How could you teach children in KS1/Ks2 Algorithms?
Give a range of example of ‘unplugged’ activities at KS1.
Algorithm Definition: An algorithm is a procedure or formula for problem-solving, based on conducting a sequence of specified actions. For example, a computer programme can be seen as an elaborate algorithm. In mathematics and computer science an algorithm usually refers to a small procedure that solves a recurrent problem.
Unplugged Activities for KS1:
Human Robot – Sandwich making:
- Use support staff effectively and allow them to transform into a ‘human robot’ .
- Prepare materials needed to make a sandwich, this may be done from implications on previous sessions.
- Explain and present to the KS1 children the scenario (the TA has become a robot and needs the children’s help)!
- Introduce the term ‘algorithm’. Ask children for their ideas and whether they have heard the term before, allow them to discuss ideas, use this for aspects of formative assessment.
- After ideas have been shared successful as a class, explain what an algorithm actually is, how it can be used and perhaps give a visual example to further understanding.
- After this, tell children that they are going to use their new knowledge to create their very own algorithm as a class.
- Allow the robot to stand in front of the children and encourage the children to come to a decision of the steps the algorithm may have.
- Any unsuccessful ‘steps’, would be a brilliant opportunity to mention the term debugging and scaffold them on doing so. This may be done at asking the children were the problem has occurred and what they could do to fix it, to debug it.
- Pictures and evidence of children’s work could then be used to create a computer science display. Children may be given a robot shaped document to physically write their algorithm down on as the lesson progresses.
- Debugging could be looked at further in-depth in next sessions. Hopefully progressing the children’s learning.
Reflection: This lesson idea has shown me ways to break down complex terms within computer science and make it easier to understand for children, by relating it to everyday activities. It has showed me how unplugged activities can develop the children’s ideas before jumping straight to more complex concepts and activities within computer Science.
Next Steps: Develop my SK by looking at lessons to do that are plugged and how to jump from simple introductory lessons to more complex lessons, such as designing or debugging a game. Look further into Scratch.
Crazy Character Algorithms
- Allow children to sit on the carpet with a whiteboard and pen. Explain the topic of the session and introduce the idea of creating their very own ‘crazy character’.
- Ask children to see if they can identify any computing vocabulary used throughout.
- Scaffold the term ‘algorithm’ and secure any previous or new knowledge within the children.
- Explain to the children that you already have an algorithm to help them create their very own ‘crazy character’.
- Read the algorithm step by step to guide children in the process of creating their own character.
- Ask children to show their creations and explain how you’re surprised that the characters are all different, given they were told the same algorithm.
- Ask children why may this be, use questioning and ask them what they need in order for the character to be what you wanted.
- Develop the children’s ideas of precision with algorithms and that they have to be specific if you want to get a specific result.
- Give children their very own sheets with an algorithm on and allow them to follow the more precise steps to successfully create their own character.
- Give them another resource that allows the children to write their own algorithm, they can then pass this on to a partner to be completed.
.Reflection: This lesson idea has shown me how to present decomposition to children, by breaking down the steps of an algorithm. It also has shown me how it is important to present an algorithm which leads to different results. I feel as though this allows children to understand how specific algorithms can be.
Next Steps: Look further into decomposition activities and ways to explain this terminology to children.
Algorithm Activities for KS2:
Create a racing car game using Scratch:
- Once children have been introduced and have become familiar to Scratch, allow them to open the online version.
- Guide them on the tools to create their own background and allow them to create their own for their game. Hopefully this can challenge and inspire the pupils.
- Allow children to design a simple car, which will also be used in the children’s game.
- Ask children to think about the sequences and steps the children will need in their algorithm to get the car to move.
- Allow the children to experiment for a few minutes and ask them to share what they have found.
- If a child had an issue, ask them what they could do to debug this and expand their thinking further.
- Allow children to look at the tools they could use in their script to get the car to go back to the starting point every time the game begins.
- Scaffold and look through the different commands, use talking partners throughout so that ideas can be shared.
- Ask the children what they have found through creating this game.
Reflection: I have learnt from this lesson activity that giving children ownership of their creation, time to discuss and think and time to share ideas may motivate, inspire and challenge them. Giving the children opportunities to experiment and make mistakes could lead to a chance of debugging and realising what may have gone wrong. This may further their learning.
Next Steps: Look at more ways Scratch could be used throughout KS1 and Ks2 in order to developing learning and computational language.
What is computational thinking?