Preparing students together

It’s my first year in the classroom, and it very much feels like I’m going back to school – and I don’t even think of myself as a “real” teacher. (I help teach an AP Computer Science course at a public school in San Francisco through the TEALS program, but I’m a professional engineer by day.) So that meant a summer of preparation, combing the web for AP CS resources; I’d hoped to lean on the work of more experienced educators as I put together material.

I didn’t find much online, which was surprising. There’s all sorts of information about all sorts of things online, but AP Computer Science teaching resources were meagre. Though most American high schools don’t offer an AP Computer Science class, the curriculum and evaluation are standardized, which might’ve, I thought, encouraged more teachers to share and use resources together.

So I began posting materials I’d made and (with permission) found on Teach APCS. My hope is that the site becomes a living repository of free, good-quality computer-science education materials and that my initial contributions are dwarfed by what others give.

There’s currently:

  • exercises that have been tested in classrooms – these have been the most popular with busy teachers so far.
  • an interactive Java REPL to help students get a handle on using bits of Java: realizing they know how to do math in Java, poking at the Math class, experimenting with Random number generators or substrings, that sort of thing.
  • a dictionary of common terms with examples. (If you’re looking for a place to contribute, or have your students do so, this is probably the easiest place to start.)
  • a compiler-error-to-English translator, since speaking compilerish is an unfortunately-acquired skill
  • a “microtext” – snippet-sized explanations of key AP CS concepts, put together in a way that might resemble an internet textbook
  • a list of microlectures – explanation videos, from YouTube, that could supplement classroom instruction or be another resource for kids at home.

We’d absolutely love any contributions you’re interested in sending over, from copy edits to full-blown labs. Our mailing list or Github repository are places to start; or, just ping me at @TeachAPCS on Twitter.

It might also be worth mentioning that there’s no plot to secretly or eventually sell the material; it’s free as in software, so more folks (hopefully!) benefit from it all.

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