Why did we choose our topics?
We were keen to ensure there was a good balance across the three strands of the computing curriculum (computer science, information technology and digital literacy), in other words the foundations, applications and implications of computing. Thus, in each year of the scheme we have units on programming and computational thinking, networks, the web and online safety and digital media, collaboration and data handling. This ensures that pupils cover every aspect of England's computing curriculum and move on to secondary school with both a strong portfolio of technology skills and a good grasp of the fundamental principles that underpin this technology.
Why did we order our topics the way we did?
The ordering balances the need for a strong sense of progression around the spiral nature of the curriculum with a desire to provide fresh opportunities for pupils to extend their learning in new ways in each year.
For example, each year includes one or two programming units, which clearly build on what's gone before: in Year 1, pupils learn to create simple instructions for Bee Bots, but by Year 4 they're creating their own drill and practice maths games in Scratch, applying the programming constructs of sequence, selection, repetition, variables and input and output. On the other hand, their digital media work supports the development of a rich skillset by introducing progressively more sophisticated media tools in each year, from simple bitmap graphics through music sequencing to polished video editing and online content.
How does our course ensure coverage of the programme of study?
Switched on Computing has been designed with the aims of the National Curriculum in mind. It covers all the requirements of the Computing programme of study in a way that’s intended to develop pupils’ understanding of the concepts, practices and perspectives that underpin programming and other aspects of computer science, while providing ample opportunity for creative, collaborative project work in which pupils can acquire the information technology skills they’ll need. Switched on Computing also helps pupils to understand the implications of technology for individuals and society as they become digitally literate. The approach adopted here is one grounded in the best primary practice. Ideas of learning through experiment, discussion and making are woven through the scheme. The topic-based approach provides enough flexibility for you to link these activities with work in other subjects.
How does our course allow schools to show impact on children’s learning?
When assessing computing, it’s important to look for evidence of knowledge and understanding as well as technical skills. Asking pupils to talk about what they have learned as well as showing the work they have completed, will provide important evidence of their learning. It’s recommended that pupils build up some form of digital portfolio as they work through Switched on Computing, providing ample evidence of progression towards mastering the content of the programme of study. You could do this through individual pupil blogs, accounts on a shared class blog, using named folders on your school file server, or using tools that might be available in your learning platform (if you have one). Consider recording videos or screencasts of pupils as they discuss their work, explaining what they have done and, more importantly, how they’ve done it. Your observation of pupils as they work on tasks, their contribution to class discussions and individual conversations with pupils as they work will provide further evidence of progression. Self-assessment information also encourages pupils to reflect on their own learning in each unit.
What (and where) is the assessment within the course and how is it used?
Switched on Computing follows the recommendations of the DfE’s National Curriculum Expert Panel and the statutory attainment target in relating all assessment to the content of the programme of study. Each unit includes a number of assessable outcomes, presented in the format ‘all’, ‘most’ and ‘some’, which are then mapped to corresponding statements from the programme of study. So, a single unit could allow pupils to demonstrate learning relating to several bullet points from the programme of study.
How does our course enable children to acquire knowledge and learn skills?
The ‘translating the computing POS’ section in each unit describes how the lessons develop pupils’ subject discipline using subject specific language and key vocabulary so that teachers can easily use this when teaching the units.
How does our course enable schools to create a curriculum to suit their cohort and school?
Switched on Computing is designed to be used as a source for ideas and guidance rather than having any element of prescription. All units can be adapted to suit your own school’s context, your curriculum and enthusiasms and interests of teachers and pupils.
How does our course ensure progression?
The scheme is planned and sequenced so that new knowledge and skills build on what has been taught before. The plans include variations to try and support for extended activities so that all pupils can achieve their potential.
Does our course use high quality resources?
Switched on Computing provides a range of bespoke resources specifically designed to make use of applications commonly found in schools. Addresses of web-based resources relevant to the recommended software, the unit projects and related ideas are embedded in the text. These addresses are enabled as hyperlinks on the PDF version supplied on the My Rising Stars website. Comprehensive lesson PowerPoint presentations provide teachers with a set of slides to help compliment lessons - highlighting key teaching points and pupil activities. Accompanying ‘how to’ guides are provided to assist pupils with undertaking learning activities, encouraging independence where appropriate.
How does our course improve subject knowledge (for teachers as well as pupils)?
A focus on improving subject knowledge is at the heart of each unit within Switched on Computing. From the clear expectations regarding ‘Knowledge, skills and concepts’ explaining ‘In this unit, the children will learn’, alongside the ‘Background knowledge’ that helps teachers to put the unit into a real-life context and online CPD and software in 60 seconds videos…
“This unit helps pupils develop their computational thinking through ‘reverse engineering’ some simple computer games - the pupils play the games for a while, adopting an investigative, experimental approach where they try to work out how the game operates, i.e. what algorithms the programmer used when making the game.”
Key terms are presented in clear and simple language allowing both teachers and pupils to grasp what they mean. The ‘how to’ guides and videos are complemented by hyperlinks to external web-based video and text-based tutorials from other sources.
How does our course support lower ability?
Each unit includes suggestions for how pupils with SEND can be better supported in activities, as well as ideas for supporting pupils with English as an Additional Language. There are extension activities for both school and home; the school-based extensions have been written particularly with more able pupils in mind. Units include a ‘Support’ section, suggesting ways in which teachers can adapt the resources to meet the needs of pupils.
How does our course nurture greater depth?
Each of the units has a ‘Challenge’ task for pupils. These are designed to be fun and engaging aiming to enhance pupils’ further extend their work in computing including the following example...
“Some pupils might like to remix the code, modifying the behaviour of the game, for example adding in more fish, or making the fish harder to eat. Can they change the game so the shark is controlled by the mouse rather than keys? Can they make the shark turn more slowly or swim more quickly?”
Additionally, there are suggested ‘Homework’ activities to help reinforce or extend pupils’ knowledge and skills beyond the lessons.
View samples and find out more about Switched on Computing
, Computing and ICT
, Switched on Computing: Learn to Code Practice Books
, Switched on Computing