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Switched On - The CAS Newsletter

Each term CAS publish "Switched On" a magazine style newsletter for all teachers of Computing, primary and secondary. All articles are contributed by CAS members and edited by our wonderful editor Roger Davies. Here are all the Switched On issues, past and present. They chart a remarkable journey for schools in England from 2009 to present day. Click on the covers to download and share!

Simon Humphreys

Created by Simon Humphreys
last edited Sep 10 2016 by Simon Humphreys



Computing For All (Autumn 2016)

Too many people still see Computing as a niche subject for the technically minded. CAS takes a different view. Computational Thinking has generic educational value for developing ways of thinking and learning in all children. The benefits are applicable to many areas, not just our own discipline — one reason CAS lobbied for a curriculum entitlement across all key stages. This issue focuses on inclusion; on making Computing accessible to every child, not just a select few.

A Global Movement (Summer 2016)

It’s not often teachers have a chance to affect what happens on a world scale, but that is one of the outcomes of our remarkable curriculum journey. This issue takes a look at developments across the globe. A worldwide movement to establish Computing in schools is emerging. CAS members, particularly those in the classroom, are playing a key part in shaping its development.

Improving Performance (Spring 2016)

Forged in the crucible of Maths, Computer Science can help make concrete the thinking skills required for success. A special feature explores ways in which Computing can make Maths real and help improve performance. It makes a case for the role our subject can play in developing a fertile soil for sustained educational growth. Do please share it with headteachers.

Other major features on the EYFS and state diagrams plus the usual raft of news, contributions, ideas and tips from CAS members.


Learning Together (Autumn 2015)

One year on and it is clear that Computing teachers are rising to the challenge of the new curriculum and a vibrant grassroots community of practice is emerging. This issue reports on developments to support the wonderful work of CAS members.

Plus a look at the contribution made by Ada Lovelace to our history with the bicentenary of her birth coming later in the term, a host of teaching ideas and some really informative contributions illustrating the pedagogy emerging from reflective practice.

Let's Get Physical (Summer 2015)

With the prospect of all Year 7 pupils receiving a BBC MicroBit in September, this issue takes a timely look at physical computing. Lots of ideas from teachers about different devices and their use in both primary and secondary classrooms.

A look too at a new volume of magic tricks from cs4fn to help introduce Computational concepts and much, much more.

Children, Computing and Powerful Ideas (Spring 2015)

We continue our exploration of pedagogy in this term’s issue with a special focus on the ideas of Seymour Papert, father of Logo and remarkable educational visionary.

Packed full of articles written by teachers in both primary and secondary sectors, plus a roundup of news about the many initiatives now promoting the development of Computing in schools. Lots of practical resources to use in the classroom and help enhance your understanding of the new curriculum.


Computing, Programming and Pedagogy (Autumn 2014)

As more teachers embrace Computing, we will all have ideas to share. No-one has a blueprint for what works best. CAS brings fellow professionals together in the Network of Excellence, to share ideas and develop that subject
specific pedagogy. Good teaching is, above all, a collegiate activity. This issue illustrates various ways that CAS can help Computing teachers, from planning tools to CPD, and from communities of practice to accreditation for your efforts. But above all, they carry the insights of colleagues starting to ‘walk the walk’.

Countdown to Computing (Summer 2014)

This issue takes a good hard look at the run up to the introduction of the new Computing curriculum in September 2014 and contains several articles aimed at advising teachers as they begin to plan their curriculum.  CAS CPD coordinator, Mark Dorling, kicks off by offering a framework around which teachers can start to plan.

Colleagues from around the UK, particularly primary teachers, share their advice and approaches to curriculum planning and rewarding achievement. The middle pages provide a suggestion for progression pathways which you can "cut out and keep".

Learning to think (Spring 2014)

This term's issue has a focus on Computational Thought, and why there is more to Computing than just programming. There is, hopefully, something of interest to all CAS members and the wider teaching community. Resources and ideas shared by teachers, both primary and secondary. There is also a section on the Network of Excellence for those new to CAS who aren't familiar with current developments.


The Primary Challenge (Autumn 2013)

The first half of this issue is focused on encouraging developments in primary schools. It teems with stories of teachers and pupils trying things and reflecting on what works.

There is no doubt that many of the new visual programming resources provide hugely motivating environments for pupils. Reading the stories and seeing what is already happening makes you wonder just what is possible!

There is no them, only us! (Summer 2013)

These are exciting times for CAS. In January, Michael Gove announced that Computer Science would count towards the English Baccalaureate, placing the subject as "the fourth science" In February, the new draft Programme of Study re-titled the subject as "Computing", and explicitly establishes Computer Science as a deep subject every child should have the opportunity to learn from Key Stage 1 onwards, alongside the creative use and application of information technology. These are goals for which we scarcely dared hope four years ago.

