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I will be teaching 2 AP CS courses, along with 6th and 7th grade intro to computer science. I'm debating on whether teaching JavaScript (using CodeHS) to 7th graders would be an appropriate introduction or focus on the basics such as HTML/CSS. I worry that CodeHS would be too advanced(?)

For the 6th graders I plan to use Scratch as an introduction to programming. Does this sequence make sense?

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    $\begingroup$ AP CS Principles, or AP CS A? Also, is the 7the grade course meant to be the ramp up to AP? $\endgroup$
    – Ben I.
    Aug 22 at 1:01
  • $\begingroup$ @BenI. Thank you for commenting! Yes both AP CS principles and CS A. And yes, the 6th and 7th grade are meant to be introductory and a ramp up to AP. $\endgroup$
    – Lyn
    Aug 23 at 0:33
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    $\begingroup$ Could you edit the question to include that information, and also better explain the sequence? Is AP CS P going to be prerequisite to AP CS A? $\endgroup$
    – Ben I.
    Aug 23 at 3:21

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Concur with @Ben about HTML5 (see disclaimer, below).

Recommend investigating the Computer Science Field Guide (don't be distracted by the TLD, the Curriculum Guides include AP-CSP. (and New Zealand is more advanced in this field than many?most other countries!) The activities are a mix of 'play' and serious (thinking) challenge.

Just as HTML's declarative approach is not an ideal preparation for procedural languages, many are also concerned that 'going straight to the computer' is an invitation to 'consumer-mode' thinking - for what do most prefer to use their tablets/portables? Whereas "computational thinking" is the desired outcome. Accordingly, please review the CS Unplugged series, which invites the discovery of many CS concepts 'in real life', before implementing solutions in Scratch or Python. (I regularly take-on adults who say "I couldn't do computing" or "I'm hopeless at all that math-stuff" with CS Unplugged's exercise in finding the highest number from a list, using values 'hidden' inside take-out cups - and before you/they know it, describing their thought-pattern reveals an algorithm!). Thus, design-first, develop tests/a proof, and then implement on-computer! NB much of that material seems aimed at younger students, but will depend upon their previous experience.

For yourself, and in the same pattern, please review Teaching Computational Thinking. NB the course as-described seems longer/more-involved than it needs to be, depending upon your own background and judicious choice of topics to suit your target age-group.

Regards =dn (Disclaimer: I use the edX platform for HTML5 training (adult/vocational))

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  • $\begingroup$ CS Unplugged. Yes. Do that. $\endgroup$
    – Buffy
    Aug 26 at 21:03
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I have a few thoughts:

  1. Scratch is wonderful, and very appropriate to that age group. TinkerCAD is another great alternative.
  2. HTML/CSS is fine as an entree into JavaScript for front end web development, but is not, itself, programming. The "ML" in HTML stands for "Markup Language", and is essentially text formatting, like a word processor. You can center, bold, change font sizes, insert images, etcetera, etcetera. I am being a bit reductionist here, but I would not consider HTML/CSS to be either sufficient or even especially helpful in preparing students for the APs. For that, they need some programming.
  3. I seem to recall that there is a visual scripting language that translates to python in real time, and you can view them side by side. (I don't recall who has this. Perhaps it is codingrooms? I will try to figure it out and edit this answer.) In any case, that could be a good way to bridge the gap between your 6th and 7th grade curriculums. Start your students on the visual side, and then have them slowly transition over to the text side. Eventually, put them in an environment in which there is no visual side.
  4. CodeHS is fantastic, and will work well for you. They have lots of stuff there, and there is certainly material that is appropriately leveled for 7th graders who have already had Scratch experience.
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