Lesson Summary

Summary: Students will complete a practice Explore Performance Task with only one product (an artifact of the student's choosing). This is the student’s first exposure to a CS Principles Performance Task; therefore, this is a guided lesson.


  • Students will use the Internet to research a technology of the student’s choice and create an artifact to report on the research.


Session 1:

  1. Getting Started (5 min)
    1. A quick activity that requires an effective internet search
  2. Activity (40 min)
    1. Critical Reading Skills Activity [15 min]
    2. Brainstorming Activity [10 min]
    3. Practice Task Activity [15 min]
  3. Wrap-up (5 min)

Session 2:

  1. Getting Started (5 min)
  2. Guided Activity (40 min)
    • Work on practice performance task
  3. Wrap-up (5 min)

Learning Objectives

CSP Objectives

Math Common Core Practice:

  • MP1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

Common Core ELA:

  • RST 12.3 - Precisely follow a complex multistep procedure
  • RST 12.7 - Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media
  • WHST 12.6 - Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update writing products
  • WHST 12.7 - Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question

NGSS Practices:

  • 3. Planning and carrying out investigations

Key Concepts

  • Students will revisit concepts learned in Unit 1 to complete a teacher-guided mini-performance task.
  • The teacher will utilize different reading and writing strategies to assist the students in interpreting a performance task and creating an artifact.
  • Students may need guidance in selecting a format for their artifact. Students should be encouraged to create an artifact using a tool they are already familiar with so the lesson can focus more on research, applying Unit 1 lessons and creativity.

Essential Questions

  • How can a creative development process affect the creation of computational artifacts?
  • How can computing and the use of computational tools foster creative expression?
  • How can computing extend traditional forms of human expression and experience?
  • How does computing enhance human communication, interaction, and cognition?
  • How does computing enable innovation?
  • What are some potential beneficial and harmful effects of computing?
  • How do economic, social, and cultural contexts influence innovation and the use of computing?

Teacher Resources

Student computer usage for this lesson is: required

In the Lesson Resources folder:

  • Presentation with sample visual artifacts: artifact.pptx
  • Practice Performance Task Rubrics:
    • CS Matters version (uses 5-point scale): Unit 1 Practice Performance Task Rubric CSM.docx
    • College Board version (uses 3-point scale): Unit 1 Practice Performance Task Rubric CB.docx
  • Practice Performance Task:  
    • College Board version for both Investigate (no longer part of CS Principles), Explore (visual and written artifacts), and Create tasks (for teacher reference only): CS_Principles_Performance_Assessment2014-1-9.pdf 
    • Explore task only (useful for sharing with students): Explore Performance Task.pdf

For the Teacher:

Lesson Plan

Session 1

Getting Started (5 min)

A quick activity that requires an effective Internet search

  • Example: Count your clicks! In as few “clicks” as possible, locate a web site for a physical store within 50 miles of your school where you can purchase a blue laptop bag.

Activity (25 min)

Explore Performance Task - Introduction

  • Each student receives a copy (paper or electronic) of the Explore performance task (Explore Performance Task.pdf) and the CS Matters scoring rubric (Unit 1 Practice Performance Task Rubric CSM.docx). Note: This is the official College Board version, which has not been updated fully for the new version of the rubrics. In particular, the rubric now restricts the permitted file types, and the resource dates in the performance task description are outdated.  Those rubric requirements are more current and should be followed by the students.  Note that the rubric is still likely to change in the future; we have developed a more fine-grained scoring rubric that we recommend using, to give the students more feedback and guidance.  (The College Board rubric uses a 3-point scale; the CS Matters rubric is on a 5-point scale.)
  • Use the provided presentation (artifact.pptx) to give an overview of the requirements for the visual component of the Explore task, and to show the students several example artifacts.  Lead the students in a discussion of how the artifacts do (or do not) meet the requirements in the rubric and task description.
  • Use a variety of pre-reading activities to assist students' understanding of the requirements of the task:
    • Read the section headers.
    • Make predictions of what the students will be doing for the performance task.
    • Notice the structure of the text: introduction and short description, followed by details of the requirements.
    • Make connections between what was learned in Unit 1 with the requirements of the task.
  • Students should read the performance task carefully. Encourage highlighting key terms. If necessary, work with students to transfer the requirements from paragraph form to a bulleted list.

Activity (5 min)


  1. Students should refer to the topic they chose at the end of Lesson 3. They may either choose this topic to research, or pick another topic from the following choices:
    • Social media 
    • Online retail and banking and online businesses 
    • Cloud data storage 
    • Government surveillance 
  2. If they did not do so at the end of Lesson 3, each student should pick an innovation that connects to the topic chosen. They will research this innovation to create their practice artifact. 

(Limiting the choices will allow students to compare and contrast their final artifacts, facilitate self-assessment, and make it possible to identify exemplars of each option.)


Activity (10 min)

Practice Performance Task

Students should begin the practice performance task. (This work will continue in the next class session.) During the class, the teacher should provide guidance to students to stay focused on the outcomes of the task, assist students in breaking down the task into workable steps, and check for students' understanding of the task.

Wrap-up (5 min)

Journal Entry

Give students a few minutes warning before the end of class. With 4 or 5 minutes remaining, have students reflect and write in their journal a verbal snapshot of the artifact they are creating.

Session 2

Getting Started (5 min)

  • Have students write a goal for the class period in their journal. "During this class, I will complete: ..."
  • Spend 2 or 3 minutes discussing difficulties encountered the previous day and possible solutions.

Activity (40 min)

Practice performance task

  • Students continue work on the practice task. Continue providing guidance. 
  • Note: This practice task may need more than two class periods to complete. It may be necessary to break the task into chunks and assign some portions for homework. It would also be beneficial to spend class time after completion to have students present their artifacts to the class, identify exemplars, and discuss lessons learned.

Wrap-Up (5 min)

Options for Differentiated Instruction

Some students will benefit from having a teacher-selected topic and a step-by-step plan for completing the task.

Evidence of Learning

Formative Assessment

While the students are completing the performance task, check for understanding by asking the students:

  • What technology are you researching?
  • What artifact will you be creating? What is your plan?

Summative Assessment

The artifact from this Practice Performance task can be used as a summative assessment.