Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Plans For Missing School

The standing joke, which is not so funny really, is that creating a sub plan for missing a day of school is more work than working a day at school.  It’s a tough task for a conscientious teacher. With a limited number of teaching days one really doesn’t want to waste a day. One always wants to make progress and see that the day is useful and productive for the students. Telling the sub to let students have a study period is far less than ideal. So what to do?

When I have time I like to set up the schedule for a test to be given. It sounds evil in some ways but it makes sense. Anyone can proctor an exam. In fact if the proctor doesn’t know the answer to any of the questions (and subs for CS teachers typically don’t) then students are really on their own. So it is a great day (for one definition of great day) to be absent.

Now that is not always possible especially if the missed day comes up suddently and unexpectedly (meaing the teacher comes down sick) so there have to be other options. Showing a movie is a good option as long as the movie would be part of the curriculum anyway. I like to show the movie “Top Secret Rosies” as part of my unit on computer history for example. I’ll miss a day later this week and I plan to move that up in the schedule a bit. Kids always think they are getting away with something when you show a movie. Having a movie in reserve can be a good thing.

I’ve thought of the whole flipped classroom thing with the video in class and I can see how that might work. I’m just not a fan of taped lecutres (even if I have recoreded a few). I see taped talks as suplimental or for helping students who miss a day to catch up.

For programming students I like to have them spend time working on a project. It can be hard as they may struggle without a teacher who can help but that is all part of the learning. Isn’t it? Please tell me it is so I can sleep at night.

Worksheets are popular but honesly I hate the very idea of them. They seem so rote to me and I don’t think it is easy to make them so they contribute to real learning.

A think piece eassy is probably better than a work sheet. I do like to have students spend some time thinking about issues involving computer science and society. Making them write an essay forces some thought which can lead to better discussions when the teacher returns.

I’m always looking for other ideas. What do others who teach computer science do for sub plans?

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