Monday, March 30, 2015

String Immutability - APCS A Deep Dive

Content has moved to CodeVA's Teacher's Lounge - latest post

The String class can cause a lot of confusion for students as they first start working with code. We often introduce it early in the year, indeed it is hard to do many meaningful things without it. The problem is, as an example of a class data type, it can behave in some unusual ways...

Friday, February 20, 2015

Telling Stories with Data

Content has moved to CodeVA's Teacher's Lounge - latest post

Telling Stories with Data: The Most Common Job In Every State

One of the major themes in Computer Science Principles is Data. This interactive map shows how jobs have changed throughout the years. It is a great example of how visualizations ...

Monday, May 19, 2014

AP Computer Science Teacher Training

There are some major changes happening to the AP Computer Science A course next year (new course description here). First and foremost the GridWorld case study is no more. Replacing it are the new AP Computer Science Labs (more on those here).

One of the best ways to keep up to date with changes are the AP Summer PD's.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Latest Project - CodeVA

So anyone that has spent more than five minutes with me in the past three months has heard an earful about our new project. CodeVA is a non-profit focused on bringing computer science education to students and teachers across Virginia.
Launching in summer 2014 CodeVA brings two initiatives:
  • Teacher Training
    • In partnership with CodeVA is working with four Virginiaschool districts to train new computer science teachers.
  • Summer Camps
    • To bring computer science to kids across central Virginia CodeVA is running five summer camps.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

AP Computer Science Exam Review Worksheet

My favorite cartoon - Savage Chicken

Here are some things I use with my students for last minute AP exam review. My goal is not new learning at this point. I focus instead on reinforcing skills that will help them move up a point or two in their score.

What it Takes to Make a Computer Science Teacher

I've had this conversation 5 or 6 times over the last few months. Always with teachers, always centered around respect.

And mostly about computer science education.

So I'm going to go ahead and put this in writing. A good teacher can teach computer science. Not every computer scientist can teach.

I'm not just pulling this from thin air. For the last 5 years I've been deeply embedded in the process of training new computer science teachers. I ran a program of 30 new AP Computer Science programs across Virginia. Some teachers had programmed, some had not.

I also have a decade of experience running extracurricular programs in computer science. We've had some wonderful and knowledgeable volunteers.

I trained math and history teachers, business teachers, turfgrass teachers. And yes, turfgrasses a real subject.

So what does it take to make a good computer science teacher?

First and foremost is command of the classroom. Someone who can get kids engaged in great learning activities. Teaching is an art, one that has to be developed just like any other skill set.

But we can't stop there. Too many teachers have been thrown into computer science class rooms without the base knowledge they need in order to teach the subject.

This sets the teacher and students up for frustration and ultimately, failure. Its not that experienced teacher can't do computer science, it's that they don't know computer science.

Computer science is the only high school subject I know of where we take people who have never even taken a class in the subject and say to you gotta go teach this. Can you imagine a calculus or physics, or art teacher that had never taken the subject at college?

And in an era where are professional evaluations are very closely tied to student test scores, it's a wonder anybody would take that risk.

So what does it take to be a good computer science teacher?

The bottom line is content. With a good classroom teacher and solid curriculum you create a situation where a teacher can succeed, which is the base of all student success.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Human Computer Interaction Oops

Today I was researching Human Computer Interaction as a part of a side project, and I came accross this gem: 

The error message is cracking me up - do all the .gov pages use this? 

And in case you are wondering THIS is not a professional website.

Which is why it has been so far in few between on posts lately. Several projects are winding down, and big deadlines leave little time for posting.

The biggest of these has been CodeVA, a non-profit to support computer science education in Virginia. 

And of course the AP Computer Science MOOC is nearing the end of the first year. We are doing AP prep right now, with a diagnostic exam and live webinars, so if you students need AP review feel free to use what is posted there.