Empowering pupils with kinaesthetic Computer Science

Adam Speight

Award-winning teacher Adam Speight is a Middle Leader in a secondary school in South Wales and also works as an FE lecturer specialising in ICT and Computer Science. Aside from Adam's teaching commitments he also runs his own education consultancy business - Mr Speight Consultancy and since qualifying as a teacher in 2011, he has worked in both Wales and England in the state and independent sectors in a variety of roles. He is always keen to share his ideas and is a frequent educational writer and speaker. Adam is always looking for new, innovative teaching ideas, so that no learner ever gets left behind.

Follow @Mr_Speight

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Up and down the country, ICT teachers are nervously preparing themselves to make the transition from into teaching a subject which is known as ‘Computer Science’. What school leaders must realise when making this change is that Computer Science is a world apart from ICT. Teachers will need time to re-examine the pedagogy they use to ensure they deliver Computer Science lessons that are factually correct – and most importantly – craft classes that engage all learners in the room.

"Pupils should instead be allowed to use whichever programmes they want to."

I speak from experience as, this year, I took the bold move of removing ICT as a subject in my school and replacing it entirely with Computer Science, so I have already undertaken this transition.

It is important to remember that ICT underpins Computer Science and therefore its use in the subject needs to be fully realised. Having said this, it doesn’t mean that every lesson should involve a pupil creating a PowerPoint which so many poor ICT lessons have comprised of in the past.

An engaging Computer Science lesson should allow pupils to make informed choices for themselves as to how they would like to present a piece of work. Rather than exclusively using Microsoft or Google products, pupils should instead be allowed to use whichever programmes they want to - as long as they can justify why they’re using a particular software package. This simple element of choice will empower them to think proactively about the decisions they are making, thinking about which products best support their needs and help them to express themselves.

A lot of the content within Computer Science can be quite ‘dry’, making it difficult for pupils to connect and engage fully with what they are learning. I believe that one of the best ways to bring the subject to life is by giving pupils a kinaesthetic learning experience.

There are several ways teachers can integrate kinaesthetic learning into Computer Science - the entire back wall of my classroom is covered with different pieces of technology which my pupils have taken apart. After all, if you’re teaching pupils how Internet transmissions work, why not get a router and take it apart and see what’s inside it? Straightaway through this approach pupils’ interests are piqued - they’re doing something they wouldn’t normally do at home and engaging fully with what they are learning.

Role-play activities are also really effective: when learning about the various buses that exist in a computer system, my pupils can undertake a role-play activity which involves the journey of getting on a bus and all of the various parts which are involved in this journey. This enables pupils to transfer this experience to the concept of how buses work in relation to the CPU.

Much can be gained through simple, hands-on methods like these. Pupils relate their newfound knowledge to a real-life process and do it with a smile - which is half the battle in any learning environment!

"The only time I stand at the front of the room is when we’re analysing a piece of code on the board."

One of the biggest problems I see with today’s teaching methods is the ‘teach from the front’ approach. When I teach programming, the only time I stand at the front of the room is when we’re analysing a piece of code on the board. Aside from that, my pupils learn how to code through following videos which are on my department’s YouTube channel - splitting their screens in half with the video playing on one half of the screens whilst they copy the instructions on the other side.

I can easily make my way around the room and, spending time with the pupils who need additional support. This teaching technique allows for each pupil to be at a different stage of their work - making progress at a rate which supports them.

Earlier on this year my Year 11 and 12 pupils participated in a Skype call with someone who worked for Microsoft in India. Sharing and exchanging ideas with someone came from a very different culture from their own helped to engage them in their learning. The employee from Microsoft reinforced lots of the points I had been making to them as to why Computer Science is such an important subject to study.  

As educators we have a duty to try and get our pupils more engaged in Computer Science and the only way we’re going to do this is if we as teachers allow our pupils to explore the subject fully. We shouldn’t be afraid of our pupils knowing more than ourselves: we should have the expertise and knowhow to facilitate and maximise their learning in a stimulating environment, and open their eyes to the possibilities that lie in the future of the field. This is what ultimately makes Computer Science lessons something for pupils to enjoy – being able to look forward to and see the value their knowledge and skills hold for their future.

Do you teach Computer Science? Share your experiences below!

[Image Credit]

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now
Login

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"