2 Contents Page 3 Introduction to junior cycle Page 4 Rationale Page 5 Aim Page 6 Links Page 8 Course overview Page 9 Expectations for students 10 Strand 1: Computer science introduction 11 Strand 2: Let s get connected 12 Strand 3: at the next level 13 Strand 4: Problem solving in the real world Page 14 Assessment and Certification Page Page 18 Appendix 1: Sample ongoing assessment activities 19 Appendix 2: Level Indicators for Level 3 of the National Framework of Qualifications
3 3 Introduction to junior cycle Junior cycle education places students at the centre of the educational experience, enabling them to actively participate in their communities and in society, and to be resourceful and confident learners in all aspects and stages of their lives. Junior cycle is inclusive of all students and contributes to equality of opportunity, participation and outcome for all. Junior cycle allows students to make a strong connection with learning by focusing on the quality of learning that takes place and by offering experiences that are engaging and enjoyable for them, and relevant to their lives. These experiences are of a high quality, contribute to the physical, mental and social wellbeing of learners, and where possible, provide opportunities for them to develop their abilities and talents in the areas of creativity and enterprise. The student s junior cycle programme builds on their learning in primary school. It supports their further progress in learning. It helps students to develop the learning skills that can assist them in meeting the challenges of life beyond school.
4 4 Rationale Computer Science is present in every aspect of modern society. Correctly functioning software systems allow airplanes to fly from one city to another, give out money at the ATM and diagnose the level of glucose in your blood. Fundamental understanding of how computer hardware and software operate and relate to everyday life is an increasingly important area of learning for students. Problem solving and computational thinking skills are developed in this course as students build and create software projects using their own ideas and imagination. The course looks to build on any coding skills that primary students might have experienced while offering insight into possible future studies in computer science and software engineering.
5 5 Aim The short course aims to develop the student s ability to formulate problems logically, to design, write and test code through the development of programs, apps, games, animations or websites, and through their chosen learning activities to learn about computer science.
6 6 Links Tables on the following pages show how coding may be linked to central features of learning and teaching at junior cycle. Statements of learning (SOL) Statement The student devises and evaluates strategies for investigating and solving problems using mathematical knowledge, reasoning and skills. SOL 17 The student describes, illustrates, interprets, predicts and explains patterns and relationships. SOL 16 The student uses appropriate technologies in meeting a design challenge SOL 20 The student brings an idea from conception to realisation. SOL 23 Examples of related learning in the course Problem solving and computational thinking are central to this course. Students use their mathematical knowledge, skills and understanding when figuring out, evaluating and implementing solutions to particular problems. Students interpret and describe patterns and relationships as they solve problems and create projects using algorithms and programming languages. Students, either individually or as part of a team, research and discuss the most appropriate technologies to use to solve problems and deliver solutions. Students engage in brainstorming and planning activities, move on to the design, development and test phases, culminating in the creation of a project solution to a particular problem. Literacy and numeracy Students develop literacy skills through discussion during class activities that include offering opinions, reflecting on their work, making oral presentations and writing reports. Students develop strategies for organising information so that they can understand it, incorporate it in their work and improve their capacity to search for information from different sources. Students develop and improve their numeracy skills by actively engaging in problem-solving activities and exploring mathematical and computational ideas. As students create programs, they learn core computational concepts such as iteration and conditionals and mathematical concepts such as variables and random numbers. They learn how to think algorithmically and logically, how to abstract ideas and how to describe patterns and relationships during tasks and projects.
7 7 Other key skills Key skill Key skill element Student learning activity Being Creative Communicating Implementing ideas and taking action Discussing and debating Students brainstorm and generate ideas for design and implementation of solutions and projects. Students discuss ideas, evaluate the pros and cons of different approaches, and propose possible solutions. They report on projects and provide feedback to others. Managing information and thinking Thinking creatively and critically Students explore new and different ways of answering questions and solving problems. They use a variety of tools to access, manage and share information such as flow-charts, design documents, code documentation and bug lists. Managing myself Setting and achieving personal goals Students take responsibility for personal learning by setting goals and seeking help when necessary from classmates, the teacher or other appropriate sources, and by reflecting on the feedback they receive. Staying well Being safe Students become aware of the wellness, health and safety issues associated with working with computers, and of practical ergonomic issues regarding the use of computers. Students are responsible, safe and ethical in using digital technology. Working with others Co-operating Students develop good working relationships with others and appreciate the value of respect and cooperation in reaching both collective and personal goals. They learn to appreciate diverse talents and how to engage in collaborative work.
