Computing Progress logo
Community Supported
Section Title Primary information Description and Notes Suggested resources
Lesson Length The expected lesson length will be approximately one hour

Some variation possible.

Assessment Level 1

Students The lesson is suitable for KS3 and KS4 students Since this is a new specification, the lesson is suitable for Year 7 to 9 students and differentiated by outcome  
Overall Focus The lesson focus, as part of a series, will be introducing and consolidating the student's knowledge and practical application of abstraction. The notion of abstraction is central to computing, but not always easy for students to grasp.  The intention is to look at it in novel and understandable ways to make sure it is firmly understood

Lesson Links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39

Key words abstraction, programming language, instruction, open source, digital, file types These words need to be reinforced throughout the series of lessons  

Develop abstractions to represent physical objects

Use data patterns to represent physical objects

Evidence of a range of software based samples of abstraction should now be available for assessment opportunities.  These can all be documented on their portfolios or blogs for easy access.  
Key Questions Some questions to get learners thinking about the topics There are some potentially difficult ideas here, but it should be possible to gently build on their understanding through clear worked examples Questions referenced in previous lesson are still valid and can be further explored.
Learning Objectives
  • To understand the key aspects of abstraction and be able to give examples of how and where it is used
  • To describe and explain, with examples, how data patterns and objects can be used to represent physical objects
  If you are using the Learning Machine learning system, students can add their comments and material to this site as evidence of their growing understanding.  The site, if used consistently, will show progression via charts of activity and outcomes.
Teaching and Learning Elements
  • Introduction to some examples of abstraction in the wider world, including a chance for student discussion on their understanding so far
  • A teacher led demonstration of using a graphics program to abstract an object
  • Students can break into groups and work on their own examples of abstraction
  • Class discussion and evaluation of the wider uses of abstraction
  • Summarize the key points and reinforce the importance of abstraction and representation

In this lesson we need to consolidate how abstraction helps us better work with a number of elements and how it can shape ideas in a more manageable way.


The main focus of the lesson here should be to play with aspects of abstraction to reinforce how useful it can be.

Assuming they have a good understanding, they can work in groups and then share their findings.

Lesson Structure Possible timings
  1. refresh the topic of abstraction
  2. check pupils understanding, perhaps a quick quiz (handout or learning site based) or verbal check
  3. class based instruction and discussion on using data patterns to represent other objects using bitmap or vector program
  4. group work to work on some of their own possible designs.  Share good examples as the lesson progresses to reinforce abstraction.
  5. discuss what they have learned and what they can apply
  6. volunteers to share their work and explain how abstraction works
  7. highlight next week's focus and issue homework

It would be useful before hand to have a vector based drawing program such as Inkscape added to your network

In the previous activities the picture was built from objects (shapes) now build a picture from dots.

Data patterns to make pictures and images. Magnifying glass and newspaper images, red, green and blue dots to make up all colours in the picture.   Download the scanned image below and scale it up until you see the dots.

Scanned newspaper image

Use a piece of squared paper to colour in squares to make a picture. What are the limitations. If we use a piece of graph paper how will it improve the images? It will take longer to make the image – there is more data to put in – but the image will be a better representation of the real thing. Use a bitmap editor such as , GIMP icon  Paintbrush logo(Mac only), Tuxpaint logo , or Pixlr Editor to illustrate how pictures can be made up from individual pixels (picture elements).  This reinforces the abstraction of shapes making more complex "things".

Use a vector drawing program ( is free with many video tutorials on YouTube)  to build a picture from objects e.g. make a car using circles and rectangles. Show that you can magnify the shapes as much as you want without them going "grainy".  Show that the picture on a computer is also made of small coloured dots called pixels by zooming in on graphics on the white board.

Opportunities to reinforce abstraction in terms of simplified information representing something more complicated. 

Students can use  Gliffy logo to begin thinking about how to represent instructions.  The flow-chart system uses abstract shapes to represent process, inputs and outputs.

There are many Inkscape tutorials on You Tube.  Use these as a starting point.  Students should be very familiar with drawing programs and should pick it up quickly.

Homework Create their own image using graph paper or create a flow-chart for making a cup of tea Students can vary their homework depending on their level of understanding and degree of comfort with the software they have seen Students can draw a picture with small squares.  Vary the graph paper size of squares depending on the student's ability.  Cross-reference to pointillism in art.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email