Category Archives: Computing Ideas and Experiences

Anyone for Long Division? by @Mroberts90Matt

Calculation methods in Maths form a core skill set that students need to acquire in order to progress and attain. A child who can master the skills of written methods in Maths week most likely go on to be very successful in future Maths problems as they will have that basic skill set to build upon.

Therefore, when it came to teaching my Year 6 children how to tackle long division, a skull which they had not yet come across, I knew that it would require something really engaging to make sure they got it (as with every area of learning in my classroom really)!

The Idea
I had recently been in a staff meeting led by @ICT_MrP who showed the staff an app which I’d come across recently – Explain Everything. This app allowed you to easily create videos with voice recording and annotating images. What this does is allow the user to create short tutorials with visual aids on the screen.

Linking this to the long division need, I remembered the saying where people learn only a small amount of what they listen to/are shown but they learn a higher proportion of things that they teach others. Suddenly, the way became clear, children could use this Explain Everything tool to encouraged use of language and internalisation when acquiring this long division skill. From what I understand this is a strategy called something like ‘Role of the Mantle/Expert’.

The Method
After teaching the chn the method suggested by the Maths Coordinator in our school, I decided this would be a good time to implement making a Long Division Tutorial to consolidate their learning so they could apply the calculation.
The result can be found on the school website here:

(We would have posted them onto our class blog but we’re with Primary Site and I’m personally hoping we get off it!)

photo credit: Learning is Required via photopin (license)


Programmed Teacher by @Mroberts90Matt

On Thursday afternoon I introduced a topic to the Year 3 class I’m doing supply work in for 2 weeks. This topic had caused many debates, queries and worries as I’ve been going into different schools. It is a topic which when other practitioners have heard it they have trembled. The topic is algorithms.

Before I begin to share the activity I would say here that this is not my idea and I do not claim responsibility for it. Credit goes to @risingstarsedu and @CompAtSch for producing the materials that have me this approach of introducing what could be a daunting topic for some.

The children had never heard of Computing as a subject, they were even unaware of ‘ICT’ – although were very happy when they found out it meant learning about computers (another highlight on the potential technology has to motivate learners). They did, however, look a little confused when I informed them we would not be even switching on a computer.
After a class discussion on the definition of an algorithm, it being simply a set of instructions used by a computer, we came up with a basic class ‘algorithm’ to get ready for school.

After, the challenge was given. The class had to design an algorithm for making toast with butter. The children were fairly engaged but became even more so when they saw the bread, butter, plastic knife and fake toaster come out! Some even began using the algorithm symbols I had intentionally used but not informed them of for our class algorithm.

Then came the fun part – programming the teacher. The children were able to have a go at giving me their algorithm step by step and i, as the bot, had to follow the instructions exactly. So if they told me to ‘get the bread’ I would literally pull out as much bread as I could, rather than the one slice I’m sure they intended me to get. The class were so ‘switched on’ by this and thought it was hilarious when I was oriented to ‘get some butter’, which ended up with me just grabbing some butter, rather than using the knife I had been told to pick up.

This opened up another learning opportunity – debugging. The class then needed to go back through their algorithm and debug, out fix, any problems highlighted from testing the algorithm. One child did manage to programme me to make the toast and spread the butter on, much to the joy of their classmates.
Learning took place, the children could tell me what an algorithm was, even though before the session the maximum that any of the children could probably do was tell me the most worthless tile in Minecraft…which they had done previously!

This is an excellent springboard to perhaps even starting a basic Scratch introduction next week!
photo credit: the UMF via photopin cc

photo credit: andresmh via photopin cc

photo credit: yph05 via photopin cc

Response to Edtech and iPad doubts by @Mroberts90Matt

Recently I read a reblog by Primary Blogging which was entitled Thoughts on edtech and iPads which was written in doubt of using edtech and iPads to deliver a quality curriculum and that the money spent should be used on other strategies, such as more staff and books etc.

I want to be clear straight away that this response is not to argue against this view. In fact, the blog posted has a number of important points. I agree – too many schools have jumped too quickly onto the iPad bandwagon and as such there are a number of these devices sat as expensive decorations in safes in a number of schools – I have seen it!

