The Perfect Petri Dish

One of the biggest benefits of teaching elective classes like CS is that these classes are perfect laboratories for trying out everything I’ve always wanted to give free rein to—things like true, Gold Standard PBL, differentiation, and true collaborative learning to name a few–free of the testing industrial complex and tyranny of being a tested subject, i.e., math.

With some students already coding in text-based languages while others can barely figure out how to turn on a tablet, there is a much wider range of achievement levels in CS than in math, and the challenge is to implement differentiation so that students at all levels are pushed a little beyond their abilities (or at least what they believe their abilities to be).

So too are CS classes perfect matches for PBL—much more so than math which, in truth, I’ve always found to be a real stretch for PBL—at least for Gold-Standard PBL.  (Dessert projects are another matter entirely.)  My ultimate goal would be to have students create apps that address problems or needs on campus.  I’m not sure whether that will be possible with this year’s group of students as it’s still early days.  A few weeks time should give me a much better idea of what their potential is.  Definitely in some way, shape, or form this year, though.

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