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November 7, 2008 / Ben Chun


Chances that you, a student in my AP Computer Science class, did the extra credit section of this week’s lab: 16%

Chances that you did it if you sit in the front row: 60%



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  1. Alfred Thompson / Nov 7 2008 12:38 pm

    Probably that a student really needed the extra credit and did it v. those who didn’t really need it and still did it? :-)

  2. Ben Chun / Nov 7 2008 5:07 pm

    Hah, it’s true… as Alfred hints, none of the students who actually needed extra credit attempted it.

  3. Jackie / Nov 7 2008 8:08 pm

    Did the students choose their seats or did you assign them?

  4. Ben Chun / Nov 8 2008 8:11 am

    Their choice. Good point, Jackie — maybe it’s time for a shuffle.

  5. Leigh Ann Sudol / Nov 8 2008 4:43 pm

    Why was this worth “extra credit”? (I’m assuming because the students had to use knowledge of how to compare strings vs. write and assign variables in an object)

    Why was that particular question worth “extra” points, rather than what was part of the assignment?

    For me “extra credit” was never about showing off a skill that you had that others didnt, or about making a connection with other curriculum – that was part of the original assignment and just differentiated between an A and B. Extra credit was something awarded when a student did something I didnt think of and their assignment blew me away.

    If you are interested ask me about my differentiated instruction strategies – I’ve found they work in a variety of scenarios from HS to college.

  6. Ben Chun / Nov 9 2008 10:08 am

    That’s exactly right, Leigh Ann: The core skills in this assignment were creating and using methods with a variety of parameters and return types, not about the logic needed to convert a string representation of a grade to a numeric representation. I just thought that was an interesting challenge for students who could tackle it.

    Maybe I shouldn’t be so liberal in giving extra credit, but I find that it provides motivation for the higher-achieving students to do the optional parts of an assignment. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on differentiated instruction, particularly for the situation where you have some students really struggling with the syntax and abstract concepts while you have others ready to push through to questions of design and optimization.

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