What is my point?
The point is that I have now been teaching AP Computer Science A for a total of 3 1/2 years and I can tell within about five weeks whether a student will be successful on the AP examination just by their general problem solving skills, design capabilities, approach to a problem, enthusiasm, ability to have fun, and use of flags.
I am not obsessed with flags; however, not everyone out there could create a finite state machine. I have always approached programming from that standpoint.
I teach AP Computer from an old school approach. I stand at the marker board nearly every time we are designing a program. It is a fun thought exercise for me to develop a scheme (along with the students) with nothing in front of me. That type of abstract thinking really keeps me ticking in this type of class. Naturally, the pace is then the burden of the students based on how fast they type and setup their programming statements.
Tug of War with the following factors:
I feel that I set a pace during the first month that leaves me enough time to get through all AP topics + a great deal of CS1/CS2 type topics.
As previously mentioned in a blog post, I teach the entire class from a standpoint of large scale programs which act as the backbone to the entire course. Any of my past students knows about the TicTacToe game, Battleship game, Deal or No Deal game, Audioactive Sequence, Gorilla program, Pig game, Card & Deck simulation,
For the record: I am still not a fan of the Case Study; however, I DO UNDERSTAND the value of evaluating a large scale program from someone else…
Have a Great Thanksgiving!!!
Anyone out there that reads this blog have Google Wave? I am still waiting for a Google Wave Light Bulb to go off in my head.
]]>I posted a link to this video on the AP Calculus Listserv. Here are a variety of responses I received (These are direct quotes):
There is a kind of depth vs breadth thing going on when you compare Stats and Calculus. Stats has it’s hand in so many subjects which is why it makes such a good senior level class: Economics, Psychology, Sociology, Biology, Chemistry, Medicine, Current Events and therefore Journalism and so on.
I agree that Statistics has it’s hand in the cookie jar; however, we often discuss mathematics from a standpoint of extending a student’s logical process, problem solving skills, and total mental skill set. Is Calculus too deep for some? OF COURSE, but AT THIS POINT, I would not want to steer students from a Calculus track.
The math that has calculus at the top: exponentials, trig, polynomial functions, multivariable relationships, is more broadly applicable to all things numbery than the math that has statistics at the top, Alg1.5.
I have never taught statistics; however, I could understand why it is thought of as Algebra 1.5. It does seem odd that a student has a potential to choose a track such as Algebra II, Pre-Calculus, and then Statistics.
I have never yet seen a group of high school juniors who’ve been taught more than a very small amount of probability or statistics. Take a look at a typical textbook series, and you’ll find a tremendous volume of algebra and geometry, hundreds of pages of conic sections, and maybe a dozen pages of light treatment of statistics.
TOTAL AGREEMENT HERE. I didn’t learn any statistics besides the basics concepts and I was always in honors mathematics courses. When Ohio officially has the four years of mathematics across the board, it will be interesting to see where statistics comes into this discussion.
I will continue with my own inner monologue of thoughts regarding this issue; however, I am interesting in what some of you think about this issue?
]]>AP Calculus AB
AP Computer Science
My philosophy in this class is to start from day one and discuss programming code/concepts/examples from bell to bell everyday for the first four months. I let the students make the decisions regarding programming parameters (project requirements) and this way they learn to appreciate the problem they are presented. If the only life lesson they learn all year is to APPRECIATE THE PROBLEM SOLVING PROCESS, I have succeeded.
Google Docs
Moodle
After the meeting, I started thinking about all of the Web 2.0 topics and projects that I have used in my three years of teaching.
Here is the list I came up with of Web 2.0 interaction with the classroom:
For me, the mathematics videos were most rewarding and the students really enjoyed them a great deal. However, I am looking forward to interacting with each student holding a tablet PC. Moodle is going to be a HUGE piece of this puzzle.
Great One-to-One Article from Twitter:
]]>Course Size: 9 Students Surveyed
Part 1 of the Course Evaluation |
1 – 5 |
1. The teacher was enthusiastic about teaching the course. |
5 |
2. The teacher made students feel welcome in seeking help in/outside of class. |
4.78 |
3. My interest in CS has increased because of this course. |
4.56 |
4. Student were encouraged to ask questions and were given meaningful answers. |
4.89 |
5. The teacher enhanced the class through the use of humor |
4.33 |
6. Course materials were well understood and explained clearly by the teacher. |
4.67 |
7. Graded materials fairly represented student understanding and effort |
4.78 |
8. The teacher showed a genuine interest in individual students. |
4.89 |
9. I have learned something that I consider valuable. |
4.56 |
10. The teacher came to class well prepared on a daily basis. |
5 |
Part 2 of the Course Evaluation |
1 – 5 |
1. Compared with other high school courses I have taken, I would say this course was: |
4.78 |
2. Compared with other high school teachers I have had, I would say this teacher is: |
4.67 |
3. My overall rating of this teacher is: |
4.67 |
Part 3 of the Course Evaluation
1. Course difficulty, compared to other high school courses:
Very Easy 0% |
Easy 0% |
Average 22% |
Difficult 77% |
Very Difficult 0% |
2. How would you rate the ease of use of the eBook?
Very Easy 22% |
Easy 66% |
Average 11% |
Difficult 0% |
Very Difficult 0% |
3. Hours per week required outside of class:
0 to 2 22% |
2 to 3 44% |
3 to 5 33% |
5 to 7 0% |
over 7 0% |
4. Expected score on the AP exam:
1 0% |
2 0% |
3 44% |
4 33% |
5 22% |
Part 4: Please provide specific feedback.
