Lesson 1: Create PT - Review the Task


This lesson contains a series of activities you can use to help students familiarize themselves with Create Performance Task, how it is scored, and some example tasks created by Code.org.

Students review the Submission Requirements and Scoring Guidelines for the Create PT. Subsequently they review three example scored Create PT submissions with commentary to better understand how the Submission Requirements and Scoring Guidelines are used together. In a wrap-up conversation they identify a piece of advice, a "gotcha", and a remaining question they have about the Create PT.


The Create PT is in many ways straightforward: you complete a self-directed programming project and respond to prompts about your program and process. As you dig into the details of the task, however, you quickly come across some of the nuances of individual components of the task and how they're scored. This lesson is designed to introduce what these nuances are, and begin to provide some answers to the questions that will inevitably arise. Keep in mind that the next lesson provides a more structured set of responses to those questions, and so today students are just diving in to what the task looks like.


Lessom Modifications

Warm Up (10 mins)

Activity (25 mins)

Wrap Up (10 mins)

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Students will be able to:

  • Describe the major components of the Create PT
  • Describe how the Create PT Scoring Guidelines will be used to assess the task
  • Evaluate sample Create PT submissions by applying the scoring guidelines
  • Identify remaining questions about the Create PT


  • Print or prepare to distribute digital copies of Create PT Task Instructions
  • Briefly review all of the graded sample Explore PTs included in the lesson plan


Heads Up! Please make a copy of any documents you plan to share with students.

For the Teachers

For the Students

Teaching Guide

Lessom Modifications

Attention, teachers! If you are teaching virtually or in a socially-distanced classroom, please read the full lesson plan below, then click here to access the modifications.

Warm Up (10 mins)

Introduce the Create PT


Today we're going to start looking more deeply at the Create PT, focusing specifically on understanding:

  • The different components of the Create PT
  • How the task will be scored

Don't worry, you already have much of the knowledge and skills you need to do well on this task. The hardest part might be just understanding what is required of you.

First, we'll quickly read the task description and look a some examples and how they were scored.

Review Create PT Submission Requirements and Scoring Guidelines

Distribute: Students should each get printed or digital copies of the Scoring Guidelines and Task Instructions.

Discussion Goal

Goal: Aim to keep this discussion relatively short. Assure students you're intending to log their questions and they will be addressed through the lesson.

Students should leave this discussion knowing they will submit:

  • video of their code running
  • written responses
  • PDF of program code

They should also know the Scoring Guidelines:

  • contains 6 rows, each worth 1 point
  • sometimes several rows apply to one written response to pick out specific aspects

Students are not, however, expected to fully understand the nuances of the task or scoring.

Prompt: Read and then discuss with a partner the Scoring Guidelines and Task Instructions. For the Scoring Guidelines you can focus on only the first 3 columns for now: "Reporting Category", "Task", "Scoring Criteria". We'll dive into the decision rules later. Just get familiar with these documents.

After reading discuss with a partner:

  • What will you actually be turning in to the College Board?
  • What are you hoping will become more clear after looking at example projects?

Discuss: Give students time to read the pages, in pairs or individually, and then discuss both questions with one another. The first one is more important for now.


Hopefully in your reading you concluded that for the Create PT you'll need to submit:

  • Video showing your programs main functionality, including input and output
  • A PDF of your program code
  • A PDF Written Response

You should also have noticed:

  • The Scoring Guidelines provide specific guidance on how each part of the task will be graded

I'm sure that right now you have a lot of questions about what this task will look like and how it will be scored. Before we answer them, let's look at some examples first.

Activity (25 mins)

Create PT Sample 1

Display: As a class, watch the video for Create PT Sample 1.

Distribute: Provide pairs of students copies of Create PT Sample 1 (links available on student page for this lesson).

Prompt: This is a Written Response for the Create PT. Read it to yourself first. Then with your partner spend a few minutes reviewing it. Be ready to share out the following answers.

  • Did anything surprise you in looking at this sample?
  • Do you think this scored well based on what you know about the scoring guidelines?

Discuss: Ask partners to spend a couple of minutes specifically discussing the prompts above. Then have the whole class quickly share the results of their discussion.

Create PT Annotated Sample 1 (score: 6/6)

Discussion Goal

Goal: Students should understand from this example that the Scoring Guidelines are in many ways as important as the task description. The responses in this sample not only match the task description but address the particular "gotchas" of the scoring guidelines.

