ECT Lesson Plan: Algorithmic Thinking
Lesson plan at a glance...

In this lesson plan… 
Students will explore algorithm design by creating oral algorithms, giving instructions for other students to follow to duplicate a model supplied by the teacher. Studentstudent interaction will foster community and help them analyze the effectiveness of their algorithms.
Before students come to class: Using bricks, cards, tangrams or anything that can be arranged, create simple models to copy using the items; one for every four students. 
10 to 20 minutes 
10 minutes 

20 minutes 

5 minutes 
Activity Overview: In this activity, students will identify the key concepts in algorithm design.
Activity: Discussion: Students respond to the following prompt in small or large groups: Think about brushing your teeth. What steps do you go through each time you brush? How would you give stepbystep instructions to someone about how to brush their teeth? 
Activity Overview: In this activity, students will use algorithm design to create an ordered series of instructions for solving a problem, and other students will follow the algorithm. Studentstudent interactions help them build peersupport networks and that foster a studentcentered learning community.
Notes to the Teacher: Refer to the the previously built models for this activity. 
Activity:
Q1: What type of instructions worked best? Q2: Why is this type of activity representative of humans working with computers? 
Assessment: A1: Simple, stepbystep, specific instructions. A2: Computers can only understand the exact instructions they have been given, even if the instructions are flawed. 
Activity Overview: In this activity, students will discuss the outcomes of the previous activities.
Activity: Start by introducing the term “algorithm” and giving the definition (see Lesson Vocabulary below). Discussion: Encourage your students to have a discussion about the previous activities. 
Learning Objectives 
Standards 
LO1: Students will be able to write a series of instructions for creating a model. 
Common Core CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP4: Model with mathematics. Computer Science AUSTRALIA 8.11 (Collaborating and managing): Plan and manage projects, including tasks, time and other resources required, considering safety and sustainability. CSTA L1:6.CPP.5: Construct a program as a set of stepbystep instructions to be acted out (e.g., make peanut butter and jelly sandwich activity). CSTA L2.CL.3: Collaborate with peers, experts and others using collaborative practices such as pair programming, working in project teams and participating ingroup active learning activities. UK 2.1: CS design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts. 
LO2: Students will be able to articulate some important strategies and possible pitfalls in writing algorithms. 
Common Core CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP2: Reason abstractly and quantitatively. Computer Science CSTA L2.CT.7: Represent data in a variety of ways including text, sounds, pictures and numbers. UK 3.6: Understand how instructions are stored and executed within a computer system; understand how data of various types (including text, sounds and pictures) can be represented and manipulated digitally, in the form of binary digits. 
Term 
Definition 
For Additional Information 
Algorithm 
A series of instructions that can be repeated over and over with the same result for a given input (e.g. recipe, computer software, sheet of music notes) 
Concept 
Definition 

Algorithm Design 
Creating an ordered series of instructions for solving similar problems 
Contact info 
For more info about Exploring Computational Thinking (ECT), visit the ECT website (g.co/exploringCT) 
Credits 
Developed by the Exploring Computational Thinking team at Google and reviewed by K12 educators from around the world. 
Last updated on 
07/02/2015 
Copyright info 
Except as otherwise noted, the content of this document is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, and code samples are licensed under the Apache 2.0 License. 
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