Pedagogy

How I use Github Classroom

It's been an amazingly unproductive weekend. Mostly because I've been sick with the flu. It sucks but since the rest of the family's away anway at least I'm not making everyone miserable. I did manage to stage my next couple of classes and figured that writing this post wouldn't take too much energy since it's mostly a video. Earlier, I talked about using GitHub and TravicCI and this time around I show how I use GitHub classroom to set up, disseminate, and collect assignments.
# COMMENTS

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.
# COMMENTS

Github Classroom and Travis CI

I've been using GitHub with my classes since GitHub's early days. Over time I've gotten my workflows down. I use a combination of shell scripts - many just written on the fly, GitHub organizations, and some naming conventions and protocols that have served me well. A few years ago, the GitHub Education team started GitHub Classroom. I looked at it at the time. It was pretty cool but I had my workflow so I didn't adopt it.
# COMMENTS

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.
# COMMENTS

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.
# COMMENTS

Let Teachers Teach

Mark Guzdial's post the other day about direct isntruction struck a chord with me. Right up front, Mark said: The research evidence is growing that students learn better through direct instruction rather than through a discovery-based method, where we expect students to figure things out for themselves. Quite a surprise to the teachers who have been beaten over the head with "everything must be discovery" in recent years.
# COMMENTS

Compile Each Concept

We've all been there: Student: Teacher, I need help Teacher (comes over) Student (shows screen listing three bazillion errors) The student has just written pages of code and finally decided to try to run it only to end up with pages of errors. Error messages can at times be hard to read for beginners but to see and truth be told, they frequently don't even read them but over the years I've developed a practice that I've found helpful as a software developer and if students adopt the same practice it can save them a lot of time and effort.
# COMMENTS

CS vs CT vs Coding

There's been a lot of buzz recently concernting Computational Thinking (CT) vs Computer Science (CS) vs Coding / Programming on the interwebs. Some of the questions and concerns that I've seen recently include: What is CT?? Will rich schools get CS and poor only CT? Will rich schools get CS and poor on coding? The first question is a big one and as a community we haven't answered it yet.
# COMMENTS

Not every lesson has to be magic

If you check out Twitter, Facebook, Medium and other blog sites you might get the idea that you're the worst teacher in the world. The internet abounds with people sharing tweets and posts about wonderful lessons they've just taught, witnessed or learned about in professional development. Sure, the teacher forums rife with requests for lesson ideas and resources but the shared material is always aces. It makes sense, people in the community want to share things that worked for them or things they think will work.
# COMMENTS

Two Faces of Project Based Learning

If one looks at my twitter feed they'll notice that in addition to CS Ed, another issue I'm passionate about is school reform or rather resistance to what is popularly known as and mislabeled as school reform. I'm anti vouchers, charter schools, high stakes testing and more. One of the heroes of this resistance is education historian Diane Ravitch. I'm a big fan of Diane's and she's one of the true great champions of public schools, kids, and teachers.
# COMMENTS