Posts made in April, 2017

Computer Thinking: Part One

A recent article in the New York Times describes the increased enrollment in computer science courses at the university level, and highlights how primary education has addressed the importance of abstract thinking and computer programming skills for students in grades K-12.

The article explains how the College Board reshaped its Advanced Placement (AP) computer science course to more closely reflect trends at the college level. In addition to the popular AP Computer Science A course, which teaches the Java programming language, the College Board has introduced the broader AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) that allows teachers to use any programming language and focuses on transferrable skills, such as data analysis and problem solving.

As part of our partnership with the College Board, Learning List has reviewed each of the products on the College Board’s 2017 “Example Textbook List” and several of the “Endorsed Courses” for CSP.  We reviewed each product’s alignment to the College Board’s course framework for AP CSP and conducted a review of each product’s instructional content. A brief overview of each material or course is provided below. 

Cengage's Invitation to Computer ScienceCengage Learning’s Invitation to Computer Science is a survey of the fundamental concepts of computer science, including social and ethical issues. Instruction progresses sequentially through six “Levels.” Concepts build upon one another and increase in complexity.  An accompanying Laboratory Manual provides 20 lab activities that complement instruction and clarify concepts presented across Levels 1-5.

 Cengage's New Perspectives on Computer ConceptsCengage Learning’s New Perspectives on Computer Concepts 2016, Comprehensive, begins with an introduction, “The Digital Revolution,” that provides the history of digital technology and its role in social, political, and economic change. Subsequent instruction is presented in 11 units that address digital content, digital devices, networks, the Web, social media, software, digital security, the ICT industry, information systems, databases, and programming.

 CodeHS's AP Computer Science PrinciplesCodeHS’s AP Computer Science Principles covers the fundamentals of computer science and supports instruction in blended learning environments. Students have access to an interactive “JavaScript Library” that explains coding language, including parameters, and provides examples. “Challenge” problems extend students’ learning and the CodeHS “Sandbox” enables students to explore concepts that interest them.

UMBC's CS Matters (AP)CS Matters in Maryland is an open educational resource (OER); resources are available at no cost at www.csmatters.org. Students learn about internet data; processes for managing, analyzing, and interpreting data; and the use of data to solve real world problems. The course uses the Python programming language; Python 3.4 and PyCharm Community Edition IDE software may be installed at no cost.

harvard_cs_blog_imageHarvard University’s CS50 AP introduces students to the basics of computer science and computer programming languages. Students use their learning to solve real-world problems that are relevant to them. CS50 AP content is video-based and facilitates student self-study and instruction in flipped learning environments. Most CS50 AP resources are available at no cost at https://ap.cs50.net.

Mobile CSPMobile CSP is a project-based online course that teaches the principles of computer science using MIT’s “App Inventor” visual block language for Android devices. Students create “socially useful” apps that address problems they have identified in their schools or communities.

zulama blogZulama’s AP Computer Science Principles is an online course that develops students’ understanding of computer science and coding skills through the lens of game design. Instruction requires the installation of GameMaker Studio 2 software, which requires a Windows operating system. Instruction asks students to create new games and build a digital portfolio of their creative work.

This table shows the range in the degree to which each course or material aligns to the CSP course framework Learning List’s alignment reports show which standards each material is/is not aligned to and specific citations in each material that have been verified to be aligned to each standard.

Alignment LO

In addition to reviewing computer science courses aligned to the College Board’s CSP course framework, Learning List has also reviewed of each of the state-adopted materials that support career and technical education (CTE) Information Technology courses, including computer programming and digital media products. Visit our blog next week for Computer Thinking: Part Two, in which we discuss CTE computer science products.

Subscribe to Learning List for access to the spec sheet, full editorial review and alignment reports for these materials and thousands of other widely used PreK-12 resources.

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New Review: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Do The Math

Learning List has reviewed Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Do The Math, which is a supplemental product that supports mathematics intervention and targeted remediation for students in grades 1-5. Some resources may be used to support instruction at grade K (e.g., Number Core). Content is available in print format with additional digital components. Instruction addresses fundamental concepts in arithmetic, including number sense, operations, fractions, and problem solving.

Do The Math content is organized in 13 modules that span grade levels. The program’s first module is titled “Number Core” and addresses the fundamentals of numbers and operations (e.g., composing and decomposing quantities). Subsequently, there are three modules each (i.e., Modules A, B, and C) for (1) Addition & Subtraction, (2) Multiplication, (3) Division, and (4) Fractions. For each content area, Module A focuses on basic concepts, and Modules B and C build progressively to address more complex content.

Do The Math facilitates Response to Intervention (RtI) at each tier. The program’s flexible resources may be used for daily classroom instruction, RtI pullouts and tutorials, as well as after-school and summer-school programs. Instruction is sequenced, paced, and scaffolded to meet the needs of struggling learners. Visual representations of concepts and visual directions support English language learners (ELLs) and struggling readers.

About Houghton Mifflin Harcourt*

HMH creates engaging, dynamic and effective educational content and experiences from early childhood to K-12 and beyond the classroom, serving more than 50 million students in more than 150 countries. Available through multiple media, our content meets the needs of students, teachers, parents and lifelong learners, no matter where and how they learn.

HMH’s renowned and awarded children’s books, novels, nonfiction, and reference titles are enjoyed by readers throughout the world. Our distinguished author list, from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Philip Roth, and brands from Curious George to The Lord of the Rings, includes 10 Nobel Prize winners, 48 Pulitzer Prize winners, 15 National Book Award winners, and more than 100 Caldecott, Newbery, Printz and Sibert Medal and Honor recipients.

