Lesson 2: Powerful Passwords
Unplugged | Online Safety
Students explore why people use passwords, learn the benefits of using passwords, and discover strategies for creating and keeping strong, secure passwords.
Students learn password tips, test their existing passwords with an interactive game, and create new passwords using guidelines for powerful passwords.
As students start to engage with more technology from more sources, it's important for them to start thinking about how to protect their information. While students at his age are likely still using teacher created accounts on code.org, students can use this lesson to understand the need for good passwords with all of the accounts the will end up using in and out of school.
Warm Up (10 min)
Main Activity (30 min)
Wrap Up (5 min)
Assessment (5 - 10 min)
Students will be able to:
- Understand the functions of passwords.
- Identify strategies for creating and protecting secure passwords.
- Create their own secure passwords using the lesson guidelines.
- Review the links below.
- Print out one worksheet from the link above (page 5) for every four students.
- Print out an assessment from the link at the top (page 6) for each student.
- Provide each student with 4 index cards or strips of paper.
- Make sure every student has a journal.
Heads Up! Please make a copy of any documents you plan to share with students.
For the Teacher
- Powerful Passwords - Teacher Prep Guide
- Common Sense Education - Website
- CSF Digital Citizenship - Resource List
For the Students
- Think Spot Journal - Reflection Journal
Warm Up (10 min)
Ask: What is a combination lock? (You can hold up a real combination lock to show students for effect.)
Explain that you can only open a combination lock by turning the dial in a secret combination of numbers that is hard to guess.
Ask: Do you ever us a combination lock? If so, what for?
Define the key vocabulary term password - a secret word or phrase that some websites require you to type in if you want to visit them.
Explain to students that online passwords are similar to the combinations for a lock. They are secret combinations of letters and numbers that only you know. Passwords keep other people from seeing your private information on the Internet. For example, tell students that passwords allow them to save their points after playing an online game. When they’re older, they will use passwords to do many things, such as keep track of their money or shop online.
Define the key vocabulary term protect - to keep safe.
Explain that knowing how to create powerful passwords will prevent other people from pretending to be them and help them keep their private information and money secure. Passwords protect one’s identity and information.
- Angry, because my privacy has been broken
- Worried that someone might pretend to be me online
- Fearful that someone can find out private information about me through my account
Ask: How would you feel if someone else used your password and pretended to be you on one of these sites? For instance, what if someone used your password to steal points that you have collected in a video game?
Main Activity (30 min)
DOs and DON'Ts of Powerful Passwords
Have students complete the DOs and DON’Ts of Powerful Passwords Student Handout, making their best guesses about whether statements should begin with a DO or a DON’T.
Review answers with students once they are finished. Encourage students to correct their handouts so that they can refer to the tips in the future. Here are the correct answers and sample explanations:
- DO make passwords eight or more characters long. (Longer passwords are harder to crack than shorter ones.)
- DON’T use dictionary words as your password. (Others could guess your password this way.)
- DO include letters, numbers, and symbols in your password. (It can be harder to guess passwords with this combination.)
- DO change your password at least every six months. (This way, even if someone does guess your password, they won’t be able to get into your account for long.)
- DON’T use private identity information in your password. (Others could guess your password this way.)
- DON’T use your phone number as your password. (Others could guess your password this way.)
- DON’T use your nickname as your password. (It could be easy for others to guess.)
- DO give your password to your parent or guardian. (They will help you remember it if you forget it.)
- DON’T share your password with your friends. (Even if you trust them, they might unintentionally do something that puts you or your information at risk.)
- DO create a password that you can remember. (It’s okay to create a random password, but keep in mind that it should be one that you can remember, or else it won’t do you much good.)
Ask: Which tips did you know? Which ones surprised you?
Remind students that they should not carry their passwords with them, tape them to their computers, or share them with friends. It is also wise for students to let trusted family members know about their passwords. They can help students find a safe place to store their written passwords.
Make a Secure Password
Define the Key Vocabulary term secure - safe and protected. Tell students that you will now practice creating a new, secure password. Distribute four blank index cards or strips of paper to each student. Instruct students to write down an answer for each of the following categories, one per blank index card or strip of paper:
- Favorite number
- Pet’s name, or favorite character’s name
- A symbol (#, $, %, *, or &)
- Favorite food
Have students arrange the four strips in various combinations to create a new password, keeping in mind the DOs and DON’Ts tips they discussed earlier. When they’ve finished, have them share their new password with a partner, and then have them vote on which password they consider the strongest. For an added challenge, students can tear words apart to create more options for combinations.
Invite students to share their winning passwords with the class, and discuss what makes them so strong.
(Optional) Test Your Password
Tell students that they are now going to play “Test Your Password,” a game that tests how secure their passwords are. Have students line up against one wall of the classroom, or go to a bigger space, such as the playground. Tell them that you will call out statements about password protection, along with what to do in response if the statement is true for them.
Statement 1: If you change your password at least every six months, take three steps forward.
Statement 2: If you use your nickname as your password, take two steps back.
Statement 3: If your password includes letters, numbers, and symbols, take three steps forward.
Statement 4: If your password has less than eight characters, take one step back.
Statement 5: If you haven’t changed your password in two years, take four steps back.
Statement 6: If your password has at least eight characters, take two steps forward.
Statement 7: If you let your friends use your password, take two steps back.
Statement 8: If no one except you and your parent or guardian knows your password, take two steps forward.
Statement 9: If your password has no private information, take three steps forward.
Statement 10: If your password is a word in the dictionary, take two steps back.
Statement 11: If your password is hard for you to remember, take two steps back.
Statement 12: If your password is not your home phone number, take two steps forward
Wrap Up (5 min)
Flash Chat: What did we learn?
- What is a password?
- Why are strong passwords helpful?
- What are some DOs and DON'Ts to remember about powerful passwords
Assessment (5 - 10 min)
Powerful Passwords Assessment
Pass out an assessment to each student. Allow students a few minutes to complete it then review the answers (page 6 of Powerful Passwords - Teacher Prep Guide) with the class. If there's time, allow for a discussion about the questions.
CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards (2017)
IC - Impacts of Computing
- 1A-IC-17 - Work respectfully and responsibly with others online.
- 1A-IC-18 - Keep login information private, and log off of devices appropriately.
NI - Networks & the Internet
- 1A-NI-04 - Explain what passwords are and why we use them, and use strong passwords to protect devices and information from unauthorized access.
This list represents opportunities in this lesson to support standards in other content areas.
Common Core English Language Arts Standards
L - Language
- 2.L.6 - Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using adjectives and adverbs to describe (e.g., When other kids are happy that makes me happy).
SL - Speaking & Listening
- 2.SL.1 - Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
- 2.SL.1.a - Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
- 2.SL.1.b - Build on others’ talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others.
Common Core Math Standards
MP - Math Practices
- MP.1 - Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
- MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively
- MP.3 - Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
- MP.6 - Attend to precision
- MP.7 - Look for and make use of structure
Next Generation Science Standards
ETS - Engineering in the Sciences
ETS1 - Engineering Design
- K-2-ETS1-1 - Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.