Why are we teaching a knowledge-rich curriculum; how is it different?
In a Computer Science knowledge-rich curriculum we want pupils to be able to understand how the components inside a computer function, interact with one another and how they can be controlled through programming.
Computer Science is a subject rich with technical language and can only be understood when pupils have a firm understanding of keywords and their meaning. Keywords are explained using principles pupils are familiar with and related to technology they have experience of.
Why are we teaching this content?
The content taught is fundamental to understanding how technology works. We have mapped out the specific knowledge and skills which build on concepts learned from previous years, for example, Year 7 pupils learn how to decompose problems and design algorithms before applying this to a designing programs in Year 8. We have chosen to build knowledge of key concepts in Computer Science e.g e-safety, hardware and programming. With hardware Year 7 learn about how information is stored and processed. In Year 8 pupils build on this by understanding how the electronic devices are constructed using logic gates and circuits and Year 9 pupils learn about how these devices are connected together to create networks society uses on a daily basis.
Why are we teaching it in this order?
We have chosen to sequence the curriculum chronologically within each year, by starting with the concrete concepts and moving to the move abstract concepts. The content covered in KS3 provides pupils with a good base of knowledge to proceed on to studying Computer Science at GCSE. We know that for pupils to be successful at designing a program, they need to learn the skills of decomposition and abstraction, then design algorithms before building their code.
What do pupils need to remember and be able to do in this subject?
Pupils need to remember which devices connected to or built within a computer are used for input and output and how this is determined. They need to be able to remember how information is stored, accessed and processed within a computer system. Pupils are then expected to apply this knowledge to describe how the performance of one computer system may differ from another, using appropriate technical language. Pupils also need to take a problem and break that problem down into small, specific steps called an algorithm.
What methods do we use to help pupils secure this knowledge in long-term memory?
Methods from direct instruction are an effective way to teach the theoretical basis of Computer Science. This is carefully coupled with class discussion, led by the teacher, which relates that instruction to pupils’ prior understanding while using that opportunity to address misconceptions. Choral response is a valuable method of recalling some types of information such as the many acronyms used in the subject e.g. R.A.M. = Random Access Memory. pupils are frequently quizzed on prior knowledge though low stakes quizzing at the beginning of the lesson and mini-whiteboards throughout. As the pupils’ understanding develops new learning will consistently be related to previous lessons and pupils called upon for that knowledge through cold calling and pose-pause-pounce questioning