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C'est la Z

Category: teaching

Deadlines And Commitments

A few days ago I was part of a Twitter discussion on assignment deadlines. I noticed a tweet: Not sure who needs to hear this, but stop taking off points for late assignments. It’s not helping students learn responsibility, and it’s not making your job easier. It’s only making your class inequitable. 💯 — Sydney Jensen (@sydneycjensen) September 26, 2020 I disagreed. I wasn't necessarily against floating or open deadlines without deductions but rather, they made my life more difficult and weren't in the best interest of my students.
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Quarter Century Courses

I was talking in our Curriculum Development class last week about the courses I've created over the years. From the first computer graphics course to the current teacher education courses. JonAlf pointed out that we missed an "important" occasion last spring - the twenty fifth offering of my computer graphics class at Stuy. I haven't taught it in almost 10 years but it's been running continuously for a quarter century since it first ran back in the mid 90s.
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Multiple Cameras For Remote Teaching

We used Zoom for remote classes over the summer but at this point, I've also used Coding Rooms, Big Blue Button, and Google meet as well. They each have their own strong points and failings but all are limited in terms of sharing multiple cameras and screen components. All will let you share your camera or share your screen and when you share you screen you can either share it all or a single window.
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Starting the new semester

Thursday was the first day of the new semester. The big change was that my classes were done remotely but there were also some other differences. Other changes were that I only met one of my two CS classes on Thursday. That's my CS0. I'm also teaching a recitation for CS1 which only meets once a week. I'll see those students as well as my CS0 students for a second time on Monday.
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Preparing CS Teachers - index post

Since we ended up with an eight post postmortem on our CS Teaching Certificate summer intensive I thought I'd add add an index page. Here are links to each post: Introduction - program overview On pedagogy - CS teaching methods Topics in Computer Science Deciding on which methods to teach Commentary on selected CS topics Tools for remote instruction Building a community of CS teachers The good, the bad, and what's next I also wrote a few posts as the summer intensive was running: Week 1 Week 2 An unplugged activity We start up again in a couple of weeks so look for more updates on the program then.
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Preparing CS Teachers - the good, the bad, and what's next.

Looking back, what worked and what didn't? Overall, things went very well. We were extremely happy with the cohort's growth and performance and based on feedback received they were happy with the program so far. I'll also say that while they're not finished yet, I can honestly say that every one of them would be a boon to any school in the city in need of a CS teacher (but they're not available since they're all already teaching CS at their respective schools :-)).
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Preparing CS Teachers - building a community

What so many non-teachers just don't get is culture and community can be so much more powerful than curriculum. The problem is, culture and community are harder to create, curate, and maintain and the results don't always show up on standardized tests. You can't force community or culture in a classroom but you can try your best to foster it. It's ultimately up to the class as a whole.
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Preparing CS Teachers - tools for remote instruction

Our summer intensive was supposed to be in person but COVID-19 changed that in a hurry. We had to scramble to redesign and figure out how we were going to run things. We decided to go with the following: Zoom for live meetings Slack for chat Git and GitHub GitHub classroom for assignments GitHub repos for code distribution, class website and resource sharing.
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Preparing CS teachers - Curricula don't add richness, teachers do

I've frequently been asked for curricula. I'll hear from a school or someone otherwise involved in a school or education and they'll ask for a course they can drop in and teach. I explain it doesn't work that way. A syllabus or curriculum is only so good. A great curriculum with a bad teacher will still be bad but a great teacher can do a lot to salvage a horrible curriculum.
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Preparing CS Teachers - what to leave in, what to leave out

Teachers always make decisions in their courses - what to leave in, what to leave out. I've seen programming and data structure classes where everything is written from scratch and others where a few things are explained and the students just use built in types like the java LinkedList or Arrays.sort() method. Do too much from scratch and you'll never finish the curriculum. Do to little and the students won't really understand what's going on and walk a path towards being programmers or coders rather than computer scientists.
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