Teaching Tools for Computer Science

Over the last couple of months I have been fortunate enough to use a number of tools in my classroom and I’m here to talk to you about the effectiveness of these tools. When teaching computer science, you need to be careful about giving your students ‘death by powerpoint’ . If you can encourage students to collaborate and if you can use a number of different tools, it is possible to keep it ‘fresh’.


Makey Makey

Makey Makey is a cool piece of technology that allows you to connect a number of different items to your computer. It then works like a keyboard. This can then be connected to your program that you make. You can do this using scratch or unity. It comes with instructions. You simply plug it into your computer, connect it to a conductive material and you can create your own game controllers. This is great for design technology and you can create some amazing ergonomic controllers. It also allows students to program specific items on the keyboard. You can find out more at www.makeymakey.com . It is possible to recalibrate the controller by going to https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/makey-makey-advanced-guide .



This is a great tool that allows you to get students doing paired programming. When you log your students into the website, they simply share the address with their friends via email. It’s a great tool for collaboration and it allows them to write code which can then be pasted into their friends compiler. I love using this with students and it’s a great way for me to share what I’m doing with them. They can see my code on their screen. Well worth a punt.




This is a great tool that allows students working on group tasks. You are able to get them to create lists for themselves or they can create a list for the group. While they’re in a lesson working on a task, they can tick off tasks which they have completed. When the user refreshes the list, it shows who has completed a task and they can continue working on the topic.




This app allows students to work on a canvas at the same time. You can have your students collaborating and drawing the CPU together. You could have your students collaborating and drawing the network topologies together. The good thing about it is that if you’re using it with a tablet. They can go away and they can be more accurate with their picture instead of using a mouse. If you’re using the interactive whiteboard, you can control another students work and you can draw on their slide for feedback.



Linux Live Usb

http://www.linuxliveusb.com/en/home This is a great website which will help you give your students some insight into other operating systems. You can build a USB and boot to it. This will allow you to use your regular PC’s in school. Students can boot from the USB and they can get a taste of Linux or Unix. It’s a great way of showing your students the command line within both operating systems.



Draw.io is a website that allows you to create network diagrams online. You can save your work as an XML file or as a JPEG and you can then insert the files into documents on your computer. Each student can search for computers, servers and cables. They’re able to look up switches and routers and they’re then able to make network diagrams. I love this tool for creating topologies and network diagrams. A useful tool if you do not have the tools on your computer.



I hope that these tools may be useful to teachers and may give you some insight to ways of making computer science or other subjects engaging. Enjoy

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Top 10–Global Teacher Prize

Thank you message

Now in its third year, the US $1 million award is the largest prize of its kind, and was set up to recognize one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession as well as to shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society. By unearthing thousands of stories of heroes that have transformed young people’s lives, the prize hopes to bring to life the exceptional work of millions of teachers all over the world. 

In December, I was humbled and shocked to be invited into the top 50 of the competition. I enjoy teaching and the one thing that I like about it is that every day is different. Students may come out with a new challenge or they may have that lightbulb moment, when they fully understand something. This moment is priceless and this is what teaching is all about.

It was announced today that I had made the top 10 and all I can say is that I am absolutely shocked and a huge thank you goes out to the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammad and Sunny Varkey for highlighting the importance of teaching as a profession. It’s been an amazing opportunity and I’m looking forward to establishing networks with many new teachers. Thank you.

In a video message, Prince Harry paid tribute to the work of teachers around the world on the day the top ten finalists were announced. Prince Harry said:

“In addition to reading, writing and arithmetic, the very best teachers go beyond the pages of textbooks to teach young people about determination, aspiration, resilience and compassion. We will all face setbacks and challenges in our lives and our teachers play a vital role in preparing us for these ups and downs.

“The finalists for this year’s Global Teacher Prize are from every corner of the world – from the Canadian Arctic to Kenya and Pakistan.  But there’s one thing they all have in common – they spark curiosity within a child and nurture the dreams that can change our world for the better. 

“I would like to end by congratulating all of the finalists; you are not just exceptional teachers, you are the role models who support, inspire and shape children’s lives. Your work is so important; I don’t believe it is an exaggeration to say that you are shaping the future”.

I thoroughly believe that the teachers of today are what will shape the future. We need to encourage these pupils to grow and to lead lives where they can accomplish so much more. These students are going to be the people who are around on this planet, long after us.  Being a teacher is a great way to leave a foot print. The Varkey foundation are supportive a great cause by encouraging more people to get into the profession. I love that they’re also showing the importance of teachers in society. Our pupils are what will make a difference. Wouldn’t it be great to be a part of that?

In the press, there always appears to be negative press about teachers and the workload that we have but I’m actually here to say that teaching is a profession that is rewarding in more ways than one. Although many people can criticize the practice for it’s workload, it’s important to know that this isn’t always true. I support teachers and understand where the workload can come from, but here are some tips to make things a little easier: –

  • Establish quick email lists or protocols with parents. These can be pre-written post cards which acknowledge the work that students are doing.
  • Marking – Overtime, build up slides with criteria on which allow you to write down numbers instead of the feedback. Students can record their feedback using your PowerPoint slides. When you mark their work. It’s possible to write down the number and then you can get them to write down the criteria which they should work on. This can cut down marking time – tweet me @lanky_boi_ray for more information.
  • Networking – Have regular TeachMeets with other teachers. Look at other teachers on Twitter – They share good practice and some of this can make your life a lot easier.
  • Students – Talk to your students – What is it that they find difficult? What would they like you to try for them?

I thank God each day that I fell into teaching by accident. It was my plan to be a computer programmer. After 6 weeks into a university placement, I was made redundant due to the company being taken over. This was a major blow to me and I found a last minute placement in a school as a Network technician.

