Hackathon–Uppingham Community College–27th June

In order to see how students in Rutland are doing with their computing knowledge, I have started hosting a number of computing sessions at Uppingham Community College. We hosted one previously on the 16th of June where close to 30 students came a long to learn how to code.

With the Micro : Bit looming from BBC, I wanted to give some of the year 6 students a head start and I also wanted to see how students would do when it came to coding. We had a number of hours to learn some computational thinking using a football and Touch Develop.

Students learnt how dumb computers are and they started to understand why computers need precise instructions. Passing the ball around the room was not as easy as most of the students initially thought! We had students turning around on the spot for a number of seconds and some students walking into walls. By the time we got the ball to the other side of the room, students started to understand that there is more than one way to write a code and how conditions can make our code more efficient.

Moving on from this I introduced students to the Turtle on TouchDevelop. Students took to this like a duck to water. Some students had already used Touch through forward thinking parents. It’s great to see that some parents had already looked up the Micro : Bit via the BBC website. One student said that he sat with his dad making the monster game. I would love to see this level of parent engagement when the Micro : Bit comes out!

imageOnce students had made loops as well as different shapes and another student from year 7 came along to help out his younger brother. 

A young girl from Leighfield Primary in Year 5 produced this drawing using pixel art! She learnt how to use loops and also understood how to use iteration.

You can click on the link on the left in order to view and run the code for the image she created.

I’m very impressed with all of the year 5 and 6 students. I aim to show you the start of one students game next week. You can see his plan in the images shown at the bottom. What is really refreshing is how the girls seem to be just as engaged as the boys. Lets hope that these girls can help close the gap in the industry.


This picture on the left, shows the design that one of the students in year 7 from SJ has come up with. I’m very impressed with his level of planning. He has already started to create the game and is now learning about how to use functions such as random. This will help him create his platforms at random positions. I look forward to showing you this game very soon.

Have a look at some of these pictures below. Check out some of the reviews, these students are loving TouchDevelop:

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Touch Develop Training / Teach Meet–16th June

With the Micro : Bit being announced in March I thought it might be useful to do some basic training on using TouchDevelop. BBC announced that one of the programming languages used with the device would be TouchDevelop. I thought that giving teachers a taster on how to use the bug might address some of the concerns that people are having with the way it will be used.

On Tuesday the 16th of June, I decided to host a training session after school at Uppingham Community College. I started off by showing people how to access the environment and addressed some of the login issues. Many people weren’t sure how to allow all of their students access to it. If you have G-Mail accounts or Live accounts you can log in. BUT if your students are under the age of 13, you can’t get them to sign up to some of these accounts. The best way for me to address this with my students is to create a single account and issue the username and password to the students. I.E – UppinghamCC@outlook.com, I would then give the students the password to log in. I would change the password from time to time so that they wouldn’t use the account for email.

All of the teachers managed to have a play with TouchDevelop and they logged in to the environment and managed to have a play with the Turtle. We discussed loops and some of the programming logic which you can explain to the students. I also directed some of the teachers to the resources shown here on the blog.


Great to see that the session has been useful to others and if any other teachers have questions about how you can embed it into your curriculum, then please let me know.

Teach Meet: – Following the TouchDevelop training

Following on from the event we hosted a TeachMeet so that teachers from all around Rutland could come and share some of their expertise in Computing. The idea would allow primary and secondary teachers to come together and help each other out. Some highlights of the event came from the following people:

Mike McSharry – 7 Ages of Scratch

Mike had a great presentation which took us through the different versions of scratch which would allow students to code. He presented a number of different versions of scratch. One of the favourite versions he mentioned was Scratch Junior. It was great and would work really well with EAL students. It doesn’t include textual instructions and it is very accessible for students. It is available on iPad and Android Devices (Via Google Play). You can check out more from here: Scratch Junior

Simon Johnson – TouchDevelop Golf

Simon Johnson has been using TouchDevelop with many of his students. Although he couldn’t make the session he managed to send in a link on the use of TouchDevelop in order to show students how they can learn about the efficiency of code. We all know that code can end up being really long. Simon talks about challenging the students to shorten their code to see who can get the shortest code. You can see the presentation for yourself in the attachment.

