Mathematics: Geometry and Spatial Sense
- identify flips, slides and turns, and name slides and turns through investigation using concrete materials and physical motion, and name flips, slides and turns as reflections, translations and rotations (e.g., a slide to the right is a translation; a turn is a rotation)
Vocabulary for coding, algorithm, symbol, debugging
These lessons provide opportunities for teachers and students to gather evidence of learning through teacher, peer, and self-assessments; and learning goals and success criteria. See Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting in Ontario Schools, Chapter 4 for more information.
• Symbol Key (1 per group) (math vocabulary modified from Symbol Key)
• Cup Stack Pack (1 per group) (Cup Stack Pack)
• Disposable cups (6 or more per group)
• Code programming worksheet (e.g., a blank 100-square centimetre or two-centimetre grid sheet)
• Pencil and eraser
• Review vocabulary (coding, algorithm, symbol, debugging) with students - emphasise that debugging is an opportunity to improve and not something negative.
• Review mathematical vocabulary to describe relative locations.
• Ask the class if anyone has heard of robotics - Has anyone seen or touched a robot? Does a robot “hear” what you speak or “understand” what you say? The answer is, “Not the same way that a human does.”
• Explain that robots need a series of specific “instructions” (sometimes called an algorithm) that they have been preprogrammed to run. Today, the students will be learning what this looks like.
1. Show the class a copy of the Symbol Key (or write them on the board).

2. Tell the class that they will be using these four symbols to instruct their “robot” to build a specific cup stack (useful to have these on chart paper in addition to handout):
• ↑ = Pick up cup and slide/translate up (1 cup height)
• ↓ = Slide/Translate down cup as far as it will go and release
• → = Slide/Translate cup forward (half a cup width)
• ← = Slide/Translate cup backward (half a cup width)
• ⟳ = Turn/Rotate cup right 90 degrees
• ⟲ = Turn/Rotate cup left 90 degrees
3. Try this lesson as a class. Let the students give directions for the teacher to write down.
4. Have a class “robot” leave the room during programming, then return to perform the finished code.
5. Go over an example with the class using the first sample from the Cup Stack Pack.
6. Next, place students in groups of three - one of whom will be the robot who will sit apart and do other work (e.g., read independently) while the other programmers complete their code.
7. Programmers will choose one image from the Cup Stack Pack.
8. Programmers will create a code for how the robot should build the selected stack, referring to the Symbol Key and writing on their coding worksheets. Cups remain with the robot, not provided to programmers during coding.
9. When programmers have finished coding their stack, they retrieve their robot.
10. The robot will read the symbols from the coding worksheet and apply the corresponding movements. There should be no talking out loud, except by the robot. Encourage the robots to use the relevant vocabulary.
11. The group should look for incorrect movements, then work together to debug their program before having the robot re-run it.
Students can take turns being the robot.
Ask students to self-assess their learning using co-constructed success criteria.
Provide cups to programmers during programming step, if they are having difficulty writing their code without cups.
If the lesson is going strong, challenge the students to create their own stack drawings.
• Review math and coding vocabulary
• Have students create a growing or repeating pattern of stacked cups (Patterning and Algebra)
• Bee-Bot App
• The Foos App