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ICT - Switched-off learning

What it's all about

The expectation is that to teach computing you must have a computer. But many computing concepts are best illustrated without a PC, writes Roger Davies.

Kinaesthetic activities can help to illuminate ideas, particularly in primary. A really useful resource is Computer Science Unplugged (, a collection of activities that teach computer science through games and puzzles that use cards, string, crayons and lots of running around.

The activities introduce pupils to underlying concepts - binary numbers, algorithms and data compression, separated from the technical details we usually see with computers.

The materials are suitable for people of all ages, but many of the original activities were written with the primary classroom in mind. Developed in New Zealand and used for more than 15 years, such is their popularity that they have been translated into eight different languages.

A book of 12 of the most popular activities can be freely downloaded from the website (csunplugged.orgbooks). It includes photocopiable master sheets for activities alongside clear instructions and short explanations, and it's jargon-free.

The book is supported by a YouTube channel where you can watch some of the activities being performed. If you are new to computing and want to get to grips with some of the concepts, the reworked Teachers Edition of the book is excellent. These activities can be used right through the school.

What else?

Thinking of introducing technology to the classroom? Try dave_orritt's article on iPads in schools. bit.lyiPadsInClass

For creative whole-school ICT plans, check out Alfred Cole McChora's comprehensive scheme of work. bit.lyictYear.

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