Friday, January 29, 2016

A reason to teach....

Yesterday I went in school to teach AP Computer Science before I left for ECET2.   But there was one problem.   I couldn't get my program to work, I had the code from pervious years and it worked back then. Wednesday night before class I could not get my own code to work.  I had to pack for the conference,  spend time with family and try to get my lesson to work.   I had the code that I used before, and kept getting a null pointer exception I couldn't figure out why. So at 10:30, I went to bed an woke up early Thursday to give it fresh eyes.  And nope! Couldn't find my error.  So I went to class with the lesson fully knowing I had a huge problem.  I was hoping that as a class we could find the error.

I was nervous, that we were not going to get the program to work.   But I started teaching anyway, thinking it would be a good teachable moment.  We got to the point where we hit compile and...  the girls' code worked and mine didn't.  Sigh of relief, but then I said to them "Okay what is wrong with my code? I can't find my error."

That's when the awesome moment happened! The student who when she has errors in her code gets frustrated with always feeling she is the one who is struggling (although no more than the rest of them).  She has been working so hard, but the programs are just taking longer than she wants to come together.  She has been meeting with me regularly and spending lots of time working to refine her ability.

Well SHE found my error!!!! I had 9 colors instead of 8 in my array and that's why I was getting null pointer! (WHOOPS I must have made edits to it demoing it in previous years) I was so proud of her! She had an aha moment!  It was awesome!  I saw her confidence in her ability come back!!  It was great to see her walk out of the classroom all smiles.  She got the gold star of the day!  I was so proud of her!

This is why I teach.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Finally I did it!

Today I took the test to become Google Educator Level 1.   It was a long test that I finished in two hours.  The test is pretty simple if you have been using GAFE at your school and I highly recommend it.  It is basics in fact most of my students could pass.

I have been meaning to always do it and with persistence from a colleague I did.  It helps to have the colleague to force you to continue to do things.  So I can official post the badge below!  It might sound odd but I am proud that I took that step.  I hate taking those steps, but I know I should.  I am glad I did it finally after two years of saying yes I should do that.  Level 2 will be done by the end of the month and hopefully to get the trainer one as well by March!  Now I am on a roll!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Can you guess a Number??

Today a few things happened.  I was so happy that my automatic starter works in the car and my heated seats gave me a warm ride to work.  Even though I knew my partner in crime was sick and the day would be busy, since I covered her classes.

I realized I missed teaching those 8th graders, the course that started this blog, and enjoyed being a guess lecturer in the class.  They have been playing with Scratch for a month now,  have their ideas for the games they want to develop and have great enthusiasm for creating the games.

My colleague has done an amazing job for never having any formal education in programming and she also found a cool video to show them

Then I got to show them how to program a simple guessing game.  Something every Intro to Programming I know does.  The I am thinking of a Number... Can you Guess it.  I love it because it does the simple loop, if statements, random numbers and variables.

It wraps the basics of programming into a nice package.  With Scratch it also sets home what the video talks about, get the basics done then add more later.  We get the basic game done and then add in a counter, make it look pretty, make it better.  (Side note another colleague always would say what can you do to make it better, and I have adopted it -okay now make it better)

I was able to introduce some formal programming to them: what variables are, how to name them, Camel Casing, difference between when to use multiple if statements vs if-else, understanding how to change a counter, using random.

It was fun, the second class went better and I was able to have them write an outline of the guessing game so they can begin to formalize their thought processes.  One thing I learned when working on games, that outline is so important.  Having the steps of what you need to program is so important.

Ours was basic:
  • Give Instructions I am thinking of the of the number
  • Established the number in a way that is changing
  • Ask for guess
  • If answer greater or less than the number
  • Say so
  • Guess again if wrong until right answer is given…
I was able to tell them about some things they should watch out for when programming. Talking about what we have found in the past to work and what doesn't work.

Then as I was leaving at 5pm today, the Make it Better Colleague tweeted about the 4 o'clock club.  I read the blog post, and smiled.  See he and I had this conversation this summer about keeping each other on track to do more of what we want to do, blog, run workshops, get more involved in associations we are members of, etc.  I took this as a sign to blog again.  So I came home and after I worked out (Got a fitbit for Christmas and was determined to hit 10,000 steps the first day back but that is another blog)  I sat down and wrote this...

It was a good day.  I love talking Programming with both AP and 8th Grade today.  I didn't get some of the other items done, but I had a good day.  Looking forward to another one tomorrow!