First day of classes

Posted: - Modified: | teaching


What worked: CS21A and BlueJ

I have a small class of 8 students. Most are taking CS21A for the first time because they’re interested in shifting into either CS or MIS; this course will help them decide if it’s worth it! =)

BlueJ was a great idea. The students quickly got the hang of creating and manipulating the different objects. I demonstrated how to create a circle and make it visible, then I asked them to figure out how to make the circle yellow. People started out by typing yellow in the parameter box – they’d figured that out quickly! – and BlueJ reported an error. Some students figured out that they had to put quotes around the word. That prompted a discussion on the difference between “yellow” and yellow.

When I showed them the Picture project and the source code for the Picture class, they realized that it was the same as what they had been doing before, and they were able to modify the code to make the roof green. (Most did it in drawColor, though, so I’ll have to reinforce methods by asking them to get it to work in draw()).

I asked the students what they wanted to learn how to do next, and one said that she wanted to learn how to make the shapes move to a precise position. I showed them how to modify, basing my work on moveHorizontal. I declared an empty method first and then showed how it turned up in the method list, then I filled in the method body based on their prompting. A student observed that Java is case sensitive, and I repeated that for the benefit of the class. Another student asked about spaces, and I asked her to check it out while I squeezed the code I’d just written into a single line. I demonstrated that it produced no errors, but said that spaces were useful for people.

On Friday, I plan to talk about methods and variables. =)

In the future, I might want to ask them how to perform every step of the way.

What didn’t:

  • Trying to capture what students knew in CS161 was difficult, probably because they were fresh from a vacation and they didn’t have a clear idea of it. Sir Maguyon’s way of explaining CS161 was a lot more vivid; I should sit in his 9:30 class and go on straight!
  • I had a hard time lecturing because I didn’t have a lot of anecdotes prepared. They laughed a bit at my cooking thing, though.
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