Pilot - U1L06 - Processing

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  • details on what went well when teaching this lesson
  • details on what didn’t go well when teaching this lesson
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  • details on the types of deviations you made from the lesson

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6th grade, 21 students, 70%+ minority/free & reduced lunch

We’ve worked on this lesson the past two days and really did a nice job with it. Even the first sort that was supposed to be chaotic wasn’t, really. Each pair was able to sort and ALL stayed silent (that doesn’t normally happen!!). Groups came up with these ways to sort: red/black, number/face/joker, suits, in order from A through K. That was all we had time for the first day so I started the second day with the worksheets and having them come up with a plan to improve on yesterday’s idea and time. They did fine, but they didn’t really improve much or change anything from the day before so I skipped to Activity 3. This is where they really understood the need for a strategy and a plan. I didn’t answer any questions, only reinforced the set of rules for the activity. Again, all groups followed the rules and were successful in coming up with a way to sort including: even/odd, least to greatest, and less than 5/more than 5. They improved their plan and tried it again making sure to swap roles. I had to end the lesson soon after that so I will do a wrap up tomorrow at the beginning of class. I need to reinforce the definition of algorithm and show them how the card sort goes with input/output/process/store. I’m not sure they are solid on the understanding of input/output/process/store. Do you think the next lesson will help or should I do another quick video?

Hey Renee,

I know we talked on the call but for the benefit of other teachers in your situation I wanted to note here

  • The alternate lessons, currently available on the forum, may do a better job of highlighting the input-output-store-process model.
  • It may be valuable to more narrowly define the type of sort students should do in the first activity. This is still open for debate so other teachers can try different approaches, but we discussed the benefit of having a slightly more challenging sort for students to work through than red-black. Alternately, use that opportunity to compare how strategies are different based on the different types of sorts people are performing.

Thanks as always for writing in!

7th/8th Grade, 28-30 students, 14% free and reduced lunch

The students really enjoyed the lesson/activity. As Renee said above, the first sort wasn’t chaotic. I had students finish between 50 seconds and just shy of 5 minutes. We went through the reflection questions as teams and then as a whole group so everyone could hear each teams’ ideas and I added a question of “What was the order that your team used?”. This was interesting, but not sure it added to the purpose of the lesson. Most teams did A-K or 2-A, one team used random order, but I had them use a different order rather than just calling Done when I said go. Although, it made me smile when they came up with that as a “reasonable order”! My class became very competitive with their times and claimed other groups that used a simple order (red/black)to be cheating.

The second sort was faster 45 seconds to 3 minutes as they now had a strategy and/or a set of hand signals for some teams to communicate with each other…I know some ingenious little buggers.

For the final sort, we established a set order for all teams to use; A-K and alternating red and black. I justified that by saying a computer has to follow a set of instructions/code and linked it back to having a very specific solution in the Problem Solving process. A good lesson that helped them think about what is going on inside a computer.

@rgutierrez1 sounds like this went pretty well. Did you happen to run the second activity as well? I’d be really interested to hear about the transition into that activity and how the two compared.

12 students, 9-12th Grades with little experience in CS.

U1L07 - Human vs Computer Processing
For this lesson I did a heavy review of the last lesson on the colors to make sure students understood representations of data before we talked about storage and sorting. They’ve gotten used to having cards now so they are actually pretty excited because they know it’s going to be something interactive and probably competitive (or at least they’ll make it that way). The first challenge went well, some students struggled because of the communication issue (not being allowed to talk) and once everyone had finished, they DEFINITELY went through the Problem Solving process to correct the communication issue. I had them do it multiple times (more than the 2 challenges) to focus on the reflection and one group started pointing twice - first the highest card then a place on the table for storage. It was an interesting natural development that I brought the class together to talk about. I saw it as the design process in action with defining a problem and creating a solution after multiple iterations, then compared it to how processors often double their power and the idea of dual threading - this technique significantly reduced the amount of time to sort and it was a good mini lesson.

I found this video helpful, I am not sure if you need to have a BrainPop account to view it.


Hi Brad, thanks for sharing how it went in your classroom. It’s great to hear that the kids are continuing to use the problem solving process.

Gretchen, I was able to access the video without an account. Thanks for the resource!

-HIgh level of engagement.
Students did not miss the computers and were happy to complete the activity because it felt like a game.

Students struggled with the idea of breaking down in simple instructions what they already considered to be simple.
I found myself constantly asking them to describe what they were doing in single sentences and only one verb at the time, and every time they use the verb I asked them to describe what they meant, which in most cases resulted in another 2 or 3 verbs…
(e.g. sort -> check + organize …
check -> look at card and compare…
look at card-> pick up card + turn it over… and so on)

Hey Pedro. It sounds like some of your issues arose in part because we don’t specify how exactly students should write their algorithms. Where did you eventually end up with this? Do you have any examples of what students’ final algorithm descriptions look like?