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December 7, 2008 / Ben Chun

APCS Syllabus

I think I’ve just jumped through one more of the required hoops for teaching AP Computer Science: the Course Audit. Apparently, in some distant, dingy past, people would try to pawn off any old course as “Advanced Placement” in order to give students an extra GPA point or a push for college admissions or something. It’s always hard to understand why people try to game the system until you’re in a position where it makes sense to game the system. Anyway, in an attempt to uphold their good name, the College Board started requiring teachers to submit a syllabus for their course in order to receive the official designation. From what I’ve been told, the key to success here is being sure to have every one of the topics in the official course outline appear on your syllabus calendar.

Here is my first attempt: AP Computer Science Course Audit Syllabus. I’ll know within 2 months if this version was accepted.

Even if it weren’t required, this is something I would need to do in order to plan out the year. Of course it’s also impossible to do it completely in advance, so I’m glad that the College Board sets the deadline in the middle of the school year instead of at the beginning. Without really meaning for it to be this way, I’ve cribbed a lot of my curriculum from Michael Lew, who taught the Summer Institute that I attended this year. This has been immensely helpful, and although I will probably restructure things a bit next year, my general sequence owes a lot to his. I also decided to go with Head First Java as a textbook based on his advice, and after going at it once I have a pretty good handle on how I need to supplement and do background next time.

I’d like to update the old cliche: I think it’s possible to “really know something” without teaching it, but you certainly don’t know how to teach it until you teach it once.

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