Announcing: Modifications for Virtual and Socially Distanced Classrooms - CSD

Dear Teachers,

We are excited to announce the release of a collection of resources for virtual and socially-distanced implementations that we believe will help you successfully run the CS Discoveries course this year in a flexible manner, tailored to your needs. Below you will find information about these resources.

General Modifications

The Modifications for Common Teaching Practices document is designed to help you create a plan to implement the practices that we all know and love here at such as Think Pair Share, Pair Programming, and Debugging, in a virtual or socially-distanced environment. In it you will find recommendations and modifications in addition to handy resources that you can share with your students.

This document is linked to on the CS Discoveries Landing Page and every unit page.

Unit Specific Modifcations

Each unit will have a Unit Modifications document designed to help you create a plan to implement each lesson within the unit. Resources have been provided to help support journaling practices, group projects & collaboration, guidance for Mini-Projects, building a virtual community, and other unit-specific recommendations.

Unit specific modifications are linked on the landing pages for Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3, Unit 4, Unit 5, and Unit 6.

Lesson Specific Modifications

(Currently available in Units 1, 4, and 5)

First, let’s take a moment to discuss the different implementation plans we considered.

We know that on any given day, you may find yourself teaching some students in a socially-distanced classroom with others at home. Maybe you will gather with all of your students on a synchronous call once a week, but on the other days students need to be able to work through content on their own. We designed our Lesson Modifications to account for flexible schedules. For every lesson you will find recommendations for each of these three implementation plans (Virtual Asynchronous, Virtual Synchronous, and Socially-Distanced Classrooms) so you can choose the resources that best fit your circumstances on any given day. We believe this will help you keep pace in the curriculum.

Each lesson in Unit 1, Unit 4, and Unit 5 of CS Discoveries now includes a modifications document with instructions and resources. Resources include everything from digital versions of manipulatives to helpful videos to share with your students. You can find the modification documents linked in the Lesson Plans.

How to use these modifications:

  1. Read the Lesson Plan in whole
  2. Open the Lesson Modifications document
  3. Read all of the modifications
  4. Choose the implementation for your setting
  5. Review the teacher prep section and any resources and make copies for your class

We are working hard to get more of these resources out to you in a timely manner. We hope these modifications will help address any concerns you have about teaching in a virtual or socially-distanced environment this year. We are here to support you, so please let us know how we can best meet your needs.

Dan, Mike & the CS Discoveries Team

Want to know about our plans for CS Principles? Check out this forum post.


Hello teachers (and facilitators)

Okay, huge ask…I just learned today that my semester course will need to be taught in 9 weeks! Wow.
So, my principal told us that we need to decide the ‘nuts and bolts’ of our course and what we want to teach. Wait, what!?
School starts next week and I need help to determine the best course of action here.

Any suggestions on what unit, or units, to teach. Where do I begin? What do I cut? What is the most important takeaway here? Gosh, please help! facilitators what do you recommend?

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Hi @damara_hartzell,
It is a crazy year!! Here are my initial thoughts…

If your goal is to to focus and dive deeper on a single unit, I would probably start with a very shortened unit 1 such as lesson 2 and then perhaps one of the new challenges highlighted in week 4 of the unit overview (modified depending on your delivery mode - virtual vs in-person). This will give the students the foundational information for problem solving to help you get through the 9 weeks and the new challenges are fun and hands on! You could then focus on most of Unit 2 or 3 depending on your comfort level. (Unit 3 would need to be modified…get through as much as Chapter 2 as you can). Personally, I would choose unit 2 because so many students feel successful learning HTML and CSS.

If you want more of an exploratory course where students are able to touch on different units, my thinking is to again start the same mentioned above with a very shortened unit 1 such as lesson 2 and then perhaps one of the new challenges highlighted in week 4 of the unit overview (modified depending on your delivery mode - virtual vs in-person). Then moving to chapter 1 of unit 2 and chapter 1 of unit 3.

Those are my initial thoughts. I am sure others have thoughts too and might even be in the same situation so hopefully others will make suggestions as well.

Best wishes to you and all teachers out there!!


Thank you so much for a response!

The 9 weeks is expected to be done through distance learning, so no in-person will occur at this time.
Your suggestion makes sense and seems doable. This definitely gives me some relief to get some input!!
I appreciate all your advice and guidance.

