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Archive for July, 2012

Thu 7/26: New book

July 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Almost immediately after decided in the spring to switch my textbook to Objects First With Java, I started to have buyer’s remorse. This became more acute when I made the decision to flip my class, because the book seemed singularly unsuitable to flipping.

It’s a good book; don’t get me wrong. Its two big strengths are that it uses a classes-early approach (which I think is essential to teaching object-oriented programming), and its use of BlueJ reinforces the idea of object behavior. But the book itself is written in a very narrative style that requires the user to follow through most of the examples in the book. This just doesn’t fit very well with the approach of separating the content out into videos for independent study.

So I got turned onto a new book, which for me is really an old book: Java Concepts by Cay Horstmann. In the past I had used Horstmann’s other book, Big Java, in my programming class. One of the things that I noticed first about the book is that it also introduces classes very early, in the first real chapter of programming.

But I was very impressed with many other features of the book. I like that the book has separate tracks to cover both testing and graphics, which are not always given enough attention. I also liked how the content in the book is peppered with pullouts to cover programming tips or common mistakes for students to consider. Last, but definitely not least, I like that this book is available in a Kindle edition for students who might like to have their book in digital form.

The overall structure of the book seems much more conducive to the more segmented approach that I will use with my flipping and standards-based teaching pedagogy. It will surely add to the learning curve to be working with an unfamiliar book in my new teaching approach, but I felt immensely more confident after talking with our textbook rep and getting this change pushed through at the eleventh hour.

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Categories: flipping, textbook

Wed 7/11: Flipping update

July 11, 2012 Leave a comment

During these dog days of summer, my inclination to work is not terrifically strong, so I am proceeding fairly slowly in my lesson planning. I expect that when we return next week from our week-long trip to Maine, it will pick up in more earnest.

Anyway, after a bit of searching, I was able to find the YouTube video that I watched last year when I first started thinking about flipping my class. Here’s Paul Andersen’s tutorial on screencasting.

Categories: flipping

Wed 7/4: My flipping plans

July 4, 2012 Leave a comment

After taking a few days off following ISTE, I’ve begun working again in earnest this week on my ed tech work and my classes. One of my primary areas of interest at ISTE this year was the flipped classroom, because I am seriously considering flipping both of my computer courses this year. It was a little ironic that the session moderated by the two originators of the flipped classroom, Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann, presented the most unconventional models of flipping.

My approach will probably be fairly orthodox, at least in my first year. My reason for flipping is very straightforward. The biggest challenge I have always had as a computer science teacher was that there never seemed to be enough time in class for my students to spend actually programming, because of the need to present new material. By pushing the new material into the evening work, I should be able to approach every day of class as if it was a lab day. Another side benefit of flipping should be that my students feel more confident and less bewildered in the evening without the need to do so much independent work.

I’m anticipating that this will require a larger investment of time, as it is for most teachers of flipped classes. In addition to the time spent creating the videos, I will need to be much more intentional about the way that I create the content for the in-class programming.

As for my videos, I am going to rewatch Aaron’s tutorial on their website, and I have gotten ahold of the tools that he recommended: a Wacom tablet for writing, Screenflow for recording and editing video, and Omnidazzle for some cursor accents. This week I’ll try to create my first video.

Categories: flipping, iste