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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre & UEA (University of East Anglia)'s online course, Teaching Computing. Join the course to learn more.

What happens in computing lessons?

Below are some of the elements of a computing lesson. You might not have all of the elements in every lesson, but look out for each of these elements in the lesson videos you will watch this week.

A PDF copy is available to download at the bottom of this page.

Students at computers

Teaching approaches


Where new concepts are introduced, Teachers should explain using carefully targeted vocabulary. This can be done verbally in the classroom and backed up by written explanations on presentations or worksheets.

Model and demonstrate

In order for pupils to know how to succeed, successful work needs to be modelled by teachers. This might mean showing how to debug a block of code in the introduction to a lesson or showing how to find the Creative Commons icon on a web based resource.

Teacher explaining and questioning whole class

Encourage independence

Especially in the computer science aspect of the new curriculum, problem solving is an important learning tool. To do this pupils need to quickly develop independence in a particular programme. This means that a step by step introduction is important in the whole school approach to planning to use a particular piece of software, so the basics are secured in the early stages. Pupils can then build on specific skills in a planned way in order that they develop independence that allows them to problem solve.

Facilitate pupil to pupil interaction

Alongside individual problem solving, pupils supporting one another in problem solving is important in computing. In some classrooms this happens in ad hoc ways in any case, but many schools are now putting into place structures to enable this to happen in planned ways. This might be, in primary schools, ‘learning partners’ which have been put together by teachers.

Students collaborating in front of computer

Summarise key learning outcomes

The curriculum is multifaceted, and during lessons unintended learning often takes place. It is important at transitions times in lessons, to summarise the key intended learning outcomes in order to refocus pupils. This is often done in both written and spoken forms for pupils this supports assessment, as pupils are clear themselves about success criteria for their own learning in lessons.

Exemplify concepts

Giving examples to back up abstract concepts is important in computing lessons. In the early stages, for most pupils this will be the first time that they will have come across computer code so it is important to give lots of examples. As their learning moves on, their understanding will develop but concrete examples are always important, which can be off screen tasks.

Student explaining to teacher what is happening on a computer

Your thoughts

Choose one or more ideas from above. Why do you think they will be effective in your classroom? Can you recall outstanding teaching that you have seen elsewhere? Why was it so effective? Please add your thoughts below.

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching Computing

National STEM Learning Centre