Programming Class ’20-’21

This year I’m teaching Python Programming for the second time at my current school. I’ve actually taught programming/computer science ever since my first year teaching but this year and last were the most rigorous. Before I tell you all the details about this year’s class, I have to share a secret with you…

I used to HATE programming and never even took a class on it until I was a freshman in college! There I was, young Julia, starting freshman year with my first laptop ever (this was literally 2010, like why didn’t I have my own laptop during high school!?), surrounded by classmates who had been coding for years, and I furiously Googled “what is a tuple.” There was SO much new vocab and the assignments were totally overwhelming. Thank goodness that course was pass-fail, because I barely scraped by.

Needless to say, when I was asked to teach programming last year I was pretty reluctant. But as I worked through the textbook with the kiddies, I realized I knew and remembered a lot more Python than I thought! I guess I’d learned something from that class after all! One of the things I vowed when I started teaching Python is that my students would never feel as lost as I did with the vocab. I prioritize and encourage the use of programming-specific vocab in discussions so that my kids can talk the talk AND walk the walk.

This year I was pumped to teach the class again. I even have two students who were in my class last year, so I’m basically teaching two Python tracks simultaneously.

This is the textbook I used last year with the kids and am using with my first-years now:

Last year we got through the first 9 chapters. I like how readable it is and I really love the end-of-chapter content and programming exercises. I supplement it with projects I come up with myself or those from:

I wanted to step up the intensity for my second-years, so we’re going to use parts of:

How much do you just love that elephant!? This book is THICK and thorough. I still haven’t decided exactly what I’d like to cover, but it’s a college-level Python book, so I have a good range of challenges for my second-years.

The other new thing this year is our use of Google’s Colaboratory. It’s essentially a Jupyter Notebook where students can run Python code through the cloud and it integrates seamlessly into Google Drive and Google Classroom. I already love it but would have been way too terrified to use it last year, so I’ll write another blog post soon giving you all the deets!

print("Proving you can teach a subject you once hated,\n Julia")

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