Who Played Spiderman - part 3

Parts 1 and 2 Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 In the first two parts of this set of posts I wrote about the motivation and design a question answering system that can answer "who" queries like "who played Spiderman" or "who shot John Lennon?" It's not perfect. When doing the Spiderman query, chances are the desired answer will be at or near the top of the list of most frequently appearing names but so will "
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Who Played Spiderman part 2

Parts 1 and 3 Part 1 Part 3 Part 2 When we left off last time we used a search engine API to gather a whole bunch of documents with the term "played Spiderman" or "who played Spiderman." Now we have to process these documents to answer the question. Fortunately, the documents are basically just big strings of text. Since we're doing a "who" query we want to find all the names in all the documents.
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Who Played Spiderman part 1 or my Nifty Assignment (that was rejected)

Parts 2 and 3 Part 2 Part 3 I wasn't going to teach this lesson today. I was planning on starting a multi day project starting with an exercise in specification writing and design. Beforehand though, we had to talk about classes. One of my students asked if probability and/or statistics were really important for CS. I started to cite a few examples and then decided to segue into this.
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Compile Each Concept

We've all been there: Student: Teacher, I need help Teacher (comes over) Student (shows screen listing three bazillion errors) The student has just written pages of code and finally decided to try to run it only to end up with pages of errors. Error messages can at times be hard to read for beginners but to see and truth be told, they frequently don't even read them but over the years I've developed a practice that I've found helpful as a software developer and if students adopt the same practice it can save them a lot of time and effort.
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Challenges of teaching at a commuter school

One of the bigger challenges faced at commuter schools is building a feeling of community. Students aren't on campus every day and come from far afield and even when they are on campus, we really don't have a CS "hang out" space. The space issue should be resolved soon - we're scheduled to get a CS student lounge next semester. I'm finding this to be even more of a challenge this year with my honors students.
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Globals Breaks And Returns, oh my

Never use global variables Never break out of a loop These are two "best practices" that are frequently touted in early CS classes both at the high school and college level. They came up a couple of times yesterday. Once in the Facebook APCS-A teachers group and once on Alfred Thompson's blog. Alfred post was topically on global variables. Actually it was deeper than just global variables. It's also about how students progress - what they can figure out at various stages of progress and how what seems like a good idea early on the path to computer science doesn't seem so great later on.
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When the students know more than the teacher

We've heard it many times with computer science - "the kids know more than the teacher." On the one hand, the truth is that this isn't so much the case. Kids might use computers all the time but they don't necessarily know much about them or about computer science (link 1, link 2). Then you have students who think they know all about CS but really don't. They might have picked up a bit of coding somewhere but more often than not, the knowledge is pretty superficial.
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Fall 2018 HS CS Tour

I've written before about why Hunter College CS is so important for NYC and I've been working hard to develop our Daedalus Scholars honors CS program - a program in which students receive a scholarship along with all sorts of special opportunities to add on to their in class CS education. The program and Hunter CS as a whole have made a lot of progress over the past two years and each year I roll out new special activities and events for my honors students.
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CS vs CT vs Coding

There's been a lot of buzz recently concernting Computational Thinking (CT) vs Computer Science (CS) vs Coding / Programming on the interwebs. Some of the questions and concerns that I've seen recently include: What is CT?? Will rich schools get CS and poor only CT? Will rich schools get CS and poor on coding? The first question is a big one and as a community we haven't answered it yet.
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Not every lesson has to be magic

If you check out Twitter, Facebook, Medium and other blog sites you might get the idea that you're the worst teacher in the world. The internet abounds with people sharing tweets and posts about wonderful lessons they've just taught, witnessed or learned about in professional development. Sure, the teacher forums rife with requests for lesson ideas and resources but the shared material is always aces. It makes sense, people in the community want to share things that worked for them or things they think will work.
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