Csed

Why the Thomas Friedman's editorial on the College Board's Two Codes left me concerned

There was some buzz over this editorial about the College Board last week. The two codes every child needs - Coding and the US Constitution? Who could argue with that. I'm not going to disagree. Civics and CS are important and can't wait until college. The thing that left me chilled though was that nobody's paying attention to the fact that the College Board - a private entity with its own interests has so much influence over American education.
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Use A Real Language

Why can't we use a real language! This topic has been coming up a lot recently. Now I'm not talking about the Drag and drop vs textual language thing. Let me be clear. To me a Drag and Drop language can certainly be a real language and many are. I also think they're terrific when used correctly. I just think they're frequently misapplied in later grades. No, I'm talking about people asking things like "
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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.
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Thoughts On Code And Beyond - Computational Thinking

The theme of this year's To Code and Beyond was Computational Thinking. Mark Guzdial gave the keynote. While the talk isn't currently online, check out this talk that Mark gave last March. It's not the same but the second halves are and well worth a look. In the first half, Mark talked about other types of "thinking." Scientific thinking, engineering thinking and even historical thinking. All had a good amount of overlap with both each other and with computational thinking even as we haven't yet settled on what computational thinking actually is.
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Is There a First Grade Machine Learning Achievement Gap?

Today was the fifth "To Code and Beyond" - a one day conference hosted at Cornell Technion and once again Diane Levitt put together a great show. The theme was Computational Thinking and the day consisted of a variety of talks, panels, and activities. I plan on writing about one panel in particular but for today I wanted to address something that came up as a question. One attendee asked a panel about the achievement gap - the fact that when the CS movement got started in NY some of the more innovative and interesting work was being done with some of our most vulnerable students.
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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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Visiting schools and talking tech

Back in September I talked about embarking on my Fall 2018 HS CS Tour. Since then I've visited about a dozen schools. I'd like to thank my friends who helped connect me to schools - particularly Aankit Patel and Diane Levitt. Even though the original motivation for the visits was to get the word out about Hunter CS and the awesome things we're doing in the Hunter CS Honors program I always tried to make my talks about something that would be relevant for the entire audience and not just the few that were great fits for my program.
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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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Teaching Sorting

Earlier today I saw a facebook post asking for thoughts on teaching sorting. The question was specifically not about motivations like having the class act out sorts or sort cards but rather about the coding. I've been meaning to write about this since last summer when I attended Owen Astrachan's talk on the same subject. Early in my career when teaching sorting I developed the n^2 sorts as standalone routines just as they're presented in most books but as I gained more experience as a teacher, I changed it up to build the sorts (at least some of them) from existing concepts.
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From Scripts To Freestyle

I just read this post by Bethany Crystal - Going off script. Bethany writes that while she normally essentially scripts important presentations, this time she went more off the cuff. It made me think about how I teach and a disturbing trend I've seen in CS education and education in general. I've never strictly used a script for teaching. When I started I did use very detailed lesson plans. Back then I was teaching math.
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