Hi! I have been in a blogging slump, but hope that I am starting to come out of it! Look for more posts in the days to come!
I love when a great idea arises from a frustrating teaching moment. A few weeks ago, my 2nd graders were working in Course 2 on Code.org. They were feeling frustrated because our network was very slow that day. I remembered an unplugged activity I had seen on Barefoot Computing. I didn't have time to make the copies for the lesson, but I quickly went to my computer and created a simple algorithm in Kid Pix for drawing a creature...
I asked the students to quit and come up to the carpet. I told them I had a fun challenge for them to try. I projected my algorithm on the board and told students they should open Kid Pix and try to follow the algorithm. I assured them whatever they came up with would be ok and that the activity was meant to be a bit confusing. I didn't give any more directions. Here are some of the results:
As you can see, I got a variety of results! We walked around looking at all the creatures and then had a discussion about what had happened.
I picked a student example that was similar to what I had been thinking of when creating the algorithm and showed the students. We then talked about how to make the algorithm on the board more specific by adding direction and size words. Next, I gave them a verbal algorithm to follow for creating a different creature. I was sure to use very specific directions. They all agreed it really made a difference.
This simple and fun activity really helped the student see how important clear steps are to a good algorithm. This would be a great activity to practice following directions and/or for understanding writing how to directions.