Coding for Kids

What is coding and why is it useful?

Coding allows us to create computer software, apps and websites. A computer can’t function without someone installing code so that it can function in the way that we want it to. In a technology rich world the skill of coding is valuable.

In the US alone there’ll be a million more computing jobs than computing science graduates by 2020.” Reference – , “Coding crisis: getting tech skills taught in schools”. I realise we are not the US but you get the picture.

“The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) shortage – In Australia we’re already languishing near the bottom of the OECD in creating students interested in S.T.E.M.. Australia actually imports more STEM graduates than it educates at university.” Reference – , “Coding crisis: getting tech skills taught in schools”.

What do we do at PBAS?

Currently at PBAS we do very little around Coding and Programming although we have had and used Lego Robotics for a long time and dabbled in the use of BeeBots. This has tended to be at higher year levels or to select groups rather than across a wide range of students.

With the introduction of iPads we now have a resource that is easily accessible and able to introduce and help us teach concepts around coding. The apps Kodable, Hopscotch and Daisy the Dinosaur have been put on the iPads during the holidays and offer a range of coding options from junior primary to senior secondary. The Kodable app also provides teacher learning guides to assist with the app.

Where does coding fit in the Australian Curriculum?

I have had a look at the Technologies – Digital Technologies R-6 Australian Curriculum and found where where this learning fits. I have created a single A4 page that outlines this information for teachers. Click here to see this document.

I have provided some videos below to help with the introduction of the coding apps on the iPads.

Primary staff meeting Week 2, Term 2

In addition to this post I am also planning to discuss coding in the week 2, term 2 Primary team meeting. I am hoping we will have the chance to play with the iPads to see how the coding apps work and discuss the idea of teaching students simple coding concepts.




Daisy the Dinosaur

Screen Shot 2012-08-12 at 6.28.24 AM



Australian Curriculum Update – Technologies and HPE

ACARA has released three new videos to support the Australian Curriculum.

  • Digital Technologies
  • Design and Technologies
  • Health and Physical Education

If you would like to see other videos created by ACARAedau click here. Includes videos on senior maths, science, history, geography and English.

Digital Technologies: An introduction

Design and Technologies: An introduction

Health and Physical Education: Teacher Video

iPad Apps and Blooms Taxonomy

The following is an adaptation of the Padagogy Wheel developed by Allan Carrington of the University of Adelaide which was in turn built upon the work of Sharon Artley.

Many others have adapted this idea to suit the applications being used by their students on iPads. I recently received a version created by Unley High School and decided to create a set of posters for PBAS linking Blooms Taxonomy and our iPad apps (posters are up in the staffroom).

It is not my intention to spend any time in the immediate future looking a these posters and discussing in detail how we as a staff can move student learning forward using Blooms and the iPads (unfortunately we have too much else going on). I am however hoping that these posters may generate some ideas amongst teachers and be used as a resource:

  • When you use the iPads does this use fall into one or two areas only?
  • Can you create a single task using the iPad that allow students to work within different levels in Blooms depending on ability?
  • How could you use the iPads to move students into the higher order thinking skills of analyse, evaluate and create?

All the apps listed below are on our iPads. There are a couple that have been added since which fall nicely into the apply, evaluate and create categories of Blooms these include Daisy the Dinosaur and Kodable both coding/programming apps.

Click here to see a range of posts on various iPad apps (listed on the posters) and how they might be applied in the classroom.











What is S.T.E.M.?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. As part of Aaron’s work with the Trade Schools for the Future he is currently coordinating the involvement of 13 sites and 35 students in the STEM career network which is a partnership between Trade Schools for the Future and Uni SA. Two students from Port Broughton, Tiana Tattersall and Connor George have been accepted into his program so if you see them you may want to congratulate them on their acceptance.

“With 75% of the fastest growing careers requiring STEM qualifications, no other skill set does more to increase the employability of school leavers and no other sets of qualifications do more to broaden opportunities for young people. The 2014 S.T.E.M. Careers Network aims to provide Year 10 students with exposure to these careers before they make choices critical to their career pathway.”

One of the projects the STEM students are involved in is the launching of a balloon powered space craft (Wilkins 1) 35km above the earths surface which will then drop back to earth measuring all sorts of data including weather, air temperature, air pressure, oxygen levels and UV light. A video camera will also capture the fall back to earth. This is being funded by UniSAConnect and its scientists and Aaron has worked closely with them allowing the STEM students to be a part of this project. In term 2 week 2 students will be going down to Mawson Lakes to build the sensors and assemble the craft ready for launch in week 9. This is an amazing opportunity for Tiana and Connor and something that will broaden their knowledge, understandings and skills in the STEM areas.

If you would like to visit Aaron’s blog set up for the STEM project click here.

Below is the countdown clock for Wilkins 1 the balloon that is being sent up by the Uni SA team.

The Arts Australian Curriculum

Thank you to Graham Cox (our Australian Curriculum support officer) who supplied the following resource via the blog on the Arts page. The resource is a website called Arts: Live. Click here to visit the site.

Arts: Live “Enable students to produce creative works, with over 150 activities across the areas of Dance, Drama, Media Arts, Music and Visual Arts. All resources are curriculum aligned and classroom-ready.”

The first video is from the Arts: Live website explaining the resource. The second video is about The Arts Curriculum and teaching practice.

The Arts: Live website is relevant to all teachers involved in the Arts from Reception (Foundation) to Year 10.

