Guest post from Ray Chambers, Uppingham Community College.

So recently I had the pleasure of going to BETT, yes it seems like it was a while ago now….

I was invited to present the work that my students had been doing around App development. Our students at Uppingham Community College had been coming together at Lunch times to build apps to help lessons. My students had come up with ideas which benefit lessons and they produce the apps to help the learning.

groupic While at the BETT show I had the pleasure of meeting some great teachers. It was great to meet Claire Lotriet @OhLottie. Claire had helped develop the switched on computing curriculum for primary schools and had been doing a lot of work with Kodu and explained to teachers how simple coding can be. Many teachers didn’t know that there were still creative items in the new curriculum and it was really settling for them to hear from someone in the same boat. She explained how simple it could be to break down an algorithm into something as simple as baking bread. She also shared a whole host of resources. If you’re interested in finding out more about switched on computing then you can visit this link.

Another particularly interesting presentation was from Jon Tait. He explained the mystery you can add into your classroom with the tool Skype. For example, It’s as simple as finding a classroom, arranging a time and sharing your story. It was so inspiring that I decided to try this just last week and achieved some good results. Many of my students loved the surprise of not knowing who was going to be on the other side of the camera. They were all very keen to share what they had learnt in the lesson.

Since BETT I have worked more with my students and some of them have come up with more ideas and some of these apps are going to be published in the Windows Store very soon. They have almost finished a computer science app for labelling computer parts and they have also created a mystery app for investigating a history subject.

frontpage Although my students are now independent with the usage of TouchDevelop.com, I still like to keep my own brain ticking over and using an idea from a fellow teacher Dave Anderson, I decided to make a homework app for teachers to use. Teachers don’t always have time to set creative homework’s and sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate tasks. The idea is simple, it’s a takeaway menu…. but the spicier the homework, the more difficult it is. Your students or teachers can download the app and pick a homework based on the subject they have just learnt. It doesn’t end there, if you want to add your own homework onto the specials menu, you can do this. Later on, you can press the generate button and this allows you randomise the task your going to do or set. You can download this from the windows store here.

captureofaqa Another app that I have recently developed is for the Computer Science Curriculum. The AQA computer science G.C.S.E maps into the Microsoft Technology Associate exams. This gives your students the opportunity to learn the content of the G.C.S.E and sit extra qualifications. It was because of this that I created a free mapping tool. You download this tool and it tells you what exams are available to take based on the course content. This is the first edition and on top of the mapping, the tool will allow you to have access to programming and computing science resources in the future. You can download this from the store here. There are likely to be video tutorials to be added to this in the future as soon as all of the videos become available and it will be a worth while tool to have even if you’re not going to do the MTA exams. It will be a growing resources library.

Both of these apps were developed using the tool TouchDevelop. They both run on the Windows 8 Devices. You can access TouchDevelop by going to the following address: http://www.touchdevelop.com I will be doing something very soon with the hour of code and TouchDevelop, so watch this space… I started using TouchDevelop about a year ago, after being invited to a teachers Appathon. Since using it I have been addicted to it. I use it with my KS3 and KS4 students and it seems to be a lot more engaging with the students. They learn a text based language or they can cater it to simple clicks. It’s as difficult as you want to make it which makes it a great tool for differentiation. There are other languages out there but I think my students love the idea of going home and continuing their apps on the computer. They will log on and access all the files and images through the cloud and continue the development. Isn’t it brilliant when students are inspired to continue learning without us!

If you’re interested in finding out more about Touch Develop, you can access content here…… watch this space for some TouchDevelop Hour Of Code materials coming your way….. :

KS2 Curriculum – I’ve developed a simple introduction for primary schools using the turtle.

KS3 Curriculum – This is slightly more advanced and there are optional lessons on algorithms to fit in with the national curriculum.

Touch Develop – Video tutorials developed to help aid the curriculums

Touch Develop Hour Of Code – Official Tutorials from the TouchDevelop team.

Touch Develop Challenge – A series of lessons developed by Simon Johnson to get students building games and apps.

Games4learning – Created by David Renton (Extended Lecturer in Games Development: Reid Kerr College, Scotland) A series of YouTube tutorials which introduce students to game design using Touchdevelop.