Touch Develop Golf

Martine Mannion

Martine Mannion from Wellingborough school had a great presentation which would show teachers how they can use other techniques when teaching programming. She talked a lot about barefoot computing and mentioned cs4fun. Cs4fun includes some awesome resources which help students discover computational thinking without the need for computers. There are magic card tricks and activities which really get you thinking. Some questions of discussion which help you understand how to explain some of the terminology used. I have attached a link to barefoot computing below so that you can find out more information.


I would like to thank all of our guest speakers tonight and we look forward to hosting another computing teach meet in the future! Thank you for your time and please email me if you have any questions. See some pictures below:

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Periscope – Great TOOL!!!

Periscope This post is something new I’ve been experimenting with. I have been signed up to periscope but never really ‘got it’. I’d used it with a couple of friends but would use it for stupid things such as saying hi to friends in the morning or ‘brushing teeth’.

What is it?

Periscope is a social media tool which you can sign up to for iPad or Android. It allows you to use your twitter account to register. You push a button and it sends out a link which streams your camera LIVE! There are some random people out there who like to video themselves walking down the street but it can be used as an awesome revision tool particularly if students have an exam the next day. i.e – My Year 9’s!

Safe Guarding Issues?

One of the issues which I had to contend with was that many year 9 students weren’t allowed twitter accounts by their parents. I respect that and understand it. The great thing was, that they can still access my school twitter account without having an account. They just searched for ucc_cs on twitter and had the live feed. When you press broadcast, all of the students can see my camera streaming. Students who had the app would write messages to me and students who didn’t would tweet me. You can view the feed via the web browser. The other thing which is really awesome is that you can create private! chats. This only works if people have the app (downside) and you have them as followers (or follow them). If you can’t make your video private, you can do what I do. I make it so that the chat window is only available to people who I follow. This stops randomers from typing, alternatively turn it off completely and take questions via your inbox / twitter. There are ways to work around it.

Did it work?

periscope2 I guess I will find out when the exam results come through! I can say that 17 of my students downloaded the app and the remaining students accessed it via the web. You can see that there were over 100 views via the web. Not bad, when you consider that there are 144 students in the year group! I’m very proud of my year 9 students for giving up their time on a sunday to come and talk revision. Hopefully the results come through… You can see the video footage below and I’ve managed to upload it to YouTube for my students to access and revisit in the future. I love this tool and look forward to using it even more in the near future!

If you’re able to click on the picture on the left, you should be able to see how many students were had accessing the revision session.

Quick Tip: – The messages which appear on the screen do not appear in the video you save, what you will need to do is repeat the question when you say it so that your students remember what the original question was.




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Hackathon at St Patricks Primary School – Corby

So with our new year 7’s getting ready to come to school soon, I really wanted to know what to expect from the different year groups. I emailed a few local primary schools and asked if I could come and visit their children and teach them some coding. St Patricks primary school had been using Kodu and they love it! They said they had entered the KoduKup this year and were super excited about learning something new! 30 students coding from year 2 to year 6, it was immense!

It was great that the school were able to give me such a range of ages because it really helped me see which age groups would work well with #touchdevelop. After running the session it was quite clear that the age groups who were particularly good with this were students aged 8 and up. Some of the younger students had difficulties with the TouchDevelop environment and we had to make sure we moved the user level down to beginner. This enabled them to see the code in a more colourful way. TouchDevelop is great for meeting all users needs. Particularly from an Ofsted point of view, it is definitely one way of showing ‘differentiation’ in your lessons.

During my session I must say that I was very impressed with the girls! They picked up quicker than the boys! I think they liked the appeal of the environment and one girl in particular managed to code her own controlled so that she could draw pictures using libraries such as ‘pixel art’ and ‘turtle’. I’m now looking to experiment with different schools and see how they handle using some of the game boards.

Here are some pictures below:

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Uppingham Community College – Hackathon – 13th June

BBC announced that they would be creating this amazing Micro:bit project. It was put on the news and it was announced for their ‘Make It Digital’ campaign. With all of this in mind, I wanted to see how the current year 5 and 6’s were doing with their programming knowledge. I decided that I would host a number of free Saturday ‘Hackathons’ at Uppingham Community College. We had roughly 20 students turn up to this event and even had some adults come a long so that they could see how it can be taught in a classroom environment / code club.

