Transitioning from block code to Python

I have recently written a unit for year 7, to transition them from block coding to text-based coding in Python. In years 8-9, I continue this somewhat by using block coding as my algorithm designer. Here, students can design their solution, test it and then refine it to make it more efficient. For example, instead of a series of sequenced commands that repeat, students can get the sequence working and then refine the algorithm with loops; and then test it again. I find the drag and drop nature of block coding to be a better environment for prototyping because you can work on several iterations of a design quite quickly and its a more visual experience as well. In particular, its probably a superior environment for beginning with embedded systems, such as the BBC Micro:bit or The Circuit Playground Express. In fact, these environments have a text coding view as well; facilitating the transition to text-based coding.

In this unit, I introduce students to python via turtle graphics. Here is my Unit; enjoy!


Solving Digital Problems

[“digitalism” by orvalrochefort is licensed under CC BY 2.0]

I have just finished developing a unit of work around solving digital problems. This is targeted at year 10 Digital Technologies and is a foundation to year 11 Digital Solutions, Topic 1: Understanding digital problems.

I am indebted to for their Computer Science Discoveries course for the bulk of the curriculum resources. I have adapted them to align to the Pedagogical Framework that I use when teaching Digital Technologies.

You can access the Scheme of Work here.


Coding the Parrot Mambo Drone

The Parrot Mambo drone can be coded via the Tynker App (iOS, Android) or via Swift Playground. If you choose Tynker, then you may need to enroll students (at cost) into their stunt pilot course. The Swift Playground, Parrot Education Accessory is free and will lead students through coding the drone rather than dragging and dropping blocks (as with Tynker).

I am currently working with a year 9 class, with an emphasis on developing algorithms, using the problem solving project sequence below.


  • team building
  • team work plan
  • design brief


  • how to fly the drone
  • how to program the drone
  • identify what you need to know and the skills you need to complete the project


  • what is an algorithm
  • what is pseudocode
  • algorithm design


  • code the drone
  • publish a project portfolio


  • evaluate process and production skills



Using drones is a good opportunity to develop student ‘soft skills’ such as collaboration and communication because it forces you to work in a larger space than a normal classroom and with limited resources. I normally work in a computer lab, but needed to move to the library where the class could access the space as well as ipads. Back in the normal classroom, students are able to work on other aspects of their project.

You could extend on this and have students design and build the obstacle course. I started off on this path but realised that I needed a proper makerspace, with art supplies, storage for student projects and project spaces for teams to ‘make a mess’. If you have a makerspace, maybe give my  Drone Game Board Unit Plan a go.

Proxy Fix for Raspberry Pi

When I first opened my shiny new Raspberry Pi 3, my excitement was soon dampened as I had no network or internet access; rendering my Pi at least half as useful. Luckily, my techie is a Linux wiz and he created a custom build that was able to authenticate on our network.

The build document you need is Raspberry Pi Build Doc. I suggest you give this to a tech if you have one. Once built, the Raspberry Pi SD card can be cloned. Watch the video below: