Teaching Control Technologies to younger children

These resources are designed to be used by teacher trainers or for teacher CPD courses. We have tried and tested all of the Taccle workshops with teachers across Europe as part of the Taccle projects.

Here we share our aims, objectives, and resources. You are free to use and repurpose the materials under the cc license at the bottom of the site.


Robotics / control technology for younger children

At the end of the session, teachers will be able to:


Use cubelets to solve simple programming problems

Programme a Beebot and demonstrate some examples of how the can use it in the classroom

List the advantages and disadvantages of each, their value for money and their applicability to the age range.


Control Technologies for Younger Children




Literature Review

The attached document is work in progress on a literature review for the Taccle 4 project. It is focused on  the way that in-service teachers are being helped to gain skills in changing technologies and new pedagogies.

However it notes that there are a series of constraints and issues in this field. Firstly, CPD in this area has grown much faster than the research. Blog posts, on-line forums, conferences and other forms of communication suggest that far more is happening than is recorded in published research.

Secondly, Daly, Pachler and Pelletier (2009) argue that “the literature provides evidence that many effective approaches to ICT CPD are in place, but they remain localised” #CPD is fragmented – unlike initial training, it is not a homogenous model and interesting small scale developments may not be widely disseminated. What ICT CPD lacks in coherence, it makes up for in innovation but this is difficult to capture. As Daly, Pachler and Pelletier (2009) note, it is “a very varied provision which has grown ahead of a comparable rate of research into its effects.”

Thirdly there are issues around definitions. We have already raised the problem of defining e-learning but defining ‘CPD’ is also problematic – in terms of exactly what can be labelled as ‘CPD’ and also in terms of scale. As Becta (2006) points out:

“However, it is worth noting that the lack of a commonly agreed and well understood set of definitions of e-learning competences, taken together with the uncertainty about what constitutes good practice and effective pedagogy for e-learning, may have led many respondents to overstate the e-learning skills levels of staff.”

Fourthly, the data sources of some of the published research should be taken into account. For example, the statement  “Some 80 per cent of colleges offered staff development programmes to support staff who wished to develop or adapt e-learning materials.” (Becta, 2006) is based on the replies to a postal questionnaire sent to college principals.

Finally, in looking at research into effective practices in ICT CPD in order to draw out what appear to be critical success factors, it is hard to isolate “… CPD issues which are specific to ICT CPD [as opposed to those] which are linked to wider approaches to the effective professional development of teachers.” (Daly, Pachler and Pelletier, 2009).

lit reveiw work in progress notes

About IO2: Digital Technology in the Classroom – A handbook for teacher trainers

The hand book will contain descriptions and comparisons of different modes and delivery models for Continuing Professional Development designed to promote the adoption and use of digital technologies in the classroom. It will also look at how teachers competences can be developed so that they are in a position to help primary teachers deliver the new curriculum requirements with respect to ICT. It will contain case studies, examples of good practice, specimen programmes etc together with practical suggestions and tips.

There is a considerable body of work around training trainers and teachers, and a smaller but significant number of publications on training teachers to use technology for learning. However, almost all of them are academic papers or research reports. We will take that research together with the experiences of expert trainers in the field and translate it into a practical handbook for professionals who have to design, organise and deliver CPD opportunities and other training events for teachers.

We will also test the handbook in the Vocational Education and Training and Adult education sectors.

Twilight sessions

Methods of Training – Twilight sessions

Jen Hughes


These are a well-established mechanisms of staff development across subject and policy areas. In a 6 month ‘test’ period we have undertaken twilight sessions in 8 different primary schools with 5 of those schools asking for a follow up session.


Typically, the session will start at about 3.45 – 4.00pm and finish between 5.30 and 6.00 averaging 2 hours with a 15 minute coffee break. The session may be voluntary, open to any teacher or teaching assistant that wants to attend or part of a mandatory programme of staff meetings and events.


It is difficult to generalise the format because in each case the ‘brief’ from the head teacher or head of IT will be slightly different. However, all our twilight sessions have a certain pattern.


Firstly, twilight sessions are often a harassed head teacher’s way of introducing teachers and TA to the new curriculum for IT / Digital Competence Framework. It is basically a scattergun approach. All staff need to know the basics and a short, sharp twilight session for everyone seems a good idea to set the ball rolling. There are many advantages. In two hours the trainer can keep teachers’ attention and ‘entertain’ them at the end of the working day by using a wide range of equipment and materials demonstrating the use of IT across the curriculum and with different ages. It is easy to build in practical activities and ideas that will stimulate their imagination. Two hours is not a long period to concentrate and, given that they will all have done a day’s work beforehand, works well as a time slot. To that extent, twilight sessions are ideal for awareness raising, introducing teachers to practical activities and providing a measure of reassurance that they will be able to cope with the new requirements.


