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cabennet
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Default textbook suggestions - 04-21-2008, 12:45 PM

I am a high school teacher, looking to re-introduce Computer Science to my school. I have 12 - 14 students , in grade 11 and 12 signed up for this new class next September. It would likely have a Grade 11 course designation. I have a few questions.
1. Which textbook would you recommend? Is there anyone currently teaching high school students using a text book?
2. How long would you expect Grade 11's and 12's to take to finish your recommended text? We have approx 90 days of 75 minutes classes.
3. Should I consider teaching another language if I were to then teach Grade 12 Computer Science in the next year with the same group of students? i.e. can I use Alice for 2 semesters worth of classes?

Any other tips, suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks
   
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lanceA
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Default 04-21-2008, 01:27 PM

1. a. The "official" one is Learning To Program with Alice, Wanda P. Dann, et al. ISBN 0-
13-187289-3, Prentice Hall
b. Check out Dick Baldwin's free Alice Tutorials at www.dickbaldwin.com/tocalice.htm
c. There are several other books on Alice available including C. Herbert's An
Introduction to Programming Using Alice, ISBN 978-1-4188-3625-2, or the Cashman
series.
d. If you are teaching two years you may wish to look at J. Adam's Alice in Action with
JAVA, ISBN 978-4239-0096-2 because his book uses a spiral pedagogy to introduce
key object-oriented topics using Alice, then circles back to the same concepts in
Java.

2. I would not expect 11th graders to spend more than two semesters working with Alice. I teach at a dual curriculum high school and I use Alice with 9th graders and we do spend the entire year using Alice. However, due to the curriculum we only meet 5 classes in a two-week cycle.

3. In the 10th grade we begin studying JAVA for the AP 'A' Computer Science tests. (Having studied Alice the previous year makes a significant positive impact in student performance!)

You may wish to visit http://www.aliceprogramming.net/ and click on Instructor Materials to view several sample Syllabi for presenting an Alice course. Each sample syllabus covers a different amount of time for presenting the material.

As an aside, I also teach 'AB' Computer Science however, the College Board has concluded that the AP 'AB' Computer Science course will be discontinued after the 2009 year due to a decline in the number of students taking the test in high schools. This exemplifies what the colleges/universities have been saying for years: "There is a serious decline in enrollment in Computer Science". Unfortunately for me, my numbers for students wishing to continue with the 'AB' portion have steadily increased since I begin using Alice as an intro to comp-sci.

Good luck in your program!

Last edited by lanceA; 04-21-2008 at 02:04 PM. Reason: Too add URL for sample syllabus
   
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cabennet
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Default 04-21-2008, 02:37 PM

I had a look at the Richard Baldwin site. Looks reall good. Would I actually be able to teach the class using this as my virtual 'textbook'?

Did you mean no more than 1 semester? If you have Grade 9's 5 times in a 2 week period for a year, that seems to me that if I have Grade 11's each day for 5 months, we will easily exhaust all that can be taught in Alice.

Would you suggest Alice in Grade 11 (1 semester) then JAVA in Grade 12 (1 semester)? If so, then it sounds like the Adams book might be the way to go.
   
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lanceA
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Default 04-21-2008, 04:00 PM

If you have students 5 times in a single week - I ENVY YOU!

1. From a 'legal' point of view, you can most definitely use Mr. Baldwin's material. He even states that on his site, with certain stipulations. And since he doesn't specifically state that you must use the material in "toto", then I would suggest that you design your Alice course around those parts of his great material that you feel relevant to your class. However, he's the final judge on what can and can not do with his material. I believe he's posted his email address on the site I provided. But he is also a member of this forum so you can speak with him here.

2. I'm sorry, I teach on a Trimester schedule. (Our 12th graders spend most of their last trimester in Europe.) But yes, I would imagine that your 11th graders might possibly finish in a single semester. Did you have the opportunity to review the author's various proposed syllabus on the website I provided? These can definitely help you plan your Alice course.

3. If I understand correctly, you plan to teach 1 semester of computer science during the 11th grade and then teach 1 semester of computer science 1 year later, during 12th grade? If this is correct, I am unsure how your students will retain the information taught from one year to the next with such a large gap between courses.

