Pair Programming

pair-programmingPair programming is a part of eXtreme Programming, an agile system development methodology. In Pair Programming two programmers sit together behind one computer. One is coding and the other reviews while communicating about the best solutions. The programmers frequently changes roles. Findings from different sources show that de results of the products contain less errors, are of a higher quality, and cost less man hours !

Research in the industry as well as in class indicates that starting programmers and students who practise pair programming are more confident and learn from each other tips on programming language, and design skills.  Girls show a higher interest in the subject when pair programming is used in class.

pairs-working-ipad2Children (and many adults) learn much more when they work together on one PC. This is not only because two people see and know more than one, but because working in pairs demands (verbal) communication, which is crucial for learning and understanding. Children do also benefit from working in pairs on one PC or iPad when working on programs and tasks that require problem solving skills.

Examples of activities on a computer that require problem solving skills:

Literature/research on Pair Programming:

A. Cockburn, L.Williams. (2001). The Costs and Benefits of Pair Programming,

Williams, L. et all. (2002). In Support of Pair Programming in the Introductory Computer Science Course. Computer Science Education, Vol. 12, Issue 3.

“Student pairs are more self-sufficient which reduces their reliance on the teaching staff. Qualitatively, paired students demonstrate higher order thinking skills than students who work alone.”

Liebenberg, J. , Mentz, E. & Breed, B. (2013). Pair programming and secondary school girls’ enjoyment of programming and the subject Information Technology. Computer Science Education. Vol. 22, Issue 3.

“Girls’ motivating for (programming and) computer science was much higher when they were allowed to work in pair. Girls’ confidence in the subject was higher in the pair programming classes.”

“A critical mass of girls is required to make girls enjoy and choose computer science and careers. Pair programming is an important means to reach that goal.” 

Pair Programming with kids, adolescents? Read the blogs and use one of the following programs:

Code Monster

code-monsterCode Monster uses a programming language that is also used by professionals namely JavaScript. This language is used in website design. Code Monster is from Crunchzilla and offers four different tutoring programs. Code Monster and Code Maven are similar. Code Monster is suitable for age 10-15. Use at a younger age is possible but will often result in trial and error in stead of understanding the concepts and principles. Code monster offers Lesson Sections that introduce a topic and build up in level of difficulty and complexity.

Children (and adults) learn much more when they work in pairs on a computer. This does not only concern programming. The reason is not only that two see and know more than one, but working together enforces (verbal) communication, which is crucial for learning and understanding.

Using Code Monster some pupils will move forward before they have even tried to write the code themselves. Encourage the pupils to think and try first. In order to encourage thinking before trying (trial and error) you as a teacher/instructor could give the pupils a new task every now and then, whereby they have to write the code (on paper?) first. Show the different solutions to the class (using a projector or a SmartBoard) and discuss the different solutions. Afterwards check the result in Code Monster.


screenshot Lesson 30/59



Bee-Bot – programming a robot

beebot_blinking_leftBee-Bot is a robot that can be programmed by young children (age 5 – 8). Bee-Bot is based on the computer language LOGO. Bee-Bot is easy to use and challenges children to experiment. It can be used to learn logical thinking, planning, estimating, sequencing, to formulate expectations (hypotheses) etc.



Example of a Bee-Bot mat.

You can buy the mats, but you can also design and make your own mats. As a teacher you will be able to come up with ideas that fit the children’s interest, level and the curriculum.

Decibel meter App

decibel-icon-appHow loud is the noise? Whether sound or noise is considered (too) loud or not is often subjective. The App Decibel enables one to measure the noise level and make it objective. It is a sensor that shows the results in three different ways: digital, analogue and in a graphical. There are many Decibel Apps but some show the results of the measurement only anlogue, and some analogue + digital but not graphical. When using this App in class students should be aware of how they measure, what to pay attention to so that results can be compared. Factors influencing the measurement could be: the distance to the source, the direction of the sensor/phone, pitch of the sound, background noise etc.

Combining the use of the App with the screenprint function of the device makes it possible to record, store and present the measurements at a later stage.

Students could plot their own measured sounds on a scale: unplugged musical instruments, birds, voices, traffic etc. There are plenty charts on the internet that show which levels are dangerous and damaging.sound-levels

 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  iPhone, iPad
 Requirements  iOS 8+  (similar Apps are available for Android and on Google Play)

Effective talk in the classroom

The website offers great examples on pedagogy and didactics that build on concepts like growth mindset, ownership, effective learning, social and emotional learning, collaboration.

One topic is on Strategies for Effective Talk in the Classroom. This is not about the teacher talking, but about pupils/students talking and communicating. The approach supports learning in all subjects. It shows clearly how important it is that all pupils learn to communicate and express themselves clearly in different settings. The guidelines provided can be applied by any teacher.

Curious App

curious1curious-iconThe Curious App combines life-long learning with personalised learning. Thus aiming at adults. You get a daily learning workout with facts and information presented through texts, videos, pictures, stories etc. Before you start, your profile is created based on what interests you, on what you wish to learn and on how much time you wish to spend daily.

You can try out the App 7 days for free, thereafter you have to pay. This gives you a good idea about what to expect when you buy the App for use during a longer period. It is claimed that with the daily workouts, you grow your CQ, Curiosity Quotient. Curious is supported by Prof. Carol Dweck known for research on the importance of a Growth Mindset for success in learning.

The Curious App reminded me of the Who, What, Why books I read as a child. Facts and information on whatever topic you can think of.

Curious areas of interest

Curious areas of interest

 Purchase  $ 9.99 (a months !)
 Hardware  iPhone, iPad
 Requirements  iOS 9.0 or higher

FlaskFiller simulation

glazenFlaskFiller, or rather GlassFiller, is a simulation which enables teachers and students to experiment with and reason about the relationship between the shape of a glass, and the change in speed while filling it up (time vs height of the liquid in the glass).


The simulation program enables the user to

  • Select the horizontal axis’ quantity, which is one of height, time, volume, or rising speed.
  • Select the vertical axis’ quantity, which is one of height, time, volume, or rising speed.

Note that you can select the same quantity for both axes, which can make for an interesting topic of discussion. See some screenshots below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read the information about the simulation and how to use it on FaskFiller Education.
Read the Research done on FlaskFiller software used with grade 5 pupils.

The simulation has been used with grade 5 pupils in a one-to-one setting. When using this simulation in class you might want to use a hands-on experiment first, whereby you use a measuring cup to fill up glasses with different shapes. Let the pupils measure, observe and reason about what is happening with the different glasses.

Afterwards let the pupils experiment with the simulation based on clear questions/tasks. Students should be encouraged to record their findings and discoveries on a worksheet.
Most grade 5 pupils understand the principle of instantaneous speed, but lack the vocabulary. After experimenting in small groups, you could start the simulation on your SmartBoard and discuss the findings. Here the pupils will learn to extend their vocabulary and express what they see and think. Vocabulary: (rising)speed, volume, height, shape, cola-flesjetime, timelap, decrease/increase in speed of height of liquid visible in the graph.
After experimenting and discussion, pupils should for example be able to match a glass (or bottle) with a graph and vice versa.

The simulation can be used from grade 5 up to grade 10 depending on the tasks given.

The simulation program is available online as an HTML file, but can also be downloaded for off-line use.

 Purchase  Free
 Hardware  PC
 Requirements  browser