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1.01: For Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn

90 Minutes

Lesson Overview

Up until now, learners have only been able to have Marty face in one direction while navigating a route. The joystick, in the Marty controller, increases their functionality by enabling Marty to turn on the spot or turn while walking forward. The opportunity to turn allows learners to quickly correct the course of their Marty should anything interrupt the route.

Ideally, this lesson should be run over two periods, either on separate days or as a

Key vocabulary:
    turns, directions,

Content Sections

  • Learning Objectives
  • Warm up
  • Get Learning
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  • Time for Practice
    • Cool Down
      • Extensions & Challenges
      • Extend
      • Support
      • Additional Reading
      • 1.01: For Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn

        90 Minutes

        Lesson Overview

        Up until now, learners have only been able to have Marty face in one direction while navigating a route. The joystick, in the Marty controller, increases their functionality by enabling Marty to turn on the spot or turn while walking forward. The opportunity to turn allows learners to quickly correct the course of their Marty should anything interrupt the route.

        Ideally, this lesson should be run over two periods, either on separate days or as a

        Key vocabulary:
          turns, directions,
        • Practice with the Marty Controller, moving in the 4 arrow directions
        • Tablet
          • Marty the Robot
          • Marty Workbook
          • Tablets with the Marty the Robot app
          • Objects to be used as walls for the maze

        Learning Objectives

        • Compare the joystick and arrow controls.
        • Choose which turning method is better and say why.

        For this lesson, Marty should be on the floor. The obstacle routes should be built on the floor.

        Warm up

        Have learners think about what turning enables them to do.

        Have labels on each of the four walls in the classroom. If one of the walls is made of windows, add a label to the window. An idea for the labels could be North, South, East, West; if you use these, they don't need to align with these directions but it would be nice if they did.

        Either you or a learner could be the 'leader' of the activity. Learners will need to stand and find a place where they will not bump into anyone else. Ask all learners to face the same starting direction, for example 'North'. Ask some basic observation questions of what they see when they face that way. Tell learners they need to turn to the left or right to face a different named direction, ask again about what they can see. Repeat this process, having learners turn left or right to face a direction. Make it tricky toward the end of the activity: learners are facing North, ask them to turn right until they are facing West or left until they are facing East.

        The goal of this activity is not to have learners develop the understanding of turn vocabulary like a quarter or half turn or a ninety-degree turn, which will come later, it is more about what they can see when they change the way they face. If learners turn the wrong way when asked, gently correct them until they more regularly turn the correct way: they turn to the right when asked to turn to the left. As the activity progresses, ask learners if they can see objects that should not be in their field of vision. Ask, "Why not? I can see it." This will promote thinking about points of view and why turns are so important.

        Extend the activity by asking them to think about how easy it would be to move to a named wall once they are facing that direction; do they think it would be more challenging to move to a wall when they are not facing the wall? Why or why not?

        Share with learners the learning objectives and success criteria for the lesson, from the presentation file.

        Read the story text from the resources section or in the presentation slides. Notes have been added to support the flow.

        Get Learning

        Learners should already have had experience with the Marty Controller and the four directions before starting with this lesson so any revision should be brief.

        Here is a clip from a classic video game called Tetris. In the game, players need to rotate, or turn, a block to complete a line. The video clip shows this, feel free to pause the video when the block appears at the top and have learners suggest where they think it should be placed when they see a couple of examples. This could be shown to further emphasise what turning accomplishes but is not necessary for success with the lesson. This could be opened in YouTube and shown on a screen.

        Ask learners what they think would happen if a player was not able to turn the shapes: they could only move to the sides and make the blocks go down more quickly. They may suggest that the computer would have to make the moves or they may say that the game would be very quick and boring.

        Showcase the Marty controller and remind learners to tell you what the 4 arrows do. They should recall, in their own words, that the arrows move Marty in four directions depending on the way he is facing. Ask learners, "What if we could make Marty turn, what difference would that make for working with them?" If you can, record the suggestions on the board or on something that can be saved/stored to share later.

        Showcase the Marty Controller, describing the way you are moving the joystick as Marty turns in front of the class: I am tapping and holding the joystick and dragging to the left/right. An alternative to this, since learners will have seen the joystick at work from the presentation is to ask learners how they think you are moving the joystick based upon what they see of Marty. There are slides in the presentation that show Marty moving with a split-screen view of the controller, initially using the arrows and then the joystick.

