CS Promotion

February 16, 2012 at 12:40 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

These two weeks are is quite important for making students at North aware of the computer science programs and specifically the new CS principles course. Of course I am teaching CS Principles under the hood of Game Programming has made it even more fun and attractive.

We have an elective fair at our school. All departments that offer elective courses give out flyers and brochures and encourage their current students to talk about the courses and have other students recruit them to their classes. At our elective fair this year we gave out blow pops! I attached tiny messages like, “Join Game Design”, “Do you like gaming? Take a computer class to understand it better” to the blow pop. Then I asked many of my volunteer students to give them out to other students who they thought would enjoy computer science. This was a lot of fun.

For AP classes, I used the PSAT scores to help determine a student’s potential. I looked at their performance in language arts (students need to be able to comprehend the free response questions that are given to them in the AP Exam) as well as how well they performed on the math section of the PSAT.  Based on the data I sent letters to about 50 students and their parents encouraging them to take AP Computer Science. At AP Night (an evening when all parents are encouraged to come to school and talk to the AP teachers) I spoke to several of the students and parents and gave them handouts specifically outlining what my expectations are for my AP course.

Enrollment is next week. I will find out if this promotion had any impact.

Disadvantages of following a tutorial

February 10, 2012 at 12:33 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Programming with Greenfoot has gone reasonably well. I let the students follow the tutorial for a chapter and then come together as a group to discuss their progress. Tutorials are no fun. Students like interaction. Students like programming with a purpose. Tutorials do not give them the why. That is what we facilitators do. We show them the big picture and get them excited.

Every Greenfoot day, I start the class discussing what was covered the day before. After they were able to create their own methods I had them design their own classes. And associate an image to their class. They were to add one new behavior to their objects and then give a demonstration. Essentially, after every small tutorial, have a small independent activity that is open-ended and creative. This seems to keep the interest going.

I do see students now forming a clear opinion about programming. There are definitely students who say, that they do not like cryptic syntax errors. They would rather design, explore and research than code.  And then there are others who like the challenge. Those who enjoy working with code, would rather program than do anything else.

CE 21

February 8, 2012 at 2:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Last week was CE21. This is the first time I have attended the conference. It was an interesting experience. I enjoyed meeting some really interesting people. I am excited to see the progress we are making towards making CS Principles an AP.

Here is the link to the CE21 presentation of CS Principles. It has been announced that the first AP exam is scheduled to be held in Spring of 2016. That means if all goes well the first AP CS Principles course will be conducted the academic year 2015-2016.  There was a college board presentation on the next steps that will be taken to get ready for the AP CS Principles course offering and testing.

Jan Cuny spoke about CS 10K goal. (Training 10K computer science high school teachers). Here is the link to her talk.

Another hat I wear is I am in the Advisory council for the Computer Science Collaboration Project (CSCP). I went to dinner with Karen Peterson and other members of the group. I really enjoyed myself and learnt a lot of new things.

More about specifics on what I learnt in future blogs…

Greenfoot as a programming tool

February 1, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Today introduced Greenfoot in class. I start this topic with some trepidation, but with a distinct sense of purpose. Introduce students to real programming.

Greenfoot is programming in Java. While the programming tool continues to be more of a learning tool than an industrial programming tool ( like using JAVA with an IDE) , students will be required to program and deal with frustrating complier issues like missing semicolon.

Also, Greenfoot is not a tool where students can explore the software and figure out how to make it work. There is not much to explore… but there is a lot that can be done. It is an extremely powerful, visual programming environment and gives you all the power of an object oriented environment.

I have started them on the tutorial that comes with Greenfoot. I like the tutorial.  It is simple and straightforward.  Once students had their software running they were enjoying themselves.  The rest of the week I will be talking about classes and objects, and how I can create multiple objects from one class. Greenfoot makes it easy to explain this concept.

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