New Teacher - Pacing and Scheduling


#1

I am new to both teaching and AP CSP. I like the code.org material a lot but with a short runway am feeling a bit challenge molding the material to fit our schedule. My class will meet 4 times a week for 55 mins, except for all those assemblies and holidays. Any suggestions on how to pace and schedule the two PT’s?
Jim


#2

Hi @jreilly2016,

That sounds like a really short amount of time with your CSP students.

I just posted another reply to someone regarding a non-traditional schedule, referencing discussions from other teachers with non-traditional schedules: Teaching AP CSP in a 4x4 block

However, I’m not sure if any of those situations are in any way similar to yours since as far as I can see, your situation is that you just plain have fewer total instructional minutes. It may just be a matter of experiencing the course for a year or two in order to get a better idea of where you feel you can cut some corners for your students.

The soonest we recommend you do the Explore PT is after unit 4, when they learn about data (relevant to the Explore PT written response questions), and do the Create PT after Unit 5 Chapter 1 (so students have sufficient coding knowledge). Hopefully that helps you in terms of sequence.

Frank


#3

Frank,
Thanks. I will did through those responses. Sorry if I was confusing. I will have a fairly regular schedule with 4 55min class sessions per week. My question is more looking at how to pace and schedule so I can see where if any windows for extra prep or review or if I come across some good external sources that I have an idea where I could insert without causing delays on completing the code.org material. (Probably just nervous as a new teacher having never done this before.)
Jim


#4

Hi Jim, welcome to the world of CSP! It’s a very fun class to teach, and I hope that you and your students enjoy it as much as I do. Anyway, to your question…

My school doesn’t begin until late August, almost September, and there is a lot of material to cover. I have found that I don’t have much time to supplement the code.org material or I run out of time. I also do things in a slightly different order. I teach through units 1, 2, and 4, then do the Explore Performance Task in December before the holiday break. Units 3 and 5 (most of 5) happen in Jan-March. During April my students complete their Create PT. To me, this flow works really well and it spaces out the two PTs.

So, how do I schedule? I look at the school calendar and work backwards from the December Recess so that I have the full 8 hours mandated by the College Board. Because of snow days, I usually add an extra day. Last year we spent about 2 hours before the PT looking at examples and talking about the rubric. Once I knew the last possible day of learning before the PT activities, I was able to rough out a calendar for the 3 units, taking into consideration the school calendar. I find it tight to fit all of the material in, and always wish I had an extra week or two in the fall (I get jealous of schools that start a bit earlier and have more time than me!).

I do a similar process for the programming units. The key to me is to allocate the College Board mandated 8 hour and 12 hour blocks of time, then cover as much as you can before those blocks.

I do some practice for the multiple choice test the first few days in May.

Good luck figuring it all out!


#5

Will,

Thank you for the detail. This is helpful and confirms some of challenges I was facing. A couple questions:

  1. I hear some say they break up the PTs and give the 8 hours but not consecutive classes. Any thoughts?

  2. I am looking at following code.org lessons pretty closely. How do you find the time estimates? We have 55 min periods and most the lessons show timing that adds up to about 50 mins or so, but as I look at material and instructions the 50 mins seems aggressive. Have you encountered that?

Regards,

Jim


#6

Jim, I think that the timing is fairly accurate. My schedule is a bit different, as my students are with me 85 minutes every other day. Quick math tells me that we have about the same number of minutes with our students. I find that on many days I must complete 2 lessons, or 1.5 lessons (which can be awkward!). Somewhere on the web site there is an estimate of how many weeks each unit should take, and I found that a good reference. At one point I outlined all of the lessons for each unit in a spreadsheet and grouped them so that they would fit my schedule, but I found that process too time consuming so dropped it and take more of a weekly approach. If I know when a particular unit must end, I can teach accordingly, merging and/or dropping lessons as needed.

I would recommend 8 consecutive hours. My students, once they pick a topic, are pretty good at getting through it. Material available on code.org has recommended timelines for the PTs. While you are not allowed to give much help, I do believe it is OK to help a student with time management… if you are in hour 5 and they haven’t picked a topic yet, let them know how far behind they are!
Will