Summer Work - How much? What Contents?


#1

Hello all,

I am going to be teaching AP CSP next year for the first time (although have taught many other Computer Science/ICT courses). Most of my AP colleagues assign summer work for their courses.

I was wondering the following:

  1. Do you assign summer work? If so why? If not why?
  2. How much approximately do you assign? Hours wise (10 hours? Less?)
  3. What kind of content do you assign (reading? coding? essays?)

I have researched online, and found a few examples that range wildly from over 40 hours of work, to a singular essay, to reading three chapters and preparing for a quiz.


#2

@glenn.crane

The first year, I did provide a summer assignment because all the other AP teachers do. I asked students to read articles on technology and write a brief summary. Less than 50% submitted the assignment.

Last year, I did not assign any summer work. I felt that summer assignments reinforce inequity and run counter to one of the core premises of the course. I just felt it started the year off on a bad foot by excluding students on day one.

I have not decided what to do for this summer. Some of our teachers do jumpstart day(s) either right after school ends or right before school starts. It will be interesting to see what other teachers are doing.

Happy computing,
Andrea


#3

Thanks for the reply. We have had the same thoughts about summer work possibly running counter to one of the core premises of the course. However at the same time we want our students to as prepared as possible and come into the course on a similar standing in terms of knowledge of Computer Science basics.

Also very interested to see others view.

Thanks again and good luck for the end of the year, and your prep for next year.

Glenn


#4

Hi @glenn.crane

I have taught CSP the last two years and I have not done a summer assignment. Really for some of the same reasons Andrea mentioned. I personally haven’t had as much issues with getting through all the content. I work in a public school in the suburbs of MN, so we start after labor day but at the same time, for most of my students this isn’t their first AP course, so they are ready to get to work in class.

I have heard of people assigning parts of the Blown to Bits book as a summer assignment. The reading level is somewhat high on it, so keep that in mind if that might be a barrier for some of your students.

I love the idea of doing jump start days right before school starts, but that would be a no-go in our district. Also, student athletes are doing a lot of work around then which leads to another equity issue…

One last thing to consider is that code.org’s curriculum operates under the premise of introducing concepts before vocabulary. This is pretty cool to watch in classes with larger gaps in previous knowledge. Essentially, it allows for a low floor - everyone can engage! At the end, when you introduce vocabulary, even students who know what TCP is have an “a-ha” moment, they “feel” what TCP is (rather than just understand what the definition is).

I’m also interested in what others think here!

KT


#5

This is my first year teaching CSP, but I have taught other AP. I normally give summer homework (for the other classes), so I also set up an assignment for CSP: it had a little reading from Blown to Bits, a few short videos (with a couple reflection questions), a little python, a little AppLab, and a modified PT Explore. I wouldn’t say I regret it…but I won’t be giving that assignment again.

At that point, I wasn’t part of recruiting students nor did I know which curriculum I was going to be using, which is part of why it was all over the place. Others have definitely raised good points about barriers to entry.

What I’m currently planning on is maybe some reading, maybe some sort “who I am” (digital artifact) and probably a modified practice PT Explore. I feel that it was actually something that got kids excited about the class and gave them something to talk about right at the start of class. My school year starts earlier than many others and we have a fair number of class minutes, so I don’t feel like I am struggling to get the curriculum completed…but ask me again in a month or two!


#6

This is my second year teaching CSP. The first year I had no summer work because I had no familiarity with the content prior to TeacherCon. For this year I provided 3 Scratch assignments to help those who had no point of reference for coding. I wanted those students to have an idea of how coding works and feel comfortable when we entered that phase. It was strictly voluntary. I think it helped.


#7

@biermanl

I like the idea of having student create an artifact as their summer assignment. I am just concerned about requiring it to be digital and about making sure all student can be successful. In fact, I am now intrigued by requiring that the assignment is not digital but ‘old-school’. I think it may provide interesting opportunities for discussion and perhaps spark some creativity.

Thanks!
Andrea


#8

Thank you for all of the replies. It certainly gives me a lot to think about.

I really like the idea of the pre-reading (Blown To Bits). As well as shorter coding assignments. I am trying to strike the balance of making the course accessible and open (as well as attractive) to everyone while trying to ensure the students are prepared for the demands of the course.