Friday, August 20, 2010

The Simple Hello Instructor Assignment

I teach a full schedule of computer science courses, and one section of Geometry that utilizes Geogebra.  The very first assignment I give is exceedingly simple, but tells me more about a student than nearly any other type of icebreaker on the first day: I have them send me an email with a particular subject field (like, for example, "B5 hello"), and have them introduce themselves.

Working at a school progressive enough to use Google Apps Education is a dream come true.  I receive those emails and can do a subject search for the particular subject ("B5 hello").  I see how many students sent an email with that exact subject heading.  Then, I look around for the rest, that usually have slight differences like "B5hello," or "B5 Hello."  I give them credit, but we do discuss how syntax errors occur in text editors when you use "Print()" instead of "print()", for example.

Then I deal with the students that didn't send an email.  Many times there are English Language Learners, and getting a quick handle on their level of English development is pretty important. 

Of course you also quickly find out which students have not had their accounts set up for them yet, and so on....