Mobile CSP

AP Computer Science Principles
Endorsed by the College Board

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My Experience as a Mobile CSP Educator

I currently have 13 students.

Strategies that have been well received:

I have tried to keep lectures to a minimum. Allowing students to work at their own pace and choosing the method of receiving information (video or slides) has been appreciated by students. I have also varied the activities; incorporating some of my own to supplement the Mobile CSP curriculum. For example I had an “abstraction” scavenger hunt and I have a really large deck of cards to help with sorting. I have tried to encourage creativity and freedom of choice. Students are rewarded on projects for going beyond the listed requirements. Creativity in particular is part of every grading rubric. Students also have the option to use Java for class Projects and even more languages for their Create Task. I have also incorporated current events and issues into the course. For example, we studied digital/virtual currency as a practice Explore Task. While this meant that no one could choose it for their AP submission, it meant that we could have a deeper discussion about it and everyone could participate.

Tips for Other Educators Using Mobile CSP

  • Make it Your Own. Look for opportunities to add your own activities. Skip or replace lessons if you have one that you like.
  • Get feedback. Talk to your students. See what’s working and modify when possible.
  • Pacing. One of the challenges I had was how long lessons will take. I planned out the year using the suggested times listed in each lesson as well as my own estimate from the training. I then monitored the pacing as the year progressed. I noticed that many activities took longer than anticipated; in particular, students wanted to spend more time coding than was allocated. I then made adjustments as necessary. This helped me to avoid running out of time at year end (though 4 snow days didn’t help).
  • Giving Feedback. How do you grade projects and provide feedback? I have created my own scoring rubrics that grade assignments similarly to the Performance Tasks. I put my own twists on them by incorporating “Creativity” and “Enhancements” into the rubrics to encourage students to go beyond the listed requirements. Practice Writing. Having participated in the AP Reading, one thing I learned is the importance of teaching students how to write the written responses. For each project (one per unit), I created a custom written response template to help students learn how to write responses. Each template focused on only a few of the items in the official rubric and they allowed students to develop a better understanding on how to write effective responses. I also required students to write at a college-level on quizzes. I often ask question about topics from the Blown2Bits reading and they had to include evidence discussed in the chapter (I let them use notes for this).
  • Raise Expectations. As stated earlier, I required more out-of- the-box thinking by my students and incorporated it on rubrics, my quiz questions, and I deduct points for late submissions.

How has Mobile CSP changed how I think about teaching?

My class is more student driven as I’ve minimized lecture time. It has also forced me to realize that I don’t have to invent everything myself.

The Mobile CSP Course

Overall, I really like the course. It is well organized and contains a variety of activities. It has also freed up a lot of my time usually spent on designing activities to focus more on implementing them and assisting students.

Things that I like.

There is a lot of variety in terms of activities (in particular I like the logic circuit app). I think the flow is good. I also felt that it provided more activities than may have been required by the AP exam, thereby providing a more enriching experience for students.

Impact on a group of students.

About half my class is new to programming. The Mobile CSP curriculum has allowed them to learn and be just as product as my more experience students.

My Master Teacher.

My Master Teacher has been very supportive of me throughout the year. He has provided good feedback on some of my initial rubrics and quizzes as well thoughts on my approaches and methodologies. It has been much appreciated. It’s been comforting to know that he’s been accessible to me and that we will speak every month.

Montclair, NJ
Scott Feinstein