I established some friendships and enjoyed my time with students at this school. Upon completion of my degree, I returned to the school and they offered me a job. I trained on the job doing a joint GTP/PGCE and ended up loving teaching. I did my training through Nottingham Trent University and I can thoroughly recommend them as a route into teaching. Alternatively, find a teaching school or an alliance. The school that I currently work in has a Brooke Weston Teaching school. There are many different routes.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog, but please keep your options open. Teaching is a rewarding profession and can help you grow.

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12th Day of Christmas–Periscope

Hi Guys, I decided that I wanted a day off from blogging. I decided to catch up with friends yesterday and I went to visit a friend. Today’s tip is about a tool that you can use the night before an exam. If you email your student’s at a certain time, you can make yourself available through video feed and they can message you and ask questions. You could do a revision session from the comfort of you own office. I have done this before with students and it’s boosted my exam results by 10%. I don’t put it down to this 100% but I do consider it a factor.

I will be writing a blog about how you can use periscope with your students to stream your screen using a Google API. This will help you use your screen rather than relying on the phone.

All you need to do is download Periscope!

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10th Day of Christmas–Behaviour Management Tips

Happy 10th Day of Christmas!!!

For today’s tips, I thought it would be good to give trainee teachers some tips for behaviour management. If you are thinking or are a teacher, some of these tips might be useful for getting your classes to settle a little quicker. They’re some quick wins that work for me as I don’t believe in shouting at students.

  1. Always wait until you have silence. I see many teachers in their first years of teaching and in their later years who allow students to talk over them. You always wait! If your school has sanctions in place, you use these. Do not let students talk over you. This can be done through some waiting, staring or some silent methods such as writing student names down on the board. You don’t even need to get in a discussion with them about what their name on the board means. You can say that you will talk to them at the end of the lesson and keep them guessing.
  2. Threats! If you threaten to do something, make sure that you do it. If you make a threat, make sure that you can carry it out! I have heard of teachers in the past who have said that they’re going to call home but fail to do this. If you fail to follow up a threat, the student will remember this. They are less likely to behave for you in the future because they know that you won’t follow it up. Make sure that you always follow things up.
  3. Using the room, do not teach from the front of the class. This is old and Victorian and it gives the students the opportunity to flock to the back or it also gives the students the opportunity to hide what they’re doing at the back of the class. Work your classroom. You should make your lessons a game. The students should never know where you’re going to settle. Make it unpredictable so that you can be all over the place and there is never room for them to mess about.
  4. Seating plans – Make sure that you always have a good idea of where your naughty and good students are.
  5. Technology Failure – It’s horrible, but you should always have a contingency plan read. Technology fails, what are you going to do when this happens. Your PowerPoint will not load? What are you going to do about it? Always have a plan of how you will deal with this. Do you have paper ready in your lesson regularly? Do you have pens or different coloured pens?
  6. When teaching difficult classes, always be prepared to give them multiple tasks. Research suggests and I know this from experience, the moment you keep students on one task for too long you’re going to have them misbehaving due to their attention span wandering. You must break down lessons into smaller chunks. I’ve seen schools where the behaviour has been bad for a number of classes but the minute Ofsted are in, the behaviours great because more teachers have thought about the tasks and have broken it down. These are the lessons that make a difference to the students. Don’t put on a show! Do it all the time!
Behaviour Management Help
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9th Day of Christmas–Data Representation–Videos for Computer Science OCR 1-9

I like to help out computer science teachers and students. My students have finished studying Data Representation and as a revision tool, I have recorded all of my lessons into lessons under 15 minutes. It’s got some of the tips from my lesson and it also includes step by step guides on how to convert from Denary into Binary. There are videos which explain hexadecimal and there are also some videos which explain how ASCII and characters work. The videos attached should help your students for revision and should help them prepare for the computing exam in 2017.

The video on sound and binary shifts are important things to think about. If you currently have students in year 10 this is high priority on the exam paper. They usually get students to really break down how the sample rate has impact on the size of the file. I’m going to break this down and explain this in as much detail for you in the 4th video.

You can access the playlist by clicking here

I have attached the 5 lessons below and I have included the intro video for the 9th day of Christmas.

Intro Video: –

9th Day of Christmas:–Introduction

Lesson 1 – Binary

Introduction to Binary

Lesson 2 – Hexadecimal

Introduction to Hexadecimal

Lesson 3 – Images Representation

Image Representation–Computer Science

Lesson 4 – Sound / Compression

Sound sampling and data representation computer science

Lesson 5 – Binary Shift

Binary Shift

Merry Christmas!

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8th Day of Christmas– Python Programming videos for OCR Computer Science Curriculum

Today’s tip was prepared yesterday ready for the new year. I have produced two videos which work with the OCR GCSE Computing Syllabus. I have uploaded them separately below. The first video shows students how to do basic string manipulation and the other video shows you how you can do loops in Python. These videos are free to download from my channel. If you’re happy with them then you’re welcome to download them and store them on your network if they’re going to help your pupils with their programming.

8th Day of Christmas video tutorial

8th Day of Christmas–String Manipulation / Controlled Loops

Programming String Manipulation

String Manipulation

Programming Loops

Programming loops
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7th Day of Christmas–Programming Tips with Python–Lists (Arrays)

Welcome to day 7 of my Christmas blogs! This tutorial will show you how you can use lists within Python. You can add or remove items from the list. My intention is to show you in another tutorial, how you can search through lists for specific items that you have added in. This tutorial is a basic tutorial which will introduce you to casting. I hope that you have been having a fantastic Christmas and an awesome new year. I have lots of exciting things planned in the new year and I’m hoping to continue blogging. It’s something that I thoroughly enjoy and I hope that the tips help.

Merry Christmas!

7th Day of Christmas–Python List / Arrays
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