Students may still have questions about the individual prompts or scoring guidelines. Encourage them that you'll look at more examples which may help clarify.


Sample C actually received a 6/6 score. Let's look at the student response side-by-side with the scoring guidelines and the annotated notes to see why.

Distribute: The CSP Create PT Code.org Annotated Sample 1.

Prompt: With your partner look over this annotated version of the sample to see how each row of the scoring guidelines was applied. You should be reading specifically to answer any of the questions you had about the task earlier. After looking it over we will discuss:

  • What characteristics of this response made it score well?
  • What parts confused you?
  • What questions do you still have about the Scoring Guidelines or Task description?

Discuss: Ask partners to spend a couple of minutes specifically discussing the prompts above. Then have the whole class share the results of their discussion.

Create PT Annotated Samples 2 (4/6) and 3 (2/6)


Let's now take a look at some other samples. To kick things off, we let's watch the student videos for Sample 2 and Sample 3.

Display: Play both short videos for Samples 2 & 3. Students should have a basic understanding of what these apps are and how they work.

  • Sample 2: Magic 8 Ball app - when the screen is clicked, a recommendation appears and the icons change to indicate if it's a positive, neutral, or negative response.
  • Sample 3: Random Dog Picker app - this app should be familiar from a previous unit. A dog size is chosen from a dropdown menu, and a random dog in that size category is displayed on the screen.

Distribute: Provide pairs of students copies of the Create PT Annotated Samples 2 & 3 (student links on code studio). Students should also pull up the Written Responses for each task so they can look at the submitted code segments.

Prompt: With your partner look at these samples - you can pick which to look at first. As you review this task with a partner ask yourself:

  • Where and how specifically did this fall short?
  • Was there one major problem that caused ripple effects through the scoring?
  • Or were there several smaller issues?
  • Try to point out specific aspects of the Scoring Guidelines or Submission Requirements.

Discuss: Ask partners to spend a couple minutes specifically discussing the prompt above. Then have the whole class share the results of their discussion. Where possible call out ways that the discussion is answering questions raised earlier in the class about the Submission Requirements or Scoring Guidelines.


In Written Response 3b, you will need to state how the named list manages complexity. This can be tricky! You will need to make sure that you specifically speak to how parts of your program would be different without the list.

Let's practice this together.

Discussion Goal

Goal: Encourage students to use specific programming language in their responses (i.e. variables, conditionals, loops, etc.).

Sample 3b response: The answers list manages complexity because without it, each element would need to be stored in its own variable which would increase the length of the code and opportunities for error. The variables would need to be carefully named to indicate if they are positive, neutral, or negative as this is how the program determines what icons to display. For example, one variable might be called positive0 and store the value "Yes, absolutely".

Do This: Direct students back to Create PT Annotated Sample 2. With a partner, ask students to discuss how they could rewrite 3b in order to earn the point.

Wrap Up (10 mins)

Create PT: Advice, Gotchas, Questions

Discussion Goal

Goal: The next lesson is designed to address these three specific prompts. Students will have time to dive deep on what counts as a computing innovation and how to choose one wisely. They will be provided a checklist of "gotchas" next to each part of the task to use while they complete. There is also time set aside to answer remaining questions. In other words, don't feel the need to respond to all of these prompts here. Use this conversation to synthesize what they saw and remind students that tomorrow you'll investigate all these questions more deeply.

Prompt: Based on the examples that you saw today write down on separate post-its / scratch piece of paper

  • The number one piece of advice you have for the Create PT
  • One "gotcha" to look out for
  • One question you'd still like answered about the Create PT

Discuss: Have students share their answers with a partner. Then have them place their responses on the board somewhere where they can be seen.

Once answers are on the board quickly report back to the group the patterns or trends that you're seeing in their responses.


Next time we meet we're going to look more deeply into the Create PT, using the three questions you just answered. We'll talk about strategies for avoiding many of the "gotchas" you identified in this lesson. Finally, we'll take time to address any remaining questions you have about the task.

  • Reminder: Tech Setup - AP Digital Portfolio, Making PDFs, and Videos
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Teaching Tip

For the Teacher

Student Instructions

Tech Setup and Tools for the AP Performance Tasks


You need to setup your AP Digital Portfolio to officially submit your performance tasks and to sign up for the exam. There are also several tools you should be familiar with in order to create the necessary PDF documents and Video screen captures that you need to submit.

More Details -- Table of contents

AP Digital Portfolio Setup

Goal: Students should be aware of the Digital Portfolio and how to access it. They should know what's there and be familiar with the basic mechanics of uploading and submitting their projects.