8 8 Course overview Strand 1: Strand 2: Strand 3: Strand 4: Computer science introduction Let s get connected at the next level Problem solving in the real world Teamwork is encouraged throughout all four strands. Students should collaborate, peer-explain, seek feedback, provide feedback and reflect on their work. Practical, hands-on and problemsolving learning activities should be in evidence across all strands of the course. Theoretical concepts can be reinforced through practical work and projects. Free and open-source software should be used where practical, both to make software tools as widely available to students as possible and so that students have the opportunity to examine the source code of the tools they use. In the context of their health and wellbeing, student safety in the use of computers is emphasised in the Statements of Learning and should be a feature of the experience of students taking the course. There is a further NCCA short course available on Digital Media Literacy which addresses internet safety concerns and responsible use in more detail. Students should also be made aware of the Acceptable Use Policy of their own school. The learning outcomes in this short course are aligned with the Level Indicators for Level 3 of the National Framework of Qualifications (Appendix 2). The course has been designed for approximately 100 hours of student engagement.
9 9 Expectations for students With the publication of short course specifications online, examples of student work will be used to illustrate the expectations for students in the short course. These annotated examples will be related directly to a learning outcome or groups of learning outcomes. In the case of short courses in new areas of learning, such as, some indicative examples of student work will be generated to guide teachers and students during the introductory years of the course.
10 10 Strand 1: Computer science introduction Learning outcomes Students learn about My digital world: The importance of computers in modern society and my life Students should be able to 1.1. present and share examples of what computers are used for and discuss their importance in modern society and in their lives 1.2. describe the main components of a computer system (CPU, memory, main storage, I/O devices, buses) 1.3. explain how computers are devices for executing programs via the use of programming languages Being a coder - step by step: How to start programming and develop basic algorithms 1.4. develop appropriate algorithms using pseudo-code and/or flow charts 1.5. write code to implement algorithms 1.6. discuss and implement core features of structured programming languages, such as variables, operators, loops, decisions, assignment and modules 1.7. test the code 1.8. evaluate the results in groups of two or three
11 11 Strand 2: Let s get connected Learning outcomes Students learn about Making connections: Computers are communication devices Students should be able to 2.1. discuss the basic concepts underlying the internet 2.2. describe how data is transported on the internet and how computers communicate and co-operate through protocols 2.3. explain how search engines deliver results 2.4. build a website using HTML and CSS to showcase their learning Bits and bytes: How computers store data 2.5. explain how computers represent data using 1 s and 0 s 2.6. investigate how drawings and photos are represented in computing devices
12 12 Strand 3: at the next level Learning outcomes Students learn about More advanced concepts in programming and computational thinking Students should be able to 3.1. creatively design and write code for short programming tasks to demonstrate the use of operators for assignment, arithmetic, comparison, and Boolean combinations 3.2. complete short programming tasks using basic linear data structures (e.g. array or list) 3.3. demonstrate how functions and/or procedures (definition and call) capture abstractions 3.4. describe program flow control e.g. parallel or sequential flow of control language dependent Documentation and code analysis 3.5. document programs to explain how they work 3.6. present the documented code to each other in small groups 3.7. analyse code to determine its function and identify errors or potential errors
13 Strand 4: Problem 13 solving in the real world Learning outcomes Students learn about Putting the pieces together: Build a final software project that incorporates concepts learnt in the previous strands Students should be able to 4.1. work in teams of two or three and decide on an idea or concept on which to build a final software project 4.2. brainstorm ideas in the requirements-gathering phase 4.3. discuss aspects of user-interaction design for the project 4.4. design, implement and test a solution 4.5. document team contributions and document the code 4.6. present to peers for feedback 4.7. assess the feedback Real world problems: Computer Science inspiring me 4.8. identify a topic or a challenge in computer science that inspires them 4.9. conduct research on the topic/challenge present a proposal for discussion and feedback convince their peers that an idea is worthwhile
