Unit 4: Bored Students

They can definitely do Unit 5 first. Unit 5 only has Unit 1 as a pre-requisite.



I am in the same boat and am just not a fan of the paper prototypes and all the copying. I wish Code.org had made the “Text Your Grandkids” app into more of a rudimentary prototype either in App Lab or something else.

I’m thinking of recreating that app in Powerpoint with hyperlinks to serve as the UI. Then instead of a paper prototype having the students do a powerpoint prototype. I can’t handle all of these paper based lessons, I hope Code.org shifts into an entirely digital direction. Filling out a worksheet on Google Drive is not what I mean by this either :confused:

Mr. Ginster,

I understand, my students weren’t thrilled either but the physical connection of having one “screen” go away and another load helped them in thinking of the amount of screens for their apps and a lot of them trying to find ways to load information onto the existing screen rather than just create a lot of others.

The powerpoint sounds great - I used to do this with younger students and websites to show how hyperlinks work - would you mind sharing once finished as a resource for others?

And finally, have you looked at wireframes? It’s basically a storyboard but since on the computer they can look exactly like the device you are programming for, and a lot of professionals use them to map out their apps - so would be a good time to introduce whats happening in industry to your students.

Hope that helps,


Hey Brad,

Here was the resource I ended up creating for that lesson. I am currently on the paper prototype project. I liked the user interview/ identifying barriers activity leading into developing the app. I think this is a great connection to the previous lessons and allows an engaging hook with partners. I can also appreciate the navigation diagram showing how a user interface operates. It helps them consider the whole app and feature placement as you said as well as thinking of the app in screens.

I still think the entirety of the project is paper overkill. They are expected to plan their screens on paper, develop 6 index cards showcasing their screen ideas, then redraw them on the navigation diagram in the packet. I wish Code dot org had consolidated this process into either just the navigation diagram or more of a step-by-step digital process. It’s a lot of paper resources to manage teaching 76 odd Computer Science students.

I was thinking of teaching them project management more in the way of something like Trello as opposed to this elaborate process of cards, drawings and posters.


I agree that this lesson has many important threads and should be reconsidered before simply eliminated. Yes, the unplugged nature is difficult at first for students (I have retooled some of the lesson content to make it more relatable for my students. From teapots in lesson 1 to shoes, different user profiles that are easier for middle schoolers to relate to, etc.). However, the students DO get back on the computers at the end of the unit to build a prototype of their app.

I teach 7th and 8th grade students and many of them really struggle to see things from another’s perspective. They’ve enjoyed getting to see the development cycle of an app and acting as their own developer while testing and prototyping their own.

@carmichaelc I have adjusted the timeline of the unit, however. Instead of having students create 2 separate paper prototypes, I’ve had them enter into the final project of the unit at lesson 6. They interview a peer to see what they’d like to learn about, and then their final project is to develop an app that will help their peer overcome whatever barrier they’re experiencing to learning it. They develop a paper prototype, which they then test and improve with a round of user testing. I have students then jump to lesson 12 where they develop an example screen with the app lab tool. Then, they build their prototype design in the rest of lesson 12. They do lesson 14 to link it up, then another round of user testing. They then have time to make improvements before submitting it. I do this as an individual project, but students pair up with the student they interviewed for their user testing.

Students have enjoyed the condensed nature of this unit and are very creative with their apps. I think understanding your user is an important (and sometimes overlooked) aspect of development, and helps build out learner attributes in students beyond curricular knowledge. In total my version of the unit takes about 4 weeks.

I have only a semester class, with the likelihood that students will be placed in my class more than once. I do two separate semesters: the first with units 1, 2, and 3 and the second with units 4, 5, and 6. Some kids take 4, 5, and 6 first before going through 1, 2, and 3.

I know you asked this a long time ago, but wanted to offer my experiences.

I have just a semester course, but due to scheduling many students end up taking it twice. So, I just rotate through: first semester, I do units 1, 2, and 3. Second semester, I do 4, 5, and 6. I make adjustments where needed to catch students up that missed something that came up earlier. I don’t have too many issues where students end up completely lost. I highly recommend looking ahead though so you know what background knowledge you might have to preteach.

Hope this helps.

I do also condense unit 4 and just have them do one app prototype, first in paper and then in digital version, to help a peer overcome a barrier to learning something new.

Hi. I teach a 6th grade class five days a week, and it was daunting at first to see so many unplugged activities in one lesson. Unit 3 is a hard one to follow, but the prototype prep work can be fun if you make it relatable and balance it with computer time.

For the feedback lesson (L5), I showed them a range of feedback for an actual app and explained how it can greatly influence the user interface updates (Whatsapp was the example I used).

The class is only 45 minutes long, so I break up the lessons into multiple parts. When they’re finished, I often give them free time to explore public projects on code.org or at Khan Academy.

They have some great tutorial lessons that will help them practice what they learned in Game Lab! (khanacademy.org/computing)


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I just went to this website and signed up. My question, do you have all your students sign up with an email address? Is there anyway to guarantee this site is safe for students? I’m interested in having my students complete some of these projects but want to double check it’s safe for 8th graders. Thanks for your help or any advice.

I can’t confirm its safety in the capacity of a network administrator. Only as someone who has used it for three years now, I enjoy it and it has never presented any safety issues or network problems whatsoever.

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Thank you. Do you have your students sign up with an email address? I’m really interested in doing a few of these projects with my CSD students.

Has anyone done the second half of unit 4 with students as individuals rather than in groups? I am struggling with them all being in the same place at the same time in the unplugged activities, as well as the boredom element discussed above, and would like to be able to offer them the ability to self pace through the end of the unit.


Welcome to the forum! That’s a great question - remember the curriculum is a general suggestion and works for a lot, but might not work for your students. Feel free to modify and then leave notes for future teachers on this forum of how it went.

Hoping others will chime in as well…

I am curious if anyone has tried to interleave parts of Unit 4 Chapter 1 and Chapter 2? I teach on a block, and so I often have to do two lessons a day. I like to balance things out with one unplugged activity and one computer activity. I haven’t taught this unit before, but I’m wondering if that would be a possibility.

I just finished the first part of Unit 4. My students were not thrilled to be off the computers, but after doing the paper prototypes, they understood the need. My husband works in the computer industry and has to worry about user interface, and he said I absolutely should not skip these lessons. We also see companies being sued because their website is not accessible to everyone. I did combine a few lessons to put them together a little faster. I also had them look up news articles about what is going on in the world of accessibility now. I also have a college aged daughter who makes money doing user testing for companies online. This did get them more interested in the subject when they found out they could get paid for it later on.


I agree. Computer Science isn’t just the coding and sometimes it’s doing things you might not find as exciting or glamorous, but so many of the problems we as consumers run into today are design issues and the better our students are at effective interface design and product engineering and the more empathy they learn, the better the programmer they will become!