Surprise Stories brings together the programmes of study for English and Computing in a way that is sure to leave the class giggling. The workshop inspires and encourages creativity and brings together creative writing along with key programming concepts.
Pupils begin the day by watching a video and participating in discussions to write a brief outline of a very short story. They are then introduced to the concepts of algorithms and sequencing instructions through the use of magic tricks and a range of other unplugged activities. After experimenting with simple inputs in the Python interface pupils use what they have learnt to convert their story draft first into pseudo code and then into actual code within Python.
Pupils explore grammatical structure and edit their program to include variables, replacing key nouns and verbs with well-placed variables to change their story at runtime. Iteration and selection statements are introduced to enhance the user experience of their program. Towards the end of the day pupils are introduced to simple list data structures and the use of the imported random function to help randomly generate a story at run time.
There is room here for key discussion about whether the story ‘makes sense’ even though it is grammatically correct and the opportunity to tie this work in closely with the work pupils are doing back in their own classrooms for English. A simple change of scenario and the pupils could easily draft a story that ties in with the class topic back at school or what they are learning in History for a truly cross-curricular experience.
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