Algorithms

Has your state adopted learning standards in computer science? Have you checked? In Ohio we adopted computer science learning standards in 2018. After studying our standards, I think a great place to start in the K-6 content or self contained classroom is algorithms.

Starting in kindergarten and first grade, the Ohio standard for algorithms states: With guidance and support, model a real-world process by constructing and following step-by-step directions (i.e., algorithms) to complete tasks. Kindergarten and first grade teachers are probably already doing this. You might not use the word algorithm, but I’m sure you work on making and following multi step instructions.

In second grade the standard drops the with guidance, but still works on creating and following instructions. It states: Model a real-world process by constructing and following step-by-step instructions (i.e., algorithms) to complete tasks.

When we get to third grade students need to start looking at errors found in the multi step instructions. The standard reads, Construct and reflect on errors in an algorithm to accomplish a given task. As students learn to create the algorithms they need to reflect on what might cause the instructions to break down or cause issues or confusion.

The change for fourth grade is that students work on an algorithm for a specific task while refining the algorithm to eliminate the errors. The standard is: Construct and refine an algorithm to accomplish a given task.

Evaluate a multi-step process to diagram the proper steps to solve a problem. You can see that fifth graders are working to continue to refine and evaluate the instructions as they create diagrams of the steps.

Finally in sixth grade students should be able to Compare and refine multiple algorithms for the same task to determine which is the most efficient. Students will compare multiple sets of instructions to decide which one is not only best, but more efficient. This takes thought and analysis.

You could integrate these standards into your ELA classroom by working on writing instructions. The refining and reflecting come with the editing of writing. Or you could integrate into the Math classroom as you work to follow algorithms to complete a variety of math problems. Students could write their own set of instructions to work through computation and algebra problems.

So, I ask again. Has your state adopted computer science learning standards?

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