So far, my AP CSP students have been the most successful working from home out of all my classes. Software Development is muscling through CS concepts that don’t require a keyboard, and AP CSA seniors are drifting into senioritis, #covid induced, vacant stares like it is their job.
But CSP kids have been rocking along. I surrendered the major unit on the Internet to the “Gods of Remote Instruction Reality” and we are focusing on programming and the Create PT. In class, while I introduce a basic programming concept or skill through teacher-led instruction they spend a lot of time building a program with a video of me programming. They are still getting instruction directly from me but it: reduces finding my cursor neck strain, allows for self-paced pausing and re-playing of a portion, and provides an moment or “break” in their school day.
But today, I am assigning one of my favorite activities “Be the Reader”. Normally, (perhaps I should start changing that phrase to “Originally”), they would be placed in groups – given a sample Create PT, some rubrics, and told to Be the Reader. And then I get to stand very still, and listen. The most amazing, organic conversations slowly occur. Students having discussions about the application of math or logic, or complexity, or abstraction. It is beautiful every time. They are completely unaware of how much knowledge they have gained. For me – it is the highlight of the course, where twice a term they have a conversation that was beyond their skill set on the 1st day of class.
While they will be completing this activity at home, I am having to imagine their voices in my head. But, I find myself feeling the need to protect this process that I value. For me, the purpose of this course is to open their eyes to the wide word of computing and the power that they can derive from understanding it.
So, in this time of remote instruction – when student experiences are scattered, when teachers are isolated, when resources are stretched – I find it more important than ever to be the Guardian of this Process. Like a cook, protecting the integrity of quality ingredients. When AP CSP was developed by the College Board – I think they wanted us to bring CS to the students who didn’t consider themselves programmers. To skip this experience, where the student has a personal moment of clarity that they KNOW what they are doing, would be a disservice to both my kids and the original development committee.
Just because I don’t have the luxury of listening to their learning – doesn’t mean I should skip this step.
For this remote assignment, I am using resources from the UTeach Student Online student textbook. I prefer their nice clean, one screen layout for this assignment. Most of my students do not have a printer, so they will already be juggling the rubric and the sample. I didn’t want to add the extra level of difficulty of having multiple links from the College Board or having to download materials from our LMS.