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Primary Education News
News The best websites for computing resources and lessons
From programming to data representation, Stephen O'Callaghan shares his eight favourite online resources for computing lessons
Using the time tested analogy, finding good and useful resources on the internet can be like finding a needle in a haystack – only the needle is microscopic and the haystack is the size of the world. So, I have compiled a list of useful and free resources that are out there in the stack of hay. If you have suggestions for resources that don't appear on my list, please do share them in the comments section below.
This is an incredible website with lots of resources for teaching GCSE computing. I have used this a lot as a starting point for most of my theory-based lessons. The site contains numerous past exam papers that are ideal for using as stimuli for theory-based lessons. Theory lessons are always difficult to deliver because students always expect lessons in ICT rooms to be practical. Having interesting and useful resources eases the pain for the students. The site asks you to register to gain access to the resources but this process is free to users.
Dan's website has lots of great computing resources, most of which I have used in my lessons or are planning to use in the future. The site contains lots of resources for using Raspberry Pi's as well as some useful games-based activities to help students learn how to code. These resources are mainly suitable for secondary school students, but games such as Hopscotch seem ideal for primary.
If you haven't already signed up – do it now. Computing a School (CAS) is a free community for computing educators, and there are lots of great resources, discussions and events you can learn about and access. Whenever I am stuck for an idea for a lesson I always start by looking through the endless resources here. The Introduction to the Raspberry Pi short video and the Python Guide presentation are good places to start. You can also find links to great training opportunities to advance your computing skills. You have to register to gain access to the resources but registry is free.
In this series of free podcasts, Alan O'Donohoe, CAS master teacher and principal teacher of computing at Our Lady's High School, talks through each of his year 10 GCSE computing lessons. Each one of these recordings (there's about 30 of them so far) are well worth a listen as they contain lots of tips for interesting lessons. I also found them to be an honest reflection on ways to improve lessons. It's good to hear experienced teachers of computing reflecting on their practice as it helps overcome issues that you may have been faced with. The podcasts are perfect for the commute to work or Sunday afternoon planning.
This site offers a great set of videos explaining some key computing concepts. Where I've got the most use out of them is by using the videos to help students understand various computing concepts. Many, if not all of the videos come with great interactive exercises to supplement the videos. The interactive resources and the videos, aimed at GCSE students, would also work well when exam season comes around and students are starting the revision for them.
An excellent interactive site students can use to experiment with logic gates. To get the most out of the site, set students a series of problems to solve using logic gates. This practical approach will allow them to experiment with the various different logic gates. The colourful and intuitive interface design is an instant attention grabber for students, so I think it had the capacity to be used in both primary and secondary schools.
This is an excellent resource for learning how to convert to binary. It's a very addictive game which works well at key stage 3 and 4. I used it in a KS3 lesson and started by getting the students to play the game. Due to the intuitive nature of the game, the students straight away learnt how to convert binary numbers. This was backed up with some binary conversion exercises on paper before getting students to create a learning aid on how to convert binary numbers.
Stephen O'Callaghan, head of KS3 computing at Bristol Brunel Academy. You can find a more comprehensive list of resources on Stephen's blog mrocallaghanedu.wordpress.com. He also tweets as @mrocallaghanedu.