Spreading Out the Programming Chapter(s)


I noticed another post suggesting to do the Chapters/Units in a slightly different order, based on the “flow” and how some of the ideas fit together–but I have a question about another modification.

My current thought is to do Unit 4 and Unit 5 “at the same time”–we have one long period each week that would be a “programming day” (unit5) and 3 shorter periods that would be “content” (unit4). The kids will get to keep doing programming, but smaller more discrete blocks, while having time to discuss real world and philosophy.

For context, many of my students are part of an in-school “stem academy” and are involved in extracurriculars like robotics. We’re just completing Unit 3 and I’m looking at what’s happened so far and how to proceed. Their input has been that “we haven’t done very much programming” but, I’ve noticed that too long doing just programming seems to leave them un-focused and overwhelmed.

Talk me into/out of this idea, please!


I am planning this way as well. I am going to do Unit 4 and Unit 5 concurrently. I am also going to do the Explore PT task at the end of Unit 4 while still working on Unit 5 concurrently. It will allow me to have a “break” day in the middle of the Explore PT where we can do programming. I found that last year, with 8 straight hours of Explore PT, it was difficult to keep students focused and engaged. So, this year, their homework during the Explore PT will be parts of Unit 5 and we will take a “break” at least once in the middle of the Explore PT class hours to review/practice coding. We’ll see how it works!


I started the year spreading out the programming. I teach one programming lesson per week, in between the other non-programming units. I start the programming lesson in class, introducing the vocabulary and the new concepts, and then students have a week to finish the lesson. They complete the final programming tasks on their own during the week, and come to see me with questions and for extra help if the need it. This gives time for students who are absent to catch up if they missed a programming lesson, and time for me to remediate if I notice I’m getting a lot of questions about a certain task. Its working really well and im so glad i did this! Last year I ran out of time to do all the programming lessons, and it felt so rushed, so I wanted to make sure that this year I had more time.


Plus, since this is an AP class and my school gives AP summer assignments, they did unit 3, lessons 4-9 as their summer assignment. So they came into the course with 6 programming lessons already completed, I gave a test on them, and then they started the school year with the group programming project, design a digital scene. It was really a fun way to start the school year.


Hi @biermanl !

It sounds like you have a bit of an unusual schedule to work around. One thing to consider is what type of “story” you tell in each unit and if breaking them up disrupts those stories. I also like using longer blocks of time for programming - especially when we get into more projects where it seems like longer chunks of time seems to be more productive. I think my concern about alternating between the two units daily would be a bit of whiplash for students.

I have also noticed that students can lose focus/interest in programming if we spend too long on it without varying instructional delivery modes. I have broken up unit 5 into two parts with unit 4 in between in the past. That kept the “story” piece a bit in the units.

Either way, let us know what you decide and how it works out!