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07 March 2023

Overlapping Curriculum Content:

Adrienne Tough profile image
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Adrienne Tough

We know that retrieval is essential to success. We want to [re]visit topics often but without conflating ideas and without leading to cognitive overload. I have found myself in positions where students need to cover a lot of the curriculum in a short amount of time (I have returned to such a position now) and one of the ways to get us through this is to find content that can overlap the curriculum and therefore can be visited more frequently.

So here are some ideas that I use which helps me increase exposure to certain unit[s]. If you have any other suggestions, please do share them too!

  1. Sorting and searching algorithms:

One of the easiest ways for me to check other learning is to include this in searching and sorting algorithms when teaching the methodology. We do not search for numbers; we search for CPU components or Utility software, and we sort ASCII or binary values. This can work for a whole range of content as long as there’s some form of order (or not in the case of a linear search….). This also works particularly well for revision as they are having to consider different skills for different topics. With an introduction the binary values may be a bit much, but the rest should work just as well as if you were using a list of names or numbers.

  1. Testing:

When testing a program, the program will include some of the key features – e.g., the use of random library, different operators etc and this can relate back to maintainable code too. The program being tested itself could also relate to some kid of quiz, based on theoretical concepts. Sometimes it is tempting to use the resources downloaded online to go through testing but if you can adapt them to include content from other units too!

  1. Boolean Logic Operating systems:

I love the Android Gates, but I cannot take credit for creating them. They are a great opportunity to check Boolean logic gates when teaching OS or when teaching Boolean logic gates to reinforce the operating system functions (depending, what order you teach in).

  1. Algoritheory:

I have referenced this before (and should be found in files) but there are a lot of opportunities to develop coding and algorithm skills whilst also focusing on theory. For string manipulation, for example, students could create a pig Latin program; for programming constructs and mathematical operators students could work out file sizes and be told if they should compress.

Recently, my students had an algorithm based on 1.6: they created a program asking a customer for their name and the age of their phone. Based on their answer they were given a different output message. If <1, the customer was recommended they keep their device longer, 2<3 asked to recycle before purchasing and asked if they would consider a refurbished. If they said yes, they were told the environment thanks them, if not they were told to consider the environment. This can lead or reinforce discussions around e-waste, the digital divide and environmental impact, whilst simultaneously developing algorithm/programming skills.


  1. Wider Issues:

There can be so many different scenarios posed here, inviting conversations about network security, embedded systems, functions of the CPU/strong performance of a computer (links well to digital divide). For this reason, wider issues tends to be one of the later topics taught from paper.

I’m sure none of the above are revolutionary or particularly new but I find it useful to reflect when there is an opportunity to overlap content particularly at time of year where time is so short, and exams are so near!


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Adrienne Tough
08/03/2023 15:13

Yes I think most school policies are a retrieval starter and perhaps plenary but actually there’s plenty more opportunities! Hope you found it useful :slight_smile: @Hesnotthemessiah

David Kavanagh
08/03/2023 14:57

Thank you for posting this…very handy…especially as Ofsted want to see how department’s demonstrate retrieval of information in their day to day teaching.