They Had a lovely group of students but they had presented a little puppet show to show the concept and they also had a lot of fun with it. When they invited a judge up for a live demo of their game, another judge chuckled. At this point, the little girl invited the other judge up saying that it was rude to point. They were lovely and had the whole room laughing for the right reasons.

We all had to leave the room next while they made their decisions! I remember having to make decisions like this in the past and it is not easy! There was so much talent in their room and so much drive from each student that they all wanted it. Microsoft were nice and gave us Ice Cream while we waited and it was a great opportunity for the students to talk to each other and to other people.

We were all invited back in and were very nervous, they started announcing the awards:

  • Primary School – Exmoor Federation School
  • The Queen of Kodu – Haverstock Secondary School
  • Judges Award – Cardross Primary School
  • Show Stopper Award – Marsden Primary School

winners Then it came to the secondary school award. You could feel the tension with my students, they were all looking at each other like ‘who could it be’. Then they announced that they were the winner of the secondary school category. Their faces were priceless, they were in shock as they stood on the stage with their mouths open. That wasn’t it yet though! They had to announce the overall winner of the Kodu Kup. This would be the person who goes on to represent the UK in Belgium! The judges spoke to each other just to confirm they all had the right person and this just added to the tension. You could see all of them on the stage wondering who it could be. It was lovely that the girls from Afon Taf came to present the award to the rest of the groups so that they could pass it on to the new Kodu Kup champions. They calmed people down and explained how difficult it was to be in the situation last time and then announced the winner.

MADD HATT GAMES!!!! If you thought their faces were shocked before… you should have seen it now. It didn’t really sink in. They were all looking at each other and I don’t think they believed their ears. Teachers get disgruntled from time to time about changes being made to teaching etc… but this is what it is all about! Seeing your students succeed and being so thankful about it. They came back off the stage and were like :O ‘SIR! We Won!’ it was just such a great feeling for them. I could see the amount of hours on top of homework and school work that had gone into that presentation and I was so happy to see them rewarded for it. They’re all very excited and have already started planning their game on different platforms ready for the final. I wish them the best of luck and I hope they’re having a fantastic summer.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Microsoft for opportunity. My students will remember this for a very long time! Thank you.

thanksThey sent out a tweet to thank everyone at Microsoft which can be pictured here. 

Posted in Awards, Education, Kinect Tutorials, Kodu, Microsoft, Programming, windows 8 | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Makey Makey and Touch Develop

So it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, but I wanted to share what I have been doing with Touch Develop and Makey Makey. In the new computer science curriculum students need to know a little more about how computer hardware works. I had thought about how difficult it can be for kinaesthetic learners to understand how things work. This article will aim to show you what we have done to our display boards at Uppingham Community College. We’ve turned our classroom into something similar to what you might find in museums.

I had seen a video from Gareth Ritter. He is a music teacher at Willows High in Wales @ritzertech. He has been using Makey Makey to make some excellent tools for his students. For example, he made wearable technology and also made an interactive display which would play the sounds of instruments. You can also find out more about him at http://www.askthemusicteacher.co.uk You can see the video here:

With the work that I had been doing with Touch Develop, I thought that I could do something which would allow my year 7 students the opportunity to physically touch the hardware but also find out some information about it. Using touch develop I used the MakeyMakey library. Unfortunately, it only allowed you to complete the Up,Down,Left,Right and Space keys. I have had to modify the library to get it to work a little better with Touch Develop. As a result, I ended up with this application which doesn’t have any sound yet….. (it’s on the way). Click Here – If you have a Makey Makey kit, you can run this application on your surface if you have clips connected to Up,Down,Left,Right,Space,W and S. The video shows how it works and you can see that using the Surface, the screens are changing each time you touch the hardware. Some of the hardware I haven’t been able to mount on the wall, however smaller items such as the CPU are conductible and work with the Makey Makey kit.

Now that the computer science curriculum has come in, it’s important not to lose our learners with the jargon, this display and the use of the software will allow us to help out our visual learners.

I have attached an example of the code below. You can see how imagerepetitive it is and how it’s simple for someone who hasn’t any experience in programming. If you want to do something similar, you can access my code here and change it easily. You will only need to upload the pictures (the things with the flower symbol) and then replace the image with what you need. Make sure you use the screen resolution of a surface device if you’re planning to use your app this way.


What is Makey Makey

Makey Makey is an electronic circuit board which uses electricity from the USB to make signals which represent keyboard presses. By using a Makey Makey kit you can connect anything up to the board. For example, you could make a banana keyboard in your music lessons. It might make things more interesting for those disengaged learners. You could create apps using Touch Develop that would look for the key presses. You could get students to develop their own game controllers for games they make in your computing lessons.

If you would like to order some at a decent price, my friend Gareth Ritter recommended maplins :) – They seem to be reasonable. I managed to get some for £35 each. You could order one or order a whole class depending on what you’re planning.

Find out more here

Posted in Computer Science, Education, Kodu, MakeyMakey, Microsoft, partners in learning, Programming, Python, TouchDevelop, windows 8 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment