Archive for the ‘CO335’ Category

Fri 8/26: Blogging standards

August 26, 2011 Leave a comment

As the beginning of the year draws inexorably closer, I’m slowly gathering momentum for my fall classes. One of the biggest challenges in designing a new class with standards-based grading is developing all the new standards for the course. I haven’t really found any pre-established standards for my Web 2.0 class, so I’m trying to create them myself. Here’s my first attempt at a set of standards for the unit on blogging — any feedback?

Blogging – content Level 3

  • Each blog post is Well-written
  • Each blog post is Original
  • Each blog post is Relevant
  • Each blog post is Detailed

Level 2

  • Blog contains the required number of posts
  • Each blog post is the minimum length


Blogging – layout Level 3

  • Theme and color scheme fits well with tone of blog
  • Blog widgets arranged in decreasing order of importance

Level 2

  • Overall layout makes it easy to find blog posts
  • Theme and color scheme does not conflict with tone of blog


Blogging – extras Level 3

  • Blog contains a way to browse posts by category
  • Blog contains a calendar or monthly archive

Level 2

  • Blog contains a blogroll w/ at least 5 links
  • Blog contains a search bar


Categories: CO335, sbar

Mon 8/8: Blogging unit expanded

August 9, 2011 2 comments

I read somewhere that the only way to become a good writer is to write, and the only way to cure writer’s block is to write, so I think I just need to screw my courage to the sticking point and start churning out posts. Part of the problem, I think, is that I look out there at all the other well-established teaching blogs and it seems as if each one of their posts has something profound to say about education. That’s an illusion, I’m sure, but an intimidating one. In any case, the main purpose of this blog was to let me think out loud about my teaching, not to impress people, so it doesn’t matter if things are a little rough around the edges for now.

I’ve started to outline a rough schedule for my CO335 unit on blogging. Here it is:



Unit 1: Blogging



Creating blogs and posts

Homework: Complete intro survey; write blog post #1



Intro to CO335; Setting up a blog site

Homework: Lay out blog page; write blog post #2



Blog do’s & don’ts

Homework: Write blog critique #1 (blog post #3)



Extra blog features

Homework: Write blog critique #2 (blog post #4)



Social survey: blogging
Homework: Write RP #1 (blog post #5)

Sun 7/3: Musings on blogging

July 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Now that I’ve recovered and decompressed a little bit from ISTE, it’s time to return to my main job this summer, which is to plan my new course on Digital Citizenship. As a reminder, this is basically a course on how to use various Web 2.0 technologies effectively.

The first one out of the gate is blogging. Based on my work for the last three years in my children’s blog, I think I am pretty comfortable personally with this technology, but I’ve never taught it before. In particular, I’m not sure yet about what sort of rubric to use to assess students’ blogs. Beyond simply making them post, what should I be looking for to determine quality?

My first thoughts are in the tables below. This is an adaptation of Grant Wiggins’ “Understanding by Design” methodology for course development. Of course, I would appreciate your feedback!

What will students understand
as a result of this unit?

What “essential” and “unit” questions will focus this unit?

Students will understand that blogs can be used for a variety of different purposes, but all of them are designed to allow for periodic publishing of new content.

What is the purpose of this blog?

Students will understand that in addition to creating a well-written message, students must include appropriate hyperlinks and tag the post correctly.

How should I create this new post?

Students will understand that they need to choose the appropriate widgets for their blog page, and lay out the page in a way that makes it easy for readers to navigate.

How should I structure my blog page?

Students will understand that blogs give the power of publishing to individuals, and connect common cohorts together.

How are blogs changing communication?

Categories: blog, CO335, Hotchkiss, iste, teaching

Sat 5/25: Preparing for ISTE 2011

June 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Here I am, sitting in a very tiny hotel room in a somewhat sketchy part of Philadelphia, getting ready for another year attending the national conference for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). This will be my fourth conference (the three previous ones being in San Antonio, Washington, and last year in Denver).

Because ISTE includes any use of technology in teaching, the scope of the conference is much broader than just CS education. A lot of the stuff that goes on here doesn’t really relate to what I am doing, but there are always several great workshops that speak to something that I am interested in. This year most of the workshops I’ve tagged seem to relate to using Web 2.0 applications, which will be useful for my new CO335 course.

Here’s my tentative schedule for the next four days:

Categories: CO335, iste, roger, teaching

Wed 6/22: Outline for Digital Citizenship

June 22, 2011 4 comments

I’m redesigning my applications course this summer for a few reasons: (a) after eight years of teaching the same suite, things are feeling pretty stale; and (b) I never really enjoyed teaching it that much in the first place. Instead, I’ve decided to replace it with a new course named “Digital Citizenship”. Here’s the description that I posted in the course catalog:


CO335   Digital Citizenship
This course teaches students how to express themselves effectively and responsibly on the Internet using a variety of current computer-based technologies. Topics covered include blogs, audio and video podcasts, social networking, wikis, microblogging, cloud computing, and web design. In addition to creating content using these tools, students will also study how they are currently being used and their effects on our society.


Currently the course is scheduled for the first semester, which is 12 weeks. I’ve just started fleshing out the basic structure for the semester, but here is my plan thus far:

Dates   Application
  Week 1 Blogging
  Week 2 Microblogging
  Week 3 Social networks
  Week 4 Cloud computing
  Week 5 Wikis
  Week 6 Reassessment
  Week 7 Audio podcasts
  Week 8 Audio podcasts
  Week 9 Video podcasts
  Week 10 Video podcasts
  Week 11 Final project
  Week 12 Final project


Any comments?

Wed 6/1: Hello world!

June 1, 2011 5 comments

After reading so many other excellent teaching blogs with admiration over the past year or so, I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring to see if I can’t dumb down the level of conversation a little bit. So, here we have, “Abort, Retry, Succeed?”. Some brief info:

Who am I?

My name is Roger Wistar, and I teach computer science at The Hotchkiss School, a boarding high school in NW Connecticut. As of 2011 I’ve completed eight years at Hotchkiss. Before that I taught CS at the Northfield Mt. Hermon (Ma.) school for four years.

Besides teaching computer science (and occasionally a little math), I’m also in charge of our School Service Program, which puts students to work doing various jobs around the school. I also work as the school’s sports information director (see our athletics page for some of my stories) and I live in a dormitory.

Outside of work, most of my time is devoted to my family, including my wife Marcie and my two sons Benjamin and Andrew (read about them in their blog). When I have free time, which isn’t often, I like to play computer games (especially Rift), go bike riding, and occasionally play the piano.

Before going into teaching, I worked for a year at IBM as a consultant. I graduated from Duke University in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and then I earned a master’s degree in teaching from the University of Albany. Completing this retrograde trip down Memory Lane, I grew up in Baltimore, Md., and went to high school at the Friends School of Baltimore.

What is this blog?

I’m hoping to use this blog for two purposes. One, I’m designing a new course called “Digital Citizenship” that will focus on using various Internet-based tools for communication, including blogging. This blog is an effort to walk the walk with my students.

More importantly, though, I’d like to use this blog to meditate on some of the issues that face us as teachers today. Especially for computer science teachers, it can feel kind of lonely teaching in departments of one (or maybe two at most). Using the blogosphere and Twitter has been a great way to carry on a virtual conversation about teaching. Some issues most pressing for me include:

  • What’s the best way to teach programming?
  • How do you get more students to take CS courses?
  • How do you do standards-based grading effectively?