Teaching sequencing

How would you explain the concept of programming (including sequencing and algorithms) to your students?

I have never taught sequencing and algorithms in this manner. I would explain sequencing and algorithms as ways we put things in order and a specific set of steps to complete a task. I am looking forward to reading more lessons to understand the concept of programming.

We teach a lot of sequencing in reading, how to sequence the plot in a story is a big idea that kids start learning in Kindergarden, and in 3rd grade with me we start doing plot diagrams that build on that idea of sequencing a story. The idea seems pretty similar to teaching it in coding, where first you have to do one thing before the next thing happens. I haven’t taught this idea related to computers, but we have also done sequencing in science with life cycles.

I teach 9th grade math - Algebra 1. I like the idea of comparing sequencing to following the order of operations. High school math students are very familiar with the idea of order of operations - in order to get the correct answer, mathematical operations must be followed in a specific order. The same concept can be applied to sequencing. When coding something, the order matters. I would introduce sequencing and algorithms to students after we have reviewed order of operations so that students see the natural progression and connection between the two concepts. It is always helpful to be able to show a real world scenario to connect to our math lessons, and this is a perfect way to integrate technology into my math class.

I often ask students to direct me in their thinking of how they solved a problem. I have the ability to be a very literal person, so I do exactly what I am told. The kids quickly see how important order and specific directions can be to communicate more clearly. I also like to read student writing as they write it, usually with mistakes. I don’t make fun, but I do use the teachable moment to point out that thinking about actions and looking over things before claiming completion are vital to the process of completing tasks.

many of my students are really into Roblox, which is a form of coding from what I understand. I just ordered a Star Wars kit with Roblox that I can turn into a coding center using my circulation computers for students to use when they are finished checking out books. I cannot wait to see their reaction next school year!

I like the idea of introducing it like giving direction and having them act it out.

Show them a simple task like making a sandwich or tying your shoe. Order is important. What if you spread the peanut butter before you had the bread out?

In my classroom I have used the concept of making a pizza for explaining sequencing and algorithms. I teach 1st grade, so I try to incorporate as much hands on learning, thinking and discussion as possible. When starting the sequence of events I give each student a mini play doh which would be their “pizza dough”. Then we think about what a pizza maker would put next. I then have students paint a layer red paint which would be their “pizza sauce”. Our next layer would “cheese” made out of pre-cut yarn. I have a shelf in front of my classroom window that we call the oven where all the pizzas sit to bake (dry out) before going home. To reflect on our activity I have them fill out sequence boxes and draw pictures with labels with a table-mate to show their understanding. At the end we come together to share why the order was important for making our pizza and what kind of mistakes or "errors’ would happen if we did not follow the order or “sequence”. This discussion really helps shy students share out their thinking not only because it was fun, but because they have built confidence from working, listening, and sharing with peers prior to a class discussion. This is always a really fun activity and they like to bring it up throughout the year.

1 Like

Yona, I like your strategy of allowing your students to direct you as they solve a problem. Not only do they have to think through their own steps, but they need to clearly verbalize the steps. This can be a tricky skill to master. I will have to add this strategy for when I am teaching my students about sequencing and algorithms. Thank you for sharing!

This sounds like a great way to teach the concept and team build!

I also like the idea of using a recipe for teaching algorithms and sequencing. In first grade, we love to make things and eat. What a perfect combination for the sandwich sequencing lesson. We start with all the makings for a sandwich. The first group makes a simple sandwich consisting of bread and mayo. The next group makes it a bit more tasty by adding turkey. The next group adds lettuce and the final group adds cheese. All of these would be fine sandwiches, but perhaps not too enticing. We discuss what would make a sandwich a disaster. Putting the mayo on the outside, nor having bread, etc Using a visual to teach sequencing is intriguing for the students.

Learning to tie your shoe laces can be tough. Grade 5 students can write down the instructions (algorithms) in pairs. Once the class has completed we can go down to the KG class and follow their own instructions to tie shoelaces. This will help students to find errors and correct them (debugging) or better yet simplify their instructions as they might be too complex.