Mind the gap (Spring 2013)

How teachers portray our emergent subject to pupils is crucial. Computing and IT has often been viewed as a boys' thing. Negative stereotyping, project contexts, the hidden curriculum of the classroom, past contributions from women going unrecognised and peer pressure amongst girls themselves have left a gender imbalance. A new beginning carries opportunities to portray the subject in a fresh light.  Inside this issue we've a special focus on 'minding the gap'. You'll find reports on initiatives, pointers to resources and insights into things that can work in the classroom.


How do we teach our kids to code? (Autumn 2012)

The new curriculum is about empowering a generation with an appreciation of how their digital world works. It's not about doing a bit of Java, or any other language, but developing the ability to think in a computational ways. These are exciting times but for many teachers, much will be new. CAS exists to support you on this journey. We all agree we need to teach our kids to code. The debate about how best to do so is only just getting going. The more you try, the more you'll find you can contribute and share.

Getting to Grips with Computing (Summer 2012)

Mr Gove's speech was critical of ICT, and announced a consultation on "disapplying" the National Curriculum in ICT. For ICT teachers, it is easy to become disheartened, or to 'shut down'. The Royal Society report, Shut Down or Restart, published in January 2012 took a different view. It recommended restarting; recognising the discipline as Computing, within which clearly defined strands could guide students towards future progression.  We are, in short, re-inventing our subject.


Celebrating the genius of Alan Turing (Spring 2012)

Alan Turing was a genius ahead of his time, yet few pupils are aware of his place in history. Computing has been hidden from the curriculum for far too long. You'll find pointers to Turing's ideas inside this newsletter and more in the online supplement. The centenary is a marvellous opportunity for teachers to resurrect some key computing concepts; concepts developed by Turing before an electronic computer had even been built.


Computing in the curriculum - the word is out (Autumn 2011)

Eric Schmidt of Google's address to the MacTaggart elcture in August finally brought into the public view many of the points CAS members have been making of late.   He was 'flabbergasted to learn that today computer science isn't even taught as standard in UK schools' and made the point that to teach the use of software rather than insight into how ot was made was throwing away our great computing heritage.  Behind the media article, the word is out.

Computing teachers spoilt for choice? (Summer 2011)

CAS local hubs are growing rapidly. As word spreads about their success, more and more people are volunteering to host meetings. They provide an excellent forum to swap teaching tips and keep abreast of developments as ever increasing numbers of teachers dip their toes into teaching computing. But there's also a recurring theme that keeps being raised; what software is best to introduce young children to programming? For time pressed teachers, the array of possibilities can seem daunting.

Mobile app development goes visual (Spring 2011)

There can be few contexts as motivational for pupils as developing applications for their mobile phones.  Until now, though, developing mobile applications has been the preserve of small numbers of older students.  All that is set to change with a new development from Google.  Google App Inventor is a web based application that has the poptential to allow anyone to create software for Android devices.   We cover this and a whole lot more!ile app development goes visual (Spring 2011)



Computing, A new year, new opportunities (Autumn 2010)

The new academic year sees a GCSE Computing qualification back on the curriculum for the first time in twenty years. The OCR pilot GCSE has been enthusiastically taken up by nearly a hundred schools. Many more have introduced computing projects into key stage 3 ICT lessons, spurred on by the free availability of some excellent products to introduce pupils to the fundamentals of programming. The 2nd annual CAS Teacher Conference in July showcased some. The message was almost universal. Wherever innovative teachers have introduced computing projects their pupils, frustrated at the repetitive nature of much that passes for ICT, have loved them.

Abracadabra! The magic of computer science (Summer 2010)

A little bit of magic came to Graveney School when Paul Curzon and Jonathan Black from Queen Mary College were performed their "Magic of Computer Science" show. Students were enthralled as Paul and Jonathan amazed and entertained in equal measure, performing a medley of magical marvels, ranging from card tricks to a surreal 'out of body' experience. But this wasn't simple sorcery. It's purpose was not mere entertainment, but real education. Each act was designed to illuminate key concepts in computing. Behind great magic there often lies some interesting maths or computer science, buried in the secret of how the trick works.bracadra! The magic of computer science (Summer 2010)



Computing - the next generation (Autumn 2009)

It was a unique event - probably the first of its kind for many years. Computing At School held their inaugural conference for teachers on 19th June at Birmingham University. Focused squarely on the classroom it sought to provide resources and ideas for those looking to engage their students in fun and exciting ways. Over 120 people participated in a day of lively presentations, workshops and smaller discussion groups. If nothing else, we hope that the conference demonstrated to those present that they are not alone and that many excellent resources exist to help them inspire their learners to engage with Computing. We had, in the words of one attendee, 'an absolute blast'!

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