This is our group page for team tasks.
Each member of the group will need to define one concept of computational thinking, with examples of activities you might use to teach the concept.
Definition no. 1: Decomposition.
Decomposition is the process of breaking down a problem into smaller parts which are more manageable to handle. Using decomposition you are able to solve more complex problems and complete larger projects. When children have to complete a large task they will probably use decomposition to process the information in a more manageable and achievable way. This is because having a set of smaller, related tasks are much easier to manage than the whole project. Decomposition can be completed individually or in a team.
In schools decomposition will be used in daily practice, this is because we as teachers are setting children with tasks or asking pupils to tell us more, or find out more information which requires them to think about how they are going to complete the tasks, and will break it down into different sections to make it more manageable. So whenever a child is; working out a maths problem or getting dressed for PE for example they will need to break these tasks into manageable parts – using decomposition.
An example of how to use decomposition in an activity to explain the concept:
A simple activity you can do the explain the concept of decomposition would be to:
- Ask children, how do they get to school?
- Then further question them about the stages they complete for the journey to school to happen.
- Describe each stage separately with the children.
- Then point out that the children are decomposing complex tasks.
- This is because they first explained the basics of their journey to school, but then asking to explain the steps further in which they need to go into more depth about their journey. Decomposing their question.
Definition no. 2: Abstraction.
Abstraction involves the simplification of a piece of information as opposed to providing detail, in order to make complex tasks appear more achievable. It can be represented in terms of layers or a hierarchy, where technical details can be concealed ‘within boxes within boxes’. Abstraction is used in computer science as a means for regulating the levels of complexity in what is designed and created.
The process of abstraction is not undertaken until pupils have reached Key Stage 3, however it is an aim stated in the primary curriculum that all pupils ‘can understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, including abstraction, logic, algorithms and data representation.’ This process may be learnt through computer games which involve interactive simulations of systems based on real life.
An example of an activity to teach the concept:
The children could be asked to pretend that they are stranded on an island with only a mobile phone for a means of communication. They must send a message to a relative or friend explaining their location and what their relative/friend needs to do to help. However, each child only has enough credit to send one text message – 160 characters. This means that they need to provide enough details to ensure that they are rescued, but remain concise so that they do not run out of characters – by providing only the most crucial information.
A common set of words or instructions that are used again and again. They are important in computing because they can use the pattern again to try solve different problems. Once they have one pattern designed they can build upon this. Many computers use patterns to programme the different searches.
Patterns are used all over the curriculum. Children become familiar with patterns as they learn rhymes,stories and songs. They use repetition which is a key aspect of patterns.
The children can be given activities to help them learn about patterns. They can explore patterns in real life situations. For example a floating and sinking activity. The children realise the pattern of heavy items sinking. The can also look at patterns in maths, for examples times tables. They can see the pattern of the numbers increasing and getting bigger.
An algorithm is a set of instructions, it is a procedure or formula for solving a problem. This is an effective method that can calculate a function. Starting from an initial output, the instructions will describe a computation that will eventually produce an output.
Activities to Teach The Concept
- By using the bee-bots, the children could program these to carry out their instructions, and give an output for their algorithms.
- On-screen program building using scratch.
- By using word-processor, paint, working with photos and creating blogs, these are all allowing children to create algorithms.
- To introduce the children to the concept of step-by-step instructions they could think about their daily routine or instructions to make a jam sandwich. They can then talk about how a computer needs to receive a set of instructions in order to function.
- This could be linked to an English lesson about instruction writing.