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Create a classroom routine where students write regularly using a discussion board to help students get practice writing in a computer science context for the Computer Science Principles Performance Tasks.

  • Writing is central to success on the AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) Performance Tasks (PT), so try to get the kids writing as much as possible
    • Writing is also difficult for high school students, especially in the context of a computer science classroom.
    • Having a writing routine helps prepare students for the PTs.
  • Discussion Board Guidelines and Prep:
    • Provide a new topic every two weeks.
      • Having two weeks a topic gives students a chance to read and engage with what others wrote.
      • Example topic: “How does the fact that computers use binary define the kinds of problems they can and cannot solve?”
    • Read and grade responses thoroughly at the beginning of the year in order to reinforce the routine and ensure that students are meeting the explicitly outlined expectations.
    • Make writing on the discussion board something students do in the first five minutes of class, as part of the course routine.
  • Establish rules for your discussion board like the following:
    • Students must:
      • Make three responses per topic to get credit.
      • Use full sentences.
      • Be nice and respectful to others.
      • Not use slang.
      • Comments must move discussion along by:
        • asking a question.
        • answering a question.
        • adding additional evidence and providing a link.
      • Certain types of responses do not count, like “LOL,” “I agree,” etc.
  • Reinforce that the audience of the discussion board are the students, not the teacher, to motivate students to put more effort into what they write.
  • Use discussion boards to incorporate the Global Impact aspect of the CSP curriculum by linking to a current event and prompting related questions, For example:
    • Here is a 2014 news story last year about YouTube having an integer overflow problem on the video counter for Psy’s Gangnam Style (http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/12/how-gangnam-style-... )
    • Cover course topics, in this case binary and overflow, using prompts to get students started. Here are some example prompts:
      • “What is the programmer’s responsibility in programming when it comes to overflow?”
      • “How is this different if you are a developer at YouTube vs someone designing software for Insulin Pumps?”