As many people know my real passion is the teaching of the IT strand of the Computing Curriculum. It is my belief that this is under-taught and in my opinion the most valuable to our learners. For me IT is the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of Computing, Ok your class might know how to use a green screen app but do they how does a green screen actually works? Do they understand how an email is sent or do they ask that question of where is the internet? This is all covered in the IT strand and for me if you afford 5-10 minutes at the end of a lesson to explain what the class have been doing during the computing lesson it can make all the difference; surely understanding of a piece of hardware/software should happen when they are accessing it?
In this post I will be looking at the term Algorithm, which is a set of rules or instructions, and how this can be broken down for the class into a fun activity that they can then enjoy and can help them to understand what an algorithm is. This activity is aimed at Key Stage 2 but it would work lower down.
I have been interested in using Music in Computing for a while now after I saw a couple of brilliant talks, one from Steve Bunce on creating flow diagrams of song lyrics and Lee Parkinson who has done some really exciting things combining Music and English, Music and Computing and who regularly shares these on his blog (here). I found inspiration from a really funny video by a YouTuber called Brett Domino, in the video he talks about the trends he has spotted in modern pop music. I would say as enjoyable as it might be for most adults the video is unsuitable for children, especially at primary level so I have made the points that Brett Domino makes during his video.
If you would like to see the original video by Brett Domino, it is available here.
After sharing this slide with the children we discussed the songs that we like and the artists that we tend to like and why. Some of the songs over 114 beats per minute that we liked were Strangers by Sigrid or our favourite artists such as Avicii and David Guetta. We talked about songs with catchy three note hooks that repeat throughout such as ‘Beat It’ by Michael Jackson and songs that have more chorus. The children enjoyed this and before long they were spotting trends such as artists that do well in the charts that tend to be our favourites and artists that are very successful such as Ed Sheeran who are very successful at combining all of the above.
Following the discussion the class loaded up Garageband, the aim was to create a catchy song that was over 114 beats per minute that I could present to the BBC for a Teachmeet based around Wellbeing and Movement.
I have got to admit when I first set the task I was expecting a tune that was more Avicii than the result, which is brilliant but a bit more Skrillex. I wasn’t really expected as much of a hardcore sound but I think it’s great, it’s catchy, less than 3 and 1/2 minutes, it has a three note hook that repeats, it’s more than 114 beats per minute and it’s definitely a bit dancey- so well done!
I am planning to do more on this and create a song with Year 6 all about moving onto High School. The aim of this activity is for the children to understand what an algorithm is and this helps to make it more enjoyable and memorable. My current mantra with IT is ‘don’t just get your class unplugged, get them wired’, get your class interested in these processes by giving them a real purpose.
If you do this with your class please get in touch!