Dear Intrepid CS Principles Teachers,
After a period of review of our CS Principles curriculum, we’ve set out to make some targeted updates. Key inputs into our review were direct teacher feedback, last year’s AP results, and the updated Performance Task Scoring Guidelines that were released in August 2017. We will be releasing these updates on an ongoing basis so that this year’s teachers can benefit from the process.
Some of the updates we’d like to make cannot be done at this time because it would be too disruptive to the roughly 40,000 students currently engaged in the course. However, we know many folks are in the middle of Unit 2 and, based on the feedback, we thought we could offer a (hopefully) timely set of recommendations for how teachers can approach the lessons in Unit 2 Chapter 2 of the course.
Consider cutting lessons 11, 12, 13, and 14 that deal with cleaning and analyzing data.
There are several lessons in Unit 2 (marked in red in the diagram) that teach students to manipulate, analyze, and visualize data using spreadsheets. When written, the primary goal of these lessons was to provide students with the general-purpose skills they could use to create a computational artifact for the AP Explore PT.
Based on the updated Explore PT Scoring Guidelines, we now know these specific skills go beyond those necessary for the task. Per the current guidelines, the artifact need only “Provide an illustration, representation, or explanation of [a] computing innovation’s intended purpose, function, or effect.”
While many teachers reported that these lessons and the associated Practice PT offer students valuable skills and insights, we also know that they use valuable class time (at least 8 days) in an already packed year.
Lesson 7 (in yellow) offers an important introduction to data, but also has you set up the “Class Data Tracker” project. The data collected in this project is used in lessons 13, 14, and 15. Read the rest of the recommendations below first, but you might consider still doing the class data tracker, just over a shorter period of time so that you have a source of some authentic data to work with or look at for other lessons in the unit. Some of the topics about trends, biases, and visualizations can be more illuminating for students when looking at data about themselves. It might be a nice dataset to have in your back pocket.
Lesson 8 - 10: Teach these lessons as written. They cover important learning objectives under the Big Ideas of Data and Global Impacts.
Lesson 11 - 14: (in red) Consider skipping or significantly shortening these lessons.
Lesson 15 - Practice PT (in green) The existing Practice PT is no longer closely aligned with the AP Explore PT, given the updated scoring guidelines. We have two possible recommendations:
Skip this Practice PT and move on to Unit 3. We are planning revisions to Unit 4 that will more directly address skills required for the AP Explore PT that should prepare students adequately. You do not need to be overly worried about students missing out on skills or practice required for the real performance task.
If you would still like to use these lessons and project, we recommend:
- Reviewing the 2018 Explore PT Scoring Guidelines to understand the skills students will be expected to demonstrate on the Explore PT. Determine whether you can make modifications in your classroom to better address those skills.
- Consider simplifying the data manipulation skills you ask of your students.
- Consider shortening the amount of class time committed to this project.
- Additional Pacing Resources
As a reminder, the CS Principles Curriculum Guide contains a number of pacing recommendations, both for the entire course, and in some cases, for individual units. The pacing recommendations start on Page 32. Again, if you want to converse more about this (virtually) we’ve set up a thread on the forum related to this update.
Baker Franke and GT Wrobel