Here are the thoughts in my head on this holiday break regarding AP Computer Science:
- It is about the problem. Not the solution.
- It is about the design. Not the implementation.
- It about the approach. Not the fail-safe version.
- It is about the enthusiasm. Not the grade in the course.
- It is about a flag. Not a clever conditional.
- It is about how much fun the students have in the moment. It is not about their teacher being an amateur programmer. (If that is how I am defined)
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:
- Time is of the essence – There are only X weeks to get through a boat load of material for teacher like me, that have students in their FIRST programming class.
- Topics, Topics, Topics – No matter how long I have, there is a list of topics and concepts that must be accomplished. I take that as a challenge.
- CS1, NOT AP ONLY – I love to cover topics that are not on the AP Exam; however, I obviously have the AP topics throughout the mainstream discussion.
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.