The only direct response I will make will be to one comment that was made. The blogger makes mention that he would rather his children be in a school that employs a ‘properly decent teacher’ rather than an NQT who can use iPads in lessons. As an NQT myself this was intriguing to me – I’m hoping the school I just got my first full-time job at feel I have the potential to be a properly decent teacher. A query I would pose would be that is the blogger suggesting more experienced teachers should be considered to NQT’s in general, or just those who are able to showcase a stand-alone lesson with an iPad?

Anyway – on to my general thoughts on iPads in education.


I studied my Initial Teacher Training with a specialism in Computing. The ironic thing is that this was not my first choice. I wanted to specialise in Mathematics. However, the demand for that selection was high and so I was placed in my second choice in that string – Computing. Honestly, it was probably the best thing that happened to me in the University-based part of my course. Not only was I alerted to the massive changes in the ICT/Computing curriculum that my colleagues are only vaguely aware of, but I was also shown effective ways of delivering other areas of the curriculum, including iPads.


At first I was skeptical. Sure using iPads was a fun gimmick for the classroom but how could it be used for quality learning? I decided to have this as a focus for a Literature Review, which formed part of my final assessment. The title was ‘An investigation to determine whether the use of iPads and similar mobile technology in the classroom could improve children’s writing.’


Now of course, with the the actual act of forming handwriting, I’m sure many would agree that the iPad is not the most effective tool for this, as I found with the research (Heinrich, 2012 being an example). However, when used as a tool to provide stimuli for children to compose writing, the iPad comes along leaps and bounds.

Getting and Swainey (2012) researched a project which found that using the iPads in class gave the teachers power to provide enriching learning experiences that would not have been possible without these devices. Henderson and Yeow (2012) presented a case study where, in one of the first primary schools in the world to utilise iPads for educational purposes, they found that these devices fostered collaboration between the children. Not only this, but Harmon (2012) found that as a result of having iPads integrated in their learning, the children studied were far more critical of their level of writing and, in most cases, a lot more accurate with these self-assessments. On a personal note, if you are in doubt of the iPad’s ability to enhance a whole unit of work, rather than a stand alone lesson, I would look at this blog by Lee Parkinson (who I first began to recognise the power of mobile technology from). Some of this stuff will wow you!


Why stop at improving children’s writing? The connectivity to a global audience that the iPad offers should not be underestimated. Only today I was supplying for a Year 2 class who had an excellent morning presentation by ‘Key Strings‘ – a musical company who linked their knowledge and expertise of music to the FIFA World Cup – they were there for almost an hour and the entire KS1 were in awe and amused! We decided to write thank you letters to them later. The children were then told some would go on their website and some on the school website. That was the clincher! Every child wanted to get started and publish their letters to – in effect – a global audience. iPads open a window of opportuntity. One click and their work can be uploaded to the class blog, school website or even in an email home – showing their parents INSTANTLY how proud they are with their work (Beschorner and Hutchison, 2013). Yes, this may not raise levels on it’s own, but children will be engaged with the experiences that can improve their knowledge and skills.

A cynical point – I am aware that there are many times that teachers may use the iPad to the detriment of the learning objective (Culen and Gasparini, 2012). Staff need to be trained and have time to become familiar with this technology. Being honest, I am still cautious about the value of having 1:1 provision in schools considering the cost. It is also important for Senior Leadership Teams to recognise the other costs that will be necessary, for example, if the iPads are to be able to function properly the Wi-Fi will need to be improved. These points must be considered and planned for if introduction of this technology is to be at all successful, otherwise they will indeed be very expensive notebooks.

A final question is the role the iPads will have in the learning. If they simply substitute what could be accomplished on the Interactive Whiteboard, laptop or even on paper, it will be a wasted cost. This is why training and understanding among staff must be developed as mentioned before.

However, I feel, after doing the research and witnessing good practice for myself, much more strongly that at least a class set of iPads in a school can improve enthusiasm but, more importantly, the quality of learning in a school. Despite the training and purchasing costs, they can enrich learning through innovative teaching, if the considerations are addressed.


