I was recently on a course looking at how you can bring programming into the ICT curriculum in a practical way. As part of the course we looked at some great hands on tools, as well as some fantastic web-based programming resources. A handful of these were the Mozilla based coding tools. It’s like someone delved into the mind of an ICT teacher and pulled out exactly what they needed! Can you tell I nerded out over these a little?!

x ray gogglesThe 1st is the X-Ray Goggles. To start with you need to install it as a bookmark on your web browser, the instructions are easy enough and on the webpage when you 1st load it up. Once installed you can visit ANY website and start to play with the coding behind it. Simply click on any element to start changing and altering both text, links, and images. This is a great intro to the world of HTML with pupils, and shows them the structures and scaffolding behind their favourite websites. The thing I like most about this tool is the fact that you can publish your changes as a URL, allowing you to send and share your work with others. Tip: Discuss the idea of copyright and keeping work appropriate when online. who knows what they could write left by themselves!

In a nutshell: It works great as a quick and easy way to see the coding behind a website, however it can be fairly limited, for example it doesn’t allow you to see the style sheet of the overall page. 


The second web tool developed by Mozilla is Thimble. Thimble is a web-based code editor designed to give complete novices a space to quick build, share and practice their skills. While there are other similar products out there Thimble is designed with the newcomer in mind. It really focuses on the teaching of basic HTML, rather than the more advanced side of things. For the more adventurous I would suggest something like Codecademy. Thimble runs as a side-by-side code editor and output, allowing you to instantly see your creations in real-time, providing you with instant feedback and tips if you do something slightly wrong.

As well as giving you the freedom to create and develop anything you like Thimble also offers a selection of ‘Remixes’. These are projects created by others and offered out for people to edit and play with. I tend to use these 1st with my pupils to give them some ideas and inspiration on what they build in HTML, before moving on to creating their own.

In a nutshell: Really simple and easy to use web editor, that offers some great instant feedback. However, for some security reasons it doesn’t support Java so be away before you get started. 

For those, like me, who are a little daunted by the world of programming and coding these tools can prove as a great starting point. Give them a go, and share what you think!

 The last time I updated about my quest to code I had started using codecademy. I had started learning the basics of HTML, before moving on to CSS. I found the HTML OK, a bit tricky but it all made sense to me. It was almost therapeutic putting all the tags in the right place, making sure the grammar was correct, and adding punctuation in the right places. It eased my OCD nature. Im really glad it was the 1st thing I chose to learn, I can see it giving me the basic understanding for other coding languages.

Then came CSS. This was a little harder but I got through it and found to enjoy it by the end. The best think was using codecademy to do it, I was getting instant feedback and I was able to view my code at every stage. Really easy to learn with. While the styling I was able to do was very basic, the fundamentals were there and I can see how I could put them into action with a website. Creating the little things like buttons and links is really satisfying, #NerdAlert.

This week I started learning Javascript. I feel like my brain is melting! At the moment I’m finding it hard to learn the grammar and language of it. I’m sure I’ll get their in the end though. Anyone else struggling with Java script? I want to understand this as I would love to start making simple games with the pupils when the new curriculum comes in. I have also been challenged by one of the pupils to come back after the summer with a working game for him, little nerd!

The overall aim for me though is to be able to develop my own website. As much as I like using primaryblogger I find some of quite restrictive and I would love to have the freedom to create my own space. I think I’m some way of that level yet, but its nice to have that goal. Can anyone recommend some coding software to use for macbook? When I’ve mastered javascript I want to start writing my own little projects. Is anyone else in the process of learning to code?

So a few months ago I decided to set myself the challenge of learning to code. I’m from an age where coding just wasn’t something we learnt, computers did it all for you, there was no need to! Will changes to the curriculum I thought now would be a good time for me to learn.

I started off with a friend showing me a few bits. I found it helpful, but I could see he was itching to get me onto some of the cooler things you can do with code, meaning I was missing out on some of the more basic elements. I could see this was not going to be the way for me to learn. So I took to twitter and Google to try and find a website or course that could help my cause. After looking at a few the one I found to be best for me was Codecademy. Simply create a profile, choose a lesson and get started.

Being an avid gamer the thing i like best is unlocking achievements within the website. I love earning the little badges (i’m such a child!). The instructions are really easy and simple, and offer a step by step guide to learning the language. The practice board is well laid out, giving you instant results on whether you’ve got it right or not. You also have easy access to help and tips with the task, so if you completely forget how to do it you can remind yourself without stress. I always challenge myself not to press it though! So far I have learnt the basics of HTML and HTML styling, and I’m working my way up to having a go at CSS. Give it a few more months and I’m sure I’ll have a crack at designing my own web space.

While it’s great fun, though sometimes infuriating, there is a point to all this. Changes to the curriculum mean that coding and programming will become essential for teaching ICT. An ICT teacher can no longer just step into the role and go. I see it as a similar role to a Music specialist. Yes the core of all lessons is teaching, but you need to have the subject knowledge to deliver it. I know I could handle pupils in a music lesson, but give me a guitar and you’d be covering your ears! Would I get the most from the pupils? I doubt it.

How many of you can code? Are you learning or practicing? Will you be starting the learn soon? Please get in touch!


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