Group Work: File Basics

It is best to use a POGIL approach with the following. In POGIL students work in groups on activities and each member has an assigned role. For more information see


If you work in a group, have only one member of the group fill in the answers on this page. You will be able to share your answers with the group at the bottom of the page.

Learning Objectives

Students will know and be able to do the following.

Content Objectives:

Process Objectives:

File Paths, Names, and Extensions

A file is saved data in secondary storage on a computer. This type of storage persists even if you turn off power to the computer.

A file has a path, a name, and an extension. You have probably downloaded a file to your computer (such as

On a Apple computer you can find this file in the Downloads folder. The path to that file is /Users/username/Downloads/. It is the list of parent directories/folders. On a Windows computer the path would typically be C:\users\your name\downloads\. One of the things you need to be aware of when you read and write files is the path to the file.

The file name is what you have actually called the file. In this case it would be TurtleEx1.

The file extension is typically three to four characters following a . after the name. In this case the extension is py which means that it is a file with Python code in it. The txt extension is used for a plain text file.

Using Terminal Commands to Navigate a File System

Your computer has a top level directory or folder. This is called the root of the file system. Every directory/folder can hold other directories/folders. This type of structure is called a tree.

You can open a terminal window on your computer and run Python by typing python in the terminal window.

If you want to read from a file you will need to be in the same directory as the file. How can you do that in the terminal window? You can use terminal commands to change directories.

If you worked in a group, you can copy the answers from this page to the other group members. Select the group members below and click the button to share the answers.

The Submit Group button will submit the answer for each each question on this page for each member of your group. It also logs you as the official group submitter.

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