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C'est la Z

Taking stock and tracking progress

When starting the spring semester, students are frequently a little rusty. They just had a high intensity month of study, tests, and projects. That was followed by a week of nothing.

I like to start with something lightweight that gets them coding again and ramps them up to speed.

In SoftDev I started with a brief overview of the HTML5 canvas and then gave them a small homework assignment to do something fun.

I also remind the kids to self assess where they are and how they've developed as a programmer.

I get a little tired of education "experts" espousing nonsense like you have to have each talk each day or that you need to assess each kid multiple times a period. That's nonsense. With 34 kids in a 40 minute class and 150 kids a day, that doesn't fly. Besides, so many concepts take time to develop, learn, and absorb.

Yes, you can get some instant and short term feedback but a lot more is revealed over time.

I'm attaching a small sampling of their homework assignments. It was basically a one day assignment to do something fun with the HTML5 canvas and indeed, it looks like they had fun.

I asked the kids to reflect on what they did now and what they could do a semester, two, and three semesters ago.

In the beginning they would have had no idea how to approach any of these. A year ago, they would be a major project. Now, they can knock these out as a homework assignment.

Once you take a step back to look at how much a student can grow in a year or so you have to marvel at the results.

At a place like Stuy, the kids frequently and unfairly judge themselves against super prodigies.

I'm hoping by looking back at what they could do then vs now they'll appreciate how awesome they are.

All sources at


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