        Give learners a chance to experiment with Marty, getting a feel for the movement of the joystick, compared to the arrow buttons. Once you feel they have had the opportunity to experience the difference, have groups record their thoughts about which method of movement is better for Marty: the directional arrows or the joystick. As a prompt, you might ask them, are there times when the arrows are better for moving Marty, and are there times when the joystick is better.

        Before finishing this experimentation part, ask learners to get Marty to sidestep by using the joystick. They will find they cannot. Ask why they think they cannot. Learners may not know but some may suggest that it would be too tricky to turn and sidestep with the same movement – where does the turn stop and the sidestep start? If they don’t know, ask probing questions to lead them to this conclusion: what control lets Marty turn? Dragging the joystick to the right or left. What control do you think would be best to have the joystick sidestep? Dragging the controller to the right or left. (This may be expressed like a question.) What do you think would happen if you have one command and two different actions? Marty might get confused/stop working/fall over/etc.

        Time for Practice

        Distribute the obstacle route printouts. These challenges give a plan for a small obstacle course that Marty is to complete using first the direction arrows and then the joystick. There is a space in their workbooks to compare which one was easier and include a short sentence as to why. This exploration serves several purposes, learners will:

        • get experience describing a preference
        • collaborate and listen to peers, to inform their opinion;
        • contrast two similar methods and perhaps discover that the situation sometimes determines the best tool despite both being very similar
        • be exposed to the two methods of turning that will be available to them later, through the MartyBlocks environment

        Don’t encourage learners to experiment by combining the joystick and arrows but don’t discourage it, it might be interesting to see what they think the effect is of combining the two control methods and independent experimentation could be quietly celebrated. Perhaps at the end, attention could be drawn to groups who explored combinations of controls.

        Use the same obstacle cards for the next part of the lesson: using only the joystick, have them experiment with manoeuvering the suggested obstacle routes; they will need to run each route twice, they need to control Marty so that they turn on the spot - when they drag the joystick to the farthest left or right - and they turn while maintaining a forward movement - dragging the joystick somewhere between forward, or back, and left or right.

        Learners need to record their thoughts in the workbook comparing the two joystick methods of turning in the same way that they did, earlier.

        After allowing learners time to engage with the first challenges (you may not find it necessary to require learners to complete every challenge due to the different pace of individual learners in your class), distribute the second set of challenges. The focus of these routes is to compare ‘move and turn’ with ‘turn on the spot’. Remind learners how to move the joystick to accomplish the different ways of turning.

        Offer learners the opportunity to share their discoveries with their peers and open the discussion about why groups might have different ideas.

        Cool Down

        Bring learners back together to discuss the challenges they faced and overcame, one or two of the obstacle routes were challenging. Groups need to be specific about how they overcame the challenges they faced. Encourage questions about differences of opinions about the preferred way of controlling Marty.

        Suggested questions you might ask:

        • What was the greatest difference you found between the two ways of having Marty turn, with the joystick and between the joystick and arrows?
        • How easy was it to decide which method was better?
        • Can you think of any situations in the real world where it is better to turn on the spot and when it is better to turn while still moving?

        Carry out any end of lesson routines.

        Log off devices and clear everything away.

        Extensions & Support


        Have learners create additional obstacle routes that they think would be better for either the turn on the spot or the turn while moving methods.

        Have learners attempt to generalize which times is it better to turn on the spot compared to moving while turning.


        Encourage learners to pretend to be Marty and have them navigate the obstacle routes choosing to either turn on the spot or turn while moving forward. Have them explain their thinking behind why they preferred to use one method over the other.

        Additional Reading

        • Elementary Technology Applications: Kindergarten to Grade 2
        • Computer Science:
        • English Language Arts: Writing
        • English Language Arts: Speaking and Listening
        • Technologies: Craft, Design, Engineering and Graphics
        • Technologies: Computing Science
        • Literacy & English: Listening and Talking
        • Health and Wellbeing: Mental, Emotional, Social and Physical Wellbeing
        • Computing, Design and Technology: Design and Technology
        • Computing, Design and Technology: Computing
        • CSTA Education Standards
        • Digital Technologies, Design & technologies: Design & Technologies
        • Digital Technologies, Design & technologies: Digital Technologies
        • International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)