Damara Hartzell

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I created a google document and set a weekly agenda with links for students to use to complete work. Students are able to share the google document and zoom together to complete work. Breakout rooms have made a big difference for collaboration. I am using Nearpod to review some of the lessons. It has been a great tool.



Hi Anastasia! This sounds great! Would you mind sharing your weekly agenda?



I am starting a month long unit on HTML with my 8th grade. I usually use Notepad++ in class. However, I will have half the class in class, half home on Zoom and some on a Virtual school. I am trying to pick and choose lessons out of the Web development unit. What do you suggest? I also wanted to know that after we complete the lessons, can I have the kids create a web page on their own topic which is normally what I would allow them to do, on the Web lab? I would then view their code and web pages on the Web lab and grade them according to my original requirements. Thanks

@Istoll, welcome to the forum! That’s a good idea. I have a class for which web development is one unit and we are using unit 2 in CSD for that unit because we have a certain percentage at home on any given day.

It probably depends on how much time you have. I am planning on starting at the beginning and seeing how far we get. I may skip some lessons here and there, but since they build on each other, I probably won’t skip too many. There are some, such as the one on digital footprint, that I find extremely valuable, but that topic is being covered another way and doesn’t tie directly into web development (in terms of the coding side), so I’ll probably skip that.

As far as your 2nd question, the unit itself has them build a site, however, students can just create a web lab project directly in web lab by clicking on the yellow button on this page.

This will save it in their projects and they should be able to share the URL with you so you can see it.

Hope this helps!


Thank you so much for this. I must have missed that. Is there anyway to unassign lessons/units. I also will not be doing the Digital Footprint and want to make sure my kids that are virtual do not complete it.

Yes, you can hide lessons. Here’s a link to the article showing you how to do that.

Hope it goes well!


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Continuing the discussion from Announcing: Modifications for Virtual and Socially Distanced Classrooms - CSD:

CS in SF has a specifically for a 9 week unit (pg 26)

Hope this helps


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First of all, thank you for the hard work on these accommodations for all the various situations we find ourselves in this year. Second, are there plans to create these types of accommodations for the later units?

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I love this new feature!

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I have used many interactive tools for group projects with synchronous learning for check-in and group work products. As a prerequisite, I have tudents to complete a introduction activity to encourage community building. I have included a 3rd party template below that is constructed on Jamboard which you would create for each student complete within the class slide deck.



Thanks for sharing! For those of us starting with new students for the semester, this is an especially great resource to get to know them.

Happy New Year!

I have been teaching this course 4 years and this year I am entering Unit 6 with some of my class in person and some virtual only. I have plenty of circuit playgrounds for those in the room but not sure what to do about my students who are only at home. I do not really want to put them on 2 different paths by using the 4-week self-paced AppLab alternative for my virtual students - we have 9-weeks of school left. Is there not a virtual/simulation environment for the Circuit playground that their code can be tested in? Adafruit has one for the Express but it will not run the Classic version that the course uses. How are others handling mixed classes of in-person and out-of-the-building in this unit. Unfortunately, simply sending home a Circruit Playground or having them buy one will not solve the problem as the school chromebooks have the USB shut down. My in-class students can only use them on other devices I have in-house. With the fall looking to still have Virtual only students, I would love for to provide a simulation environment with their AppLab.


Isn’t pandemic teaching fun? I feel your stress. I know has scrambled over the last year to modify resources and help provide for ways of teaching both in-person and remote students. I can’t speak to whether or not they are considering a virtual environment, but I do believe that the makeCode similator (if that is the one you are referring to) should work for Express or Classic. In fact, the lessons also work for both … (not sure on the new Bluetooth one they are selling now yet).

I know you said the AppLab alternative may not be for you, but if anyone else reads this, I’m going to post a link to a few resources below (including that one). Hopefully one may work in your situation and for others who read this …

  1. Microsoft has a curriculum that although not as tightly organized as’s can be done on the MakeCode simulator. Here is a link to that Coding the Circuit Playground Express

  2. There is the Event Driven Programming in App Lab option that you may be referring to.

  3. You could also use the Self-paced Introduction to Turtle Programming in App Lab unit from

The advantage to #2 and #3 above is that they could be assigned using the dashboard so you could better track students’ progress. Everyone I’ve talked to who uses the Turtle programming says it is a fun alternative. It doesn’t teach exactly the same thing, but could be a good alternative this year and perhaps next.

I’m hoping others may come forward and share ideas as to what they’re doing. I know many of us are in the same boat on this one.