Bringing Algorithms into the Classroom

Learning Objective:

Students will take a sequence of events or steps for some process and create an algorithm. This could apply to any content area. They will display the algorithm in flowchart form.

  • Learn the definition of algorithm
  • Learn how to break a task into steps (algorithm)
  • Learn how to represent algorithm visually

MITECS Standards:

Computational Thinker: Understand how automation works and use algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create and test automated solutions.

Creative Collaborator: Communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.

CS Standards:

Algorithms and Programming

Grade Levels:

Can be modified for students of all grade levels


Students will go through the paper airplane example to learn about an algorithm Course C Lesson 4: Paper Airplanes  lesson on algorithms, unplugged (does not need technology); will need a copy of airplane steps; show video first (unplugged video)

Find a process from a content area to develop a visual algorithm using a flowchart and have someone else test the completed algorithm. Depending on the grade level, the class could compare and refine multiple algorithms for the same task and determine which is the most appropriate. When addressing the Computer Science Standards, these can be algorithms of a computational problem.

*Use this as a formative assessment from a content area skill

Examples from content areas:

  1. Steps when reading a book (for younger students, the steps could be on paper, like the airplane steps to simply put in order)
  2. Steps to writing a paragraph or paper
  3. Long Division
  4. Step for research
  5. Scientific Process

Visual Representations

  1. Paper - Simple Algorithm (PDF) or Simple Algorithm (Google Drawing)
  2. Google Draw or Google Slides
  3. Online Alternatives - search for "free online diagramming tools"
  4. Suggested iPad App: Popplet Lite

Extension Ideas: lesson suggests that students could create new algorithms and have to guess what other algorithms represent.

Could make connections between algorithms and computer programs written in code

Licensing Notes:

Licensing for

(Other than the proprietary videos and artwork mentioned above, all curriculum and tutorial materials developed by are licensed to you for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Unported License. More information about this license can be found at: grants you a non-exclusive, transferable, non-sublicensable, limited right and license to access, view, use, and display the curriculum and tutorial materials. The curriculum and tutorial materials may only be used for noncommercial, computer science educational purposes. You may use these resources in a classroom where you charge students a fee to cover such costs as instructor compensation, venue, snacks, etc., so long as you do not represent the resources as your own creation or restrict access to the resources behind a paywall. If you are interested in licensing materials for commercial purposes, contact us.)

Licensing for Bringing Algorithms to the Classroom 

Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial- ShareAlike 4.0 Unported License



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