Cs

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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SIGCSE 2019 - the keynotes

It's that time of the year to write a series of blog posts about SIGCSE. I thought I'd start with one on the keynotes. There were four keynote speakers. Marie desJardins, Gloria Townsend, Mark Guzdial, and Blair Taylor. I wasn't at the first timer's lunch where Townsend spoke so I won't talk at all about that keynote. I'm also not going to summarize the talks. Andy Ko wrote up a terrific summary of his SIGCSE experience and did a much better job giving overviews to the keynotes than I ever could so I'll just refer you to Andy's blog post.
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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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Java Interfaces

Two of the hardest topics to make meaningful to students in APCS-A are inheritance and interfaces. It's not that they're super difficult topics but rather that they're not often needed, useful, or superior to not using them on beginner assignments. More often than not the motivation is a bit forced as are the assignments. Inheritance is its own can of worms and to be honest, something I've not found to be all that useful or necessary.
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Solve A To Solve B

So many programming assignments involve a direct solution. Write a program to do this or write a problem to solve that. It's pretty typical. There's nothing wrong with assignments like these. They allow students to practice what they've been learning and it gives them the opportunity to create some cool programs. All the same, I like it when there's an indirect problem. You're faced with a problem but in order to solve it you first have to solve some other problem
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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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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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PD in NYC

I spent this past Saturday morning up at the Microsoft building in Times Square. What was I doing there? Aankit Patel invited me to check out the professional development that he and his team organized for the teachers involved in the assorted CSforAllNYC programs that his office runs. Wow. Lots of great things going on. I was only able to stay for a couple of hours but I spent some time in two rooms run by TEALS, a room of BJC teachers, a group working with p5.
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Who Played Spiderman - part 3

Parts 1 and 2 Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 In the first two parts of this set of posts I wrote about the motivation and design a question answering system that can answer "who" queries like "who played Spiderman" or "who shot John Lennon?" It's not perfect. When doing the Spiderman query, chances are the desired answer will be at or near the top of the list of most frequently appearing names but so will "
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Who Played Spiderman part 2

Parts 1 and 3 Part 1 Part 3 Part 2 When we left off last time we used a search engine API to gather a whole bunch of documents with the term "played Spiderman" or "who played Spiderman." Now we have to process these documents to answer the question. Fortunately, the documents are basically just big strings of text. Since we're doing a "who" query we want to find all the names in all the documents.
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