AP Computer Science Principles
On-Line for the 2020-2021 School Year
Teacher: Rebekah Lang
Course Description (Adapted from Code.org): Click here for an introductory video! The curriculum from Code.org is designed to prepare students for the AP CS Principles Exam and serve as a foundation for future studies in computer science. It is divided into 6 units: The Internet, Digital Information, Algorithms, Big Data and Privacy, Building Apps, and the Create Performance Task. The AP CSP exam is changing this year to include free response questions. I expect our Code.org curriculum will be updated to include practice for those as well.
In this course, you will
- Build problem solving skills through the use of computational widgets such as the pixelation and text compression widgets
- Experience a blend of online, guided tutorials and open-ended, project-based learning
- Learn from a diverse cast of role models, from well-known tech celebrities to social innovators who are using CS to tackle society's problems
- Engage in constructing your own understanding of computer science concepts through inquiry-based instructional strategies
- Prepare for the AP® CS Principles exam, including built-in preparation for the Create performance task and the new free response questions that have replaced the Explore PT.
You will be interacting with your classmates and the teacher primarily through Schoology.com, email, and live class meetings via Zoom. I strongly encourage attending the weekly live meetings, but I also record them for asynchronous viewing later. During those small class meetings, I will review upcoming homework assignments, teach key concepts, encourage student presentations and chat, and utilize adapted cooperative learning strategies to engage all students in the class and build a community of learners. On Schoology, you will participate in discussions, submit projects, post resources, upload homework, and complete assessments. We will also have some partner coding and group project during the year.
Who Should Apply: Anyone interested in computer science, technological innovations, creative problem solving, logical thinking, and learning! This course introduces high school students to the foundational concepts of computer science and challenges them to explore how computing and technology can impact the world. All hard-working 9 - 12 grade students can succeed in this course, regardless of prior coding experience (or lack thereof!); however, students who have limited computer experience or who might not yet be ready for the challenges of an AP course, should consider Intro to Computer Science (ICS) instead. ICS is meant for students in grades 6-10 as a precursor to AP CSP or AP CSA. Students who are primarily interested in coding in Java should consider AP CSA instead.
Prerequisites: The necessary prerequisites for this AP Computer Science Principles course include completion of Algebra I (with a final grade of B or better) and experience in problem solving. Prospective students should be ready to commit 10 hours a week for classwork. Students in 8th - 10th grade with no CS background might find Intro to Computer Science more accessible. **Note: College Board is requiring students to register for AP Exams in the fall this year--so you should consider that when selecting AP courses... You do not have to take the exam to participate in my course...**
- We will be using material available free from Code.org and other online sources
- We will be reading chapters from Blown to Bits (available free online)
- Test Prep Optional Recommended Text: Crash Course AP Computer Science Principles (I'll have other online and print resources to recommend closer to the Exam date as well)
- Computer with audio and high-speed internet access
- A Gmail account
Course Fee: Early Bird Fee $675 (good before July 1, 2020). Applicants utilizing a staggered payment plan are not eligible for the Early Bird discount. Regular Tuition Fee $750 (July 1, 2020 or later). Audit: $350.
Course Schedule: You can attend the weekly live meetings via Zoom on Mondays from 10:00 am - 11:00 am ET. When at least 20 students enroll in the course, I will survey those enrolled for availability and offer an alternative live meeting time as well.
Class will run Monday, September 14 through approximately Thursday, May 13, 2021 (the date of the AP CSP exam), except for the following breaks:
- November 21 - 29 for Thanksgiving break
- December 19 - January 3 for winter break
- March 27 - April 5th for spring break
The majority of the classwork is assigned and due weekly, so students can schedule around other holidays or needed days off.
Instructor Qualifications: This will be my fourth year teaching this course for PA Homeschoolers! Our class average on both the 2018 and 2019 exams was 4.2. Better yet, all of my students who have taken the exam so far have earned a 3 or higher (passed!). (The global average for the exam is is 3.15, with a 73.3% pass rate).
I am a lifelong teacher and learner who has taught in public, charter, private and online for PA Homeschoolers, for middle and high school students, for the past 12 years. Additionally, I was homeschooled, so I understand how diverse, independent, intelligent and engaged homeschool students are. I'm excited to be able to offer this course to work alongside students study computer science!
In addition to earning my BA in English and Secondary Education from Grove City College, I also have a MS in curriculum and instruction from Western Governors University, a certificate from Penn State University Lehigh Valley for teaching English Language Learners, various state teaching certifications for NJ and PA, and educator certifications from various tech companies. Recently, I have attended CSpd week once, the annual CSTA conference twice, and a Code.org weeklong AP CSP Summer Learning Institute. I have also participated in Cooperative Learning Research for Computer Science Principles. This summer will be the third summer I have read for the AP CSP exam as a distributed reader. The training and scoring of thousands of exams has really given me great insights on how to best prepare our class for the performance task portion of the exam.
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