Pilot - U3L01 - Programming for Entertainment

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Grade 6, Phoenix, AZ; Title school; 50/50 girl/boy

I had the students brainstorm the plus/deltas for pair programming:

I also had them brainstorm plus/deltas for unit 2:

For Unit 3, lesson 1 - I narrowed the options for them to search to the list on the right of the photo below because I tried some of the suggested searches that were written into the lesson, but they did not yield useful results. The list to the right are student responses regarding why computer science is useful in entertainment:

For this lesson, I had the students work in pairs with an identical set-up to pair programming - one computer between two students and switching control of keyboard.

This lesson worked really well within a 45 minute class period for me and yielded interesting and thought-provoking discussion regarding computer science in the arts.


11 students, 9-12th Grades with little experience in CS.

U3L01 - Programming for Entertainment

This was a good starter for the Unit/Chapter to get students thinking about everything that computers and programming influences. The “popcorn” of moving around the room and having students call out some forms of entertainment and how computer science plays a role was good - but I only had 10 that day (1 absent), so in a bigger class I’d have smaller groups or tables discuss and then come back to share out partner’s answers.

The researching CS in Entertainment section hit a snag when a few of the websites were blocked, but I felt that the students had access to the entire internet and we had just shared as a group some topics so students researched and wrote down answers on the Google Doc and turned in via Google Classroom.

The journal prompt was a little out there, students not having a good grasp of how to build apps and didn’t want to set sights too high (like with the Web Lab), but a lot of them were reminded of their proposed app from Unit 1 and wanted to revisit that, making connections.

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Sounds like maybe we have some refinement to do on the research portion. It’s a constant struggle to find the right balance of giving students more support and direction in a web search and providing direct links to websites we don’t control. Do either of you have thoughts on how to better structure or support the exploration activity to ensure that students find useful and interesting applications of computer science?


Maybe have it set up like a tic-tac-toe menu with links within each box where students can work in pairs or small groups to get 'three in a row." This way they do not have to research all topics, just those of greatest interest to them. I think scouting out some of the more informative, higher quality sites is a good idea especially since when I tried using the search terms provided, it led to universities and degree programs. Just a suggestion. You’re right - this is always a difficult balance - how much support vs. how much freedom to provide. In my case, I did not provide specific links, but I did try out different combinations of search terms ahead of time so I had an idea of which ones yielded better results. I then provided students with the ‘bank’ of search terms and let them search which ones interested them the most.


I am teaching six classes, three seventh grade and three eighth grade. The classes are one hour in length and meet every other day. They have had computer classes every year since first grade, but they have not done any computer science other than “hour of code” type activities. Each student has a computer to use during class.
I found the packet a bit difficult to keep my classes focused. They asked a lot about what they were supposed to do. I found that many wanted to work alone, or in pairs instead of groups of 3 or 4, which I allowed. Many students explored the given sites which they liked, but used other sites to answer the prompts on the second page. I might in the future try to make this more of a whole class activity.
They enjoyed the programming puzzles in the code studio. They are definitely interested in the topics.
I gave them “Why do we seek out entertainment? Whether it’s movies, music, art, games, or any number of other forms of entertainment, what problem does entertainment solve for us?
What is your favorite form of entertainment, and what problem does it solve for you?
Think past “boredom” as an answer.” as a journal prompt which made for a good discussion.
I can sense some excitement for this unit.

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@groche - How would you do this as a whole class activity? That sounds interesting!

I am not completely sure. Perhaps as a general discussion of examples of CS in entertainment. Students could brainstorm examples. I say a topic, they call out what they know. Another possibility is to show them specific examples of CS in various forms of entertainment in a video.