I will be happy to assit in any manner that I can. Good luck!

Last edited by lanceA; 04-21-2008 at 04:26 PM. Reason: typos
   
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DickBaldwin
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Default 04-21-2008, 06:21 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by cabennet View Post
I had a look at the Richard Baldwin site. Looks reall good. Would I actually be able to teach the class using this as my virtual 'textbook'?...
Please feel free to use any or all parts of my Alice tutorials in your course, including slides, practice tests, etc., in whatever manner will work best for you and your students, free of charge, of course.

I teach a one-semester college course in Programming Fundamentals using only my online Alice materials. Everything is online except for the tests. I don't use a textbook in the Alice course.

I also don't use a textbook for the Java/OOP and occasional C++ courses that I teach either. I almost always write and publish my own material for programming courses, making the material freely available to all students and any other interested parties via the web. I have been doing so since about 1997. See the links below.

Wishing you success in your new course.
Dick Baldwin
Free Alice tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/tocalice.htm
Free programming tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/toc.htm
   
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DrJim
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Default 04-21-2008, 08:03 PM

Speaking as one who does not teach CS - but who hired many college CS graduates over the years and also observed the trend to outsourcing to Asia increase dramatically - I'd say one key thing you need to decide is whether or not the course will be "an introduction to computer programming concepts" or an "introduction to programming for AP level credit." Both are certainly needed - but the relative level of emphasis between Alice and Java will differ depending on your goals.

And may I also wish you success in your new course.
   
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cabennet
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Default 04-22-2008, 10:05 AM

Teaching a class a year or a semester removed from their last course is par for the course here. My Physics and Math students do it each year.

I guess my biggest question right now is whether or not my kids will finish in a semester. And I am thinking that the only way to know is to try it out. I think I will request a desk copy of the 'official' book. Also, I will try to talk my administrator into scheduling it for 2nd semester so I have some time to try it out before giving it to kids. If all goes well, then I may have to teach JAVA in their grade 12 year. Perhaps Alice 3.0 will be out by then, and it will be an easy transition.

Just for background, I used to teach CS years ago using QBASIC and Pascal and have not done any programming besides my TI-83 since. Am I biting off more than I can chew here?

Thanks for all you wishes.
   
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cabennet
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Default 04-22-2008, 10:14 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DickBaldwin View Post
Please feel free to use any or all parts of my Alice tutorials in your course, including slides, practice tests, etc., in whatever manner will work best for you and your students, free of charge, of course.

I teach a one-semester college course in Programming Fundamentals using only my online Alice materials. Everything is online except for the tests. I don't use a textbook in the Alice course.
Thanks, I will likely use your slides in one format or another. Do you have them in a packaged format? PowerPoint perhaps?

How many hours would it take you to complete your course with your college kids? I have about 90-95 hours with my high school kids.
   
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DickBaldwin
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Default 04-22-2008, 10:53 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by cabennet View Post
Thanks, I will likely use your slides in one format or another. Do you have them in a packaged format? PowerPoint perhaps?

How many hours would it take you to complete your course with your college kids? I have about 90-95 hours with my high school kids.
The only format that I have available for the slides is online.

The schedule for this three-credit-hour course is two hours of lecture and two hours of lab per week for 16 weeks. Typically students don't have access to a computer during the lecture period (in a normal classroom), and do have access to a computer during the lab period, which is taught in a computer lab. Depending on lab availability, we sometimes have a little flexibility regarding the allocation of time between the lecture and the lab but not often.

Students have access to a computer lab without the instructor about 80 or 90 hours per week for purposes of completing their homework assignments.

Dick Baldwin
Free Alice tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/tocalice.htm
Free programming tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/toc.htm
   
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wsmac
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Default 06-08-2008, 10:55 AM

Just thought I'd add that there is a new book out by someone named Gaddis

Starting Out With Alice: A Visual Introduction to Programming

I'm not an instructor but my school is changing over from the other Alice text.
I was not happy with the old Alice text because it just didn't work well for my Add/HD mind
   
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