Computer Science GCSE Teaching

Following an inspiring Python Boot Camp with Alan O’Donohoe and Mark Clarkson in July, I am going to keep an index of things I try this year as I teach the 9_1 Eduqas syllabus.  The boot camp was some of the best cpd I have participated for a long time because of two gains.  Firstly it proved to me that I *can* code in Python. Even more importantly, many of Alan’s examples of pedagogy – how to differentiate, activities like sabateur etc – fit in with my own thoughts and make me excited to be teaching Computer Science in the coming years.   I see possibilities to engage, stretch and challenge students, and in an enjoyable and (hopefully) sustainable way.   I’m going to try to keep a list of both Techniques and Resources on this page to show what I have tried and how it has worked (or not…).

Techniques to teach better Computer Science:

1. Paired Programming – the most important, including @teknoteacher’s explanation and research.

2. Sabateur  (to be completed)

3. Teacher-Student (to be completed)


Resources to teach better Computer Science:

These are in addition to @clcsimon’s excellent Twitter’s #caschat and recent archived storify’s here and older ones here; the Computing at School’s website; and my recommendations for other computing websites here.

1.   Codecademy: I set all my students the first 28 exercises of Codecademy’s Python course.  I used the excellent classroom tracking tool to see the progress made during the holidays and made a few timely phone calls to ensure as many as possible were up to date by our first lesson of the term.

2.  Python, Pygame and TkInter. Details of How to install here.

3.  Google Docs (To do:  developing Google Classroom).

4.  Python Resources for KS3 and KS4
    http://pythontutor.com

I found the use of a prompt card essential to help with my own syntax at the Bootcamp.  Mark also mentioned Chris Roffey’s code club prompt cards.  I bought the  printed set cards soon after but found the font size too small.  Instead, I have downloaded the *free* pdf set and decided on double A5 printed landscape on A4 card, single sided, hole punched in the corner and cable tied.  Each student pays for a set to have at home, and I am cable tying a set to every computer in my room, with one of Mark’s prompt sheets on top.  Having found the cards, I enjoyed reading Chris’ Occasional Articles – bottom of this page.  Agreeing with many of his points, I then ordered his 4 books from Amazon.  I’m now looking to integrate them into our KS3 and KS4.