Sequencing and algorithms are such important concepts that do not only apply to computer science but also to reading, math, science, and many other subjects. There are patterns and steps in every subject. For my fourth grade students, I would like to use the unplugged activities provided by code.org but I think I will also have them imagine describing to a new student how to get to key points of the school using simple instructions. It may be fun to have them write out their steps to a particular location and see if a partner can find that location by simply following the steps. The trick will be they cannot tell them where they are trying to go.
Students are in pairs. Each student is to draw on paper one simple object of their choice without the partner seeing their drawing. Next one of the students must give verbal directions on how to draw their object to the partner. When finished, they compare the original to the “sequence of directions” product. Explain the importance of simple, explicit directions.
I like the robot activity where one student is a robot and can only follow their instructions. This gets them working together and makes it fun to debug.
There are so many great ideas here for teaching the concepts of algorithms and sequencing. I use something similar to the “robot” idea when we are practicing communicating mathematically. The students will have a problem to solve, and they have to explain step-by-step how they solved it, only I’ll do exactly what they say. If they don’t communicate their thinking properly, they have to back up and try again, communicating more clearly what they were thinking.
I really like the idea of finding places around the school by following the set of directions. The PBJ sequencing/direction activity we’ve done for years, but I’ve never thought of it as an “algorithm” before.
Lots to think about here, and thanks to everyone for the great ideas!
I’m in Stage 4 and I like the unplugged binary activities. A colleague and I will be starting up a coding club after school and I will be teaching electronics during the day. I will be using Kiki’s activities for the club AND the class. I like it.
I have my students choose something they know how to make and draw out the steps. Then, they write about each step. I also have them make short how to videos using an app. Making the videos helps them to demonstrate how to make the product and is also the time when they find that they may have forgotten about a crucial step.
I teach grade three in Queensland Australia. To begin my very first lessons in Computer Science with them I would start with every student having their own Grid Book. This will be our Computer Code Book. From the beginning I want them to be excited and feel that this brand new curricula area is heaps of fun.
My first lesson would take place with me writing on the whiteboard and the whole class listening and participating. I would start with a 4x4 square and tell the students that I want the “robot” to move across the grid and colour in alternate squares to make a checker pattern. I would then write each command for the first row. E.g. Move right one square. Colour in the square. Move right one square. Move right one square. Colour in the square. Then I would get the class to participate by telling me what the next command would be. As we continue I would point out that the “robot” cannot make any decisions on its own. When the grid is completed we would all look at the amount of writing I had done. I would then talk to the class about using a simpler way of writing it all down. I would tell them that we were going to use a “code”. I would liken it to the “code” we are leaning about in Math. E.g. This symbol + written out in words means addition. This sign = means equal to.
I would ask the class to open their grid book and draw up their own 4x4 square. Beside that they need to write the code for the activity we just did together on the board. This time they would have to use symbols instead of words. What symbol could we use for ‘move right one square’? Maybe and arrow pointing right.
Once they have the hang of that I would hand out a square that is already coloured in. They will glue it in their books and write the code beside it. This is the Graph Paper Programming Unplugged Activity.
In my next lesson with the students we would begin by gluing in the words ‘algorithm’ and ‘program’ and I would give them the definition for each. I would then discuss with them the importance of working out the sequence of steps we take each day to complete a task. I would write out simple steps for a task we are all very familiar with in our classroom routine. We would discuss the order of the events and the importance of having the steps follow order.
Then I would complete the Unplugged Paper Planes activity.
I am pretty sure that one of my students will just cut out the different steps on the paper and then glue them in his book without recognising that there are some pieces that should not be included in the program. if he does do what I predict he will do, I will use his example to make my own plane while he watches me follow his instructions. Then we will again discuss the importance of each step being accurate and in order.
Barrier Games are a great introduction to giving clear instructions to a partner. Giving one student an end product (coloured picture, or picture to draw, or constructed item), and other student the materials (uncoloured picture, blank paper, construction materials), students have a barrier blocking the view so that only verbal instructions can be given. Only clear precise instructions will provide an accurate reproduction.
