Lesson 1: Write your first computer program

Overview

In this lesson, learners of all ages get an introductory experience with coding and computer science in a safe, supportive environment. This lesson has been designed for young learners, ages 4-10, but can be adapted for older learners using the differentiation suggestions provided.

Purpose

This lesson introduces the core CS concepts of coding and programming (using blocks), as well as simple debugging techniques.

Agenda

Assessment (2 minutes)

Wrap Up (5 minutes)

Extended Learning

Getting Started (5 minutes)

Activity (30-45 minutes)

Differentiation Suggestions

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Define “coding” and “computer science”
  • Identify key computer science vocabulary
  • Identify places to go to continue learning computer science and coding

Preparation

One Week Before Your Hour of Code

One Day Before Your Hour of Code

  • Print one or more of the Exit Ticket examples at the end of this lesson plan, or create your own.
  • Each student who completes the activity should receive a certificate. Print one for everyone in advance to make this easier at the end of your Hour of Code.

Vocabulary

  • code - (v) to write code, or to write instructions for a computer.
  • Debugging - Finding and fixing problems in an algorithm or program.
  • Program - An algorithm that has been coded into something that can be run by a machine.

Support

Report a Bug

Teaching Guide

Assessment (2 minutes)

Give each student an “Exit Ticket” and ask them to summarize what they learned today, how they felt, or what they experienced. Students can draw, write or express themselves in any way they feel comfortable. Collect an “Exit Ticket” from each student on their way out of the room. If you like, you can post the “Exit Tickets” on a bulletin board or some place prominent in the school as a reminder of your Hour of Code.

Wrap Up (5 minutes)

Debrief

Ask students to reflect on the day’s activities. What did they learn about coding? Programming? Debugging? How do they feel about computer science and code after spending one hour exploring?

Celebrate

Explain that you are spending one hour coding today, because this week is CS Education Week, and millions of other students across the globe have also been learning one Hour of Code this week. Congratulate students on being part of this world wide movement.

Give each student a certificate with his or her name on it.

Next Steps

Let students know that if they enjoyed today’s activity, they have many options for continuing to code. Encourage students to visit code.org/learn for a list of options, or, if you’re planning any of the extension activities that follow, tell students what’s coming next in your classroom.

Extended Learning

Beyond an Hour of Code

After your Hour of Code ends, there are many ways to continue teaching computer science in your K-5 classroom. Here are some ideas:

  • Teach the Code Studio Computer Science Fundamentals courses. These four courses are designed for young learners. Students work their way through a series of puzzles that teach them to code, and educators have access to engaging lesson plans that help make the learning coming alive. Code.org offers free professional development for these courses, online or in-person.
  • Invite a computer science expert to talk to your class about his or her work. Don’t know any local computer scientists? Try signing up for a virtual classroom visit through Code.org’s and Skype's Guest Speakers in Computer Science program.

Getting Started (5 minutes)

Setting the Stage

Welcome students to class and very briefly introduce the day’s activity.

Say: “Today we’re going to spend one hour learning to code. Has anyone here heard the term “code” before? What does it mean?”

Students might mention that a “code” is like a secret message, or that it’s related to computers in some way.

Teaching Tip

One way to introduce the Hour of Code if you are not very familiar with coding yourself is to show one of our inspirational videos. Choose one you think your students will find inspiring, and share it now. For young learners, we suggest “The Hour of Code is Here.”

Explain that in computer science, “code” means a set of instructions that a computer can understand. Let students know that today, they are going to practice “coding,” “programming” and “debugging”.

Define:

  • Coding means to write code, or to write instructions for a computer.
  • Programming, similarly, means to write code or instructions. Today, you will program with blocks on the computer (if you’re using an online tutorial) or with pen and paper (if you’re using an unplugged activity).
  • Debugging means to check code for mistakes and try to fix errors.

Teaching Tip

You’ll want to spend very little time front-loading or introducing your Hour of Code. With young learners, it’s best to jump in as quickly as possible. Too much explanation or lecture at the beginning tends to spoil the fun, and fun is the whole point!

