End of year thoughts

Its that time of year for end-of-year projects, crazy state testing schedules (in Ohio at least) and other random activities. As an end-of-year project, many of us assign open ended projects so our students can demonstrate their knowledge, do something that interests them, and to stretch their minds. This year I have a very eclectic group of programming students and have been surprised many times by their interests and abilities. This end-of- year project is no exception.

What I have learned is that they are stretching my brain in the process of stretching theirs.  I have spent more time sitting next to students analyzing a problem, discussing possible solutions, teaching them a particular construct that they need that maybe we haven’t covered, and loving every minute of it. I have been busier than normal with questions and they are not slowing down.

This project had a component in it that previously failed with another class. However, I think it is what has pushed this group to envision possibilities. In the students project plan I had them give me four different variations of the program they could do – “something that works”, “average program”, “extras included”, and “the sky is the limit program”.  This group really thought about what they would do to have something working and then many different possibilities of the other versions. Most of the students are shooting for the sky and I am thrilled to watch them. Unfortunately, with time constraints, many will end up in the “extra” version of their program but even that will far exceed my expectations.

This class of students has reminded me of the old saying about if you have high expectations the students will rise to the occasion; however, in this case the students have the high expectations and are working hard to not let themselves down. These past couple of weeks have reminded me of why I am a computer science teacher and just how exciting CS can be when “the sky is the limit”.