Algorithms and Programming – Morning Routine

When being a primary school teacher, it can be very difficult sometimes to encourage students to do the right thing and get settled. Tasks such as organising the students in the morning when they come to school from home, calming them down after they have come back into the classroom from lunch/recess and getting them to prepare themselves for the end of the day ready to go home. But why not use these simple everyday routines as a classic example of Algorithms and Decomposition?

Let’s use the example of coming into the classroom in the morning from home. Students must put their bags in their lockers, take out the books they need for their first lesson, hand their diaries to the teacher, put their books on their desk and sit themselves nicely/silently/quietly on the floor ready to learn (some teachers and classrooms may have a different sequence, this is just an example). After the students have done this for the first time without realising, bring it to their attention. Tell them exactly what they did. Then explain this idea to them more, explain that what they did was a sequence of steps and that they had an objective (to come into the classroom and get ready to learn) but first they had to break down (or decompose) the processes in how to get there.

Perhaps you might like to ask them where else they use decomposition in the school/classroom setting, where they might use it at home and where they might use it in a game/sport. Get them to write this down in their books – they will soon work out that the possibilities for this are endless. Explain to them the concept of algorithms, and that in order to complete an algorithm, decomposition must first take place.

Explaining ideas and concepts doesn’t have to be difficult, sometimes it is more beneficial to bring to the students’ attention more of what they do in their every day lives.

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