Objective: There are many ways to express algorithms. Find the best expression for describing a solution to your task.
Goal: Groups of students will create many different ways to express common dance sequence movements in algorithmic form.
Pre-meeting tasks: Divide students up into many teams of three. Assign each team to either teach the hand-jive or the Macarena via algorithmic expressions. (If teams comprised of different number of students work better in your environment, modify the activity accordingly)
Introduction Activity: Review algorithms with students: A algorithms is a step-by-step set of instructions used to complete a task. Each instruction should be as detailed as needed to convey the correct procedure, but no more complex. Algorithms can be expressed in any number of ways: 1) written, 2) spoken, 3) physically shown, 4) pictures, 5) any other way you can think of.
Lesson Activity: Each group will create an algorithm to teach another group a set of dance movements. Either the group will be expressing an algorithm to describe the movements of the Macarena, or the Hand-Jive. Each group will have the opportunity to create their algorithm, then they will be given the opportunity to teach another group about their dance steps, and they will be taught the dance movements they weren’t assigned by a different group. So at the end, each group will learn both the dance movements for Hand Jive and Macarena. The first dance sequence, they were assigned to teach and create the algorithm for, the second they were taught by another group.
Explain to the groups that they should take five minutes or so to discuss the best way to express their dance step algorithms so that the group being taught by them will most easily learn them. Students should have access to as many materials and tools as possible to creatively complete the task. (e.g., recording equipment if they choose video instructions, paper, pens, poster board if they choose writing or drawn instructions, etc.)
Lesson Activity A): Allow ~25 minutes for the students to create their algorithmic representations for their assigned dance sequence.
Instructor Note: Each of these dance sequences contains a loop. Be sure that each group finds a way to express that the sequence of steps returns to the beginning step and repeats some number of time. Use the word ‘loops‘ or phrase ‘loops back on itself‘ to express this idea.
Lesson Activity B): Match up a group that worked on a Macarena algorithm to a group that worked on Hand Jive algorithm. Allow ~10 minutes for the students who created the Macarena algorithm to teach their partner group their dance. Then groups should switch roles for another ~10 minutes while the Hand Jive group shares their algorithm and teaches their partner group the Hand Jive sequence.
Video resource for the Macarena:
Video resource for the Hand-Jive (just do the first half!):
Wrap-Up Activity: Have each group or a group leader present their algorithm to the entire class. As the number and types of algorithms emerge, emphasize the number of different ways the same sequence of instructions was expressed.
Final Activity: Since all the students should know both dances pretty well by now, have the entire class ‘perform’ the Hand Jive and Macarena dances as a large group.
If a group made pictorial or written instructions that are easy to display while the entire class performs, display them during the performance for reference for your dancers.
A. Ask the students to offer up any ideas they did not use to express their algorithms. Why did they choose an alternate approach or expression?
B. In what ways do they think their chosen way ended up expressing the task optimally?
C. Ask the students: “What does it mean if an algorithm ‘loops back'”? How did they express the idea of looping in their algorithm? What would the alternative be? (Writing the sequence over and over and over again?)
Homework Idea: Have the students teach both dances to a friend or family member after school. Explain to the person that they teach that many dance steps contain a sequence of steps that repeat or loop over and over again.