The more I teach the computing curriculum the more evident its relevance is. A great deal of the day to day normal daily routines that we unthinkingly carry out are based on following instructions. We are creatures of habit, programmed to timetables, specific ways of speaking or explaining a concept even down to the way we make a cup of tea. Rarely do we break the expected outcomes and debug our own systems.
What have I used in the classsroom today?
The year 1’s have been enjoying computing building their knowledge of beebot and giving unambiguous instructions. Moving on to creating programs with a string of instructions for the beebot to successfully navigate a flower bed. Issues here were on visualising the direction of turn. So armed with a card bee that was used to make the movement more concrete for those struggling to orientate their pathways…year 1 were able to move onto complex strings of instructions, confidently able to identify problems when they occurred. Deleting and debugging efficiently.
Debugging a program is tricky for the little ones to appreciate as everything they do is always correct- right? Even if they didn’t quite mean to tap the forward arrow three times instead of two! The battery operated beebot were useful in showing the errors as the app can be sensitive to small fingers and not always work consistently in making a reassuring ‘click’ in the correct place!
Undeterred by small set backs, year 1 were challenged to have a go at the excellent www.naace.co.uk site where they could control the U.N.I.T robot both on PC and iPad.
This endearing robot enabled the children to apply the same skills they had with Beebot but this time allow for a degree of choice. Let’s face it, variety is important and being tolerant to others preferences is a worthy life skill. However, when it comes to computing, debugging a program needs to be precise and specific. The program gave enough challenge to pose questions to those most able to program but conversely managed to allow mistakes to be highlighted without demoralising the students efforts,
Debugging can be refreshing and liberating! As a teacher the wonderful “oh I see…” Comment is a sign that the children have total engagement in their task. But deeper than that, the task is in itself relevant and worth persevering at. The skills that underpin the inclusion of mobile technology in the classroom are for me responsible, connected and discerning. The process of debugging allows the students at what ever age to also be resilient and see the relevance of popping balloons with a robot holding a candle!