Code and Ciphers and very interesting topics to discuss in a Computer Science. There are many ciphers that can be used as Computer Science assignments. I use Ciphers and Codes as a curricular thread throughout my AP A CS class to provide students with relevant reasons to learn more about Computer Science. Ciphers and Codes have been around for a very long time and can be seen throughout history.
I made an earlier post called Ciphers and Codes – Vol. I and provided some slides, a lab, and a lesson plan. I include in the lesson plan a reference to a National Treasure special edition DVD that has a short video about Codes that has commentary by Simon Singh. It is a very good video to show students as it has some great cipher information although it can be a bit dull in a spot or two.
Timing out the cipher lessons in your class to correspond with the Social Studies classes is a great idea. For example, find out when they are going to talk about the Zimmerman Telegram in U.S. History and teach a related Cipher lesson at the same time. Everybody wins!
Cross-curricular projects work great to show students what they can do with Computer Skills and to provide relevance for why they need the skills. These projects also provide a nice context for teaching Computer Science concepts. Students tend to get a bit more excited about what they are learning if they realize what they will eventually do with it.