The basics of the event required the students to understand how computers give instructions. I would use my KS2 curriculum to introduce them to the basics of TouchDevelop. In order to give students access to TouchDevelop.com I created a single login which all of the students could use.

We started with the basics such as moving a turtle around, but the students moved on quite quickly. They were applying maze’s as a background and writing out algorithms which would program a turtle to move into difficult locations. They soon got to understand how ‘stupid’ computers can be! They now understand that computers only act based on the instructions that they are given. At the end of the session I asked all of the students what they thought of the session and they thoroughly enjoyed the session. I was delighted to see that they were all getting something from the coding event. I’m now looking forward to trying some new things on the 27th of June. We still have a number of spaces for year 4 through to year 6 and you can sign up your students here. Please email me at chambers_r@ucc.rutland.sch.uk if you have any difficulties with this link. This video shows some of the activities which the students were able to complete and even how they enjoyed it at the end. Each student is holding out a print out of their code and how far they got into the challenge!

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Visit to Leighfield Primary School–Uppingham

IMG_1538So with the primary computer science curriculum underway, I wanted to check in on some of the primary schools and see how they’re teaching the new curriculum. I took a visit to Leighfield primary school in Uppingham and thought I would have an attempt at teaching them a new programming language.

TouchDevelop is a very new programming language for many people and when I asked the students around it, many of them said that they hadn’t heard of it. Many of the students said that they were using scratch. I taught them some computational thinking and talked about how ‘stupid’ computers are. Many of the kids were shocked when they were told that they can only talk in 1’s and 0’s. We also had a nice game of ‘program the robot’ they thought this was quite funny!

IMG_1539Computational thinking aside, it was time to start coding! I logged all of the students onto TouchDevelop and introduced the programming language and the environment. I started off with the basics of computer programming and got them to pretend to be turtles and then I got them to include a library! It was nice to see children as young as 9 and 10 understanding the concept of libraries on a computer. They knew that they were set of instructions already stored and could see how they were like libraries.

We also carried on and got to ‘for loops’ and these students were just full of excitement!!! It was actually funny to see the girls stepping in and helping the boys out Winking smile #girlpower. Then we got onto the exciting bit. Once they had programmed turtles to make different shapes, I told them that TouchDevelop works with other devices. WHAT!!! They said! I then introduced ‘’MAKEYMAKEY!” they loved these kits and were programming their turtles to act based on the instructions they were given.

IMG_1541TouchDevelop was great for these students. We had computers go down in the lesson and yet, 5 students took out iPads from their set and sat on a table at the back coding in delight. Just goes to show how accessible it really is. I’ve attached some pictures from the event below and some of the year 5’s were so happy, they’re now going to go and teach their parents how to code!

If you’re interested in downloading the KS2 curriculum I’ve produced, you can download it from here

Questions asked by the teachers: I do not want my students having a hotmail account. How do I get them to log on.

Answer: – Create one school account, when the student creates his/her code – get them to give it a name convention such as Name_Program_Year and then they can search for their code. Then you can allow them access.

Thank you for having me Leighfield

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Kodu Kup was just the start – Here is TouchDevelop #breakintocode

I’m just writing this blog to really give a high five to one of my students at Uppingham Community College (Joseph – 8NH). He was very fortunate to work with a group of friends to become 2nd in Europe at the KoduKup and since then, has gone on to code even more! He first got a taste for TouchDevelop after developing his Kodu Kup game in different formats along with other students Jonathan (8NH), Matt(8NH) and Alfie(9TB).

Microsoft announced a new competition called break into code. I told the group that it was their opportunity to develop their skills further and get even further into coding. While developing the code for the competition we have been using Makey Makey kits in the classroom. He said it would be great if he could make his controller use the Makey Makey kit. I did explain to him that TouchDevelop allows you to use the Makey Makey library.

He has now entered the Imagine ‘break into code’ competition and he has developed his own controlled and also figured out how to code multiple levels! If this isn’t evidence that coding competitions help give students more confidence to try different things, then I don’t know what is! What ever happens in the competition, I’m incredibly proud of the game he produced.

I have attached some of the files here:

Screenshot 1 Screenshot 2 Screenshot 3

I will share his entry when the competition is over and will let you all have a go! You can buy Makey Makey kits from Amazon or Maplins for good value.

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