Lesson Summary


Students learn simple Python programs and their structure and the basics of debugging.


  • Students will identify the parts of a Python program
  • Students will describe the history of the computer bug.
  • Students will look at debugging techniques and classifying errors.
  • Students will compare different kinds of errors


Session 1:

  1. Introduction (5 min) Discussion: What is a program?
  2. Guided Activity (40 min) Exploration
  3. Wrap-up (5 min)
  4. Homework

Session 2:

  1. Introduction (20 min)
    1. Homework Review [5 min]
    2. Runescape Tutorial [15 min]
  2. Activity (20 min)
  3. Wrap-up (10 min) Journal
  4. Homework

Learning Objectives

CSP Objectives

Math Common Core Practice:

  • MP6: Attend to precision.
  • MP7: Look for and make use of structure.

Common Core ELA:

  • RST 12.3 - Precisely follow a complex multistep procedure
  • RST 12.4 - Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases

NGSS Practices:

  • 5. Using mathematics and computational thinking

Key Concepts

Programs can be developed to solve problems (to help people, organizations or society), for creative expression, to satisfy personal curiosity or to create new knowledge.

Essential Questions

  • How are programs used for creative expression, to satisfy personal curiosity or to create new knowledge?
  • How do computer programs implement algorithms?
  • How do people develop and test computer programs?
  • Which mathematical and logical concepts are fundamental to computer programming?

Teacher Resources

Student computer usage for this lesson is: required

For the Students:

    • "Is Eliza Human?"
    • CodingBat practice
        Useful once functions have been taught


      Development environments for python
        Spyder Python Development Environment:


        Python IdlePycharm Python Development Environment using Python 3.4.1Runestone: Interactive Python:


Lesson Plan

Session 1

Getting Started (5 min)

Journal Prompt: What is a bug in a computer program?

  • See if anybody knows the history, this will be covered in Runestone General Introduction What is Debugging? lesson that follows.

Guided Activity (40 min)

  • Runestone Tutorial [30 min]

  • Jigsaw: Divide students up into 5 groups. Have each group prepare a creative presentation on one of the topics below with visuals or an active component (rap, song, dramatic reading, etc.) to convey the message of that section. Groups have 15 minutes to prepare a 2 minute presentation.
  • What is Debugging?
  • Syntax errors
  • Runtime Errors
  • Semantic Errors
  • Experimental Debugging

  • After the presentations all students should 
    1. make a tree diagram, name the three types of errors, and give examples of each. Which type of error do you think is the hardest to detect and why?
  • Explore a simple Python program together. [ 10 minutes]

    • Teacher demonstrates the results of running eliza.py using Pycharm or Idle 
    • Hand out the code for eliza.py on paper to students, demonstrate on the front screen have them mark up the code as indicated on the student handout together as a class discussing the vocabulary below (all of these concepts will be taught in Unit 2, this is just a preview).
      (See the teacher guide for answer key.)
    • Vocabulary: (use the Runestone Glossaries if needed)
      • comment
      • function: 
      • parameter
      • input
      • output
      • loop
      • condition
      • variable
    • Have students mark up the code at the bottom of the page using the same key on the student handout

Wrap-up (5 min)

Journal: Use formative assessment Questions 1 - 3:

  1. How do you make an output statement in Python?
  2. How do you make an input statement?
  3. What is a user prompt and what is its purpose?


Set up your IDE and Python at home (if you can) or use an online Python IDE such as https://repl.it/languages/Python3 or ideone.com . Type up a simple "Hello World" program and get it to run. Bring in evidence that it works or write a few sentences about the issues you are having in trying to install it or write about your experience using an online IDE, or write out the code for Hello World without looking at any notes and report on how easy or hard it was to remember the details. (Be careful not to make any student feel awkward for lack of a home computer they are allowed to install softare on)

Session 2

Introduction (20 min)

Homework Review [5 min]

Collect handwritten notes or evidence that Python 3 is set up at home or the student is able to use https://repl.it/languages/Python3 or ideone.com. As students work on tutorial, address specific issues with students who had trouble with install.

Runestone Tutorial [15 min]

Complete an introductory tutorial: Runestone Interactive- General Introduction- What is Debugging?: http://interactivepython.org  GeneralIntro:

Activity (20 min)

Develop the beginnings of a chat bot where the computer and user introduce themselves to each other.  The computer asks a question, the user provides a response and the computer responds back again, including the user input within the response (see https://groklearning.com/csedweek/ for ideas). Extend: Give your chatbot a personality like a friend, grandfather, therapist, or child. 

Wrap-up (10 min)

Journal [10 min]

Formative assessment Questions # 4 - 6:

4) Name several different input devices.

5) How do we comment a Python program? Why do we use comments?

6) In your journal, make a tree diagram, name the three types of errors, and give examples of each. Which type of error do you think is the hardest to detect and why?


Write code to introduce yourself. Display your name. Greet and ask for three interests. Display the three interests and give a reply like "That's interesting!" Print your code. Next day: Have students introduce one another by “running the code" of a classmate. If you cannot get PyCharm to install, use http://ideone.com/ or repl.it or create this program by hand on paper.

Options for Differentiated Instruction

Suggested strategies:

  • Use red, yellow, green sticky notes at computer for a quick check of understanding.
  • Provide guide questions for reading during Runestone interactive tutorial.
  • Provide teacher-annotated text excerpts or have students annotate their own excerpts that follow the Runestone interactive.

Evidence of Learning

Formative Assessment

In your journal, make a tree diagram, name the three types of errors, and give examples of each. Which type of error do you think is the hardest to detect and why?

Summative Assessment

Find the errors in an algorithm or in Python statements covered to date

Define what debugging is and give examples of the 3 categories of bugs (syntax, logic(semantic) and runtime)

Describe the differences between programming and debugging.