9-12, AP Computer Science A

Update #1: Individualized Learning in AP CSA and CSII

If you haven’t read it yet, here’s my plan for individualized learning!

Now that we’re about a unit into the year and I’ve both formally and informally gathered feedback from the students, I’ve made some adjustments to my individualized learning model.  The commitments I’ve made to the class as a result include:

  • Maintaining the unit guide as a living document. Not sure why this surprised me, but students really appreciated having the objectives for each week listed.  They reported that this helped them to focus on what was new this week.  They also appreciated the variety of resources available.  I plan to continue to update that document as I come across more and CollegeBoard continues to put out new resources.  After our next assessment, I think it will be most helpful to ask for feedback about which resources they find themselves using as I don’t want the unit guide to become an overwhelming document.
  • Including topic-specific slide decks.  It was validating to hear that they missed my more formalized direct instruction both for the easy reference for their notes and the ability to hear, see, process, and question the information as a class.  As we move into unit 2, I’m going to make topic-specific slide presentations for the start of each week that highlight new vocabulary words, related code snippets, and relevant AP-sample questions.
  • Including more hands-on collaborative activities.  In my vision for this model, students would be working on their chosen activities while casually talking and asking their classmates questions.  However, perhaps because some students are remote and we have to social distance, students are talking very little without direction.  Additionally, they love knowing that all assignments are due Sunday and can plan their week accordingly, but want to spend their class time doing more collaborative activities.  Works for me!
  • Allowing alternative ways to request for more information.  Despite repeated invitations to ask, email, or set up a meeting with me if they wanted additional help with a topic, I wasn’t being asked for much.  One suggestion that came from me asking for feedback was the ability to submit requests anonymously.  To honor this, I have posted a simple Google form weekly on our LMS where students can request additional help while working on their homework.  When this request comes in, the flexibility of our individualized learning classroom allows me to hold a small group mini-lesson with the students who feel they need it.  Like teachers always say, if one person has the question, others probably do as well.