Monkseaton Middle - Computing News

The Latest news from MMS Computing Department

Welcome to our world...

This is an occasional newsletter aiming to keep parents up to speed with what's happening in Monkseaton Middle's Computing Department.

We'll be sharing what happens in lessons as well as the wider use of technology throughout the school.

We'll also be offering tips and advice on the productive use of technology at home and pointing you in the direction of some selected online resources.

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New Departmental Twitter Feeds

This new academic year brings with it a new initiative aimed at keeping MMS parents informed; departmental Twitter feeds.

We're spreading our wings (don't worry - no more bird-related puns) across a wider range of media and, naturally, staff wanted to take up the opportunity to share their departments' successes via the platform of choice for many cutting edge educationalists...

Initially, seven subject-based departments are getting involved with others to follow soon. If you're already keeping up to date with all your other news via Twitter, why not add our new newsfeeds to your 'following' list? Or if you still haven't taken the plunge, what better way to start?

Here are the Twitter feeds to add:








Key Stage Two practise the fundamentals of programming and de-bugging through Lego.

Year 5 have been learning the basics of engineering, writing algorithms and refining their work through a sequence of challenges based around Lego Wedo. The challenges begin with simple explanations of gears and ratios progressing to more complex ideas which combine cams and pulleys with programs initiated by movement sensors. (Ask them about the drumming monkeys!)

Year 6 are in robot mode. they've been using school's Lego Mindstorms NXT robots to write increasingly complex algorithms. Lessons now culminate in robot races, where teams complete a course in the fastest time possible, avoiding the obstacles along the way. A team from Year 6 will be competing in the North Tyneside First Lego league competition in January. Preparations are well under way...

You can check out some of their attempts to complete the courses we designed...

Hour of Code 2015

Monday, Dec. 7th, 9am to Friday, Dec. 11th, 3:30pm

Monkseaton Middle School, Whitley Bay, United Kingdom

In the week commencing Monday 7th December, MMS will be getting involved with the Hour Of Code event. It's a growing, international movement aimed at getting children all over the world hooked on the idea of coding (or programming if you're a bit 'old-school, like me).

The lessons in school that week will all be based on the fundamental, logical processes which ensure good algorithm writing and the aim is to complete a series of 'tech-free' coding challenges without the aid of computers or tablets... more info to follow.

If you work in any environment where children could benefit from a coding event, why not check out the Hour of code website and resources?

"What can I be doing at home to make sure my child is using their time with technology in a productive way?"

That's a question we get asked a lot at parents' consultations and open evenings.

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 tried to move away from costly software over the past couple of years 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 (now independently owned but had its origins in Google), 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. School currently has the original Scratch and is making the switch to Scratch 2.0 over the coming months.

Codecademy: Used in Year 7 and 8 in school and more often than not gives our students their first taste of real coding. There are mini projects in a variety of languages and longer assignments too. HTML, CSS and Javascript are all explored in shorter tasks but Python (the code format agreed on by the Whitley Bay Collaborative of Schools) is covered in much greater depth to prepare students for their Computing studies at high school.

Kodu: Make entire worlds and fantasy landscapes with this building-block style games creator. Children in both Key Stages learn sequencing, programming and de-bugging. It's a Microsoft product, so 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. Beautiful presentations happen in a few moments once children have mastered the rudimentary skills.

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.