Arts: Live

The Arts Curriculum and Teaching Practice

Revisiting Learning Design – Design the teaching and learning plan

This is the final post in the ‘Revisiting Learning Design’ series of posts. I hope that they have at least prompted you to think about aspects of Learning Design and how they are applied to your teaching and learning programs.

The final aspect of Learning Design is ‘Design the teaching and learning plan’. This is where everything comes together and forms the foundation for a unit of work.

Teaching & learning plan

Revisiting Learning Design – How do we engage, challenge and support student learning?

Engagement could be described in two ways, compliance engagement and deep engagement. According to David Price (Learning Futures Engaging Students, 2010) deep engagement encompasses the following:

• Cares not just about the outcome, but also the development of their learning
• Takes responsibility for their learning
• Brings discretionary energy to their learning task(s)
• Can locate the value of their learning beyond school and wishes to prolong their learning beyond school hours.
How many of us have students at the compliance end of the engagement continuum and how many do we have at the deep end? More importantly how do we currently try to move them towards the deep end?

Is every student challenged to reach his/her personal best or just those who ‘do’ school well? We have a professional responsibility to push, extend and support ALL students no matter how hard this might be at times.

How do we stretch our students? This is not easy when in one class we might face levels of ability ranging from reception to year 8 (this is not an exaggeration if you consider Paul’s current class). Challenging and supporting all students is a challenge we face daily.

Engage Challenge & Support


Dylan Wiliam Formative Assessment

As the end of term 1 approaches I thought was timely to remind staff of our commitment as a school to formative assessment and in particular the work of Dylan Wiliam.

My initial proposal that all teaching staff select at least one strategy around formative assessment to put into their performance development plan seems to have had a successful start (based on the response to the initial blog post). The school has purchased Dylan Wiliam’s “Embedding Formative Assessment – a two year professional development program for schools”. I am currently working my way through this resource to see how we can use and adopt the processes in it at PBAS.

Click here to refer back to my initial proposal if you need to revisit this information or want to read through the comments made by staff.

I think it is also important to remember that this is not a sprint and that as as school we are looking for teachers to embed one or two strategies into their teaching during 2014 rather than trying five or six that all disappear in three months.

In the hope that the discussion continues I am asking that staff contribute to this blog post by updating where they are at with formative assessment, what have you been trialling and how is it going and what direction are you heading?

To get the ball rolling I would like to share my progress with my formative assessment focus, quality self and peer assessment, which to paraphrase Dylan Wiliam, “improves learning by up to twice the speed of students who do not engage in rigorous self and peer assessment”. I must admit I have a fair way to go to improve students knowledge of how to give quality feedback and then use that feedback to effectively move their learning forward. We have managed to discuss these issues though and through our athletics and badminton units students have had plenty of opportunity to provide feedback and use feedback to move their learning forward. I have included a video below that includes some student videos showing how they had to present their learning to me for assessment.

Peer and self assessment process:

Step 1 involved the discussion of ‘what is meaningful feedback?’

Step 2 required a peer to video a student performing a skill using an iPad and downloading it to their MacBook.

Step 3 involved me ensuring there was some consistant expectations about how the skills were to be performed. Use of You Tube, teacher modelling, peer modelling and written criteria helped achieve this.

Step 4 required peers to review the video taken at step 2 and provide feedback on how that skill could be improved. This was written down in their PE books using a proforma created by me that provided success criteria to guide the students.

Step 5 allowed students to select one piece of feedback provided by a peer. They spent a few lessons trying to improve this area of the skill. At this point I contributed feedback to assist students.

Step 6 required students to take a second video that would demonstrate their learning. Both videos were put side by side in iMovie with students adding text to acknowledge the feedback they were given and also explain where the improvement occurred.

My aim is to continue this process throughout 2014, refining the process and the students ability to provide and use feedback.

The Australian Curriculum HPE requires students to demonstrate the ability to provide feedback as well as use feedback to improve performance.

Revisiting Learning Design – What evidence will enable us to assess the intended learning?

Designing assessment tasks that will allow students to address the Achievement Standards and content descriptors at an ‘A’ level is important. If we only ever produce tasks that allow for a satisfactory achievement and don’t address the deeper learning aspects of the curriculum we are doing a disservice to our students.

Consideration must be given to formative assessment. How do we assess students lesson by lesson to see where they are at and then provide feedback to move their learning forward? What type of summative assessment will be used and at what points during the topic?

How do we collect evidence of student learning? Documenting student work and keeping it on file in some way is important, examples include:

  • Student work books
  • Digital portfolios (student compiled or teacher compiled)
  • Hard copy portfolios (filing cabinet or take home book)

Portfolios of work are useful at report writing time, they provide concrete evidence of student learning. Looking at a spreadsheet with a grade provides an indication of what was achieved but the sample work in portfolios/student workbooks allows us to write more accurate comments in student reports.

What evidence will enable assess

Revisiting Learning Design – What does the intended learning look like?

As teachers we need to have a clear understanding of what quality learning for any particular task looks like. We then need to be able to communicate this with our students. Using the Australian Curriculum content descriptors, Achievement Standards, quality work samples are ways to help achieve this. Using rubrics with clearly thought out criteria or for younger children a set of clearly written steps to help them navigate a task successfully are also ways that we can assist our students to understand what is required to be successful.

How can we expect our students to reach high levels of learning if we do not let them in on the secrets to what “high quality” learning is?

Intended learning look like