Week 4 CST 361

AP testing is over, and, with my hours complete, my focus has been on keeping my students at my site engaged for the 2-3 weeks (Seniors are done one week earlier than underclassmen) left of the school year.

My AP Computer Science Principles kids signed up for one of several modules I created for them:

  • 3D Modeling and Printing Using TinkerCAD
  • Physical Computing Using the Adafruit Circuit Playground
  • Java Programming Using Greenfoot
  • Web Design Using CodePen

One of my exceptional students approached me if he could do a special project: mod an Atari 2600 joystick into a wireless controller using Adafruit’s Feather nRF52.So, I dug up one of my old joysticks so he could work on this project!

Most of my students signed up to learn about 3D printing, so, I reached out to my colleague and friend–the school librarian–so we could borrow the library 3D printer to complement the one in my room so we could print two things at once.

My AP Computer Science A kids are also doing some extension activities. They are learning version control with GitHub and using that tool to implement a Flappy Bird clone in several phases. Students that finish this early then move on to creating a basic Android application using Android Studio. Since most of my CSA students are graduating seniors, I also had everyone in the class create a LinkedIn profile with a professional photo, list of their community service, and, if applicable, their job experience.

I have created a LinkedIn group for CS alumni at my site so everyone can keep in touch. I have had past students join as well, so now my current students have access to recent graduates who are now in university majoring in STEM fields!

CST 361 Week 3

This has been the second and last week of AP testing. My AP Computer Science A students are testing this Friday in the afternoon — the last test of AP test season! It is a notoriously difficult test with an hour and a half for 40 multiple choice questions and another hour and a half for four Free Response Questions (FRQs), which have students hand-write code–anything from a short mutator or accessor to an entire class. Each FRQ has 2-3 parts involved.

I feel that with the 30+ hours of volunteer hours spent after school and during Saturday school on top of what we have done in class, these students are probably the best prepared group I’ve had in my short teaching career. I cannot attribute this to my teaching entirely because I have some exceptional students this year that are extremely diligent and studious. Many of them are seniors who will, in a scant few weeks will be graduating and, later, moving on to university!

Care packages for my AP CSA students

Yesterday I received official word that I have been granted a leave of absence for the 2019-2020 school year to finish my academic studies. I will also be taking advantage of this time by interning at Qualcomm and doing some personal growth. It has been an extremely advantageous time to take leave because of the low morale within our district rooting from potential financial fraud resulting in budget deficits and cuts.

I am trying not to feel guilty about leaving students behind who had been anticipating in having me as their AP Computer Science A teacher next year, but it is time to put myself first.

Week 2 CST 361

As previously stated, I have already worked over 30 hours at my site, completing the volunteer hours I will submit; however, being a teacher, I am constantly working unpaid hours–whether it be lesson planning, grading, or simply staying after school to listen to a kid that needs someone to listen to them.

This past week was Teacher Appreciation Week and the first week of AP exams. I have had so many students break down these past weeks due to stress, anxiety, and depression. I have had to listen to so many students through their tears, give reassurances and advice, or just sit with them. But, despite it all, every single one of those students sat for their AP Computer Science Principles exam last Friday and gave it their all. I am proud of every single one of them for learning so much and growing more resilient every single day.

Care packages I gave to my AP CSP students on exam day!

Next week will be the second week of AP exams and my AP Computer Science A students will be testing on Friday. AP CSA is an exceptionally difficult course that is usually treated as a capstone course at the end of a four-year series–something we do not have in place at our site. But, I have had some very dedicated learners this year and I am certain a fair chunk of them will pass the exam. Regardless if students pass or not, they have learned so much and, should they choose to go on to take CS in college, they will have a much easier time in their intro courses because of their hard work this year.

For the documentary that I must create for the end of this service learning course, I plan to use some existing footage I have of my students learning throughout the year as well as some B roll footage of our campus and the surrounding community.

CST 361 – Week 1

Although this is only the first week of this service learning course, I started my service hours about one month ago and have finished 32 hours. Last week I put in 14.5 hours alone since AP tests start up next week and I am working towards preparing high school computer science students for the AP Computer Science Principles and the AP Computer Science A exams.

On Thursday, I stayed after school for 5.5 hours and did not leave campus until 8pm since many students procrastinated on their AP Computer Science Principles performance tasks, which were due that night electronically to the College Board at 8:59PM PST.

Luckily, I was able to keep the students motivated with pizza, donated by kind friends, and anime soundtracks; most of my students were able to submit everything by the deadline (there were a few that did not find it pertinent to attend the after school session that did not meet the deadline).

We went through many pizzas — thanks to all who donated!

Today I held the last Saturday school (4 hours) before AP tests–some AP CSP students came in to take mock exams, and some AP CSA students came to ask about the Free Response Questions from last year’s exam that I gave them for practice. I am glad to be done with my service hours already because school will be winding down after AP tests and I will welcome the downtime after an extremely long, exhausting academic year.