U1 Day 15-16: PD Discussion Topic


I will use something other than food for the directions, to avoid the issues with allergies.

Some students could write instructions to a specific part of the school and have another student follow them, taking a photo of where the instructions really sent them. I’d probably have simultaneous, in-class activity so that I don’t have a whole class in the halls at the same time. Students could then revise their instructions, based on results.

The type of instructions could vary for different groups within the class: some giving directions for a place in the school, others give directions for drawing a picture without seeing it, others for creating things from Legos, for example.

I also like the idea of modifying instructions, as listed by @jkim.


I was in the summer PD that did the paper airplane instead of PB&J. It worked well. Another idea that people mentioned was giving directions to a specific place in the school, which would be great in our building as 1/4 of it is closed for renovations. I like both of these ideas as a substitute.
I also think it is reasonable for the students to be called on one at a time to give the steps while I demonstrate at the front of the room. The first few will be rough, but then they should get better as they hear/see the results of the previous steps.


Since I teach Gaming and Sim I tried to teach the concepts of a computer language as well. Very similarly, I had the students try to understand how instructions need to be specific. At the time I had a piece of paper in my hand and I wanted to set the piece of paper on my desk. I then told the students that I was the computer (in this case a robot) and needed instructions to set the paper on the desk. Asking each student, I had them give me instructions. When the instructions were not specific enough I told them I did not understand. When the instructions conflicted (such as moving my right foot in the wrong direction that would cause me to fall I would tell then that the computer just crashed). This exercise was simple and I could manage how flexible I wanted to be with the students…
The students had fun looking at me behaving like a robot nd I think some of them gve me instructions so I would fall on purpose. : )


For this lesson I will use the paper airplane as an alternative. I may have students give only written instructions the first time. Let them refine their instructions after their partner follows their instructions. I may repeat the activity and have students only use pictures/diagrams as their instructions (no words). Maybe compare and discuss pros and cons and what would be an ideal set of instructions. Also discuss ambiguity and how to deal wit that issue.


I am planning on using paper airplanes as the alternative. After the initial set of instructions, I will have students begin by defining certain terms in the directions before writing the directions. This will make a connection to coding.


For this lesson I will use legos and/or VEX robot parts. Food is an engaging manipulative, but the cost, mess, and potential allergies present obstacles. I think a bucket full of legos, tinkertoys, or lincoln logs can achieve the same learning objective as the PB&J sandwich algorithm. I will select one or two student algorithms to “build” under the document camera and see what is created


Students use Algorithms in their math classes. I would like to begin the Algorithmic discussion by having students think about how they use Algorithms already and then introduce the new concept of Computer Program Algorithms and build upon it.


we had this exact discussion during our PD! We came up with a few ideas. Ham and cheese sandwich, substituting nutella for peanut butter. However, my favorite was making S’more!

2 grahams crackers
marshmallow fluff
chocolate spread
YUMMY! Everyone wins on this one :smile:


A year or two ago I met a dance teacher that showed me some examples of dance notation, and it made me wonder whether computers equipped with motion capture devices could output a human-readable notation? I think the obvious implication is yes, granted each motion could be clearly discerned and labelled, or approximately described to account for combination variants in movement that haven’t been “named” yet.

For local context, many of my high school students are interested in kinesthetic learning opportunities such as in sports, dance, and other hands-on activities. In my future practice of this lesson, I may use my personal XBox kinect with Brekel software to capture motion data in order to drive physics-based virtual character actions in Blender or Maya, that we can apply step-by-step actions instructions to. However, to start off I will most likely implement a variant of the lesson about the robot putting together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, with student volunteers, that does not require the use of food. Perhaps something like constructing a Jenga tower could even be sufficient to convey the lesson objectives.


I also agree with starting out with a similar task first, with less instructions. Then do the PB&J activity.
The peanut butter and jelly activity is very memorable. I will definitely do it!


I’ll use driving directions for getting around in our town.


As an alternative, I may have the students write the directions of how to walk from our classroom to the school cafeteria.


I think students aren’t going to realize how detailed the directions need to be. I think that once the first group is “done” I will immediately test out their directions rather than having that group sit around (as they probably finished prematurely). This will then give the other groups a chance to add more details to their directions.


We used apple sauce instead of peanut butter. I found it difficult to not find some understanding of the student instructions. If the instruction is to “open the jelly” you have to decide whether to misapply an opening process, try to twist off a peel of lid, or to feign ignorance of the meaning of open. The problem with the latter is that you grind to a halt very quickly.

The big idea takeaway the I strive for is the the computer requires and precise language spoken precisely.


I was thinking about making a different kind of sandwich altogether. Maybe a turkey and swiss with various condiments, some with twisting lids while others are in squirt bottles. This way they’ll have more variety in their directions.


I made a similar activity in one PD. We had to create a drawing based on instructions. One partner provides instructions based on the picture he has, while the other partner needs to create the same picture following instructions.


Love this idea. I am not musically inclined so I think I would really struggle, but I know many of my students would love this. I just might have to go out of my comfort zone for this one.


The “Following Directions Quiz” will be my first activity, but I will of course not name it “Following Directions Quiz” as not to give “it” away. During professional development, one of my classmates explained an activity she does with her students that I really like. First you pair up students. One student writes down directions to a location in the school then the other student has to follow the directions and once they get to the location take a picture and come back and see if they were able to accurately follow the directions. I also think some kind of activity with one student wearing a blindfold and the other giving directions to complete a task could be interesting.


I have traditionally used legos for this type of activity. I give students a certain number of bricks and they have to build something. They then have to write step-by-step instructions for recreating it. I would have them take a picture of their structure, take it apart, and give the blocks and instructions to a classmate.
They start to see the importance of clear, concise directions.


I will probably use the Peanut & Butter Activity, however I might use play food to create a sandwich or maybe the logos. I think this is going to be a really fun lesson for the students. After a couple of groups present their instructions, I would have students go back and redefine their instructions.