Tag Archives: Computing

Computational Thinking for Educators

I was asked for our school’s latest INSET day to devise a half-hour session which I would repeat during the day for all teaching staff on the fairly loose topic of sharing good practice / sharing our classroom activities.

Now I was fairly sure that 30 minutes was not going to be long enough for me to introduce much interesting in the way of Computer Science or code for a group of teachers who had never experienced it before, so I began to think about what I could deliver.

My thoughts turned to some of the Computational Thinking lessons we do with our students as they are accessible and don’t require the use of a computer. The fact that I was going to deliver a session on sharing good practice from my teaching and that it would not involve any tech other than a projector and presentation, would no doubt come as a shock to some of my colleagues!
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Christmas Sonic Pi

This week my Year 8 class asked if they could do something festive with me for their last lesson before we break up next week. Now I am not a believer in stopping work just because it is the last week of term, but I thought I could probably give them a Computer Science lesson and easily add a Christmas theme to get the best of both worlds. I gave them the choice of either using Python Turtle art to create festive pictures, or use Sonic Pi to “code” some Christmas music.

The class went for Sonic Pi; so I thought I would share my lesson plan here.

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Hello Minecraft World!

Minecraft screen shots with your Raspberry Pi

We are just about to begin teaching our Python and Minecraft unit at school so I began testing everything out on our latest Raspberry Pi image to make sure we were ready for the lessons and adjust any of the lesson plans if necessary.

Our latest Raspberry Pi image runs Jessie. Now one of the improvements Jessie brings us is that the Print Screen button on your keyboard has been set up to run Scrot in the background to save a png screen shot into your home directory. You can read more about it here.

Now that is great as for quite some time taking a screen shot on your Raspberry Pi involved installing Scrot and then running it from the terminal; not the most user-friendly way to get students to take screen shots!

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Updating our Raspberry Pi Image

We have just purchased a set of Raspberry Pi 2 boards to upgrade our Raspberry Pi B+ / HDMIPI set-up which we have been using for Computer Science this year. I will not go into the reasons why or the specifications of the Raspberry Pi 2; but needless to say the performance increase seen will make teaching with these devices much easier!

So we received our new Pi 2 boards and got straight into removing the old B+ boards from our HDMIPI set-up and installing the new Pi 2 boards. Pretty soon I ran into an issue though; having replaced the Pi board and using one of our SD Cards with our current image installed on it, the system would not boot; it just sat there at the rainbow boot screen. It turns out that the Pi 2 has an updated ARM processor and therefore needs the latest updates installing for the Pi to boot.  Now I could have just downloaded the latest Rasbian image and been up and running, but we have quite a few customisations to our image which I wanted to keep

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