My school will be offering AP CS Principles in the 2017/2018 school year so it was suggested that the current computer science teachers attend an AP Summer Institute to help us prepare. Sounds like a good idea so Tom (Indelicato my department chair) and I signed up to attend the Institute in St Johnsbury Academy in nearby Vermont.
The APCSP workshop was taught by Jackie Corricelli who has been a pilot teacher of the CS Principles course for several years and has had a lot of training on the course. I learned a lot. One of the things that impressed me is that she models what she teaches. The workshop was very participatory and we worked though many of the things she has her students work though in her classes. This is a lot better than a “sit and get” sort of presentation that takes place too often in PD events. I recommend her workshops if you are looking for one for next summer.
I’m taking a lot of ideas home with me. Obviously I feel like I have a much better understanding of the performance tasks that students taking APCSP will have to do. That is probably the main reason I felt I needed more formal training than reading a book. The tasks have given me some ideas for my earlier courses as well. I’ve been making changes to our Explorations in CS course based on these ideas. I’ll also make some changes to how I have students turn in and document programs in my honors programming and mobile apps courses. Good ideas are ideas that work in different courses and levels.
Being in school full time is interesting. Living in a dorm, eating in a cafeteria, after school activities. It was sort of like being back in college again. Although the food at St Johnsbury is quite a big step above the cafeteria food I grew up with. Dorm rooms are dorm rooms and I have stayed in a number of them over the years I have been teaching. The ones at St Johnsbury were pretty nice for dorm rooms. I don’t think HS students mess with their rooms as much as college students do.
They had a lot of adult interest activities in the late afternoons and evenings as well. It all made for a really good experience. Added on was the social time at meals and afternoons when I got to talk with other teachers. That was valuable and helped me work though a number of ideas and concepts. Picking the brains of other teachers is always helpful.
I’m very pleased with what I got from this Summer Institute. I recommend both the instructor and St Johnsbury..