Wednesday, September 22, 2010

APCS Principles Pilot: Ready to Go!

Day 1 of the pilot APCS Principles class is tomorrow and things are pretty much ready to go. This leaves instructor Beth Simon with a moment or two to reflect and wonder about something: just how are students in this unique and exciting class going to experience the class? In other words, where will the easy and tough spots be?

Other ways that Beth is thinking about this issue are - there is a wide demographic of students in her class. Some may major in ... well, you name it, someone will surely major in it! The student body is very different from what one finds in a standard CS1 course. It is a very interdisciplinary group. What will the best resources turn out to be for these students? The key items to make this the best computing experience they have ever had? (It may also be their first experience, which would make a very nice double win for  all).

It is easy to keep thinking about these questions from different angles. Aside from many in-place methods of getting to know students, working with them, and encouraging their efforts, Beth is considering having a student conduct some random interviews with members of the class, especially right at the beginning of the term, to see what she can learn. Within a few weeks, the use of Peer Instruction and the clickers will start identifying some of the places to pay additional attention to, but meanwhile, holding some friendly low key interviews student to student seems like a good way to get the word on the ground.

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