Jody Kelley, Becky Ball, Crystal Van Ausdal
Computer Science
Material Type:
Assessment, Lesson Plan
Middle School
  • Computer Science
  • Problem Solving / Decision Making
  • Problem and Solution
    Creative Commons Attribution

    Education Standards

    Problem Solution Project - Exploring Computer Science

    Problem Solution Project - Exploring Computer Science


    This is an introdutory lesson to computer science combinded with a 3-part project, students will prepare for programming by practicing the problem-solving steps. They will select a problem that they are dealing with at home, at school, or a problem in the community. They will then research and gather data to help them find a step by step plan to solve the problem. 

         Lesson Includes: Activity, Pre-Post Survey, 3-part project and rubric


    Introductory Questions

    Instructor Notes: Think-Pair-Share (F2F - Day 1)

    • Your students will have a wide range of experiences with the different kinds of problems they have experienced.
    • Be sure to allow plenty of time for students to think. You may even want to suggest that they write down a few keywords related to their problem.
    • You can demonstrate this by modeling this for them.
    • Now pair them up for a Pair-Share
    • You can demonstrate by sharing an example problem you may have had before having your students do a pair-share.
    • Be sure to allow plenty of time for students to share.
      • SWD: Some students with disabilities may struggle to listen and follow along simultaneously during the demonstration. To allow students to focus on listening skills during this task, you can provide a list of key terms and steps for repeated actions/tasks to refer to later.
      • ELL: Be sure that ELLs are able to follow the explanation that you provide. Ask questions during your explanation to check for understanding.
    • After you have given the student plenty of time to Pair-Share ask for volunteers to share with the whole group.


    To get you started thinking about solving problems answer the following questions below.

    • Think of some problems you may have had in the past or you are experiencing recently?
    • What did you do to solve your problem?
    • Did you use any type 
    • Was your problem resolved? Why? or Why not?
    • Do any challenges come to mind when you attempt to solve problems on your own or with others?

    Problem Solution Survey


    • The results of this survey can be used to help you understand individual students, of course, but you can also use them to think about your class as a whole.

    As your year begins, it’s important to let your teacher know more about you as a student and learner. Take some time to independently complete this Problem Solution Survey, and then answer the question below on a Post-It note. Then place the Post-It note on the big letter T bulletin board.

    • What can you tell me about yourself as a learner that will help me teach you better this year?


    Hopes and Worries Reflection

    F2F -  Day 2

    • This quick reflection will help you get a sense of each student's readiness for the school year/semester.
      • ELL: Make sure that ELLs have access to a bilingual dictionary as well as monolingual dictionaries in English and their primary language. Using good dictionaries is very important in building their knowledge of the language and their vocabulary.

    After the students have completed working on Task #1 be sure to be observant and make sure each student has two peers whom have signed their note to the teacher (Task #1).

    Task #1

    Take a few minutes to reflect on what you’ve seen and done so far, and to think about the upcoming semester. What are your hopes and fears? Write a short note to your teacher, completing the following prompts.

    • This year, I hope that . . .
    • This year, I worry that . . .

    Task #2

    Share your hopes and fears with two other students. Have them sign your short note. Select wisely, for these two students will become your support system through out the semester with this class. The teaacher may override a signature and ask you to select a different student to become one of your two support system team members.


    Problem Solution Survey Discussion


    • Facilitate a discussion about how the Learning Survey can help foster a learning partnership.


    Reflect with your class on the Learning Survey.

    • What lessons can you, your teacher, and your classmates learn about how best to move forward through the year?

    Problem-Solution Project  - Exploring Computer Science

    (Self - Pace)

    Provide time for students to start this section of the lesson in class. Possibly 20-30 minutes depending on much time your previous discussions take.

    Once a student has completed Part 3 (of section 5), they will need to self score and comment on their own project usin gthe shared rubric. After making adjustments to their project, the student will then have two peers score and comment on their project using the shared rubric.

    Be sure to give three different deadlines to the class:


    #1 for completion of the project

    #2 for completion of self evaluation

    #3 for completion of 2 peer evaluations

    All of this needs to be completed before moving to Section 6.

    Problem-Solution Project  - Exploring Computer Science

    Instructions: For this 3-part project, you will practice using the problem-solving steps by selecting a problem that you are dealing with at home, at school, or a problem in the community. You will then research and gather data to help you find a solution to the problem.


                  What are the Problem-Solving Steps?
    CLICK HERE to view a video about the problem-solving steps.


    Part 1 - Select a Problem
    CLICK HERE to open the Problem Solving Worksheet. Identify a problem that you would like to solve. This problem can be something from the community, your home, or your school. Identify a research question to guide your research. Full instructions are on the worksheet.


                 Part 2 - Gather Data and Make a Plan
    Identify questions (at least 3) that will help you gather information to help you with your solution. Carefully consider the answers to your questions. Carry out an experiment if needed to gather the data.  CLICK HERE to open the Problem Solving Worksheet and type in the answers to your data questions.


           Part 3 - Carry out Your Plan, Review and Revise
    CLICK HERE for the instructions on how to present your findings.


    Problem Solution Post Survey


    Student will complete this section of the lesson between F2F times.

    If a student submits a Problem Solution Survey you can check to make sure they have submitted their project and rubric links here: Ready To Be Graded

    Now that you have learned a way to problem solve and applied your new knowledge, it's time to take the Problem Solution Survey again to see if you feel any differently regarding designing solutions for different problems.