14 14 Assessment and Certification This short course supports a wide variety of approaches to assessment. Some learning outcomes lend themselves to once-off assessment, others to assessment on an ongoing basis as students engage in different learning activities such as discussing, explaining, figuring out, researching, making decisions about or reflecting on different aspects of programming. In these contexts, students with their teachers and peers reflect upon and make judgements about their own and others learning by looking at the quality of particular pieces of work. They plan the next steps in their learning, based on feedback they give and receive. Ongoing assessment can support the student in their learning journey and in preparing for the assessment related to the certification of the short course. Ongoing assessment Ongoing assessment supports the student on their learning journey and also prepares them for the assessment related to certification of the short course. Students should have opportunities to demonstrate their learning at the end of each strand through assessment based on the learning outcomes in the strand. Ongoing assessment requires students to provide evidence of the knowledge, understanding and skills that they have gained in the different strands. Sample assessment activities based on the learning outcomes can be seen in Appendix 1. The sample assessment activities draw on learning outcomes from across the course as well as literacy, numeracy and other key skills. These learning outcomes are particularly significant: Strand 1 Strand 2 Strand 3 1.1, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, , 2.3, 2.4, , 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7 The sample assessment activities do not represent a definitive list. Ideally, the assessment tasks are agreed in consultation with students to ensure that they will be seen as being meaningful and relevant to them. The tasks are designed to assist in gathering evidence of students learning in relation to selected learning outcomes in the strands. Students are encouraged to choose the most suitable format (or formats) in which to complete the assessment tasks that may be completed individually or as part of a group.
15 15 Assessment for Certification Assessment for certification will be school-based. There are two assessment tasks involved in the Final Project in Strand 4, which is the culmination of work undertaken in the previous three strands. The Final Project should begin after the work in the previous three strands has been completed. Work from first year is not included as part of assessment for certification. The tasks are as follows: Final Project (Strand 4) Task 1: Real world problems Task 2: Putting the pieces together Final Project In the final strand of the course, students complete a significant piece of work in the form of a Final Project. The project is in two parts. In the first part, each individual student identifies and researches a topic/challenge in computer science. The research may be used to inform the work of students in part two of the project. In the second part, students will work in a team, deepening their understanding through interaction and discussion, and enhancing their critical thinking skills through collaborative work. While they will be expected to work on their own on agreed separate areas of the project, they will need to maintain the cohesion required as a team in order to complete the work. While they will be involved in a team, the student s individual role and contribution to the project will be the focus of assessment for certification. The nature of the final project in Strand 4 is set out below. Strand 4: Problem solving in the real world Task 1: Real world problems Students will identify and research a topic or challenge in computer science that interests them. They will present a proposal for discussion or their findings in either digital presentation format or a poster format. Task 2: Putting the pieces together Students will develop a final software project of their choice in teams of 2 or 3. They will research and establish requirements, design, implement and test the software. They will document their work and their code and present the project to their peers for review. They will reflect on feedback and also provide feedback on other students projects. Features of quality Features of quality related to student work on the Final Project are set out below. In general terms, these can be used by students and by teachers to support their discussions about and judgements of work generated in response to the assessment task. More specifically, the features of quality are the criteria used by teachers to assess, mark and discuss the student s work on the assessment tasks.
16 16 Final Project Task 1: Real world problems Distinction There is clear evidence of comprehensive research on the chosen topic. The presentation is excellent and effectively delivered. Higher Merit There is evidence of very good research on the chosen topic. The presentation is very good and very well delivered. Merit There is evidence of good research on the chosen topic. The presentation is good and well delivered. Achieved There is evidence of acceptable research on the chosen topic. The presentation is good and adequately delivered. Partially Achieved There is evidence of some research on the chosen topic. The presentation is basic and ineffectually delivered. Task 2: Putting the pieces together Distinction There is evidence of a fully committed consultation process with other members of the group in bringing the final software project through from conception to realisation. There is very comprehensive documentation of the learning process that displays a very clear and logical structure. The project provides excellent examples and proof of a very comprehensive understanding of the concepts in strands 1, 2, and 3. There is excellent evidence of a convincing argument put forward on the benefits of pursuing this topic/challenge further. Students demonstrate they have listened to feedback by showing they have assessed it completely in relation to their work. Higher Merit There is evidence of a committed consultation process with other members of the group in bringing the final software project through from conception to realisation. The learning process is well documented with a very clear and logical structure displayed. The project provides very good examples and proof of a comprehensive understanding of the concepts in strands 1, 2, and 3.
