Getting ready for Switched on Computing - Year 2

Unit 2.1 We are astronauts

Hardware needed: PC / laptop / netbook

Software needed: Scratch (online version – see notes below)

Support needed: Link to the online Scratch resource at ; school policy on  children having Scratch accounts

The unit uses the online Scratch editor which then means uploading and downloading projects so they can be saved. The Scratch studio for the Switched on Computing scheme of work is at  . The online version of this project has a section called “More Blocks” with extra blocks more in keeping with the Bee-Bots from Unit 1.1, such as forward, turn left etc which will not be available on the version installed on the machines. This may be a new way of working with Scratch for us to explore. We will also need to decide school policy on children having Scratch accounts.

Scratch Jr is due to be launched as an iPad app in "Summer 2014" according to and may be another option for this unit.


Unit 2.2 We are games testers

Hardware needed: PC / laptop / netbook

Software needed: Scratch (either online version for 2.0 or files from the CD for version 1.4)

Support needed:  Link to online resource at

Unlike Unit 2.1, the games are also available in Scratch 1.4 format to be copied to the network and opened in the Scratch 1.4 offline version.  Note that in Step 2, the fish game, the arrow keys move the shark not the crab (it took me a couple of goes to figure this out – children will porbably be much quicker!) In step 5, I’d suggest using a Flappy Bird scratch project to get the children hooked. In step 6, if pupils bring their own devices into school, they may need to be joined to the wireless network for the games to work fully. Expect some Year 2s to be into Minecraft and consider setting up a trial version of MinecraftEdu to experiment with!



Unit 2.3 We are photographers 

Hardware needed: Digital camera or iPad to take photos, Pc/laptop/netbook or iPad to edit them

Software needed: Picasa or IrfanView, or iPhoto app

Support needed: The chance to upload the finished photos to the school website or class blog and/or to print off and create an exhibition.

Again iPhoto is a paid-for app so we will need to sort out our VPP account as per Unit 1. One of my schools currently uses IrfanView to edit and manipulate photos, so we will need to compare this against Picasa and decide which one to use. This looks at first glance like a relatively straightforward unit which is nice and open-ended so should lend itself well to whatever topic the class is studying.



Unit 2.4 We are researchers 

Hardware needed: PC / laptop / netbook, possibly a camera or tablet to video the finished presentations

Software needed: FreeMind, web browser (Google Chrome may be better for this than Internet Explorer) , Microsoft Powerpoint

I’d never heard of creating a Bitly bundle before, although I know of its use to shorten a website address to post in articles and tweets.  So I had a look at the instructions at . I would suggest that teachers instead use Symbaloo which is described in an excellent blog post by Chris McWilliams (@mr_macmac) at:  (though I will need to check if our school filtering lets Symbaloo through!) If it does, I feel a Symbaloo web page coming on with all the Switched on Computing web links on them, so fingers crossed.

I do like the suggestions of Swiggle and as safe search engines, and the introduction of Simple Wikipedia. I’m starting to think that without a VLE, each class will definitely need its own blog, not just to publish work, but also to provide an easy way to access the links to important web sites for each Unit. This would then be another alternative to using a Bitly bundle.

There is a lot of scope for teacher CPD in this unit – investing the time in this though will definitely pay off. Again it is nice and open-ended to link in with a relevant topic.



2.5 We are detectives 

Hardware required: PC / laptop / netbook

Software required: Web browser (Google Chrome or Internet Explorer), Microsoft Excel

Support required: Email accounts set up for the class, someone to read and reply to emails

In Derbyshire, most of the schools pay for a hosted email service from Capita called OpenHive. The admin console of this software is available to schools and gives the school the freedom to create its own email accounts – but note that there is a charge for each additional account.  My initial feeling on this is to create a class set of generic accounts – although this would potentially give the restriction that two different classes could not use the email accounts at once or else it could get very confusing. The passwords for these accounts could then be changed on a regular basis if needs be.

This is one unit where I feel that laptops / PCs / netbooks will be easier to use than iPads, simply because by the time it gets to using Microsoft Excel, it’s much easier to do that in a Windows environment and will intergrate much better with the Outlook web client in OpenHive. If we did use iPads, I would have a look at the “Maily” app described by Chris McWilliams (@mr_macmac)  in his blog here:

Although the unit suggests that the emails are sent to and from the headteacher, another member of staff might also be appropriate – anyone who regularly accesses their emails and can be briefed on how to reply. Maybe the class TA, a learning mentor or even the ICT Technician?!

Throughout Switched on Computing, lots of other 2Simple software is mentioned,  but 2Email isn’t referenced in the list of resources for this unit. It might be worth a look if it’s already in school and  licensed as it’s a good way of introducing emails at Year 2/3 level.



Unit 2.6 We are zoologists 

Hardware required: PCs / laptops / netbooks, camera to take photos of bugs

Software required: Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Excel, Picasa or IrfanView to edit the photos, Google Earth

In step 6, it will be easier to use Powerpoint to present the results than SMART notebook (which isn’t readily available on the student devices – but could be. However, with the introduction of tougher SMART Notebook licensing from Version 14 onwards (SMART Notebook Advantage), this may not be a futureproof solution anyway.

Incidentally, I am wondering how I did not know about the Snipping Tool available in Windows 7. Goodbye to Alt & PrtSc. I think this will be a brilliant tool to get children using so that they can capture elements of their work and put them together in a presentation!



Teacher CPD 



  • Scratch – the difference between the online and offline versions, how to download and upload projects to and from the school network, how to create own Scratch online account and remix ready-made projects to adapt and use.

  • Google Custom Search (as per the CD-ROM resources Software in 60 seconds for this Unit)

  • How to use Symbaloo or a Bitly bundle

  • How to use FreeMind mind-mapping software

  • Possible some info / instructions on how to use the email system that is chosen


Year 2 definitely builds on Year 1 in lots of ways, and I think there will also be a fair amount of learning about new technologies for both teachers and pupils. Laptops / netbooks / PCs will be used more this year than iPads I think.



Switched On Computing

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