Lesson 4: Playlab
In this lesson, learners get an introductory experience with computer science and create a game using basic block code.This lesson has been designed for learners in the middle grades, ages 10-16, but can be adapted for younger or older learners using the differentiation suggestions provided.
This lesson introduces the core CS concepts of coding and programming (using blocks), as well as simple debugging techniques.
Activity (30-45 minutes)
Wrap Up (5 minutes)
Assessment (2 minutes)
Getting Started (5 minutes)
Students will be able to:
- Define “coding” and “computer science”
- Identify key computer science vocabulary
- Make connections between computer science concepts and the real world
- Identify places to go to continue learning computer science and coding
One Week Before Your Hour of Code
- Review the Hour of Code Educator Guide and Best Practices from Successful Educators in order to begin to plan your Hour of Code event.
- Register your Hour of Code event if you’d like to receive swag or classroom support.
- Review and complete the online tutorial yourself: Playlab
- Be sure to test it first before asking your students to complete it. Check your technology and decide if you need to troubleshoot anything in advance of your Hour of Code.
One Day Before Your Hour of Code
- Write the words “coding”, “programming” and “debugging” on the board or add them to your word wall if you have one.
- 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.
- 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.
Activity (30-45 minutes)
Challenge your students to complete the Playlab tutorial.
Depending on the age and ability of your students, you might consider:
- For middle and high school students, we suggest you choose tutorials that allow free play and creation of apps or games. You can have students work independently or in pairs or small groups. There are many other tutorials on code.org/learn that allow for free creation, including the Make a Flappy Game](https://studio.code.org/s/flappy) and our new beta tool AppLab.
- 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 adult learners, the Write your first computer program tutorial works extremely well either as an independent challenge or a pair programming activity.
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.
Wrap Up (5 minutes)
Facilitate a "Turn and Talk." Ask students to share their game, app or final product with a friend for feedback. Then switch and check out your partner's app or game. Ask a few groups to share out their experience: what did you learn about how apps and games work today? How do you feel having had the opportunity to study computer science?
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.
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.
Assessment (2 minutes)
Challenge students to share some aspect of their Hour of Code experience on social media using #hourofcode as a way to lend their voices to this world wide movement. Students can share their game, images, videos or just their thoughts.
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.
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”.
- 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.
Ask students to think about what their ideal next step might be after high school graduation. Ask students to raise their hand if they believe that next step will require them to use a computer. Everyone should raise their hand, because computers are all around us...in our phones, in our cars, even in our microwaves and dishwashers!
Ask students to guess how many K12 schools there are in the United States of America. The answer is around 100,000. Now ask students to guess how many of those K12 schools offer a course in computer science. The answer is less than 1 in 4 schools. That means that less than 25% of the US population has the opportunity to learn computer science in school. Ask students: how does this impact a young person's ability to land their dream job or get into their ideal college, if they have little to no experience with computers? And this problem exists not just in the US, but all over the world.
Explain that across the globe, young people just like your students are participating in Hour of Code as a way to bring awareness to this injustice -- the lack of access to computer science education. Your class will be taking part, not just to learn the basics of CS and have a little fun -- but also to take a stand and use your voice to speak up about the importance of CS for all.
CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards (2011)
CL - Collaboration
- CL.L1:6-02 - Use online resources (e.g., email, online discussions, collaborative web environments) to participate in collaborative problem-solving activities for the purpose of developing solutions or products.
CPP - Computing Practice & Programming
- CPP.L1:3-01 - Use technology resources to conduct age-appropriate research.
- 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.
- CPP.L2:3 - Design, develop, publish and present products (e.g., web pages, mobile applications, animations) using technology resources that demonstrate and communicate curriculum concepts.
CT - Computational Thinking
- CT.L2:12 - Use abstraction to decompose a problem into sub problems.
- CT.L2:7 - Represent data in a variety of ways including text, sounds, pictures and numbers.
ISTE Standards for Students
1 - Creativity and Innovation
- 1.a - Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes.
- 1.b - Create original works as a means of personal or group expression.
- 1.c - Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues.
2 - Communication and Collaboration
- 2.a - Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.
- 2.b - Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.
4 - Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
- 4.b - Plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.
- 4.d - Use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions.
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
W - Writing
- 11-12.W.6 - Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.
- 4.W.3 - Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
- 6.W.6 - Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of three pages in a single sitting.
- 7.W.3 - Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
- 7.W.6 - Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and link to and cite sources as well as to interact and collaborate with others, including linking to and citing sources.
- 8.W.6 - Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
- 9-10.W.6 - Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
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.4 - Model with mathematics
- 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