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Materials by Teachers in English - Primary

Travelling to Mexico (Faye Saadieh)

Why I created a teaching resource on Mexico

Travelling to MexicoI wanted to create a teaching resource for the children I had been teaching in KS1. The children were studying Mexico as a geography-based topic making it important for me to include geographical facts comparing Mexico with England (e.g. – weather, food, distance etc.). This would have the dual benefit of supporting the children’s learning in this area, whilst also introducing them to a cross curricular teaching resource simultaneously encompassing topic, literacy and ICT. Through showing my project to my year 2 class, I gained some vital feedback which enabled me to amend my project to work more effectively as a teaching resource for young children. These amendments included increasing the timings the sprite speech bubbles were displayed for to allow children of all reading abilities to follow them.

What I enjoyed the most

The process of spending long hours on a project, overcoming various bugs and glitches along the way and ending up with an interactive teaching resource that delighted a class of 6-7yr olds was both valuable and fulfilling. I have enjoyed being given the freedom to create a project on whatever I wanted whilst collaborating with my peers and being as creative as possible. I have also found it helpful to adopt the attitude of seeing every mistake or frustration being an important learning curve. Through now understanding how frustrating problems such as: ‘A missing sprite’ can feel and then learning how to solve such problems, I am confident that I now have the skills necessary to become a more effective teacher of computing.

The children in my KS1 class were fascinated by my project and were keen to know all about how I managed to create this resource for them, even though they were only 6-7yrs, they all seemed eager to create something for themselves. The class were confident that if I could do it, they could too. Knowing that my own newly acquired coding skills have inspired children to want to do coding for themselves has been really satisfying and now due to completing this curriculum enhancement I feel better equipped to take on the new computing curriculum from September 2014.

Key learning points

I started this project as a beginner having never used scratch before and have learnt to love it and see the value in it as both a teaching resource and an enjoyable, child-friendly way of incorporating coding for KS1 & 2 into the new 2014 national curriculum. By utilising the fantastic ‘broadcasting’ feature in scratch, I solved the frustrating problem of having to press various different keys or rely on complicated timings to change backgrounds, sprites appearing/disappearing and sprite dialogue. I now feel that I am confident enough with this feature to be able to teach young children to use it in their own projects/stories. The interactive and multi-choice parts of my project were by far the most enjoyable for KS1 pupils. These features helped to keep the children’s attention as well as ensuring they remained involved in the resource. Using sprites to allow pupils to interact with a story is something I will definitely utilise in my teaching career in the future. However, creating this type of resource can be a time-consuming process, making it important to keep it as simple as possible.

What I would do differently in the future

If I were to do this project again I would keep the text in my speech bubbles to a minimum in order to hold the attention of the children much better. I would replace some of the dialogue with more interactive multiple choice features which would also enhance pupil learning and progress. I would have also have used sound throughout the project to make it more interesting and engaging for children to watch. I adapted a lot of clip art and pre-made backgrounds in my project but I could have also made some of my own using the paint program. This is something that children would also enjoy doing and I can imagine that they would take even more pride in their project if their sprites were imagined, designed and drawn by themselves. The process of making something you have drawn ‘come to life’ would be delightful for young children and would hopefully encourage them to engage with coding through scratch more often.

Notes from the Course Tutor

These files are for use in the classroom. They can, of course, be adapted by teachers, with further resources, such as Sprites or Backgrounds, added by pupils.

I have included all the work of my teaching group here. There are many wonderful teaching ideas, and if we did not solve every coding problem effectively (none of us is an expert in Computing, including me!), the creativity of these young teachers more than makes up for it.

The teaching programme covered 30 hours of work at the computer, so if you start with one session of 60 minutes per week, you will become as proficient as they have been well before the end of your teaching year!

The key to success is to work with a partner, share ideas, and problem-solve together.