The month of August started off with a bang with our very first Dev|Pro Connect conference in Las Vegas. Teachers from across the country gathered to become more familiar with our curriculum, improve their coding skills, and share ways to help every student be successful this school year. Inspired by the dedication and enthusiasm of this group of teachers, and armed with their incredibly thoughtful and in-depth feedback about what we could do to improve both student and teacher experiences, we dedicated the month of August to adding authentic project-based assessments to Game Programming and dramatically improving our teacher materials. Highlights are below, and you can also browse through our complete August change log.
In an effort to create a more balanced learning pathway, we reorganized Arcs 1&2 of our Game Programming course. Here is the new layout:
Our current exercises provide coding practice with step-by-step instructions, but we also wanted to provide more authentic open-ended tasks, both to motivate and inspire students and for teachers to use as an assessment tool. To meet this goal, we integrated the two-dimensional physics world of Box2D into our source code so that we could use it to design open-ended projects. We are launching three of those projects in this release.
In Tower Fall, in the Exploring Visual Studio module, students write code that creates and positions boxes on the screen, with the goal of catching and containing six falling balls before they hit the ground.
In Trick Shot, in the Variables module, students declare and manipulate variables within the code to adjust a game so that a cannon hits a target through moving obstacles.
In Build a Car, in the Functions module, students write functions that create more and more complex components of a vehicle, until they are able to use a single function command to make a car appear on the screen.
We are launching these first three projects in beta form and would love to collect your feedback while we continue to improve them and create additional projects for the other modules.
You asked for them, and now we have them: lesson plans! Our new and improved Teacher’s Guide contains lesson plans designed for the self-paced classroom (yet easily adaptable to more traditional classrooms), as well as assessment and grading suggestions. Our Game Design Teacher’s Guide also includes lots of other features for how to implement both the curriculum and Game Stack in the classroom. Our Programming Teacher’s Guide is still a work in progress, but we are releasing the first few modules to get you started on the school year. Look for more to come over the next few months! If there is a feature you would like to see included in our teacher materials, now is the time to let us know, as we will continue to prioritize improving these documents throughout the fall.
|Module Title: Exploring Visual Studio
Time Frame: 1 -2 hours
1.Locate focus areas within a program.
2.Use comments to add clarity to a line of code.
3.Modify existing code to create changes to a computer program.
Before Moving to the Next Module:
Starting in September, we will offer free webinars that provide both an in-depth look at our curriculum and strategies to teach it effectively. These webinars will take place the second Wednesday of every month at 3pm Pacific Time. The first three topics are described below, and we are actively taking requests for the December topic – let us know what you want and we will do our best to make it happen!
Creating Community in the Self-Paced Classroom
Wednesday, September 9, 2015, 3pm PDT
We want our students to be able to move through the curriculum at their own pace so that they get the time they need to master new skills and concepts, but we also know that social interaction within a learning community fosters 21st Century skills and leads to deeper understanding. Are these two things at odds with each other? We at Dev|Pro believe that they are not. In this webinar, we will present a variety of strategies to start your school year off on the right track by building a community of self-paced learners.
The Role of the Teacher in a Self-Paced Classroom
Wednesday, October 14 2015, 3pm PDT
You’ve built a community of self-paced learners and your kids are programming cool stuff… now what? The early days of running a self-paced classroom can feel like chaos, but one day you look around and realize that everyone seems engaged and productive and you worry that there’s nothing left for you to do. If this sounds like a pipe dream, we’ll cover strategies to help you turn your self-paced classroom into a well-oiled machine, and then we’ll talk about what you can do after achieving this goal to bring your students to the next level of awesome.
Reaching Every Student in the Self-Paced Classroom
Wednesday, November 11, 2015, 3pm PST
Susie is light-years ahead of the rest of the class and knows so much about programming she could probably bring down your entire school network in less than five minutes. Johnny really wants to make his own video game but reads at a third-grade level and struggles with the exercise instructions. Kelly programs some pretty complex stuff when she feels like it but has only completed 20% of the course. Jimmy loves to play other people’s games but is constantly off-task and distracting everyone around him. We know you could fill in the blanks for your own students: My classes are going so well, except for __________, who just can’t seem to __________. In this webinar, we will delve into creative ways to reach every one of your students, and particularly those on the fringes of the differentiation, motivation, and behavior spectrums.
As previously mentioned, our priorities throughout the fall will be focused on creating more open-ended projects and continuing to refine and improve our curriculum and teacher materials. We have purposefully left time in our schedule to respond to your requests, both big and small, so please don’t hesitate to reach out! Our team would love to hear both what’s working well and your thoughts and ideas on what we should improve next.
We hope you have a wonderful start to the new school year!
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