Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Changes to My In-Class Approaches

I have recently made some drastic changes in my classroom which I wish to document here for my own records:
  1. I removed from the course schedule a listing of which topics would be taught when.  My main reason (other than I don't enjoy making them) is that I feel constrained by them.  When we need extra time on a topic in class, my guideline (which I make myself and am not forced to follow) urges me to push on.  I don't like that.  What I find most interesting, is unlike other teachers, I actually don't have to follow a guideline, as I am the only teacher teaching my program (which I created myself) and have (close to) total autonomy.  However, I still feel a desire to keep up with them which is absurd.  So, to alleviate that issue, I have done away with them.  Instead, I now post what reading the students are to do on the course website on a daily basis (based on how much we covered in class that day).
  2. I have started providing time in class for students to work on their assignments and have instead assigned readings to be completed out of class.  This is to provide them with an opportunity to get assistance while working on their assignments which they can't do while working at home (most likely alone).  Of course, they could run into trouble with the reading, but I hope that they can record their questions and bring them into class the next day.  Whereas getting stuck on an assignment may be more debilitating to their self-confidence as they work towards becoming Coding Ninjas/Gurus.
  3. I have reinstated late penalties.  I removed them ages ago as I don't like them (and still don't).  However, this lead to the majority of students submitting all their assignments at the last possible moment (which was after the final exam).  This meant they weren't finishing them prior to the exam to gain the experience, exposure, and feedback possible from working through the code.  It also meant we were unable to take up the assignments in class.  So, now I have created due dates and the policy that the assignment will be addressed in class the day that it is due and a maximum mark of 50% will be given for assignments submitted after that time.  I am still not happy about the late penalty but haven't formalized a better alternative yet.

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