Lesson Plan

Problem Solving with Coding #WithMathICan

While playing Lightbot students will learn to "break up" the puzzle instead of looking at it as one massive maze. Students will also be able to utlize patterns and great problem solving skills
James T.
Classroom teacher
Saint Benedict Prep, Chicago, Illinois
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies

While students play this puzzling programming game, they will naturally solve complex problems by breaking them down in more manageable pieces.  As they progress through the game, they will not only learn by failure, but also be forced to find patterns in order to pass a level. By learning from others via discussion and recording those discoveries as they are found, a growth mindset is encouraged by highlighting the construction of knowledge as a group.

Grades 3 – 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

I began my programming lesson with a  quick 5 min exercise over using precise language. I had my students instruct me on how to draw a simple shape on the white board. However, I took their instruction as literal as possible. Students had to break down the steps, give me some time of measurement for the lines, tell me which direction to move my arm, even to remove the marker cap from my marker. For example;

  • T - " Who can explain to me how to draw a rectangle?"
  • S- "You draw a line" 
  • T- How long? What direction? Can anyone add on to their directions? 

Students will quickly catch on to what you are doing and will begin using more precise language.  Have them understand that when they program, the are telling the computer exactly what to do, just like i did.

After you have the students understand and practice using precise language begin displaying Lightbot.

Whole group discussion - Display Lightbot on your projector/smart board and play the 1st level with students. Have students participate by instructing you on how to complete the puzzle. Be sure that they are using specific language and that they understand the basic rules of the game.

  • T - How can I get our lightbot to this final  square?
  • S- Move forward 
  • T - Sounds good..*moves forward 1 space - WHAT! Why didn't our bot move forward?"Does anyone else have different instructions they would give me? Why?" 

The 1st level is easy and straight forward. However, while on the 1st level  go step by step, each step you want to "test" you work so far. 

Continue on to the 2nd level which is a little more complex (still easy). Again have students instruct you, step by step, and again test your step (perhaps say "go two, test 1). 

After you and your students complete the first couple of levels allow them to play the game on their own.

2 Independent Practice

Students will continue to blaze through the levels until around level 5/6. Puzzles past this will increase in complexity and will require students to go slow. 

Most (if not all) students will think out the puzzle in their head and fill the instruction bar up AND THEN begin to test. However with one mistake, students become aware that they did not get the puzzle right and will promptly freak out.

If you come across a problem that students are just not able to complete. Focus their attention back on the smart board/projector and complete it as a class. Go step by step and also remind students that 2 heads are better than one. Be sure to go slow, and have students tell you what to do as you guide them to a successful puzzle 

DO NOT FEAR! These puzzles are incredibly manageable once students go slow. Puzzles that were complex and intimidating slowly become easy and manageable once students go slow, test their progress, and break the puzzle down into patterns.

*Many of my students wanted to give up after the first try, but after going slow students felt this amazing sense of accomplishment. They were about to give up, but going slow they were able to view the puzzle in a different light. They loved it!

Student Instructions
  1. Complete the puzzles at your own pace.
  2. Be sure to "try three and then ask me."
  3. If you cannot complete a level, do not fear! Just raise your hand or get help from a neighbor.


3 Conclusion

At the end of class be sure to bring the students together and discuss any problems they had, and how they solved them. For example

  • "Did anyone else have the same or a similar challenge but approached it differently?"
  • Was anyone able to complete level 5? How did you do it, how many tries did it take you? 
Student Instructions

Students be sure to add on to others ideas and not just interrupt each other.