Paul Fisher on a full year of HtDP

As the year winds down I've had a little time to reflect on my first full year with the HtDP curriculum and I have to say I am very pleased with the year for the following reasons:

  1. I was able to successfully navigate a full year with a very diverse group of students without leaving anyone behind or slowing down the stars.
  2. I have the largest continuation into the CS2/Object Oriented Design course that I have ever had and some of the students are surprises I would not normally have expected to continue.
  3. I've had the largest number of girls in the Intro course that I have ever had.
  4. Even the fairly unmotivated students ended the year quickly recognizing recursive problems and setting up the framework for a solution with no help.
  5. Amidst the regular course I had two star students that went on to develop MineSweeper, Battelship, Pong, Snake, Space Invaders and a nearly complete implementation of the German Enigma code machine.
  6. I had a sophomore with no previous programming experience solve the Pascal's Triangle problem from the beginning of SICP in December and then write an explanation of his solution for the school's academic journal. This is a student for whom writing is a real labor. For him to publish something for the entire school to read is an amazing step.
  7. I never once felt like I was wasting time on syntax and I never once had to tell a student something was too advanced for them to think about.

Now that I have run the course once and understand the pacing and problem areas and topics that need emphasis (I totally screwed up not adequately explaining the importance of examples in the recipes) I'm excited about what future years of this curriculum can produce and I'm very excited about the starting point I will have in the CS2 course.

Paul C. Fisher
Morristown-Beard School
Morristown, New Jersey
Earth Science and Computer Science
(... it's all silica after all ... )
Webbed by Stephen Bloch /