Fortunately, sequencing is a concept that expands much further than strictly computer programming! I teach 1st grade, so every year we first explore sequencing with a literacy-base. When reading stories from the “If you give a ____ a _____” series (i.e. If you give a Mouse a Cookie), we frequently sequence the story together. The great thing about using this story for sequencing is that you can’t have one step happen without the previous thing happening (think: cause and effect). It’s the same way with programming (especially in those unplugged lessons) in the beginning. For example, in the unplugged lesson about planting a seed, you can’t put the seed in the dirt if you don’t put the dirt in first.

By starting out with a content area that’s a little less “risky” to those students who are a little hesitant with technology, they build confidence with this skill first. Once we bust out those computers and begin sequencing, we can refer back to our already-built foundation of sequencing outside of computers. For some students, you can literally see their shoulders lower from their ears and hear a sigh of relief as they relax into it and start having fun.

Other areas we link sequencing to are games such as mazes. Even if you have a paper and a pencil, in a maze, you have to follow directions to get from A to B. Most students have had exposure to mazes before, but I always have mazes on hand to use and help make the connection before sequencing arrows online for a character to move. This is a fun, relaxing way to get the kids engaged and start building connections!

Les enseñaría con palitos de helado de colores, formando una secuencia con inicio y fin, después dejando una huella para pedir a otro grupo que llegue al mismo resultado.

I have used tying a shoe to show sequencing. That has worked well for older students. I always remind my students that in sequencing, may need to verbalize steps that may seem"obvious", and I advise them to think about trying to teach a much younger student how to do something.

To teach the core computer concept of sequencing to my students, I would first start with a variety of engaging unplugged activities. To get started, I would us the widely used “Making a Peanut Butter Sandwich” modeling activity that I’ve read about on this thread. I would bring in all ingredients of a PB&J and lay them on the table, then ask for directions on building the sandwich. Following the directions exactly and not “filling in” when they leave something out brings humor as well as a good lesson on coding and giving specific and clear directions.
As a specialist I work with all elementary grade levels, but for the sake of this course I will be focusing on my first graders. The unplugged lesson I would use to introduce coding to them is called “My Robotic Friend”, a lesson available on code. org. This lesson introduces sequencing by having students direct their partners, aka ‘robots’, to build a specific looking stack of cups. The directions, like the peanut butter challenge, much be clear and explicit.
Following these unplugged activities I will introduce the first code.org computer activities. I appreciate the way these activities build on the students’ exposure and experience, starting with a few basic directions, then by asking what is missing in the code, then by giving a “challenge” activity to stretch learning further, but with the opportunity to skip if the student gets too frustrated.
One of my wonderings while completing the first few blocky activities was about young kids clicking and dragging. In your experience with Code.org, are 5 and 6 year olds able to use the click and drag movement in order to successfully line up each blocky piece? If not, how did you help them learn and practice that skill?

I like this idea. It provides movement to the activity and it is a game they like to play anyway.

I have not taught anything with coding/sequencing at all yet. We purchased a coding toy for my son called Botly that I was thinking would be fine to bring in to my classroom to allow the kids to program it to see if they could get it to different locations and to move around the different objects that came with it.

I teach a multi-age classroom of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.

I have explained sequencing to my students as a specific order for doing something. I used making a grilled cheese sandwich as an example, briefly going over the steps. Then I ask students for other examples of things that require a specific order or sequence.

I then talk about algorithms by using the example of a recipe. There are instructions you follow to complete something. You need to right sequence of instructions to make an algorithm since the outcome of the algorithm should be the same each time. You cookies would not turn out the same each time if you mixed up the order of the steps. I ask students what might happen if you were to change the order of steps in a recipe.

I love this game idea and think if works great to introduce and reinforce sequencing! I plan on using this to introduce sequencing in Morning Meeting before I teach an unplugged lesson on algorithms. It will work as a great activity to pair with sharing about what students know about coding.