Sunday, 15 September 2013

Reflection about CS standards and when to teach the course, plus fsm

Reflecting on my students and my course. My students are tired, they take a long time to do anything currently, they are being blown out. My school has them to do six subjects, something that I cannot change, as we are a state integrated school Religious Education is the extra one, and it has achievement standards attached to it. Looking at students achievement standards sheet, some are doing 138 credits. NCEA Level 3 requires them to get 60 + 20 credits from another level, so they could get 80 level 3 credits.
Leaving the computer science to the third term seems like a mistake at this current point in time. I am thinking about getting the students when they are refreshed, not tired, enjoy learning in term 1 as a possible change for next year.
So the question is, when are you looking at learning and teaching the computer science standards next year, L2, and L3?

I put this question out in our community group as part of my uni work. The response from the lecturer;

Two ideas I've heard from teachers who have had success with the standards:
- teach the ideas in term 1 and get them started, but do the write-up later
- teach some of the ideas in year 9 and 10, so there isn't much learning, just revision while doing the writeup in year 11. 
This reflects a couple of observations:
- NCEA students can get so focussed on assessment that they don't learn (just tell me what to do for the assessment, don't confuse me with interesting stuff about the subject)
- most other subjects have years of buildup, for the ideas to mature in the students' minds and build up vocabulary. Imagine if science or maths was first mentioned in year 11?! 
Unfortunately teaching a little early doesn't always fit school structures. But I would suspect that a student who did 3 hours in year 10 and 3 hours in year 11 would achieve more than one who did 6 hours in year 10.

I have just been writing reports, and one thing that caught me was when writing a students comment, he constantly asks me what he needs to do to meet the assessment. The student is not interested in learning, he is in six subjects, has many assessments, he is just looking for credits. I am thinking about what I need to do for this course right now, and I must say I probably am the same, I just want to know what I need to do just to pass. The subject that I am investigating is an area that I have had little experience with, finate state automata. Finate state automata is a device that can be in one of a finite number of states. Ok, that is simple, however when I do a search on the internet for it, I get lost in the maths symbols that follow.

An example of a finate state machine could be a digital watch,

Another example is real world example of FSM in game development,

One of the other class members has suggested that I look at are the links for a guided tutorial on Regular Expressions is really helpful from the CS field guide when replicating real life applications. My students saw the benefit of capturing round brackets strings so much clearer after attempting the Tutorial. Regular expressions and interpreting is a breeze for my higher achieving students.

I am currently starting to investigate the resources that are listed,
Some of the links don't work which is causing some issues, especially when it comes to writing notation.
This is the next part of what I am teaching the students.

Started off with the Train station task, was simple and had the students interest, but as soon as they completed it they trailed off. This comes back to the statement earlier, students only want to know at this stage of the year what they need for the assessment. they don't want to learn.

Following this we started to look at states and transitions and what this means. 

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