MMS Computing Update

## Computing Advice for Parents ## October2014 ##

ICT - SOS (students offering support)

Last year, a scheme was introduced into school, designed to employ the skills and understanding of the children and to enable the more 'techy' lessons to run more smoothly...

If a teacher runs into technical difficulties; an app misbehaving - a new version of some software seems unfamiliar - a whiteboard malfunction... there's no end of scenarios... who better to help than our very own resident experts? Children in both Key Stages became involved in the programme and a new batch are ready to be trained up, ready to help.

From ICT to Computing...

Changes to the way Computing is being taught in school...

In September 2013, the Governments' Department for education announced sweeping changes to the National Curriculum in England. Foremost among these was the decommissioning of the ICT Curriculum, in favour of a more systematic, computational subject designed to get children to understand the workings of what happens behind the screen: Here's the official word:

"A high-quality computing education equips pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. Computing has deep links with mathematics, science and design and technology, and provides insights into both natural and artificial systems. The core of computing is computer science, in which pupils are taught the principles of information and computation, how digital systems work and how to put this knowledge to use through programming. Building on this knowledge and understanding, pupils are equipped to use information technology to create programs, systems and a range of content."

So what does that mean for MMS?

Well, we've been busy: liaising with other schools, working with the staff at North Tyneside's ICT Support, trialling new materials in school, running Coding Clubs, playing with Raspberry Pis, building robots and other geeky stuff out of Lego; preparing our staff and children for the switch to the new Programme of Study.

We've begun implementing our new Computing curriculum and we're sure your child will have already noticed the difference.

To see the documentation for yourself, follow the link below:

How Can Parents Help Children with their home use of I.T.?

Our young people seem to be endlessly involved with digital media and sometimes it's hard for parents to know just how constructively their children's time is being spent.

Many parents feel that there is a growing gulf between their own level of competence in I.T. and that of their children, leading to an uncomfortable and uncertain 'gap' between children's use of I.T. and parent's understanding of it.

This sentiment was apparent at our most recent parent consultations, where one question seemed to be asked more than any other: "What can we do at home?"

Admittedly, it's hard to teach children a subject that they already know more about than many parents do, but you can help, by refusing to turn a blind eye to their online presence and by asking them to share their activity with you...

For many parents, knowing that their children are using technology in a balanced and responsible way is their first priority. Here are some guidelines you may find helpful:

  • Set limits for 'screen-time': negotiate a reasonable limit on the amount of time your child spends in front of a screen each day.
  • Agree a work/play balance: work doesn't have to mean homework. It could be anything which contributes to their actual skill-set (have a look at the list below for ideas).
  • Ask for help: when you're stuck on how to attach a file, contribute to a forum, download some music or anything else, try enlisting the help of your very own 'digital native' - give them a chance to show you what they can do.
  • Ask for evidence: get your child to show you what they've been up to from time to time.
  • Supervise their use of Social Media: Children shouldn't have access to Facebook if they're under thirteen. If they do, make sure you understand how they're using it and what they're up to. This guide might help. Twitter is a fabulous tool for communication but also has its dangers. Their policy on minimum age for users is less clear but their guidance may be useful.
  • One effective method of periodically monitoring children's use is to 'follow' or 'friend' them in order to keep tabs on their output.

We'll be publishing a specific newsletter with e-safety guidance for parents later in the term.

What could my child be doing to improve their computer skills?

Assuming that your child already has access to the internet, the learning that's available to them shouldn't incur any further expense.

In school, we've moved away from costly software over the past year or so and now make much wider use of free online resources and other innovative tools. Here is a list of free-to-use stuff which the children will be using at some point in their Computing (and other!) lessons:

Google: ...not just a search engine, but also the source of loads of great free tools. We use; Earth, Maps, Gmail, Google Drive (docs), Google Forms, Sketch-up, You Tube,...and the list keeps growing

Scratch: Scratch is truly fantastic. It's a free project which was released by computer programming professors at the famous M.I.T. University: A brilliant way to learn to control a character through sequences of instructions. Jig-saw style programming used to create animations and games. a whole online community of users and sharers already exist to help you and it's one of the tools we're going to be combining with our new Raspbery Pi computers.

Kodu: Make entire worlds and fantasy landscapes with this building-block style games creator. Children in both Key Stages learn sequencing, programming and because a Microsoft product, it's compatible with X-Box and can be programmed using the systems controller.

Mozilla: As the focus of our studies shifts towards the code behind the software, more teaching and learning of what makes web pages work will be included in lessons. Mozilla is an organisation with education at its very core. Here, they host a whole host of free tools with understanding and open access to the web as its fundamental principles:

"At Mozilla, we’re a global community of technologists, thinkers and builders working together to keep the Internet alive and accessible, so people worldwide can be informed contributors and creators of the Web." If you're bored with Power Point, try Prezi. Children can register for a free account using their school email address.

Smore: Free, beautiful, on-line flyers (like this one!)

There are loads more tools that we're currently looking at and there are more being released to the masses every day. The current trend for digital discovery looks set to continue for a prolonged spell - and we'll be keeping you up to date with all that geekery via newsletters like this and, of course, via your children


Contact Us

Ring Us:

0191 200 8715

Fax Us (whatever that is...):

0191 200 8716

...or email the school:

Karen Charlton is the school's Headteacher:

Christian Leader is the Deputy Headteacher:

Neil Cottiss is our Assistant Headteacher and resident blogging/Tweeting/Android guru:

John Marron teaches and co-ordinates Computing at the school (and will teach Computing from September onwards...):

Anthony Jones manages the school's network, all software, the Android tablets and many other things too... (so fire your 'techy' questions at him):