Rising Stars

Teaching ICT when you’re not a specialist has always been one of those slightly more tricky tasks for the classroom teacher to undertake.  Since the new National Curriculum was launched, the addition of new computing curriculum combined with Coding has sent many a teacher into a bit of a tailspin, worrying over how they can plan and deliver their lessons effectively.

Rising Stars has risen astronomically to the challenge and has produced their new ‘Switched on Computing: Learn to Code’ Practice Books that have been designed specifically with the non-specialist teacher in mind.  These simple to use, instantly engaging resources have been planned to enable any teacher to deliver the Key Stage 2 coding programme of study with confidence and can be used as either a standalone Coding Scheme of Work, or as consolidation set of books to use alongside the fantastic Rising Stars ‘Switched On Computing’ resources.

‘Switched on Computing:  Learn to Code’ comprises of a set of four colourful and visually appealing pupil books that span the whole of Key Stage 2.  Each book is split into 12 units of work that be covered at a rate of 2 units per half term.  There are clear set of Teacher’s Guidance notes provided for each book in the series, which give the teacher thorough information to be able to deliver the lessons.  Contained within each Teacher’s Guidance booklet are computing objectives for each activity; information about each programme required to run the scheme (which can be passed onto the school ICT coordinator); activity information and assessment opportunities.  There is an information glossary provided at the back of each of the pamphlets to aid non-specialists with any computing or coding terminology that they may not be familiar with, which I’m certain will be a very valuable tool!

Each activity is clearly structured within the teacher guidance pamphlet and shows clear progression that will enable even the brightest and most computer-literate of children to be stretched via some exciting open-ended activities and give any non-specialist teacher the confidence that they have engaging and challenging activities for their class to undertake.

Each of the pupil books is set out in the same manner, with each page very clearly organised so that pupils can follow their activities with ease.  At the beginning of each book, Rising Stars have very helpfully included a section entitled , ‘How to use this book’ which breaks down how the activities are set out so that children have a clear awareness of what they are expected to achieve during the course of their lesson.  Each activity is set out in the same step-by-step manner with each outcome clearly visualised to enable all types of learners to access the lessons.  Screenshots from the programmes are included to visually demonstrate what the pupils should be able to see at each step of their activity and can be used to self-evaluate progress and adjust their work if needed. It also provides a fantastic checking tool for any teacher!

Our Verdict

Fun & engaging

There are many fun, engaging and exciting activities contained within this resource. The areas that are covered range from creating sprites in Scratch and designing animations on Powerpoint in Year 3 all the way up to using TouchDevelop to program apps for tablets and learning how to use Python ( a text-based programming language) in Year 6.  Each carefully-constructed activity that Rising Stars have included guides the pupil through the world of coding in an engaging way and I’m sure that ‘Switched on Computing: Learn to Code’ will be a great addition to any classroom.

Pie Corbett