Saturday, February 5, 2011

Course Selection Week: "I don't do Windows, and neither does my Maid!"

Well, it's that time of year again! It's time for that yearly festival at my school. The week after midterms, students start to choose their courses for next year. My courses are largely elective, so I have to sell, sell, sell!

I'm not only selling the curriculum, but all the bells and whistles that goes with it including my PC Lab/Classroom/Linux Cluster, not to mention, myself! Contrary to popular opinion, I did not talk a lot about myself. I did introduce myself each period and give a little info about my background. The students also asked some questions about me. So, over the course of 9 periods, I divulged the following:

1973 - Graduated Laurel Elementary
1975 - Graduated Longwood Middle School
1979 - Graduated Longwood High School (Sciences, Languages and Orchestra)
1983 - Graduated Cornell with BA Physics with EE minor
1989 - Graduated CW Post with MS Applied Mathematics and Computer Math

1982 - Joined Riverhead SHS Faculty as a Student Math Teacher
1983 - Joined Freeport SHS Faculty teaching Programming on Commodore Pet and Apple IIe
1984 - Joined Southampton SHS Faculty teaching Summer NYS Regents Math 11
1985 - Joined Baldwin SHS Faculty teaching NYS Regents Math and Science
1986 - Joined Syosset SHS Faculty teaching Summer NYS Regents Sequential Math III
1986 - Joined Ames Massapequa JHS Faculty teaching Math 7 and Honors Chem 8
1987 - ReJoined Baldwin SHS Faculty teaching NYS Regents Math and Science (to present)
1990 - Joined SUNY Farmingdale Faculty teaching Technical Calculus 1A and Discrete Math
1995 - Joined Nassau CC Faculty teaching Harvard preCalculus, Calculus I&II (to present)

1988 - Wrote Computer Math course (revised several times since - currently Discrete Math and SAGE)
1993 - Wrote Advanced Computer Math course (revised several times since - currently Discrete Math and python)
1999 - Wrote Computing Independent Study course (Linux Clusters)
2009 - Wrote Calculus Research Lab course (Calculus reenforcement using SAGE)

1986 - Designed first PC Lab (Room 429) in Baldwin and have redesigned several times since (hardware)
1987 - Installed first PC Lab (Room 429) in Baldwin and have reinstalled several times since (firmware)
1987 - Maintained first PC Lab (Room 429) in Baldwin and have done so ever since (software)
1988 - Introduced third website ever: CALCPAGE
1994 - Introduced Linux to Baldwin SHS
1997 - Introduced first ftp server to Baldwin SHS
1998 - Introduced first ssh server to Baldwin SHS
2005 - Introduced smart-boarding to Baldwin SHS
2006 - Introduced screen-casting to Baldwin SHS

1975 - Started teaching BASIC Programming!
1979 - Started teaching FORTRAN Programming!
1980 - Started teaching PL/I and PL/C Programming!
1984 - Started teaching AP CompSci/Pascal
1988 - Strated teaching Computer Math/BASIC
1993 - Started teaching Advanced Computer Math/C
1993 - Started teaching AP Calulus BC
1999 - Started teaching AP CompSci/C++
2005 - Started teaching AP CompSci/Java and html
2010 - Started teaching Calculus Research Lab (aka Scientific Computing Lab)/SAGE
2010 - Started teaching Computer Math/Discrete Math/python
2011 - Started teaching Advanced Computer Math/Discrete Math/python

I talked about Linux for a while. We talked about Linux mascots. I displayed the mascot for our Linux Cluster, Shadowfax. I played the KNOPPIX theme song and asked them to identify the chirping bird like sounds made by Tux. They eventually guessed it was a penguin! I showed them a picture of Tux. I had them fire up their Linux Boxes. Ubuntu booted up with its theme music. I showed them Maverick Meerkat. Then I played the clip from "The Big Bang Theory" where Dr. Sheldon Cooper is playing with his laptop saying how much he loves Ubuntu....

I got a sub for all my classes, gave then an assignment and bid them adieu (they went to the library). So my PC Lab was freed up. Every period through out the day, I selected one class to take on a "Field Trip" to our computer room. I told them what we do in all the courses they can take at their particular level. I talked about Scientific Computing. I let them play with SAGE. I basically did the first few days worth of Computer Math or Calculus Research Lab (selected from the following topics), depending on the audieance, in one period!

Day 0: Arithmetic in python, 2+7, 2-7, 2*7, 2/7, 2//7, 2%7, 2**7, repeating decimals with high precision such as 2/7.n(digits=1000000), very large integers like len(str(2**7777777), why is -12/5=-3 and -12%5=3?
Day 1: Algebra: factoring and 2D plotting
Day 2: 2D Geometry
Day 3: 3D Geometry
Day 4: Trig identities and equations
Day 5: Vectors: adding, subtracting, dilation, dot product
Day 6: Vectors: cross product, the triple scalar product
Day 7: Matrices: solving simultaneous equations, simple encryption
Day 8: Matrices: linear programming
Day 9: Programming: finding Mersenne Primes and solving Quadratic Equations
Day 10: Calculus: functions, derivatives and integrals

I visited primarily our Junior classes.
Regents preCalculus 4R-11 can take 5HAB aka AP Calculus AB, Calculus Research Lab and AP CompSci.
Honors preCalculus 4H can take 5HBC aka AP Calculus BC, Calculus Research Lab and AP CompSci.

Underclassmen can take Computer Math/Advanced Computer Math next year.  I nearly killed myself visiting all those Math classes last year.  So, this year I simple\y ran off flyers for the teachers of the Geometry Math 2H and Algebra II Trig Math 3H classes to hand out and discuss!

The usual sequence for computing is:
Algebra or Geometry or Trig
=> Computer Math Fall and Advanced Computer Math Spring (CM/ACM)
=> AP Computer Science (APCS)
=> Computing Independent Study (CIS(theta))

There is only one level of APCS now as the College Board cancelled APCS AB.  There is talk of a new introductory APCS course much like our CM/ACM coming soon.  Maybe we will be able to offer 4 levels of APCS one day:

APCS - Principles (new course)
APCS - Algorithms (current course - APCS A)
APCS - Data Structures (old course - APCS AB)
APCS - Clusters (current CIS(theta) course)

Calculus Research Lab (CRL) is open to AP Calculus AB and BC students as a lab every other day like a science class.  In CRL we use SAGE to do Calculus in the PC Lab in every class!

Oh, one more thing.  Did I mention that I'm getting a model 885xi extra wide SmartBoard???

Well, that's all folks, and I hope that gives you ideas for your Course Selection Week Field Trip Day!

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