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C'est la Z

Category: CS Education

Finally got the class working - only took five years

You don't become a master teacher overnight. It takes years, perhaps decades. Year one, you're just trying to survive. Year two is frequently a small step back. Year three on is slow improvement provide the teacher works to improve. To me and eight to ten year teacher is usually an advanced beginner, fifteen years? Seasoned. Master teacher? You're probably pushing close to 20 years or more. Of course, there are exceptions but this is the pattern I've most often observed (burnout notwithstanding).
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Hunter Launches CS Teacher Certification Programs

It took a while but we're finally here. Hunter College is launching it's Computer Science Teacher Certification programs. This was the second big initiative I've been working on at Hunter. The first was the Daedalus undergraduate CS scholars program. The Daedalus program started my first year and is now providing the best value (and in my opinion best) undergraduate CS opportunity in New York. CS Certification took longer. I had to design the programs, they had to make it through the whole CUNY governance process which even under ideal circumstances takes around a year and then up through NYSED.
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Communicating With Students - maybe GitHub to the rescue

Out of class student communication is always a challenge. There are plenty of options: Piazza Facebook group Slack, Discord, or other chat system Discourse, Vanilla or other discussion forum system Mailing list but all have warts. I shared my thoughts on a number of these options a while ago but thought I'd update them now. Most of my opinions hold form my earlier post. I was using and continue to use a mailing list as I can be pretty sure that students will get the email and they don't have to go to any outside site or application.
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I Speak Jive

When I wrote about the HighWebEd I mentioned John William''s talk on Agile. He spoke about how the movie Airplane! was filmed in an Agile manner and gave as an example the development of the "jive" scenes. <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zdCjbJ6NEfc" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe> Apparently the creative team had a script but it wasn't working. The first pair that read for the role, Norman Gibbs and Al White had their owned take.
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Cheating on CS projects

Alfred Thompson posted today about cheating on CS class projects. It was in response to Garth Flint's post on finding interesting projects which in turn referenced earlier posts by Alfred and me. Garth laments that it's hard to find projects that are both interesting and meaty but where solutions can't easily be searched for online. Alfred notes that cheating will happen and that it's an ethics issue. This is why I try to create a culture of sharing and acknowledging credit (that is, citing sources) but I'm not naive enough to believe there isn't any cheating in my classes.
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Pig Latin - a beginner lesson with some depth

I recently did a unit where I had my students convert words into Pig Latin. I like the problem because to start it only requires strings, functions and if statements but there is some depth to the unit. We start with simplified rules: If the word starts with a vowel, add "ay" to the end of the word If it starts with a consonant move the first latter to the end and add "ay" don't worry about anything else Students usually start with something like this:
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Advanced CS Early - Are they learning it or just using it?

I recently took a look at the Cryptopals Crypto Challenges. It's a series of challenges through which you can learn all about crypto and crypto attacks. They say they'll eventually have solutions but since the site appears to be at least a few years old, who knows it they'll ever publish them. One interesting thing about the site is that it really doesn't have a lot of content to teach you the concepts around the challenges.
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Outside Evaluators

I was planning on writing up all the exciting CS Education work I got to be involved in these past two days but I saw a post on one of the CS discussion forums that got me riled. There's a teacher (name withheld to protect the innocent) who wants to create an advanced course for his students but his administration is requesting an outside measure of accountability. This sounds reasonable on the surface but I found it really insulting.
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Big Code And Case Studies

I'm enjoying reading about Ria Galanos' new chapter on her blog. In her most recent post Ria briefly talks about the fact that very few professional developers start from scratch and most work in existing large code bases. She wonders why the College Board got rid of the APCS-A case study and talked about how it gave students an opportunity to work on a multi-file complex system. Over the past few years others have wondered if the College Board should bring it back.
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Proof By Authority

No,I'm not talking aboutArgument from Authority - something that very much plagues CS Education and education in general where an annointed few who may, or may not really know what they're talking about are given creedence because they've been there the longest, work for the companies with the biggest names, have the economic backing or otherwise have been given the stage. I'm talking about Proof by Authority which I fondly remember from those silly Proof techniques lists that went around in the day.
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