1. What was your best learning experience in this course?
2. What was your worst learning experience in this course?
3. What changes would you suggest to improve the way this course is taught?
4. What advice do you have for students taking this course next year?
My interpretation of AP Computer
The students seemed to like the methods and pace that I kept up until the AP examination. I was expecting a couple of comments pertaining to how fast I go at the beginning of the course. I was quite surprised about the mention of more AP Test Free Response questions because I felt I used too many this year; however, they obviously felt like they were still a little weak in that area compared to the multiple choice. I hammered them on the multiple choice type questions in hopes that the AP Test would feel “easier”.
Inheritance and Polymorphism are difficult to figure out in your head until you receive a few good examples. I choose to teach the students about the code FIRST, and then get into Objects, Classes, and their relationships later. Perhaps I need to introduce Objects and Classes a little earlier. I am still struggling internally when it comes to the Blue Pelican Java book; however, my students like the book. There were many times that I wanted a reference book and there were many times where I wanted a text-based book. Overall, I have to be happy with the student responses. I hope the AP scores are a little higher than they predicted!
]]>Future Math Classes Happenings
I have been informed I will be teaching AP Calculus AB beginning with the 2009 – 2010 school year. I am very excited at the prospects of my Web 2.0 style in AP Calculus and look forward to stabilizing the math department at the top. This course will be a 1-1 tablet class where each student will have a tablet pc. I am already working on our Moodle installation for next year as I attempt to organize some AP examination material and provide the students with various links. It is going to be a fun and challenging year. I really would have never imagined that my fourth year schedule would give me such a great opportunity to teach the best and brightest students we have to offer in two disciplines.
My courses for next year are as follows:
AP Computer Science Happenings
There are numerous post-AP examination activities in all of the AP courses; however, I found a great match this year in my AP Computer Science A course. We are “playing” with Lego Mindstorms and have flashed the NXT module to include the possiblity of Java. We are using a Lejos, which has a Java backbone and will allow the students to program the motors and sensors using our native programming language. Thus far, they have made the following robots before beginning a full exploration of the Lejos Java syntax.
All images and instructions provided via NxtPrograms.com
Top Spinner & Spin Art
Guitar
Car with Game Controller
Claw Car with Game Controller
I can’t wait to see what my students come up with for their java programs. I am making it their Final Exam Project!!!
]]>
Here is a more professional shot: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_1281.html
Cool Fact: The door to seal off this chamber weights 5 million pounds.
We spent a couple of hours taking a tour of the facility and another couple of hours discussing how we can impact education in the area with other educational folk and engineers. Here are some of the conclusions we reached to get students involved.
Many people who live in the area have no idea of how large this facility really is…
]]>Project Guidelines: http://apps.mrhiggins.net/student-video-focus
Project Discussion on my blog: http://www.mrhiggins.net/blog/2009/01/19/updates-for-high-school-math-and-web-20/
Not Everyone Watching Will Get It
One problem with some of the projects is that their are inside jokes that deal with my quirks or other students quirks. Is this really a problem? Not in my book. However, a parent watching at home or anyone on the net may not understand some of the inside information. The picture at the top of this blog is a caricature of me. These are the parts of the videos that really make this project special.
Final Grading Thoughts
The project was graded with two categories in mind, the video product and the group interaction.
Final Video Product – A grade out of 70 points based on the initial expectations and guidelines posted on my school website
Group Interaction – I had each of the group members evaluate the others on a scale of 30 points which was split into three small categories: Video Footage Participation out of 10, Video Creation Participation out of 10, and Overall out of 10.
This created a grade out of 100 total points. In the future, I will continue to use this type of grading scale; however, I will have to make some tweaks.
Creating Memories
When learning to become a teacher, they talk about impactful moments. This was the impactful moment for many of the students. Some of them will never forget the project.
Viewing “Party”
We took an entire class period to watch all 19 videos created by Period 1 Pre-Calculus, Period 4 Honors Algebra II, and Period 7 Pre-Calculus. It was a lot of fun. By the way, I call it a Viewing “Party” because it was all business. We did not turn it into a food gathering event.
Days taken out of class time
In the future, I will take fewer days out of our class time because it is important to remain on task the entire school year. Here is the breakdown this year.
Introduction of the Project – 1/2 Period (I fit this in conveniently)
Introduction to Movie Maker – 2 Periods (With support from the technology coordinator)
Continue working and finalizing the project in Movie Maker – 2 Periods (This worked perfect because I was at the 2009 Ohio eTech Conference anyhow)
Viewing “Party” – 1 Period (This was a lot of fun and many of the students were PUMPED)
Where do we go now?
Only time will tell as we continue down the path of learning and molding minds.
]]>Please feel free to leave comments/ratings via this blog or YouTube that are directed at me or my students. Also, I have given you the opportunity to rate the videos through the use of Google Forms below the videos.
- Thanks from Mr. Higgins and the Honors Algebra II and Pre-Calculus classes
Video Number 1
Video Number 2
Video Number 3
Video Number 4
Use the following form to evaluate the videos above:
]]>Please feel free to leave comments/ratings via this blog or YouTube that are directed at me or my students. Also, I have given you the opportunity to rate the videos through the use of Google Forms below the videos.
- Thanks from Mr. Higgins and the Honors Algebra II and Pre-Calculus classes
Video Number 1
Video Number 2
Video Number 3
Use the following form to evaluate the videos above:
]]>