Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Impact Lesson #3 - Introduction to Grace Hopper

Of course we want our students to know about Grace Hopper and in future years I hope to be able to able to offer a longer and more intimate introduction to students.  We began our introduction with a dive into an excerpt from the History of Computing website.  During the Impact unit students are annotating articles.  From their annotations they are either writing to prompts from the performance task or submitting into our class' computing innovations catalog.  We read and discussed Grace Hopper's contributions to computing with the enjoyment of sharing the "first computer science bug" anecdote and every student receiving a "nanosecond".  We watched Grace on Letterman and hoped that there's a new Google Doodle this year.  After our discussion we researched innovations that Grace contributed to directly: compilers and COBOL.  Students submitted catalog entries for their Grace Hopper related technology innovations.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Unit 3 - Impact

After two months leading up the Create Mini Task we leave programming until the 2nd semester to prepare for the Explore Task.  We will prepare for the task in three units: Impact, Internet, and Data.  For this first iteration of Data we will focus on personal data and the implications on privacy and security when large amounts of data can be analyzed by sophisticated algorithms by powerful computers.

We are in the middle of the first of the three units leading up to Explore.  Using the task rubric as a guide we are researching computing innovations and practicing our analysis of them.  On our course website we have a google form set to collect information on computing innovations.  Each time a student submits a form for a computing innovation they are adding to the class catalog of potential research topics that students could use for the administration of the Explore task.  Since the CS Principles Performance Tasks must be administered without the assistance of the teacher, it is important to build up a class set of resources and structures that students can access during the administration of the task.

Each class period we practice one of the paragraphs of the written report.  In our last class for example we worked on the paragraph analyzing the long and short term benefits and harms of a computing innovation.  We read and annotated an article on the use of flying drone technology for criminal purposes and discussed the implications.  Students wrote a paragraph addressing the prompt with the homework assignment to pick one of the computing innovations from our class catalog and to write a paragraph on the short and long term benefits of that innovation.

I also want to use this unit to expose students to the trajectory of the computer science community as it has grown into a global phenomenon, and to familiarize students with people like Grace Hopper and to expose them to the evolution of computer science.  In future iterations I would like to build curriculum where we can use Ms. Hopper as a tour guide through computing innovations throughout the 21st century.  At the very least we will be passing out "nanoseconds".