17 17 Merit There is very good evidence of a convincing argument put forward on the benefits of pursuing this topic/challenge further. Students have demonstrated they have listened to feedback by showing they have effectively assessed it in relation to their work. There is evidence of a good consultation process with other members of the group in bringing the final software project through from conception to realisation. There is good documentation of the learning process, displaying a clear and logical structure. The project provides good examples and proof of a good understanding of the concepts in strands 1, 2, and 3. There is good evidence of a convincing argument put forward on the benefits of pursuing this topic/challenge further. Students have demonstrated they have listened to feedback by showing they have largely assessed it in relation to their work. Achieved There is some evidence of a consultation process with other members of the group in bringing the final software project through from conception to realisation. There is some documentation of the learning process, but it displays a somewhat unclear and limited logical structure. The project provides some examples and proof of an understanding of the concepts in strands 1, 2, and 3. There is some evidence of an argument put forward to convince others of the benefits of pursuing this topic/challenge further. Students have demonstrated they have listened to feedback by showing they have assessed it in a limited way in relation to their work. Partially achieved There is basic evidence of a consultation process with other members of the group in bringing the final software project through from conception to realisation. There is basic documentation of the learning process, which displays an unclear and limited logical structure. The project provides limited examples and proof of an understanding of the concepts in strands 1, 2, and 3. There is a basic level of evidence in the argument put forward to convince others of the benefits of pursuing this topic/challenge further Students demonstrate they have listened to feedback by showing they have partially assessed it in relation to their work.
18 18 Appendix 1: Sample ongoing assessment activities The ongoing assessment activities can include reports/documentation, presentations, self and peerassessment reports, audio or video recordings and interviews. The work involved may be a mix of short, focused assignments to give students initial experience of using various programming constructs and longer, more open-ended assignments to consolidate multiple concepts and foster creative problem solving. Students can have different opportunities to demonstrate their learning in each strand through assessments based on one or more learning outcomes in the strand and these assessments can be agreed in consultation with the students. Strand 1 In Strand 1, students will implement a series of short programming tasks. They will involve writing original code, implementing algorithms, testing the code, and developing appropriate algorithms using pseudo-code and/or flow charts. Some of the tasks must be completed in teams. Strand 2 Students will demonstrate their understanding of how the internet works and describe what happens when a user requests a web page in a browser. They will create a basic website to demonstrate their understanding of HTML, CSS and hyperlinks and to showcase their learning. Strand 3 In Strand 3, students will implement a series of short programming tasks on advanced topics. Some tasks must be completed in teams.
19 19 Appendix 2: Level Indicators for Level 3 of the National Framework of Qualifications This short course has been developed in alignment with the Level Indicators for Level 3 of the National Framework of Qualifications. Usually, for Level 3 certification and awards, the knowledge, skill and competence acquired are relevant to personal development, participation in society and community, employment, and access to additional education and training. NFQ Level 3 Knowledge Breadth Knowledge Kind Know-how and skill Range Know-how and skill Selectivity Competence Context Competence Role Competence Learning to Learn Competence Insight Knowledge moderately broad in range Mainly concrete in reference and with some comprehension of relationship between knowledge elements Demonstrate a limited range of practical and cognitive skills and tools Select from a limited range of varied procedures and apply known solutions to a limited range of predictable problems Act within a limited range of contexts Act under direction with limited autonomy; function within familiar, homogeneous groups Learn to learn within a managed environment. Assume limited responsibility for consistency of selfunderstanding and behaviour.
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