Thursday, May 9, 2013

AP Computer Science Doldrums

So - what are your AP kids doing for the rest of the year?

Here in Virginia school doesn't get out until June for most school districts. This makes for a lot of time to fill.

Ted Talks
My AP kids do end of the year projects. I leave these pretty unstructured. Pick something available in the lab and make something amazing. That's the rule.

So I have kids working on 3-D printing projects. Some are working in Python. Last year one person went totally old school and really delved into QBasic.

Overall this has been pretty successful, but as we all know at the end of the year we are competing with spring and senioritis. So to make sure they don't go completely off the rail this year I am trying to make them write - I know, they'll love it, right?

Please allow me my delusions, it has been a busy year.

Each block I am showing them a Ted Talk. They respond to the videos using Piazza. I collect these as a quiz grade just so I have something to nag them with. Sometimes keeping them focused is about bribery and threats. Whatever works.

Whenever I do discussion board topics in computer science classes I have a very structured set of rules for them to follow. I am trying to transition them to academic writing and beyond LOL.

So I am curious - how is everyone else handling this wasteland of time between the AP exam and the last day of school? What works for you?

Oh, and if you are interested, here are my discussion board rules:

We are going to be using the discussion board for the rest of the year. Your participation on the discussion board will count as a quiz grade each marking period. Some guidelines:
  • Use full sentences. No abbreviations or text-speak.
  • Be nice!
  • No bad words
  • No personal attacks
Ways of participating:
  • Be prepared – do the reading and share your information
  • Offer a new fact
  • Respond to other people’s ideas
  • Ask questions
  • Answer questions
  • To get full credit you must have at least 3 posts     


  1. This is similar to what I have my students do. I provide them with a list of items as ideas. I figure at this point they know enough to branch out and explore new things.

  2. This is such a great list - and so much better than my "make something". I like the way you have it structured - it must spark some great ideas. What are they working on now?


So, what do YOU think?