April 22, 2004


April 22, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I think that scheduling the next day is a good idea. It’ll force me to
practice estimating time and prioritizing tasks. I mark scheduled
tasks as P so that I can quickly see which tasks have been scheduled
and which haven’t, although I might want to reset that back to _ so
that it isn’t misleading. Or I can find some other way to indicate

Straw and Jan Alonzo

April 22, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized


Kudos to Jan Alonzo (PLUG) for significant
contributions to Straw, a blog aggregator. Impressed.

How to be a programmer: a short, comprehensive and personal summary

April 22, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized


Excellent article. I think I’ll make it (or something similar)
required reading for my students. Mirroring locally.

Structured procrastination

April 22, 2004 - Categories: emacs

John Perry’s 1995 essay entitled “Structured Procrastination” is a
particularly good read for the procrastinator in all of us.
Considering the way that planner-el works, I think it’s a good fit. ;)
Check it out!

The essay is available at:

Orkut at 11 weeks

April 22, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

James Farmer’s Online Education Weblog

April 22, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Scheduling an appointment with the AU embassy

April 22, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

I need to call 1909 362 2779 using an NDD-capable line to set an
appointment. I guess that means I should do this with Mom tonight.


April 22, 2004 - Categories: emacs
(defun sacha/try-expand-emacs-wiki-name (old)
  "Expand a wiki name."
  (unless old
    (he-init-string (he-dabbrev-beg) (point))
    (setq he-expand-list
          (if (derived-mode-p 'emacs-wiki-mode)
              (delq nil
                     (lambda (item)
                       (when (string-match
                              (concat "^" (regexp-quote he-search-string))
                              (car item))
                         (planner-make-link (car item))))
  (while (and he-expand-list
              (or (not (car he-expand-list))
                  (he-string-member (car he-expand-list) he-tried-table t)))
    (setq he-expand-list (cdr he-expand-list)))
  (if (null he-expand-list)
        (if old (he-reset-string))
      (he-substitute-string (car he-expand-list) t)
      (setq he-expand-list (cdr he-expand-list))



April 22, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

How can I make an appointment?
Tuesday afternoon, 10:00 a.m.?
Hey, no one’s picking up at the NZ embassy.
Lodging: 9:00 – 12:30, no appointment
Follow-up, call the visa officer after 1:30

Free NZ visa

April 22, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

On the plus side, our country has a bilateral fee waiver agreement
with NZ for visitor’s visas not exceeding 59 days. That’s good.

Planning for instruction: CS21A

April 22, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Following tips from http://trc.virginia.edu/Publications/UVaTeaching/I1.htm

What do you expect students to learn?

In CS21A, I expect students to learn how to write graphical Java
applets and applications that use conditionals, control structures,
and collections to solve problems. I also expect them to learn how to
learn new functions and ideas from documentation, and develop the
habit of object-oriented design and decomposition. They should also
master tracing and debugging programs.

How will you correlate what you expect students to learn with assignments and evaluations of their work?

To measure their ability to learn independently by referring to
documentation and experimenting with programs, I will give open-ended
laboratory exercises and credit for things learned outside class.
I will also give research-style assignments.

To measure their ability to read and trace through code, I will have
drills and other exercises.

To measure their ability to debug, I will give them programming
exercises where they have to test and debug source code.

To develop their ability to design objects, I will present them with
situations and ask them to identify the objects, methods and
attributes in an assignment that spans several sessions.

What knowledge and skills are prerequisite to success in your course?

Students must know how to move and copy files on the computer in order
to submit their projects. Arithmetic is also required.

How will you know whether students are learning throughout the course?

Self-evaluations, laboratory work, quizzes.

How will you vary your instruction?

Most of my instruction will be in the form of written supplements and
laboratory activities. I will also demonstrate code in class.

How will your syllabus show students the focus of your course and how all assignments are connected to that focus?

The topic outline will be central to the course webpage. Assignments
will highlight which topics they are relevant to, and assignments will
also be cross-referenced with the topics so that students who want to
practice a particular topic can choose among the available exercises.

How many students should you expect?

I expect 20 students in my CS classes and 30 students in my MIS classes.

Is this course for majors and/or minors, or does it attract students from other departments?

Almost all CS students approach this as a relevant major course. MIS
students might not see the relevance of the course to their future
work. I occasionally get non-majors.

