This summer I talked a big talk about creating a scope and sequence, developing your curriculum, and making creative warm-up’s. Now it’s time to show you how I walk the walk. I want to share this with you to illustrate one main thing: I used to have to spend a LOT of time prepping outside of school hours, but now, in my 7th year of teaching, it doesn’t take me as long AND I get to re-use materials I’ve previously created. PHEW!
Below, I’ll share the key steps to prepping a typical day in programming class this year.
1. Change & update my scope & sequence.
I usually make a new copy of my Google Doc scope & sequence document for each class each year. The image above is the unit of programming class I’m currently on with my students and you’ll see that this is a for-my-eyes only document. I know what my abbreviations mean, I know my organization, and I don’t have any of my materials linked. You’ll notice I have parts crossed out, and at the very bottom I actually just have bullet points copied over from last year’s Google Calendar events for this lesson. As I’m prepping for lessons this year, I look at those old ones and modify them. So for example, in the “Numeric Data Types” lesson, I’ve changed the warm-up, added new slides, combined some Year 1 tasks (because we’re now on a block schedule instead of 55-min. periods), and added Year 2 tasks. When I type that all out, it sounds like a lot, but the entire revamp probably took me about 45 minutes for this lesson. Given that my lesson is for a 90-min. block, this prep-to-classtime ratio actually isn’t terrible. At least compared to my first few years teaching, it’s quite reduced!
The next thing I do is actually create the student-facing tasks.
2. Create the student-facing tasks.
Given that the “Using the Math Library” programming lesson had a lot of tasks taken from the textbook, creating my Colab didn’t take too long. I used to type all the directions out, but this year I decided to simply give students the exercise number and page number, because I want to encourage them to USE the textbook and really see it as a resource. It’s incredibly readable. I don’t assign reading from it, but I encourage students to look at relevant sections if they’re lost.
I am also pushing myself this year to spend less time formatting materials and instead spend more time planning task sequences and creating key learning experiences for my students. This idea leads perfectly into my final step in lesson prep: creating a meaningful warm-up.
3. Develop a relevant warm-up.
As you know, I’ve been BIG into my creative warm-up’s this year. One of my absolute favorites for coding has been error-correction. The image above illustrates one of these MAJORLY incorrect programs (sincere apologies to any Python users out there). I create an erroneous program based on a program my students will have to create later in the class. For example, in this lesson students will eventually use Python’s math library to create a function which calculates the 2D distance between two points. In the warm-up, I wrote an incorrect program for calculating the 3D distance between two points. I did this by first writing the correct code, then changing parts of it. I like to add syntax errors, stylistic errors, and math errors. It’s very fun to see what the kids catch, especially because I have beginners AND year 2 students in the same class!
(I’ll leave it as an exercise to my reader to find all the errors!)
Ultimately, delivering great educational experiences is as much (if not more) about the prep as it is about the actual class time. I always remind myself that I am really a “coach” guiding my students through this curriculum, rather than a teacher handing down knowledge to my little minions.
Yours in prepping,