Student questioning curriculum

That’s a great sign! Glad to hear he is taking interest.
This experience is a great reminder of how easy it is to have one student’s negative response grab hold of the situation. We have ALL been there! I think it’s human nature to want to reach each and every student. And despite the fact that we successfully reach the majority, we struggle with that one student that remains out of reach.
It sounds like you got in front of this, and turned it around. Nice job, and thanks for sharing this experience!

@baker Thank you for your work on the CSP curriculum. This is my first year teaching AP CSP at my school. This is also the first year the course is offered at my school. @margaret.birch I have students like yours in my class too. I have been really surprised at how the kids who have taken programming classes outside school don’t know much about the principles. Although they started out with “Why do this?” at the beginning of the year, they are well settled into the curriculum now. The new AP Performance Practice Tasks in Unit 3 have been an excellent resource for them to get tuned into what is required of them for the Exam. I really appreciate the effort and work put into bringing this curriculum to the students.
I am also impressed with the support on the teacher forum. I appreciate the quick response to questions.
The ideas shared here have helped me in the past. Doing the digital scene with an unplugged activity suggested by @kaitie_o_bryan on her post about interactive notebook was a welcome addition for the students who needed some extra help on understanding how to break down the design to smaller functions before going onto to make their digital scenes. I love the work they have turned in.
Now we are getting into Unit4: Big Data. I love the way how the lessons introduce such a vast and hyped up topic through bite size lessons.
Thank you Thank you Thank you!
I definitely could not have done any of this alone. So glad to be part of a community.


I completely agree with you. So many of us are new to this and the support through the well-written curriculum and backed up by other teacher’s who take the time to give support and assistance is the only way I see myself having success with this. When I was first placed in this position, I was like a deer in headlights but now I’m gaining confidence and excited to bring this to my students. I do feel like a salesperson though because I’m always trying to convince others how important it is. I never felt the need to “sell” anything in the 20 years I’ve been teaching but this is so valuable, it needs to be promoted.

It sounds like you have a lot of experience. I hope to be able to provide a better variety of scaffolding as I get a more solid handle on all of the lessons. Some of my students just naturally take the content to the next level. This is my second year teaching Exploring Computer Science and first year teaching AP CSP. I notice the second year of ECS is going so much better. Looking forward to feeling more confidence with AP CSP. I just have to keep at it. Thank you so much for your helpful comments.

I also wanted to say thank you for the post. I also teach in an affluent town where the expectations are very high, and after years of teaching AP-Chem, AP Stats, other CS courses and AP CS-A I am having a hard time with the disdain shown me by the fraction of my CS-P class who consider the class a joke. I have not had to defend any of these other classes. Of course, we could ask if the class is such a joke why did they sign up for it but the obvious answer is because they are resume padders.
I got involved with this class because I take seriously the mandate to broaden the field, to at least expose more students to CS. However there is no effort at my school to deploy the course in that way.
I used to use a lot of BJC for the coding (A lot of those projects are just too hard for this crowd-ironic, yes) and involve heavy scaffolding. And I have loved the nonprogramming units; but, are they too fun, too easy and therefore fodder for disdain from my students? So that leaves me modifying the BJC coding to make it easier and thoughtfully trimming the units to make them more dense, and less chock full of activities. That’s a lot of work for nights and weekends. Which I used to give readily but I am ready to take some time for myself.
This class is probably a ninth or 10th grade class however we cannot offer full year electives until junior year. Or perhaps the solution is to offer it without the AP designation. So the end of this story for my school is not written yet, and while I am not happy that this is happening to anybody else I do take solace in this thread.

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I love the responses here. I think most of my students appreciate an AP course that is not focused on lecture and reading. I explain on the first day that this is a principles course; it is not all coding. Secondly, students that are new to programming need a lot of scaffolding, and the curriculum provides that. I have used other computer science curriculum that goes way too fast and then the students get turned off and confused quickly.

For new CS students, it is different from anything that they have had before. They have read books in Enligsh, written papers, solved math problems, done science experiments, read history books, answered DBQs, CS is something totally new to them so it must be scaffolded well. The curriculum does it extremely well while having fun activities that have a point to them! Hopefully a few of those students will come to appreciate it. Don’t get discouraged. This is the best curriculum I have used for CS. I have used another from a big provider and it went way too fast and assumed too much prior knowledge. I would like to see develop a curriculum for CSA.:slight_smile:


Thanks for the post. Wouldn’t that be great? (If developed a curriculum for CS A). Right now, our students are doing an online MOOC for CS A. I would love for it to be more teacher directed.


I am teaching CSA for the first time this year and now realize how spoiled I was with the CSP curriculum being of high quality and free (not to mention the support in the forum too!) Sigh…

@margaret.birch if you are planning on teaching CSA in the future, one suggestion is to take a Java class in person at a local college if possible. Obviously that takes some money and time, but that can be great content preparation. THEN I think they have seen a great “CSP-izing” of CSA in that teachers like yourself who have enjoyed the interactive and equitable approach of CSP have brought that to CSA. I know I have been trying to do more unplugged activities in CSA because I have seen the power of them in CSP. Also, if you haven’t already, join the AP Computer Science Educators facebook group - that has been my “forum of CSA” and has been helpful.


I agree with Baker’s idea here. I had a lot of experienced students last year (they were basically taking AP CS A or Data Structures and Algorithms, a second semester CS course, as they were taking CSP). I challenged ALL of my students, in teams of four, to develop lesson plans & teach searching and sorting algorithms. I gave them resources and guidelines for the lesson plans - just like Baker said, they had to created ACTIVE learning opportunities for their classmates. I gave my most advanced students the task of teaching decidable vs. undecidable problems. Well, when they got up in front of their classmates and LECTURED for an hour, way above their classmates’ understanding, they sure had a different perspective on the difference between understanding a concept and explaining it (I went back and “reenforced” the basic concepts the next day). It was a valuable experience for all of us.

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I have a balance of students who are high tech coders, some of which scored 4 or 5 on the CSA exam, and targeted non-traditional CS students. At first my coders were dismissive of the other students and viewed this course as a blow off class. Now, 12 weeks into the school year, it is my non-traditional students who are excelling and the coders are playing catch up.
I have made it a point to keep the curriculum focused on its goals and methods.

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