Csed

Adapting A Nifty Assignment

The Nifty Assignments session at SGICSE is always a popular one. Go to the site and you'll find links to all the assignments presented from 1999 to the present year. On the one hand, it's a great resource. On the other, the assignments vary in nifty-ness depending on one's personal taste. To me, there seemed to be a run of nifty assignments that were really just "take a generic assignment and fancy up the graphics"
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March PD for CS Teachers

Back in December we ran our first PD session for CS teachers. This was to address the need for professional development for teachers who were more experienced in terms of computer science - we aimed this at people who were ready to teach APCS-A, similar, or beyond and also to start to build a community for these teachers. We had trouble setting things up for February but we're good to go for March, April and May.
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Use A Real Language

Why can't we use a real language! This topic has been coming up a lot recently. Now I'm not talking about the Drag and drop vs textual language thing. Let me be clear. To me a Drag and Drop language can certainly be a real language and many are. I also think they're terrific when used correctly. I just think they're frequently misapplied in later grades. No, I'm talking about people asking things like "
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Advent of Code, Data Structures, and Hidden Complexity

Since 2015, Eric Wastl has gifted us each December with Advent of Code - a 25 day programming competition that I very much enjoy. This year I haven't been able to get to too many of the problems. I only completed the first two days on the day they were released, problem three a day late and then I didn't get back to the problems until almost 12/25 - the final day of the competition.
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Visiting schools and talking tech

Back in September I talked about embarking on my Fall 2018 HS CS Tour. Since then I've visited about a dozen schools. I'd like to thank my friends who helped connect me to schools - particularly Aankit Patel and Diane Levitt. Even though the original motivation for the visits was to get the word out about Hunter CS and the awesome things we're doing in the Hunter CS Honors program I always tried to make my talks about something that would be relevant for the entire audience and not just the few that were great fits for my program.
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Professional Development - APCS-A, similar and beyond

A while ago I wrote about our plans at Hunter to run professional development for CS teachers. Specifically, running once a month sessions for teachers who teach APCS-A, similar and beyond. The idea started as a joke but morphed into a legit idea. I was talking to some friends about CTLE hours and how ridiculous the system is. NY State teachers need 100 hours of CTLE credit (PD hours) every so many years.
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Teaching Sorting

Earlier today I saw a facebook post asking for thoughts on teaching sorting. The question was specifically not about motivations like having the class act out sorts or sort cards but rather about the coding. I've been meaning to write about this since last summer when I attended Owen Astrachan's talk on the same subject. Early in my career when teaching sorting I developed the n^2 sorts as standalone routines just as they're presented in most books but as I gained more experience as a teacher, I changed it up to build the sorts (at least some of them) from existing concepts.
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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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