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Sunday, June 12, 2005

The TeachScheme conference

The TeachScheme conference (see my post of 5/22) went very well. Because of some changes in the program, we actually were granted 15 minutes for our talk! I came away with quite a number of interesting ideas, both for the Computer Science courses and for our long-term project of integrating programming into regular math courses. I also saw some ideas that I definitely do not want to pursue, but that’s useful too.

Four interesting ideas that emerged from the conference:
  • We can use vectors and trig to model non-hierarchical systems such as swarming behavior — perhaps a good precalc project.

  • We should teach structures and animation more clearly and earlier.

  • We should emphasize the Design Recipe even more than we do.

  • The language levels of DrScheme that are designed for programming courses could be supplemented with language levels that are specifically designed for math courses.
Moreover, we actually learned how to do the first three of these. The fourth, which is surely the most significant, will take some considerable thought.

A few memorable quotations:
“Students want to spend class time thinking, not writiing.”

“Programming is algebra in action.”

“We don’t teach Scheme, we teach design.”

“Computing is combining data and producing more data, not destroying data.”

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