How much work can you reasonably assign for each class?

I can assign short homework (~ 15, 30 minutes to complete) for the
lecture days. Most lab work should be done in class. Students are
expected to devote outside time to work on their projects.
Realistically speaking, I should expect no more than 4 hours a week,
preferably set up as two long blocks.

How many of my students will never have written a college-level paper?

Most of my students will need some correction.

How will you budget your time?

I would like to prepare courseware for this. I expect to devote an
average of 2 hours preparing for each class session.


A Brief Summary of the Best Practices in Teaching

April 22, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Intended to Challenge the Professional Development of All Teachers
Compiled by Tom Drummond North Seattle Community College, 1994, 2002



Interesting notes from the best practices

April 22, 2004 - Categories: education, teaching


Guided Lecture: Students listen to 15-20 minutes of lecture without taking notes. At the end, they spend five minutes recording all they can recall. The next step involves learners in small discussion groups reconstructing the lecture conceptually with supporting data, preparing complete lecture notes, using the instructor to resolve questions that arise.

Immediate Mastery Quiz: When a regular immediate mastery test is included in the last few minutes of the period, learners retain almost twice as much material, both factual and conceptual.

Individual Task With Review: Problems to solve that apply the concepts presented. Students complete a worksheet or other task and compare the results with their neighbors before the whole class discusses the answers.

Intrinsically-Phrased Reward Statements: Positive expressions about emerging learner performance and achievement highlight internal feelings of self-worth and self-satisfaction (without praise, which is an extrinsic judgment). Enjoyment “That was fun!” “I get pleasure from that, too.” Competence “You did it!” “That is mastered!” Cleverness “That was tricky.” “Creative.” Growth “You’ve taken a step forward.” “Change has occurred!”

Construction Spiral: Ask a sequence of questions, beginning at a reflex level, in a three-step learning cycle—(1) individual writing for 3-5 minutes, (2) small group sharing in trios or pairs, and (3) whole class, non-evaluative compilation. Used to construct understandings and concepts.

Peer Teaching: By explaining conceptual relationships to others, tutors define their own understanding.

– Question Pairs—learners prepare for class by reading an assignment and generating questions focused on the major points or issues raised. At the next class meeting pairs are randomly assigned. Partners alternately ask questions of each other and provide corrective feedback as necessary.

– Learning Cells—Each learner reads different selections and then teaches the essence of the material to his or her randomly assigned partner.


Learning-centered syllabus

April 22, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized


(Nice page!)

I should expose my students to these questions. We’ve missed out on
them so far.

– How do we think in this discipline?
– How do we organize knowledge, add to the knowledge base, recognize and test new knowledge?
– What is our philosophical base?
– How do we approach questions of ethics?
– With what theoretical questions are we most concerned?

– How do we use knowledge in the discipline?
– How do we apply what we know?
– How do we recognize unmet needs?
– How does this discipline make the world a better place?
– With what other disciplines do we interact?

– What stimulates our enthusiasm?
– How do people in our discipline rejuvenate our interest or intellectual involvement?
– What are our greatest accomplishments and loftiest goals?
– What makes the discipline a worthwhile field of study?


April 22, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Specificity. Start with the four to six broad concepts, principles, or themes for the semester, then write specific objectives for each. These will be useful for planning the course, evaluating student outcomes, and in developing tools for evaluation.


– Describe the great ideas behind computer science. (The _why_. See previously blogged topic.)


– Write graphical applications that solve real-world problems using basic programming structures.
– Test, trace and debug programs.

Independent learning

– Develop a plan for learning unknown material.
– Learn new features from documentation.
– Share lessons learned with others.


– Identify the requirements.
– Design an object-oriented system.
– Develop a plan for implementation.


Heuristics for good lectures

April 22, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized


How can you draw/grab students’ attention to your lecture given their preoccupation with so many things when they walk into the door?

I wonder – maybe I can do some kind of voting. Open each session with
a controversial thought, like “Learn programming in 21 hours.”


April 22, 2004 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Perhaps a group blog might be a good idea. I’ll give 10 minutes at the
end of each period (ouch, that leaves just 30 minutes for whatever
discussion I might want to have, but I think it’ll be worth it). Each
day, a particular person is assigned to blog, and all typing must be
done by that person. They can contribute their input. It becomes a
group notebook.