Reference List

Beschorner, B. and Hutchison, A. (2013) ‘iPads as a literacy teaching tool in early childhood.’ International Journal of Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology, 1(1), pp.16-24.

Culen, A. and Gasparini, A. (2012) ‘Tweens with the iPad Classroom – Cool but not Really Helpful?’ Paper presented at: 2012 International Conference on E-Learning and E-Technologies in Education. Technical University of Lodz, Lodz, 24-26 September 2012.

Getting, S. and Swainey, K. (2012) ‘First Graders with iPads?’ Learning and Leading with Technology, 40(1), pp.24-27.

Harmon, J. (2012) ‘Unlock Literacy with iPads.’ Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(8), pp.30-31.

Heinrich, P. (2012) The iPad as a Tool for Education: A Study of the Introduction of iPads at Longfield Academy, Kent. Nottingham: NAACE: The ICT Association

Henderson, S. and Yeow, J. (2012) ‘iPad in Education: A case study of iPad adoption and use in a primary school.’ In IEEE. 45th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Grand Wailea, Maui, 4-7 January 2012.Sprague, R. H. Jr. (ed.) New Jersey: IEEE Computer Society Conference Publishing Services, pp.78-87.

photo credit: <a href=””>jblyberg</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=””>karola riegler photography</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;


Analyzing iPad Myths in Education


iPad MythsAre you still trying to fight for iPads in your school?

Many obstacles that iPad cynics attempt to put in place when discussing a roll-out are based on untruths, poorly research and/or out-of-date information. I was delighted when my Canadian Twitter friend and fellow iPad blogger, Steve Lai decided to join forces, as we’ve done before, to combat this dis-information that floats around the education profession worldwide.

This Post explains how to argue a Case for iPads in the Classroom.

A collaboration between iPad Educators:

Steve Lai (@sly111, Canada) and
Richard Wells (@ipadwells, New Zealand)

Preamble: This article is to support iPads in teaching. However, it is not to devalue the benefits of a great teacher. The execution of iPads in class is only going to go as far as the passions and mindset of the teacher allows it to. In other words, the iPad will never replace quality teaching.

View original post 1,894 more words

Code Kingdoms

Just a quick one to share a resource I’ve just come across.


This very attractive and engaging website (with an iOS app which I haven’t looked at yet) is a very addictive game, I was hooked straight away. If involves a little animal (which you choose) going around saving ducks and defeating ‘glitches’. Simple yet effective with easy controls. However there’s more to this than meets the eye and takes to it a whole new level.


The game introduces children to computational thinking. In the game itself you need to use some ducks to assist you and you move these ducks by selecting the correct code. Not only that but there is a level editor, which the game’s main purpose, which allows you to create your own worlds and then share them with other players. It will require some input on basic computing language, but it’s quite easy to pick up. It’s definitely one to have a look at (but set yourself a time limit)!

Slam Dunk!

So, in my browsing I came across this gem of a site:


For those of you who don’t know, Space Jam was a film released in 1996 by Warner Bros involving the Looney Toons and Michael Jordan. As a 1990’s baby – I vividly remember this masterpiece 😛

The site above is the official website of the film – however, it had not been changed since it’s launch in 1996. The result? A real reminder of how technology has come along in the past 18 years!

For children, this could be a great tool! Questions such as ‘if technology has come along this far in 18 years to the websites we see today, what could happen in the next 18?’ With the algorithms and coding the children are going to be engaging with – they will literally create worlds! If they can do that now, what will their children be doing in school?

The mind boggles…

Epic Writing!

So, getting all of the necessities done, this idea/innovation I’d not my own and the video is not my property or work. I am merely sharing a creative way of using mobile technology to support children’s writing.

In essence, using a handful of apps, the children went from exploring a virtual world at their fingertips where they could (quite literally) go wherever they want, to creating their own eBook stories in that would, utilising diverse multimedia. As well as doing a lot more along the way!

The purpose? If not clear: using technology to motivate, enhance and support children’s writing.

I’m just going to let the video speak for itself now but if you want the original location of the video it can be found at this site: