Teaching in a Block Schedule


I will be seeing my students for 85 minutes every other day. The lessons, it appears, are designed for 55 minutes every day. We also have 4 fewer weeks to complete the curriculum than outlined in the big-picture overview. As a result, I need to either complete two lessons a day, or cut some lessons from the flow. Or both.

Does anyone have any recommendations? Anyone else in the same type of constraint? I would love to share ideas!


In a similar spot. Used the timeline features of Mindview, entered the number of minutes I had each day, specified how long I expected to spend on a lesson. Many I tracked as 45 minutes, some longer. The software worked around my holidays and what-not and build a timeline. From there I smoothed it out a bit to make sure I finish on time.


Thanks for the idea. I did a more top-down approach, outlining the number of weeks for each lesson, then filling in the lessons for each day. It became very clear to me that I will need to do double lessons on most of my 85 minute days. It makes it hard to add in readings from Blown to Bits, Ted Talk videos, articles, and even general discussion. I think that for this first year of CSP, I’ll stick with the curriculum as best as I can, then make changes / additions as I’m able.

I’ve created a Google Sheet for Unit 1 that shows on which day I’ll be teaching each of the 14 lessons.


You’re right that you need double lessons. You should also look for good points to interrupt; you might need to teach three lessons across two days at time point.


Double lessons is great. But, I also like the extra time to give the students, so they do not have any excuses that they did not have time to do the work. I am going to work up to double lessons, but at the begging of the year, I enjoy the extra time, so my students can understand what we are talking about.

Teaching AP CSP in a 4x4 block

Hi, I am teaching this course this semester on a block schedule … and we are already 3 weeks into the school year (started August 9th). I was a fairly late hire and made the decision to teach this course rather quickly so I didn’t have much time to plan ahead. However, things are going pretty smoothly and I’d be happy to share what I can if it helps. After 3 weeks, we are on starting Unit 1, Lesson 12, tomorrow. Because I didn’t necessarily want to start a new topic after finishing one, I am also adding in some of the Harvard CS50 material because my students are dying to start coding - maybe it will help pick up some time when we get to the unit on programming that involves loops, etc. The CS50 work is going pretty well too and fills the time.


Are your blocks every other day? If so, you’ve met fewer than 12 times, so you must be doubling up lessons. I would love to hear how that has worked for you. I’ve got a plan done for the first Unit that involves double lessons fairly frequently. Unless the code.org material goes faster than I anticipate, I don’t see myself adding any CS50 material. Time is tight to complete everything at code.org and allow the mandatory class time for the performance tasks.


All but a few of my CSP kids took ECS last year. They all want to do more with programming, so I’m going to have them run through Unit 3 as homework. I’m going to give them a calendar that they will have to stick to, because we are going to do the unplugged activities and have discussions based on what they are learning in class. This will ensure that students don’t fall behind and I can help them in class when things don’t make sense. By doing this, I will (1) free up time in class so we don’t feel rushed, (2) ensure that they have time in class to work on performance tasks, and (3) get them programming earlier so they have lots of time to practice. Most of these kids will finish Unit 3 fairly quickly, and then I will put them on the JavaScript tutorials on Lynda.com.


Amy, I like this idea! Many of my students have done some programming, but not all. For those that haven’t, I wonder how easy it is to complete Unit 3 independently. I’ll have to think about this as an option… it would allow me to relax a bit more in class. Thanks for the idea!

I don’t know much about lynda.com, but it looks like a pay service, so it’s probably not an option for me. I would love your thoughts about lynda if you have experience with it.


I’m on blocks, too–two 85 minute periods and one 35 minute period each week. I feel like I’m trying to shove 5 gallons of content into a 4 gallon bucket.

My initial thought was to do some double lessons, but that hasn’t worked very well–partially because the Internet Simulator hasn’t been working well and partially because classroom discussions have been working well. It’s tough to chop off a great discussion right in the middle. My recourse so far has been to assign more homework, but I’m still not moving through the material quickly enough. It’s been in the back of my mind that I need to figure a way to steal more time–cutting lessons or assigning independent work–so I’d love to keep hearing what’s working for other teachers in this predicament.


Nathan, I’m too early in the year to comment much (we are on day 2 today!), but I’m giving serious thought into have students complete Unit 3 independently for homework. @amy suggested this approach, and I might give it a try. It would really free up some time, not requiring double lessons every day. Would love thoughts from you and others on this approach.


I think I started replying to this a few days ago and didn’t finish. Sorry for the delay.
We meet every day for 84 minutes (but the course is finished in December). So, it’s usually more than enough time to do one lesson but not always ideal to start another one. We have now finished Unit 1, although I’m assigning the Lesson 14 PT to be done at home and turned in later. I also just administered the Unit 1 test (I did Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 together as one test since I wasn’t really prepared as a new teacher to have them do the Chapter 1 test at that time). I would take a look at the assessment questions if you haven’t already and either make sure you have covered the content (which seems to be missing for quite a few questions - for example, hex) and/or plan to write your own assessments. I combined the Unit 1 chapter tests with a CS50 multiple choice test I wrote for the first ‘big’ test. So, in summary, Unit 1 Lessons 1-13, took me us 4 weeks, including some CS50 on the side. So, I probably stretched it out a bit too long but I think we’ll make up some ground in Unit 3 on programming (since we’ve covered a ton of that already) and my kids spent last year building apps already - so Unit 5 could go faster too.


Like your students, mine are craving programming. Therefore I looked at the CS50 option. However I am not clear on how you set it up for your students. Are you just using the Harvard material( If so where did you get it) or did you have them join the online class on their own. I am just looking for some suggestions. Therefore your held is appreciated.


I meet with my class every other day for 100 minutes. It would be easy to say just complete two 50 minute lessons in one day, but some are 2-3 days. I started off slow and am worried I’m going to have to cram now. Even at 2 lessons a day I find that I never have time to do any of the extra stuff. Someone mentioned a timeline feature in Mindview. I am not familiar with Mindview but would love some feedback on it or other ideas on ways to plan.


I have the students from august to december 90 minutes 4 days and 50 one day. I plan based on content, some days I do two lessons, 3 rarely. Several I move through quickly, for example encoding black and white, I spent very little time on since we moved to color encoding. The lesson on pivot tables took my students about 45 minutes or so. I think you will fine it works out. This assumes your students are motivated. The spring term I lose a couple of weeks so they will have a bit more things they have to do at home.


I have 80 minutes with students every other day. I typically see students five times in a two week period. I’ve attached my current schedule, which accounts for my own school calendar, but you can see how I’ve doubled up some lessons and extended others. A lot of this was mapped out during TeacherCon last summer when I saw the pacing of lessons. However, some lessons that were tricky for us teachers in the summer ended up being quite simple and quick for students so I’m constantly readjusting!

Now that I’ve finished Unit 1, I feel more confident that we can get through all the material necessary in the time given. APCSP Revision 3.pdf (109.9 KB)


@hwalden Thanks for submitting the outline. This will be a great help to those on a block/AB plan.


Here’s another for A/B Block Schedule (every other day). It was tough and there wasn’t time for any extended learning or any extra activities but it’s doable. Unit 1 will be completed next week ending with Flash Talks before moving onto Unit 2. It’s taking 18 days and 5.5 weeks. First day of school was 8/29 and there was no school on 9/2 and 9/5. AB Schedule - 78 Minute Blocks - Sheet1.pdf (51.3 KB)


Hi everyone… I’m looking for a check-in from others teaching in a block. We just finished U2 L09. Where are the rest of you? I never feel like I have enough time…!


I’m on true block and I start Unit 5 tomorrow. Plan to complete Unit 5 by Thanksgiving which gives me 2 weeks ( 12 hours ) for the create task. Actually a little more so I have some fluff in the schedule.