Learning the different modules on Code.org has helped me and my siblings learn the basics of computer science and programming using a fun interactive method. This method is fun, and keeps everyone engaged and interested. I would definitely recommend it be implemented in more schools all around the globe!
In my experience so far, this may be the hardest lesson of all to teach. We are so conditioned to combine movements/or steps in our learning that we sometimes forget to list every little move. I start by having students write the steps of making a peanut butter sandwich. I give them a list of ingredients, and the number of lines they should use. Then I turn them loose. Sometimes I get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on toasted bread, and sometimes they just end up in a heap not knowing what they did wrong. My favorite activity so far is a human maze. I taped a maze on the floor and had them write the solution to the maze down. Then they gave their solution to a random person and that person had to read their solution while they obeyed the commands. It was fun to see the light come one when they realized it was important to include the turn right/left and go forward steps. They just automatically assumed that you would know if I say turn left you’re going to go forward after the turn. Instead they ended up turning in circles sometimes or running into walls or barriers because they didn’t turn before moving forward. It’s a great life lesson!
The Code.org activities, both plugged and unplugged, so an awesome job of introducing sequencing. It can also transition to writing “how-to” papers.
I would like to explain sequencing similar to following steps in a cooking recipe–follow thru the steps…
I’ve not taught coding yet, I’m taking this course so I can teach it after the break to 1st through 5th graders. I think I will explain sequencing as a series of steps to solve a problem. I may show all the grades the Happy Maps activity as an example to help them visualize what we’re doing.
Sequencing with Kindergarten and 1st Graders
At the beginning of the school year in computer class, it’s a time of modeling good behaviors. One thing that occurs for my time with them, is to rehearse the steps involved in entering the lab space (lining up, voices off, ears and eyes attentive) and in sitting at a desktop computer (pull chair out, sit with feet forward…). We review this every several weeks on the steps needed.
When we have lined up recently, I have had them a “copy teacher” routine of various arm movements to catch their attention. Maybe a sequencing idea may be to work on a mini dance routine that is their special step?
I have also created sequences for exiting the lab room, with two steps forward, turn left, step forward until the stairs, …which continues until they reach their classroom. This is appropriate for grade 3 and 4.
Love the peanut butter sandwich sequencing idea, which my middle schoolers have seen in the animated BrainPop version for the Computer Programming unit.
Like others getting your students to give you instructions for tasks or other students and seeing if they can be followed.
Sequencing and algorithms are simple steps to complete a task.
I can use algorithm to introduce following steps. This can be then used for my students expository writing.
This is my first year teaching, and I’m still testing out a lot of ideas when it comes to teaching coding. This year, I’ve introduced the idea of coding by having the students tell me how to tie my shoes. I ask them to be a basic as possible in their directions; I only do what they tell me to do. If they generalize their directions (for example, telling me to tie my shoe without telling me to pick up my laces), they immediately see that they’ve haven’t been clear with their instructions (because I pantomime tying a show without my laces). I like giving them the real life example and then relating it to coding. It’s been a helpful transition/basis for their learning.
I have taught this in a couple of different ways. I have had one students write sequence steps to give directions to another student to go from one place in the room to another. We’ve also used the Peanut Butter sandwich idea. Both seem to be pretty effective with the students understanding what an algorithm is.
This is my 4th year teaching coding. I teach technology in a K-5 School.
Sequencing can be seen as competently achieving any goal. In order to be successful in any area, one has to follow a sequence, or series of steps, in order to achieve success. This can be seen in sports, education, business, military, emergency services, politics, or any other arena one can think of.
Sequencing can also be seen as a coherant and functional plan. It can be used for making things, such as food. It can be used as a tool to construct something, small or large. It can be used to achieve a degree in some field, or achieve a goal in another.
This applies to everything from as basic as getting dressed, to tying your shoes, to getting something you need, or want, in this world.