This is the time when I should be writing my New Year’s resolutions. Too bad I do not do resolutions. It would make life so easy if I was able to make some kind of promise to myself and keep it all year. Too many years of experience have taught me that does not work. Bummer. So I make a list of things I want to try to do or at least things I want to keep an eye on. These should be enough to keep me busy.
- Take notes on how I present my initial Python course.
I need to keep track on what and how I teach this course. Using a book is all fine and dandy but I like to diverge when I see a project that will interest the kids. The book I plan to use is a bit short on fun exercises so I will have to improvise a bit. I need to keep on track to reach the course goals but still keep the kids interested in the course. I need to note what worked and what did not so next time I will not repeat the same mistakes.
- Make my Corona course look like the Python course.
Eventually I want to eliminate the Python course completely. I think I can teach the exact same things in Corona and attract more students with the app writing carrot. Python is a perfectly good teaching language but I believe I can reach the exact same goals with a lot more fun with Corona. If programming is not fun why do it? “Because it teaches problem solving skills” just does not work with the average 16 year old. It sure as heck will not tempt them into my programming elective course. Corona has a bit more overhead so I am in no rush to eliminate the Python. I have to see how things work out.
- Change my programming teaching methodology.
Maybe “change” is not the right word. This year I am going to require the kids take notes sort of. I am going to have them build their own Cliff’s Notes of the textbook. For each chapter they will be required to compile the important terms, syntax and whatever from each chapter. I figure this note taking would be a good aid to retention. It will also help with the “where did I see that” problem. I have been doing this myself as I work through the textbook. With my memory I should have been doing this for years. Typically my classes are project based; no tests, no quizzes. I have to come up with some tests and quizzes to meet the dual credit requirement of the University.
- Get the high school on a 1-1 laptop program.
The kids need access to the power of a laptop in almost every class now. I have about a half classroom set of laptops that are constantly being used and the demand from the teachers is going up. There are a lot of things that have to happen to get a 1-1 to work. I think the biggest thing is getting the kids to take care of their own hardware. They are whizzes on apps but if the littlest thing goes haywire they do not have a clue how to troubleshoot their own gear. The 1-1 program has two aspects, one is the availability of the laptop in the classroom, and the other is teaching the kids how to use the technology when things are not working perfectly. There is no two ways about it, knowing how to use technology is a 21st Century Skill.
- Stay in shape through the winter.
This can be hard to do. I hate the gym and I am a hot weather runner. I need to bite the bullet in both cases; hit the gym and run in the cold. My gym has an indoor track but 8 laps to the mile can get a bit boring. In the summer there is no problem. I mountain bike a lot and I run a lot. I used to be able to get back in shape in the spring rather quickly. Age, for some odd reason, has effected that recovery time. I have a half marathon on February 22 (cold!), an 8 hr adventure race in April, a half marathon in July and two weeks later a 50 mile mountain bike race. No time to slack off. I usually do a full marathon in July but I do not think 2 weeks is enough recovery time for the bike race. Last year the bike race took me 10 hours to finish. I want to get that down to 7 hours. If it comes down to it I will not do the half marathon. The bike race is a lot more challenging and a lot more fun. Good winter conditioning will be critical for a successful summer.