However, there are serious disadvantages to this model. It is expensive – in a primary school there are rarely more than 12 people in a group. Although the session might only be 2 hours, the set-up and packing up if the trainer is using a lot of practical activities can easily take another 1 ½ hours plus travel time. It is also an awkward time to combine with other activities – we have found that delivering a twilight session means leaving the office, on average, at 2 – 2.30 which means that no other activities are possible after lunch. Half a day of trainer time – excluding preparation – to train 12 people for less than 2 hours is not cost effective.


There are other problems with twilight sessions. In two hours it is possible to engage staff and give them a flavour of what is expected. The evaluation sheets show that staff enjoy the sessions and they are motivated to get started. However, it is difficult to do more than provide a ‘snap shot’, which is a good starter but which needs rapid follow up. It is almost impossible in 2 hours to consider in any detail progression or integration with thematic work. The other operational problem is that if there is a second twilight session organised, it is always a problem guaranteeing the same staff will be there. Finally, it requires a fairly experienced trainer as if staff are sampling maybe 6 or 8 different activities, it means the trainer needs to be confident in planning and delivering a wide range of content, using very different technologies.


Nevertheless, it is a useful model. On the whole, teachers are quite prepared to stay for twilight sessions as long as they are not too frequent and the more senior staff prefer them.







Implementing The Welsh Digital Competence Framework in the Foundation Phase

Cylchoed Meithrin

What the (Welsh) Digital Competence Framework means for Methrin (Foundation Phase)



4 strands 

  • Citizenship
  • Interacting and collaborating
  • Producing
  • Data and computational thinking


4 main points 

  1. Neither teachers nor children have to become experts in computer programming overnight, it does not mean that the children will be stuck looking at tablets or computer screens more often than they do now and it doesn’t need lots of money spent on technology.


  1. Just because a lesson uses technology does NOT mean it is an ICT/DCF lesson. Conversely, most of the activities that contribute directly to delivering the DCF at this age can be delivered without technology


  1. Less emphasis on Schemes of Work, more emphasis on integration across curriculum and thematic approach


  1. Many of the activities you do already can be enhanced or adapted to deliver DCF.  Remember, all the Meithrin competences are preceded by “…with increasing independence”. You are just setting the foundations for what will be developed further in Derbyn, Dosbarth Un / Dau


Suggested CPD activities

20 minutes on trying out some ‘unplugged’ activities, including playground games, which develop a range of digital competences and require  ‘homemade’ kit


Unplugged activity DCF strand Sub-strand Competence
Coding cards


Data and Computational Thinking Problem solving and modelling


Complete patterns and sequences


Emoticon cards Citizenship Online behaviour and cyberbullying Identify emotions of others on a range of digital software, e.g. talk about feelings and begin to recognise emotions;


Human robots


Data and Computational Thinking Problem solving and modelling


Follow a simple sequence of instructions


1 and 2 variable sorting Data and Computational Thinking Data and information literacy


recognise that there are different types of data, e.g. sort and/or match objects/photographs/symbols


Sticks and stones


Data and Computational Thinking Data and information literacy


sort familiar objects using set criteria.




15 mins playing with a range of kit e.g. different robots and other non-screen user interfaces so that they can make an informed choice if they are thinking of buying anything


Activity DCF strand Sub strand Competence


Recognising card / wooden pathways


Data and Computational Thinking Problem solving and modelling


Complete patterns and sequences


Beebot cards and pockets Data and Computational Thinking Problem solving and modelling


Follow a simple sequence of instructions

Create one step instructions and identify the next step


Dash and Dot – gathering snow sheep


Data and Computational Thinking Problem solving and modelling


Follow a process making simple adjustments when needed


Cozmo Citizenship


Identity, image and reputation


Identify emotions of others on a range of digital software, e.g. talk about feelings and begin to recognise emotions





15 mins playing with some creative apps that develop digital competence and really work well with 3-4 yr olds



Activity DCF strand Sub strand Competence


Quiver Producing Planning, sourcing and searching


Explore and use different multimedia components in order to capture and use text, image, sound, animation and video.


Adding sound to emoticons Producing Creating Explore and use different multimedia components in order to capture and use text, image, sound, animation and video.


Osmo Producing Planning, sourcing and searching


Navigate through a piece of software using an internal menu to find desired item.


QR Christmas book Producing Creating


Explore and use different multimedia components in order to capture and use text, image, sound, animation and video.


Chatterpix Producing Evaluating and improving


Describe in response to questions some of what has been done in the task, e.g. add comments using recording feature in software.