I haven't spoken much about the class I've been teaching this semester. It's an intro CS course - a programming heavy intro. I decided to use Python with a transition at the end to C++. The transition is to mirror Hunter's normal first CS course that ends with a C++ intro to prepare the students for next semester's CS course which is a more intense OOP class using C++ - the language we use in our core courses.
Earlier in the term, our intro classes spent a little time learning some basic HTML. We don’t spend a lot of time on it, just enough so that the students can present their work in a static web site. The end goal, though, was to programatically generate the web sites - there’s nothing quite as empowering to a student as when they can present their work to the world.
Finally, it’s all coming together.
Last week was crazy. Busy, stressful, late night after late night. It ended, though, on a great note.
A young lady in my intro class found me in my office near the end of the day:
Student: Mr. Z, I wanted to make sure to catch you before vacation!
Me: What’s up?
Student: I wanted to tell you that today’s lesson was AWESOME!!!!!!
Wow. I’ve been teaching 23 years and that’s never happened before!
My last post I was talking about the fact that as teachers, our knowledge and experience is frequently trivialized. The tenor of the times is that anyone can design a course, anyone can teach, and in fact, we don't even need teachers, just videos or computer based systems. If you've ever tutored a friend, you're more than qualified. That might be a strong statement but everywhere you look you see "
So today we changed things up a bit.
Instead of having a typical lab type periods, we tried the Pair Programming Tag Team Shootout.
We aren't annualized so while the kids that have been with me since September have been working in pairs for a while, the other half of the class is just getting used to how we do it. I also wanted to get the kids to mix a little more.
Piloting a new course this semester - Intro to Computer Science part 2. Between the existing Intro part 1 and this, we should be able to do a pretty thorough job in preparing our kids for the future.
We decided that we wanted the kids to make deliverables in the form of web pages - plain old html written by hand. Part of the idea was to demystify things, part was to let the kids show off their work, part was to have something that they can generate programatically as the course progressed, and part was to give them a tool they might find valuable beyond their computer science classes.