Teaching the course


#1

I teach the CSD course, new this year, and have been asked to consider teaching the CSP course next year.

My concern is that I have little computer science experience. I have taught the Hour of Code for about 3 years, this year is my first year with CSD. I have taken a few courses over the years, but I am concerned with the depth of knowledge that CSP might need.

Can some of you reflect on teaching the CSP course? I am wondering about your level of expertise with computer science, if you have little experience; have you felt overwhelmed? Are there questions from students you simply cannot answer? If so, what do you do? If you teach both CSD and CSP can you reflect on the workload (grading/planning etc.)


#2

Short answer: You’ll be fine.

No prior CS knowledge required. Teaching the CSP course is all about being the “lead learner” and jumping in with the students. Might take some getting used to if you’re used to being the authoritative source in the classroom, but I’ve heard many teachers express much success with letting go of that idea and embracing when students ask questions you might know the answer to and responding with “Great question! I have no idea! How might we find out?” Based on the way the curriculum is designed, you basically learn with the students through exploration together. This is my 3rd(?) year teaching CSP and first year teaching CSD and I’ve felt very comfortable picking up the CSD curriculum because I feel its philosophy and style closely matches that of CSP.

In my opinion, it’s more important to adopt the “lead learner” attitude than it is to have the CS background knowledge.

In terms of my “expertise”, I’ve had some introductory programming experience so when I started teaching CSP, I was comfortable with the programming, but I ended up learning a lot through the CSP curriculum about how the internet works. Not many of my students knew much about the inner workings of the internet either, but I had an occasional student in the Cyber Patriots club or had some experience dabbling in computers and might add to the conversation (usually that just looked like the whole class wondering what the kid is talking about and me nodding and saying thanks).

If you ever do get stuck on a question you don’t know the answer to, tell your class you’ll get back to them, post your question on this forum, then share the responses with your class. :grinning:


#3

@hensleyn

Before teaching CS for the last 3.5 years, I taught math and/or engineering for 20 years. I do have a CS background but most of it was before the Internet was a thing. No matter what subject I have taught, I have fielded questions I simply cannot answer. Sometimes, it was because I forgot and needed to reboot my brain. Sometimes, I just had no idea. Either way, I have no problems telling students - “I don’t know - YET”. Then, I can look it up on the spot or get back to them. I suppose I was doing ‘Lead Learner’ before I knew what it was. Students are initially surprised but I use it as an opportunity to calibrate expectations and to emphasize process over product.

BTW, I frequently feel overwhelmed especially with grading :sob:. This is not an easy job! However, hearing students speak favorable about their experience and seeing their excitement about their accomplishments makes those tough days bearable. This is a very supportive community. We got your back!

Happy computing,
Andrea


#4

Do you ever flip it and have the students research and report back the answer to the question they ask? If so, how did that turn out?


#5

This is my first year teaching CSP. Prior to this, I was an English teacher for 15 years. The last time I had a computer class was in college and I learned a little bit of DOS. I had the same feelings you might be having right now. But the lessons are so well written and prepared that you will not have any problem. Of course, I prepare myself by walking through the lessons and doing what the kids are expected to do. I am not a math person so the math end is one thing I struggle with but i figure it out. Yes, you will do fine.


#6

I have taught traditional CS for a bit more than 12 years. CSP is a whole set of new concepts not covered in CS A AP or other coding classes. I learned on the job so to speak with CSP. The Code.org materials are excellent and make it easy for the teacher to be a lead learner.

You also might consider this. No one teaching modern CS knows it all. When was the last major CS breakthrough? - About 30 seconds ago.

Do your best and you’ll do fine.