If your students have not done this yet, they will need to register themselves with AP digital portfolio in order to upload their projects.

Follow College Board Instructions to Setup Portfolio

The digital portfolio and guide contains a few helpful other things students should know about such as:

  • Guidance about how to create a PDF
  • Templates for the written prompts
  • Ways to save drafts of written responses on the site and come back to it

Making PDFs for Written Responses

You are required to make a PDF of your written responses to prompts. It's recommended that you use the College Board templates for filling out your responses. At some point you will have your written responses in a word processing document such as Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or Pages.

What follows is copied from the AP Student Guide for the digital portfolio

How to make a PDF

  • Recent versions of applications like: Word, PowerPoint, Pages, and Google Docs, have built-in features that allow you to save or export your file as a PDF. Instructions are provided below.
  • If your software does not have a PDF option, visit the Adobe site and learn more about whether Acrobat from Adobe Systems can convert your document to PDF.
  • You are responsible for ensuring that your file is properly formatted and readable. After you have created your PDF, be sure to check it by opening and reviewing your PDF in Adobe Reader, a free application that can be downloaded from the Adobe site.

Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint)

    • In Word, Powerpoint, and other Microsoft Office programs you will "Save as PDF." Visit the Microsoft Office support page for more information about "Save as PDF." To save a Word or Powerpoint document as PDF:
    • Open your Word or Powerpoint document.
    • From the top menu select "File," and select "Save As."
    • In the dialog window, go to the drop-down menu for "Save as type," and select "PDF."
    • Click "Save."

Google Docs

  • In Google Docs, you will "Download as" PDF. Visit the Google support page for more information on "Download a file." To download a Google Doc as a PDF:
  • Open your Google doc
    • From the top menu select "File," and select "Download as," and select "PDF Document (.pdf)"


  • In Pages, you will "Export to" PDF. Visit the Apple support page for more information or follow the steps below:

  • Open your Pages document.

  • From the top menu select "File," and select "Export to," and select "PDF."
  • In the dialogue window select "Best," image quality.
  • Choose a destination for the export and click "Export."

Making PDF of Program Code (for the Create PT)

You need to make a PDF of your code and you also draw an oval and rectangle onto the PDF to highlight certain parts. There are a few options for this.

  • Our recommendation: Use CodePrint - a tool for doing everything from the browser.
  • Option 2: Make a PDF of the Code, then Edit the PDF using a PDF editor to draw shapes
  • Option 3: Copy/Paste Code into a Word (or Google) document and add shapes there to produce PDF.

Details: how to make a pdf of your code

Step 1 - copy your code in App Lab

  • Switch App Lab into text mode
  • Select all the code(highlight all with your mouse or Ctrl+A)
  • Copy it (Edit -> Copy, or Ctrl+C)

Step 2 - paste the code into a page or doc for printing

  • If using CodePrint

    • This tool lets you draw rectangles and ovals over a pretty-ified version of the code (diagram at right)
    • If you can print a PDF from the browser, this should be all you need.
  • Other options

  • Option: Github Gist -- GitHub Gist is a tool designed to let you quickly share code. We can use it to quickly print as well.

    • Go to GitHub Gist
    • Paste your code into the code area (the large open area with line numbers)
    • Optional: In the filename box type .js -- this forces the box to recognize the code as javascript
    • Click "Create Secret Gist" - this will save the code to a new page anonymously
    • From your Browser choose "File -> Print" and use your computer's option to print to PDF.
  • Option: use a word processor Google docs or MS Word

    • This option is fine but you won't get line numbers next to your code which can be convenient.
    • If you choose this option you should add your annotations (rectangle and circle) here in the word processor.

How to add Ovals and Rectangles to a PDF

If not using CodePrint you'll need to add ovals and rectangles to the PDF of your code.


  • You need to install Adobe Acrobat (see the AP guide for students)
  • Open the PDF in Acrobat and add annotations


  • The built in Preview App allows you to add rectangles and ovals directly
  • With PDF open in Preview go to Tools -> Annotate -> Rectangle for example.

Making a Video Screen Capture

Students are required to make at least one video that is a "Screen capture" of themselves using the program they wrote for the Create PT.

How To Make a Screencast

If you have not made any screencapture videos in class to this point students may ask how to do it. You will need to use 3rd party screen capture software. We recommend investigating options that will work for your school's software requirements. Here are two options: