On Preparing Students for an Exam While Deemphasizing Its Importance

 Context

In my post on "How What I Learned in Theatre Influences How I Teach Computer Science," I ended with the question, "is there a way to instruct students in what is really important that deemphasizes any required exam without being a detriment to it?" At the heart of this question is a confession that, while I hate standardized exams, I recognize they exist and I am still accountable to them. If you are a teacher, this is most likely your reality as well. The rest of "How What I Learned..." post described what I think is truly motivating and most important to glean from a good education. In my post, "How Github Makes Everything About Teaching CS Better", I explained what Github is, how I introduce it to students, and how my students use it on a day-to-day basis to collaborate. With this introduction of the theory and the tools aside, I'd like to finally write about what I do in my classroom to actualize my teaching philosophy. This post assumes a basic understanding of Github.

Take Some Time

Take Some Time

I have a very observant daughter. Sometimes, she's sorta like Navi in The Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time.* Even if the only word she can say is "Hey!", her attention to a certain, nearby objective is often so relentless that it begs to be addressed before continuing onward. For example, one time while she was riding in the stroller and Kay was in the backpack, a grey mitten fell off Kay and landed in the street as we crossed. Rae began to cry and point but didn't yet have the words to explain what she had seen. Because the color of the mitten had darkened from the water it absorbed, I couldn't even make it out against the asphalt. Still, Rae persisted. It wasn't until I conceding to walking back across the street that I finally recovered what had been lost, and it was all thanks to Rae.

How Github Makes Everything About Teaching CS Better

Before I began drafting the game design project, I spoke to a few people about how team projects are done in the professional world. One guy told me plainly, "If you aren't using Git, you're doing it wrong."

I knew I needed to learn how to use Git, but I couldn't figure out where to begin. I understood it was version management software that enabled multiple people to collaborate on a single project, but every tutorial I found made immediate assumptions about words I didn't understand. What was the difference between "Push" and "Commit"? Between "Pull" and "Fetch"? "Repository" and "Branch"? I was able to follow the tutorials, but the tutorials didn't give me an understanding of Git that made me feel comfortable teaching students, let alone debugging issues as they arose. What I needed was an all-in-one tutorial that explained Git like I was a ninth-grader. 

How What I Learned in Theatre Influences How I Teach Computer Science

My first love was theatre. As a freshman in high school, I found it to be a welcoming and fun after school club. I auditioned for all of the shows, enrolled in the elective every year and participated in every event. Even while I began to discover my love for math through AP Calculus during my senior year, I was simultaneously absorbed with competing in the state monologue competition and auditioning for colleges. When Willamette University offered me an acting scholarship, the only reason I decided to double major in mathematics was because my grandparents asked me to consider a back-up plan. I was actually hoping to go into education anyway, so during a time when funding for the arts was constantly being cut, it sounded wise to keep my options open.

3D Printing

This year, I used my Math for America flex funds to buy a 3D printer for my geometry class. My goal is to desgn unique models to support the Common Core Standards in Mathematics. If you are aware of any other resources where one can find similar .stl files, please let me know in the comments and I will post the links here.

About 3D Printing

Models

Top 10 Board Games

Top 10 Board Games

A good board game is one that is suited to your tastes and the dynamic of your gaming group. The best board game, then, is not the most popular board game necessarily, but the one that fits your own personal niche in a way no other board game can. The games that are most popular (Agricola, Twilight Struggle, Dominion, Pandemic) are really just the gateway to finding a more perfect game. This is my to ten list, which is to say, ten games that have had the most success at my table. Are they the best games of all time? For me, they definitely are, but they aren't all conventionally popular, and that's okay. If you want to know if these games are right for you, then understand the criteria that - for me - make a great board game: