Cryptography, Weeks 2 & 3

These past two weeks of school have been a bit brutal. Partly due to outside of class stress, partly due to said stress leaving me with some sleep-lite nights. This past week I had 4 meetings during my prep periods during the first two days. Like I said, brutal. Luckily I have a bit of a break coming up now. I get to spend a week making and eating cheese. And then I fly off to Maui for a week!

I spent Monday of week 2 working on Polyalphabetic Substitution Ciphers, but not really going into the Vigenère Cipher, which I fleshed out on Tuesday. I had my dentist appointment on Thursday–no cavities, yay!–so I gave students a day to work on their Crypto Contest, an idea a lifted from Avery. Students work with a partner to come up with an encryption/decryption algorithm and encode a message which I then shared with the rest of the class (in week 3). They will spend the next several weeks attempting to crack one another’s codes. Friday had students taking a quiz, which took about as long as I predicted, despite never giving this one out before. I’ve gotten pretty good at this teacher-thing. Maybe. We finished by discussing the first half of Chapter 2 of The Code Book.

Week 3 felt like a bit of a stretch. Like I had about 2 weeks worth of material that I was trying to fit into 3 weeks… We did some somewhat random stuff. Monday I had us turn to the back of The Code Book and we looked at the Playfair Cipher and the ADFGVX Cipher. On Tuesday we had a discussion about the second half of Chapter 2. BTW: In case you haven’t noticed yet, my Cryptography class doesn’t meet on Wednesdays. On Thursday we talked about “book ciphers and ciphers in books” which was kinda cute. I found links to two short stories, mentioned in The Code Book, which featured ciphers–The Adventures of the Dancing Men and The Gold Bug–and had students either read the text and attempt to decrypt the code in the story or to use the story as a cipher text to encrypt a short passage. We didn’t have school on Friday, to give us time to prepare for Intersession.

And now, I shall go make cheese for a week. I canNOT wait!

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