Sequencing Topics


Monday's the start of the Spring semester. Other than the 8:00am start I'm looking forward to it. My 8:00am class is the honors/lab component that goes with CS1. I taught it last semester and during each of the past two years at Hunter. My second class is the follow up - more OOP / C++, data structures and some algorithms.

The material is old hat. I've taught it in Java more times than I can count and also in C++ albeit many years ago. What's new is that I'm teaching my Hunter kids and I'm doing it in a college framework - two days a week, 1:15 a session. I'm not thinking too much about how I'll teach each class - I usually figure that out in the moment - not actually in the class but week to week based on the flow of the class.

Right now, I have to make final decisions on sequencing, at least for the start of the class. We got ahead of the game by covering most of the C++ topics - inheritance, templates, overloading etc. at the end of last semester so that leaves all the data structures, algorithms, dynamic structures, and memory management, recursion, and sorting and searching. If I have time I'd also love to get into some graph stuff.

Here's the plan, at lest for now.

We'll start with recursion. They had the basics last term but now we'll talk about search - I usually focus this around a maze solver. After this we'll place recursion on hold - at least in terms of class time and move to linked lists and dynamic memory. We'll follow this with sorting. The idea is that students have trouble getting comfortable with both recursion and also with dynamic structures first time through. Rather than ploughing through from recursion to the recursive sorts I'm hoping that putting the dynamic lists in between will give recursion some time to marinate in the background. Likewise I'm hoping that the dynamic memory stuff can marinate through the sorting unit for when we revisit it with stacks, queues, and trees after sorting.

I don't know if this is the optimal way of sequencing the topics but I think it will work pretty well.

We'll see as the semester progresses. If things are going swimmingly I can always call an audible.