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C'est la Z

CS Teacher Certification - Topics in CS

Officially, the last course of the summer was "Modern Topics in Computer Science." The idea was that K12 CS teachers on the one hand need depth beyond the typical terminal high school course, hence data structures and also breadth so that they could create electives, mix teasers in to the regular courses, or help precocious students with independent or semi-independant explorations.

If someone was teaching this in a typical fall or spring semester course, they'd probably have a list of topics and spend a couple of weeks on each. We wanted to do it a little differently.

The original thought was to integrate some of the topics in with the earlier computer science but there weren't too many opportunities due to the compressed nature of the program. Instead, a few days before we wrapped up data structures we gave the cohort a list of potential topics and asked them to select one. Since the cohort had all already been teaching CS and had differing content backgrounds we also encouraged them to choose a topic not on the list.

When it was time for them to begin work on the topics part of the intensive, they all shared their desired topic. Fortunately, things worked out. We ended up with two solo students and a bunch of small teams. The teams were tasked with learning about the topic and designing a lesson or unit covering it. This could be for their current students or some other hypothetical group. Each group would also have to create a program or programs to show an implementation and or use of the topic. Once they chose their topics, we picked a few out of the remaining selections as topics that we'd present.

The next few days were Topher, JonAlf and I delivering our topics and the cohort working in groups. When they worked, we'd drop in and support. The final two days consisted of the groups presenting their work.

The topics they selected were:

  • Data Mining
  • Public Key Encryption
  • Blockchain
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Classic AI - Decision Trees
  • SQL / Cyber Security
  • Visualization
  • Machine Learning / Cipher Decryption
  • Genetic Algorithms
  • Classic AI - Search

We weren't sure exactly what to expect but we were blown away both in terms of the CS content as well as what they prepared in terms of lessons and units.

Since this is just year one of the program we thought we'd get ahead of the game and set up a site where we could host and share these units and other resources so check them out here.

We didn't have a strict format for the cohort to use so each one is a little different but each link's file will get you started.

As I said, we were blown away by their work but super proud that we also have the bonus of being able to make their work available to the general CS Ed community. If you're looking to create a unit in any of these, check them out.

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