SELTY TNOOA UTVSB DSEPC Say what? That’s right. Students love to spy! And students love communicating using secret codes and ciphers. Encoding and decoding secret messages requires the use of critical thinking and problem solving skills. Studying espionage, a high interest, real world experience, is an exciting way to teach these important skills. This unit was intentionally designed to provide experiences requiring students to apply critical thinking and problem solving skills in situations involving multiple steps.
In this unit students encode and decode secret messages requiring them to follow multi-step directions. They will also use their problem solving and analytical skills to determine what type of code a message is encrypted in and then use their knowledge of codes to successfully decode the given message.
Basic background information about cryptology (encoding/decoding messages) and delivering secret messages is also included. This unit is divided into three parts as described below.
Part 1. Secret Communication: Basic Concepts Spies Should Know
This section is teacher led and provides students with an introduction to codes and ciphers through the discussion of basic espionage concepts/definitions including:
Cryptology Cryptography Cryptanalysis
Codes Ciphers Encode/encipher
Decode/decipher Plaintext Ciphertext
NSA/CSS Steganography Dead Drops
Also included are examples of real world messages being concealed and delivered throughout history.
Part 2. Hidden Messages: Activities for Spies in Training
Students love these hands-on activities as they try to conceal and deliver their own secret messages. Included in this section are “hidden message” activities to try with students, such as making invisible ink and completing a brush pass exchange.
Part 3. Spy School: Creating Clever and Cunning Codes and Ciphers
In Spy School, students will use critical thinking and follow multi-step directions to encode and decode messages. Instruction, practice, and homework sheets, along with answer keys are provided. A final test over all of the codes is also included. The following types of codes are covered:
Columns of Four
Additional Espionage Studies. Other units that complement this field of study include I SPY: Secret Lives of Spies, and I SPY: Going Undercover both available on TpT.