Do students need to have completed Unit 3 to be successful in Unit 5?

I may have new students coming into my class in January. My question is, do students need to have completed Unit 3 Programming to be successful in App Lab for Unit 5?

Thank you.


I think that students will be able to be successful in U5 without completing U3. There is some spiraling of objectives so you may need to spend a bit more time with them on abstraction, functions, parameters and loops. It would be a great time to reinforce these concepts with the whole class! They would benefit from doing some of the turtle programming because many of the AP multiple choice programming questions use a ‘robot’ that behaves like the turtle.

Happy computing,

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Unit 5 Data and Society can be done without any prior knowledge. The only thing they do online is run some widgets. I used this unit stand alone with 7th graders and it worked just fine. There is no coding in Unit 5.

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Unit 4 is the Data and Society Unit with lessons on privacy, security and encryption. Unit 5 is a programming unit with activities linked to’s website. The core skills needed for the programming questions on the AP Exam and the Create performance task are taught or reviewed in this unit.

Happy computing,

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So sorry I missed the P in CSP. I am a middle school teacher using CSDiscoveries. Thanks for catching my mistake and clarifying. :blush:

Good point on the Turtle and the AP Exam. Other than that, we could skip U3 and cover everything in Unit 5. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet, but my advanced students start to feel like they are being babied when they see the Turtle, Karel, Scratch stuff early in the course. This has happened two years in a row now, so I don’t think it’s just one group of kids.

@nicholsonl I used to think teaching CSP meant that since this was every student’s first CS course (at least in my district), they would all start at more or less the same place (unlike mathematics). But I quickly realized this was most certainly not true! Very rarely do students go home and study Geometry for fun after school - but they DO do that for CS!

I also have had some students with some heavy robotics experience or other CS experience come into CSP. I have modified what I have given them to work on during the start of unit 3. I have had some students work on CS50’s starting material which has proved pretty challenging for that group of students. I have also given them one-off turtle drawing problems like:

  • write a function that draws en ellipse at a location x, y
  • write a function that will draw a hexagon of size n
  • write a function that draws a polygon with n sides
  • write a function that will tile a hexagon of size n on the screen
  • write a function that will “fill” a rectangle

These vary in complexity and are a bit more “mathy”, but they have been well-recived by my advanced students. Furthermore, I can then have the rest of the class use these student-generated functions in their Unit 3 final project.

It will be interesting to see how students’ needs change as CS gets pushed down to the middle school level. I imagine that the type of programming skills students come in with will change how I approach unit 3 in the future.

I am interested in hearing how else you are planning on changing the course to meet the needs of your students this upcoming year.

Happy Summer!



Thank you for your response and ideas. I’ll use some of the projects you mention above.

After considering the input in this thread, I will continue to include the simpler environments at the beginning of the course and just push advanced students to do advanced things in those environments if they don’t feel that they are being challenged. I’ve decided this because of the AP Exam “turtle” questions and because I don’t want to scare off the under-represented students AP CSP is aimed at attracting.

Our AP CSP enrollment, by the way, ranges from students with no computer background to those who have already had AP CS-A and done quite well in it. One reason I picked JavaScript-based curriculum is to give the beginners an more even playing field and to give the AP CS-A students something new to learn. Balancing these needs is a challenge, but I have been successful by challenging the advanced students to complete the standard assignments faster – and to help others and/or work on supplemental projects with their free time.

Best regards,

That sounds like QUITE the mix of students! I am wondering, do you have a “post-AP CSA” course for students who want to go further in programming, specifically? I don’t know if that would be an option for your building. I have a few students who take CSP after CSA and they will be working on something else once we hit unit 5. For me, the question I am wrestling with is, do I build my CS program up (offer a course for after CSA), down (a semester long non-AP elective for students weary of “AP” despite my encouragement), or sideways (a physical computing or cyber-security course that could be taken after any of these courses)?

There are so many options! It is tough to really know where the demand is in my building at the moment. I know I cannot do all of those since I will stretch myself (and enrollment) too thin.