Coding Curriculums: Part 5

February 5, 2016 by wendy

Network of fibre optic cables around the world
Submarine Cables by Rarelibra is licensed under CC by-sa 3.0

In Part 4 of our Coding Curriculums series, we focused on computer science concepts that students in key stage 3 should learn based on the National Curriculum in England and the unplugged activities suggested in their guide for secondary teachers. Unplugged activities are important for students to understand concepts, but plugged activities are equally important for students to apply these concepts and learn through experience. Today, we summarize the skills and knowledge that children from ages 11 to 14 should learn through plugged activities.

Coding in multiple languages

By programming in multiple languages, students learn how to apply concepts from one language to another. If they were previously using a visual or block-based language, such as Scratch, they should attempt to apply the same concepts to a textual language, such as Python. At the same time, they can experiment with more complex ideas:

  • Data structures, such as a list, to store a collection of data
  • Functions or custom routines that can be reused
  • Boolean operators, such as AND, OR, and NOT, to combine conditions

Understanding computer systems

To learn about how computers work, students should explore one or more of the following questions perhaps through an inquiry-based project:

  • What are the main parts of a computer system?
  • How are instructions stored and executed on the computer?
  • How is information stored on the computer?
  • How does information travel across multiple computers?
  • What’s the difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web?

Experimenting with sound

Sound is converted from analog waves into digital files so that it can be stored, manipulated, and played on computers. Students should play with changing the sampling rate to observe the differences in sound quality and file size.

Creating projects using multiple technologies

By this point, students have experience with multiple programming languages, tools, and technologies. This is a great time for them to design their own creative projects. They should be responsible for setting their own goals, evaluating processes, and reflecting on their results. They should use resources responsibly and safely, and respect copyright.

Practicing digital literacy

Students should continue practicing digital literacy, that is, using technology safely, responsibly, and securely. For example, they should know how to protect their online identity by using strong passwords and anti-virus software, how to be safe when visiting websites and opening emails, and what to do when they come across inappropriate content.