How to get through Unit 5 Quickly?


My students need to start on their Create and Explore Tasks by the end of this week. We only have 44 minute class periods and spring break will 6 days long. However, we just started Unit 5. Can anyone recommend which lessons I should definitely have students complete in order to prepare them for the Create and Explore Tasks? I need to condense it into a few days so I will be able to give the 20 required class hours for their Create and Explore task.


I saw that one facilitator (Terence) mentioned that students can do the Create task after Ch 1 so he had them do Ch 2 at home. I thought that was very helpful but would also be interested in any other suggestions.



This thread from last year has some good suggestions:

Happy computing,


@prohaska How many days do you have for unit 5? I would also recommend assigning some material for homework if needed from chapter 1.

I would also think about what kinds of apps do you think students would create for the Create task. That might tell you what stages they absolutely need to do. Bare bones, I would list the following as "give time in class: 2, 4, 6, 7-10. It might be that you need to ask for some more homework from your students.

A cautionary note, I have noticed some students will literally skip sessions so they get “caught” - it is like a math student not doing their homework one day, and just doing the next day’s homework. In math, that can work, but if a student entirely skips a concept, they are in big trouble later on. If a student skips Boolean logic, if-else statements are not really possible for a student to understand.

Let me know your thoughts too!


Thank you for your input. I made a calendar for every day for the rest of the year and have outlined what each day will entail. I can get through U5 Ch1, Lessons 1-10 but not Chapter 2 prior to assigning the Create Task. I made a copy of the calendar for each student so he/she knows their responsibility in it and why it is important to put time in outside of class if they fall behind. This is the best way I can think to handle it and hopefully it will be sufficient for them to devise a good Create PT. If students are advanced, they can do Chapter 2 on their own over their spring break. Do you think this is a viable plan. I’ll be so happy once I have one year under my belt. Thanks again for your support.


It does look like it would be a good idea to go over U5 Ch 2 L15 on Arrays though prior to the end of the year exam.


@margaret.birch I think that sounds like a great plan! It seems like you are in a good position overall. If students get done with Chapter 1, they can do everything needed for the Create. You can (and should) feel good about that.

For chapter 2, they do need arrays, loops, and return functions for the AP test. You could skip 14 and 17 if needed. I have also seen teachers teach arrays ONLY in a testing situation - that is, they explain what Arrays are in worksheets and in practice problems similar to what students will see on the AP test. If you have some experience with CS, that might be another option to consider. If this is your first time through, I would stick with’s stages (perhaps with some homework assigned). 13 seemed to be tough for some students (so I would prioritize that in class if possible), but I think you could:

  • do 11 in class and assign 12 as homework
  • do 13 in class
  • skip 14
  • do 15 in class
  • do the unplugged 16 opener in class, and assign the rest of 16 for homework.

This is just if you are still crunched for time. The tough part for me is that assigning homework feels like widening the “gap” in my class. Students without access to a computer/internet at home need to find a way to stay before or after school, and students who just “don’t do homework” fall miserably behind. BUT… these are hopefully ideas to minimize that inequity.

Keep us updated! It sounds like you are in good shape for the Create in terms of programming knowledge though!



Hi Margaret,
Could you please share with me your schedule?



Untitled_20180313_020732.PDF (835.0 KB)

I wrote it by hand so I had to scan it. Not the best copy but I hope you can follow the guidelines. My students seem to be taking on more responsibility since they see how little extra room we have to spare. Hope this helps.


Thanks for sharing this @margaret.birch! IT is so true, when students have a little more of a time crunch - they can rise to the challenge! That is also true for me personally and professionally… :blush:


Thanks! I ended up having students do Unit 5 Lessons for Homework. They also all have at least one study hall period when they can go to the school library and use the computers there. Most of my students have no programming experience so I’m really stressing that they need to get through Unit 5 on their own.


I am knew this year and do not have much of this style of coding. I am on Unit 5 lesson 4 and then we have Friday and Monday off!! So when my 34 students return we still need to complete Chp 2.

This information was so helpful for me and I really appreciate you taking the time out to share this.

Do you think it is possible for the students to use already build programs and we add changes to them? Actually for the students who haven’t caught as well as others?


I mean NEW!!! I am stressing!!!


Hi @roakman,

Welcome to the club! I think there are many teachers who are in the same boat as you. My philosophy on “re-using old projects” for the AP exam is to proceed with EXTREME caution. For students who are set-on doing that, I make sure to re-iterate that everything they write about for the written portion must be done once the “12 hour create clock” starts. I have them make comments around their old code with a disclaimer that says “// this was developed in class with the help of the teacher before the start of the create”.

They must write new algorithms and abstractions that meet the criteria set by the college board for their create project.

In general, I discourage students from doing this because I don’t want them to get flagged for academic dishonesty. ALSO, they have 12 hours to do something in class - even something as straightforward as “design a digital scene” gets pretty close to all the criteria for the College Board. They could pretty easily do a new “design a digital scene” project and then not have to worry about the academic dishonesty piece.

Finally, a last disclaimer that once students start the 12 hours, you cannot tell them what to do for a project - teachers are in full “proctor-mode” vs. “teacher-mode”. That can be really tough for me to turn off the teacher part of me, but once students have a task, they get the idea that I cannot help them.

I would highly recommend looking at the Create survival guide to use as a tool for students who need to brainstorm ideas for the create.

SO… that was a bit of a long answer. Did it help? I guarantee you are not alone so thanks for asking the question here so others can see this too!

Happy Testing Season :slight_smile:


YES!! Thank you so much!