Information in this section is provided by or adapted from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

 

Subscribe to Learning List for access to the spec sheet, full editorial review and detailed alignment report for this material, and thousands of other widely used Pk-12 resources.

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New Product Review: CodeHS AP Computer Science Principles

CodeHS's AP Computer Science PrinciplesLearning List has reviewed CodeHS’s AP Computer Science Principles. This is a comprehensive, web-based product that supports instruction in Advance Placement (AP) Computer Science Principles courses. Content is presented online and includes some printable resources (e.g., worksheets). Instruction covers the fundamentals of computer science and the how technology influences society. Resources support instruction in blended learning environments.

CodeHS presents content in nine units. The first six units address web development, programming, digital representations of information, internet design and data security, and the computational uses of online data. Unit 7 presents a set of performance tasks that reflect those of the AP exam.  Unit 8 is a one-week review for the AP exam, including an AP practice test with immediate feedback. Unit 9 is a final independent project that allows students to apply what they have learned to creatively solve a problem of interest to them.

CodeHS includes a variety of materials to support teachers, including lesson plans, a sample syllabus, and professional development resources. Lesson plans are available online and have clear learning objectives, links to video tutorials and interactive learning experiences, printable handouts and problem-solving guides, planning and teaching notes, answer keys, and references to the elements of the College Board’s course framework addressed by instruction. The sample syllabus for AP Computer Science Principles details the course’s objectives, provides pacing information, and links lessons to the College Board’s course framework.

About CodeHS*

CodeHS is a comprehensive teaching platform for helping schools teach computer science. The mission of CodeHS is to empower all students to meaningfully impact the future. To achieve this goal, CodeHS provides web-based curriculumteacher tools and resources, and professional development to help teachers, students, and schools to implement high quality computer science programs.

*Information in this section is provided by or adapted from CodeHS.

 

Subscribe to Learning List for access to the spec sheet, full editorial review and detailed alignment report for this material, and thousands of other widely used Pk-12 resources.

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Shopping for AP Materials?

The College Board recently announced the 2017 AP® Example Textbook Lists.  Only materials that Learning List reviewed were eligible for inclusion on the Example Textbook Lists for the courses listed here. CoursesThe College Board used our reviews to select the materials included on those Lists.
To date, we have reviewed almost 100 publisher-produced and OER AP materials. To ensure that the reviews are of the highest caliber, we collaborated with The College Board to design the review methodology, and we hired as our reviewers many of the AP teachers who helped the College Board design the AP course frameworks.
Here are three important ways our reviews help teachers choose and use AP materials most effectively. Alignment of Materials

(1) Alignment to the course frameworks  A material’s inclusion on an Example Textbook list, does not mean that a material is aligned to 100% of the Learning Objectives (LO) or Practices/Skills contained in the course framework. As this table shows, materials on the Example Textbook lists range significantly in their alignment to the course frameworks. Our alignment reports not only show the standards to which each material is/is not aligned, but more importantly, specific citations that are/are not aligned to each standard.

(2) Enhanced correlations: Our alignment reports provide more guidance than the publisher’s correlation.  Quote from AP TeacherWe review AP materials for alignment to each LO, Essential Knowledge (EK) and Skill/Practice contained in the relevant course framework.

 

(3) Instructional design and supports: Beyond alignment, our editorial reviews help teachers determine which materials will provide the best instructional resources and support to help prepare their students for success in the course. The editorial reviews describe how closely each material follows the design of the course framework. They highlight the number and type of instructional supports provided for teachers and students. And, they explain how well the material fulfills the pedagogical shift in the redesigned course frameworks (e.g., whether assessment questions are structured similarly to the AP exam questions, whether the material offers hand-on learning experiences, etc…). Quote from AP Teacher

 

This 3-minute video explains the types of reviews and tools available on Learning List.com. We offer campus-wide, district-wide or AP-only subscriptions to make our reviews accessible to all AP teachers. Contact us for more information.

 

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New Product Review: Harvard University’s CS50 AP

Harvard University's CS50 APLearning List has reviewed Harvard University’s CS50 AP.  This comprehensive product supports instruction in Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Principles courses. Content is available online and includes printable resources. Instruction introduces students to the basics of computer science and computer programming languages. Students use their learning to solve real-world problems that are relevant to them. Most CS50 AP resources are available at no cost at https://ap.cs50.net.

CS50 AP content is video-based and facilitates student self-study and instruction in flipped learning environments. Direct instruction is presented in videos of (1) Harvard professor David Malan’s, the course’s creator, lectures; (2) section instruction presented by teaching fellows; (3) and “shorts” presented by a variety of students. Videos are available in YouTube and MP4 download formats.

Instruction is rigorous, but contains supports for students. Video content is accompanied by downloadable, text-based resources, including lecture notes, reference sheets, and PowerPoint slides of presentations. Reference sheets are one-page summaries of content that clarify new vocabulary and terms, provide contextual definitions, and illustrations of concepts, where appropriate. A set of CS50 alumni who are currently full-time Microsoft employees are available via Skype to support AP teachers and students, alike.

About CS50 AP*

CS50 is Harvard University’s introduction to the intellectual enterprises of computer science and the art of programming for students with a diversity of technological background and experience. CS50 for AP Computer Science Principles is an adaptation of CS50 specifically tailored to align with the AP Computer Science Principles curriculum framework. The course’s assignments, materials, and resources are all identical to the version of the course taught at the college-level, albeit adapted to suit a secondary school audience.

 

*Information in this section is provided by or adapted from CS50.

 

Subscribe to Learning List for access to the spec sheet, full editorial review and detailed alignment report for this material, and thousands of other widely used Pk-12 resources.

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