Yesterday, I dove in to my “work week”, summer style. I set up camp outside on the deck, and started into tweaking my CS I course. Generally, everything took longer than I thought it would. I ended up spending an hour and a half on the course rather than the hour I allotted and about the same amount on the PD stuff.
I made it through Week 3 of my CS course. I spent a good 15-20 minutes just figuring out how to set things up afresh in our course management system. Here’s my syllabus so far. Ignore the dates. Those are a work in progress. Basically, the first 3-4 weeks, we talk about what computer science is, what computers are, what’s inside, and how they work. I’m calling Week 4 Ninja Computing because I’m going to show them all the secret stuff anyone who wants to call themselves a Computer Guru should know. My students should be computer ninjas by the time they’re through that week.
In general, I’m adding more assessment in the form of quizzes and discussion. I felt like this past year in particular, my students weren’t as prepared for the midterm and the more challenging second semester projects because they hadn’t really grasped key concepts or worse, they misunderstood them. Interestingly, as I was making up a quiz, I found myself really focusing on what they could learn from taking the quiz. I wasn’t just thinking about ways to stump them or trick them, but thinking, what questions can I ask that will help them remember these concepts. It definitely made it more fun. Quizzes will be mostly about terms and concepts while discussion will be about applying those concepts. I’m going to have them post to a discussion board every week. Sometimes I’ll have a guided question for them to answer (the first week is “What do you think computer science is?”). Other times, they’ll be asked to share an article they’ve read in the news and connect it tthe o the class. I’m stealing from my Race and Gender course the idea of starting every class with something about technology/CS in the media and talking about it. I really want my students to come out of the class not only with programming chops, but also with an informed understanding of the technology all around them. I’d say that’s the biggest goal I have for this year.
On the administrative front, I used the time to respond to email and to write a blog post about girls and computer science for our school’s blog. When that gets posted, I’ll share. Tomorrow, I need to post something to the technology blog and to tweak the various web sites I manage. I also need to start diving into a larger web project I’m involved in. I kind of avoided that today. 🙂
On the PD front, I picked up a Udacity course I had started eons ago. I had planned to start something different because most of this is review, but I decided I should finish what I started. My PD and course prep work will eventually converge as I start working on my Mobile Computing course.
All in all I’d say I had a successful first day. I might head to the pool tomorrow to do some of my work, although I need the internet for much of it. The noise level outside was louder than I would have liked because they were doing some kind of construction right in front of my house. I think they were chopping down and chopping up trees. Needless to say, kind of annoying!