Sunday, October 19, 2014

Unit 01 - Programming and Unit 02 - Abstraction

My CS Principles course use the 7 big ideas from the CSP curriculum framework as unit themes.  My in-progress curriculum map can be found here.  There are many concepts that overlap such as abstraction and algorithms as essentially parts of programming, or at least students program to demonstrate mastery.  However, structuring the course around the big ideas themes facilitates wrapping my mind around a dense curriculum (there are 305 knowledge objectives!).

My goal is to design a CS Principle that follows the How to Design Programs pedagogy in collaboration with Bootstrap curriculum.  The goal is to cover the first 10 sections (or 11 if your in the 2nd edition of HTDP) up through list of structs.  This should give students enough options to produce a unique artifact for the Create Performance Task.

Unit 01 - Programming introduced students to the Racket programming language.  Using the flag project idea from Brown's CSCI 0190, students develop expressions to display flags using composition of image producing functions.  Students get are introduced to abstraction by writing an arithmetic expression to control the dimensions of the flag.  For example if a rectangle is 300 x 200, students would write (* 3 100) (* 2 100).

In the Unit 02 - Abstraction students add abstraction to their flag programs by defining variables and functions.  They learn to identify the parameters of expression by looking at the arithmetic expressions they wrote in the previous unit.  The Abstraction unit culminates in a second iteration of the flag project that mirrors the Create Performance Task.  Students are required to produce a program to display a flag of their choice.  The project includes documenting the process and program.  Prompts are aligned to the Create Task.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Gradescope is changing my relationship to assessment.  Subjectively graded student work is scanned in and then broken up into individual questions.  You grade work one question at a time using a rubric that you build up from student errors.

There is no difference in the grading itself; you still have to look at every question and award or take away a certain number of points.  The difference is in the speed and in the way students are receiving the feedback.  Keyboard shortcuts really speed up the grading process and I'm grading questions without identifying the student for the first time.

After grading is complete students receive an email with a link to their assessment.  They click through each question reading feedback.  Combined with a test corrections assignment this is the most reflective I've ever seen students be after receiving back a test.

When writing the rubric for each error I use formative assessment techniques that I'm learning from David Wees in his Math for America workshop.  Instead of right or wrong feedback I give students a question that they have to answer in their test corrections.  A test corrections document is shared via Doctopus and the students split their screens with the exam on one side and the corrections document on the other.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Unit 0 - Creativity

We began the year with a short introduction to design process and norming feedback.  As freshman students use a simplified design process: plan, build, test, and reflect.   We began the year with the same process.  We are structuring the course by dedicating a unit to each of the 7 big ideas in the CSP curriculum framework.  We will iterate on each of the units twice: once in the first semester once in the second.  Each semester culminates in a performance task.

In our second iteration of the creativity unit in the second semester we are going to expand the design process to include ideation  as we prepare to develop original programs that address an overarching theme.  The learning goal for a design process is problems are solved using an iterative process.  In sophomore CSP we started with a design challenge around what can be made with computers.  We normed giving feedback to student projects from last year.  Feedback should be specific, relevant and actionable.