Teaching Lesson 2

Here are videos that give techniques for facilitating classrooms of students who are working on projects.

The main point of this lesson is to get students comfortable with the StarLogo Nova environment and to set the tone for problem solving and computer programming in the following units.

Think about how you would answer these questions:
  • How pair programming can be used during the guided tour and Painted turtles?
  • How to help students who feel stuck?
  • What were some variations on how to lead the guided tutorial?
Review the activities from Lesson 2 as well as the materials below.  Reflect on how you would teach this lesson in your class.  Post you reflection to your portfolio in "Pedagogy->Module 1" under the heading Lesson 2.

Learning Objectives

The student will:

-Learn that in complex adaptive systems one type of interaction is that agents impact their environment.  (LO7)

-Make a model in which agents impact their environment (LO8)

-Get comfortable with the StarLogo Nova programming environment (LO9)

-Make a program that contains simple instructions that are executed in a loop.  (LO10)

-Trace a program’s execution (LO11)

-Change variables to alter turtle movement. Use randomness.  (LO12)

-Turn angles, random function, relative vs absolute position and heading. (LO13)

Teaching Summary

Getting started – 5 minutes (Review)

1.     Review of the previous day’s lesson and concepts and connection to today’s lesson.

            Activity 1: Guided Tour of StarLogo Nova - 30 minutes  (Guided Practice)

2.     Guided Tour

3.     Observations and Ethical considerations

             Activity 2: Painting Turtles Challenge  - 10 minutes (Discovery / Creative)

4.     Pair Programming

5.     New StarLogo Nova commands

6.     The Challenge

             Wrap-up - 5 minutes (Reflection)

7.     What does Painting turtles have to do with modeling and simulation?

Assessment questions (suggested):
  • Is painting turtles a model of a complex adaptive system?  Why or why not?
  • What variables were used in Painting turtles?
  • What is the difference between turning 90 and turning random 90?Is the painting made by turtles repeatable? 
  • If I run the program again, will it produce the same drawing?  Why or why not?

CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards




Explain how sequence, selection, iteration and recursion are the building blocks of algorithms.


Modeling & simulation


Interact with content-specific models and simulations to support learning and research.


Data collection & analysis


Collect and analyze data that are output from multiple runs of a computer program.




Implement a problem solution in a programming environment using looping behavior, conditional statements, logic, expressions, variables and functions.

Responsiveness to varied student learning needs:

In Project GUTS, we integrate teaching strategies found to be effective with learners with various backgrounds and characteristics such as economically disadvantaged students (EDS), students from underrepresented groups in STEM (URG) , students with disabilities (DIS), English Language learners (ELL), girls and young women (FEM), students in alternative education (ALT), and gifted and talented students (GAT). In each lesson we describe the accommodations and differentiation strategies that are integrated in the activities to support a wide range of learners.

Module 1 Lesson 2: Guided Tour of StarLogo Nova and the Painting Turtles Challenge

(URG)(DIS) We use technology to present information in multiple modes of representations. In the StarLogo Nova modeling and simulation environment students can present information as code blocks, text, visual imagery, and as data in tables and graphs.

(FEM) We recommend careful planning of partners for pair programming in the Guided Tour and Painting Turtles Challenge on-computer activities, a practice that encourages participation for the girls in science.