The following is a guest post written by John Pritchett, Head of Computer Science at Brookfield School, Chesterfield, and reflects on their recent coding workshop with #MIEExpert David Renton, during which the students experienced TouchDevelop and the BBC micro:bit.
You can now purchase the BBC micro:bit through the Microsoft store.
Recently a group of Year 10 Computer Science students and I attended the Game Britannia event at Sheffield Hallam University. My students and I attended a workshop run by David Renton demonstrating TouchDevelop and Spriter. We all thought this was an excellent activity, and I realised what a good tool it would be in school as we are always looking for new ways to enhance our computing curriculum.
I have just introduced Touch Develop to my KS3 classes as a fun and more engaging activity for the summer term. My Y7 classes had been using the BBC micro:bit and the Touch Develop tutorials were a great way to introduce Touch Develop and use later back on the BBC micro:bit. My initial lesson have been following the Jumping Birds Tutorial where the instant feedback and checking of code made for very rapid progress. Several students commented that it was the best lesson ever and on observing the class, every single one remained actively engaged for the entire lesson. Pointedly a Teaching Assistant remarked how a year 8 student with Special Needs, had for the first time engaged fully with an activity and felt that she had created something worthwhile and on a comparable level with the whole class.
All KS3 students have enjoyed tweaking and hacking the code to change gravity adjusted the sprites and changed backgrounds. Some are going on to look at the concept of lives and levels, exactly what I would want to get out of them. We are now exploring other tutorials and researching other games coding. My colleagues, students and I have genuinely had a very rewarding set of lessons.
I was unaware of TouchDevelop apart from its use on the BBC micro:bit, and would like to thank David Renton for sharing resources with me and introducing us to it during Game Britannia. It has been a great way to code and the style of the tutorials allow for rapid progression. The ability to see games they have made, on all devices, I believe has been an eye opener for students.
I would certainly recommend introducing Touch Develop in various guises to all years.