Session 5 – Programming Languages

Alice, Greenfoot, and Scratch – A Discussion

Firstly, I agree with this article (Cooper, et al.,) when it states that children should be able to start programming as soon as they are interested, and I believe that an effective way to do this would be to have programming available for children to play around with in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). For example, there are many different iPad apps which children in the EYFS can use, including Scratch Junior, the Beebot App, and Daisy the Dinosaur. Having these out in the classroom for children to use if they wish may enable them to become interested in programming. If there are not any iPads available to use in school then normal Beebots are good to just have in the classroom for children to play around with if they like.

I also believe that using Beebots in KS1 however, should be enjoyable and interesting for children – there should be a purpose for why they are using and programming the Beebots. This would hopefully ensure children become interested in programming.

During the lecture we discussed the transition of computer science from EYFS/KS1 up to KS2 and found that teachers should be using concrete programming tools such as Beebots with younger children to get the familiar with programming and looking at code (a set of instructions). Teachers can move onto virtual programming, for example, Scratch, by using the same concept of Beebots on the Scratch programme. Children can then move onto abstract programming by actually creating and typing out their own code by using, Trinket, for example.

Reading about, and looking at the Alice website, I have concluded that Alice can be used for children in KS2. To me, it seems like quite a complicated programme as one is dealing with 3D animation – Cooper et al. suggest that more errors and complications will arise when using Alice so pupils must be able to understand how to find a solution to these problems.

Greenfoot and Scratch seem like the most convenient programmes to use with children in upper KS1 and in KS2 as it allows them to create something simpler and it is easier to navigate around.

The article further suggests that using programmes which allow children to incorporate their own interests and be able to relate to them will enable a more enjoyable and motivating experience; this can easily be done in Scratch whereby the user can create anything they desire – there are not any set sprites or backgrounds, for example, children can create their own. The article also states that Scratch attracts a broader range of users to computer science.

During this session Sara and I went onto Trinket and changed a set of written code from asking addition questions to multiplication questions. This way of programming through written text seems difficult if you do not understand how to do it or what it all means! It is definitely something children should only begin working on in upper KS2 if they are 100% confident with programming using virtual programmes.

https://trinket.io/python/e6f95b7d5b

scratch2

It was also interesting to see what happened when you added a variable into Scratch with the question 5/0 as it came up with “infinity”.

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