Computational thinking assists students to break down problems into smaller parts so that it is easier to understand and solve them. In all disciplines, students have problems to solve. Learning to use decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction and algorithm design will help students reach success in all projects. Students can use computational thinking while working on a school project to coding and programming a game. The terms are difficult for a 2nd grader to learn, but they should begin learning the main concepts of computational thinking. In this task card, the focus will be on algorithms.
Students will soon figure out algorithms are part of the many things they do every day from planning their day, to working on a project to writing code. An algorithm is a detailed step-by-step instruction set or formula for solving a problem or completing a task.
This activity will take several class periods.
- Understand what an algorithm is.
- Be able to create an algorithm for a simple activity.
- Be able to complete a simple coding activity.
- Algorithm: An algorithm is a detailed step-by-step instruction set or formula for solving a problem or completing a task
To prepare for this lesson:
- If you are new to algorithms read the article from Tynker. It has excellent advice for teaching students about algorithms.
- Watch the video from BBC Learning.
- Watch the video Pharrell Williams - Happy - The Algorithms make you happy version.
- Explore the Tynker Hour of Code as it has many beginning activities to teach students about algorithms and beginning coding. Choose grades k-2 to explore.
- For a complete lesson for 2nd grade, visit code.org's Move it Move it lesson.
See Accommodations Page and Charts on the 21things4students.net site in the Teacher Resources.
Directions for this activity:
- The teacher explains to the students what an algorithm is.
- The teacher shows the students one or both of the algorithm videos.
- Before taking them to a coding activity on the computer, the teacher may want them to start simple by writing a set of instructions for an activity. The teacher explains that the students will have to write every step otherwise it may not work correctly.
- Daily activities - get up, brush teeth, eat breakfast, go to school...
- How to play their favorite board game
- How to play their favorite video game
- How to build something
- The student will share the set of instructions with their reading partner. The two will discuss the steps and see if they missed any.
The activity above will take a class session of 20-30 minutes. If you want your students to begin coding you will need a 2nd or 3rd class session for the students to complete a coding game.
- The teacher chooses a Tynker coding game for them.
- The student goes through the coding game.
- Use the Code.org Move it Move it lesson with the students.
Different options for assessing the students:
- Check for understanding
- Completed set of written instructions for an activity
- Completed coding game
MITECS COmpetencies & ISTE STANDARDS
MITECS: Michigan adopted the "ISTE Standards for Students" called MITECS (Michigan Integrated Technology Competencies for Students) in 2018.
5c. Students break problems into component parts, extract key information, and develop descriptive models to understand complex systems or facilitate problem-solving.
5d. Students understand how automation works and use algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create and test automated solutions.
Devices and Resources
Device: PC, Chromebook, Mac, iPad
Browser: Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge, ALL
BBC Learning Video on What is an Algorithm
Pharrell William - Happy - The Algorithms
CONTENT AREA RESOURCES
Write a story with detailed steps for completing a task.
To solve a long division problem, students apply an algorithm that they’ve learned in order to iterate through the digits of the number they’re dividing. For each digit of the dividend (the number being divided), the child must divide, multiply, and subtract.
This task card was created by Melissa White, 21 Things Project Manager, REMC Association of Michigan, February 2018.