Activity (30-45 minutes)

Challenge your students to complete the Write your first computer program tutorial.

Depending on the age and ability of your students, you might consider:

  • For younger students, we suggest you break your class into pairs or very small groups (three to four students each) and ask each group to work together to complete the tutorial using pair programming.
  • For learners in the middle grades, we find that working independently on tutorials works well. Sometimes it helps to allow students to choose their own tutorial. If students aren't interested in Angry Birds, they can get a similar experience with the Code with Anna and Elsa or Make a Flappy Game tutorials.
  • For older or adult learners, the Write your first computer program tutorial works extremely well either as an independent challenge or a pair programming activity.

Teaching Tip

Be sure to play through your chosen tutorials yourself, before asking your students to attempt them. That way you’ll know what to expect and can make decisions about whether to let students choose their own tutorial, or if you want to assign tutorials based on student needs.

If a group or individual finishes early, they can attempt another tutorial by visiting code.org/learn.

Differentiation Suggestions

Adjustments for K-2 Teachers

  • Have the first level of the activity already pulled up on students’ computer screens when they students start the activity.
  • If possible, have students sit away from the computers while explaining the directions to the activity.
  • Explain the 3 commands that the bird can do: move forward, turn right, and turn left.
  • Do a live example of the first 3 levels. Try putting tape on the floor to make it look like the bird’s maze. Model the commands yourself and then pick 1 or 2 student volunteers to model for the class.
  • Have students pair program by sitting 2 students at the same computer. Have the person controlling the mouse and keyboard first be a “1” and the other student who makes suggestions, points out errors, and asks questions be a “2.” Every 5 minutes, have the students switch roles.
  • Practice clicking and dragging blocks before attempting to solve any of the puzzles. Also, practice dragging blocks to the trash can.

Standards Alignment

View full course alignment

CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards (2011)

CD - Computers & Communication Devices
  • CD.L1:3-01 - Use standard input and output devices to successfully operate computers and related technologies.
CI - Community, Global, and Ethical Impacts
  • CI.L1:3-01 - Practice responsible digital citizenship (legal and ethical behaviors) in the use of technology systems and software.
CPP - Computing Practice & Programming
  • CPP.L1:6-01 - Use technology resources (e.g., calculators, data collection probes, mobile devices, videos, educational software and web tools) for problem-solving and self-directed learning.
  • CPP.L1:6-06 - Implement problem solutions using a block based visual programming language.

ISTE Standards for Students

1 - Creativity and Innovation
  • 1.a - Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes.
  • 1.c - Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues.
4 - Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • 4.b - Plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.
6 - Technology Operations and Concepts
  • 6.a - Understand and use technology systems.
  • 6.c - Troubleshoot systems and applications.
  • 6.d - Transfer current knowledge to learning of new technologies.

Common Core English Language Arts Standards

L - Language
  • 1.L.6 - Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using frequently occurring conjunctions to signal simple relationships (e.g., because).
  • 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).
  • 3.L.6 - Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate conversational, general academic, and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal spatial and temporal relationships (e.g., After dinner that night we went looking for them).
RI - Reading Informational
  • 11-12.RI.4 - Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison define
SL - Speaking & Listening
  • 1.SL.1 - Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
  • 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.
  • 3.SL.1 - Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

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.5 - Use appropriate tools strategically
  • MP.6 - Attend to precision
  • MP.7 - Look for and make use of structure
  • MP.8 - Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning
OA - Operations And Algebraic Thinking
  • 1.OA.1 - Use addition and subtraction within 20 to solve word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions, e.g., by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol for
  • 2.OA.1 - Use addition and subtraction within 100 to solve one- and two-step word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions, e.g., by using drawings and equations with a sy
  • 3.OA.3 - Use multiplication and division within 100 to solve word problems in situations involving equal groups, arrays, and measurement quantities, e.g., by using drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.1