AP Computer Science A Exam Preparation for Friday

Good afternoon AP Comp Sci parents and students,
This is Mr. Eliot…

I’m sending this email to make parents and students aware of important preparation that needs to be done before the AP Computer Science A exam on Friday, May 15th at 12:30pm.  Here are some suggestions to be completed before Friday.

HOW PARENTS CAN HELP:
(1)  Please make sure your student gets plenty of rest Thursday night.  Make sure they get a full 8 hours of sleep the night before the exam.

(2)  Please make sure your student eats well (but not too well) on Friday, the day of the exam.  They should not be too full, or too hungry when the exam starts.  If your student is more alert and focused after having a cup of tea or coffee, consider providing this before the exam.

(3)  Please make sure the student has a quiet testing environment free of all distractions.  This is not the time for them to do chores, or to babysit their siblings or to have family and friends over.

(4)  Please make sure your student has the best computer in the house with the best Internet connection.  Ideally this computer should have Visual Studio Code or JGrasp or Microsoft Word or Notepad or TextEdit (for Mac) installed.  They need a program that they can easily type code into with indenting, then copy and paste into the AP website.

(5)  Please make sure everyone else in the house is using minimal Internet during the exam.  Please avoid video conferencing (Zoom), Netflix, online game, etc from 12:30pm on Friday until the exam is over.

WHAT STUDENTS SHOULD DO:
(1)  Please make sure you visit the AP Exam Demo website well before Friday.  Please practice copying and pasting code from the program you will use.  Please make sure that code maintains indenting after you copy and paste.  It is here at this link:

https://ap2020examdemo.collegeboard.org/

(2)  Please make sure you have a bookmark for the Java Quick Reference in your web browser AND a printed copy of the Java Quick reference next to you when you take the exam.  It is here at this link:

https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/ap/pdf/ap-computer-science-a-java-quick-reference_0.pdf

(3)  Please make sure you fill out and print the AP Exam Day Checklist for this exam.  It is here at this link:

https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/pdf/ap-student-exam-day-checklist.pdf

(4)  Please use the PASTE CODE OPTION if at all possible, and write your code in Visual Studio Code or JGrasp or Microsoft Word.  I STRONGLY RECOMMEND the copy and paste method of taking this exam, as it is quick, easy, and safe.  I only recommend using the “Upload” file option and the “Upload” photos option as backup plans in case of extreme emergency. 

(5)  Please consider having some blank paper and a pencil nearby.  Use this to take notes as you go and as a possible backup if you need to write your code by hand and photograph it. 

(6)  Since this is an open notes exam, you can have out items that are useful to you.  Obviously, you should have the Java Quick Reference out.  Another good option might be the Java String API or Java Math API in your web browser if you understand how to read it quickly.  Beyond that, too many papers or too much Internet searching will only slow you down. 

(7)  Finally, if you are planning on using your phone as a backup plan and you have an iPhone, there is an important setting to change.  The AP website does not support the HEIC image format, which is the default for iPhones.  Please review the attached directions (below) on how to set your iPhone to “Most Compatable (JPEG)“.

Good luck on Friday, if you have any questions, please email me.
The rest of this week, we will be reviewing FRQs on Zoom at 3:00pm.
Mr. Eliot (deliot@pylusd.org)

Second Semester Grades and Future Assignments

Hello students!

Here is a quick post regarding how grading is going to work for 4th quarter (second semester).

WHAT THE DISTRICT SAID:
You, the student, may select from either “PASS /Incomplete” or “A to D / Incomplete” for your semester grade in each class.

WHERE IS YOUR GRADE NOW?
All of my students (except one who has been emailed separately) have passed my classes. So if you select “PASS/Incomplete”, your grade is guaranteed to be a “Pass” for the semester. Period. Except for that one student.

If you select “A to D / Incomplete” your grade is “locked in” as your 3rd quarter grade. If you had an “A” for your 3rd Quarter grade, you grade is guaranteed to be an “A” for the semester. Period. If your grade was a “B” through “F” (Incomplete) for the third quarter grade, you may ONLY move up. So you have the opportunity (but no guarantee) to move up if you are willing to do the work.

4th quarter grades CAN drop and they CAN be lower than 3rd quarter grades. This is to be expected, and aligns with this new rule. In an email from the district, this was clearly spelled out to teachers:

HOW CAN AN “A to D / Incomplete” GRADE MOVE UP?
To move up, you would have to do all of the required work assigned during fourth quarter, and get enough points to move your grade UP to the next letter grade. Assignments given will be different depending on the class (see below).

At the end of the school year, when assigning final grades, I will do the following. I will look at your third quarter grade, and your 4th quarter grade, and you will receive the higher letter grade of the two for your final SEMESTER grade. This will apply to all students in all classes. After that point (by June 19th using THIS FORM provided by the district), select your option of “Pass / Incomplete” or “A-D / Incomplete” for each class individually. Your selection will be applied by the district after school is out. I am not involved in the process of applying “Pass / Incomplete” grades. I only assign letter grades based on work completed in class.

4TH QUARTER ASSIGNMENTS BY COURSE:

(1) AP COMP SCI: There will be not be an extra credit assignment this semester. This is because the original extra credit assignment was based on us having 5 normal / secure quizzes taken in the classroom. We have only taken two quizzes so far this semester, and there is no way to take quizzes with 100% security outside of the classroom.

After the AP Exam on Friday May 15th, I am considering two multiple choice and/or FRQ quizzes for interested students. Those quizzes would use the LockDown Browser (required) combined with Zoom video (required) using the AP classroom website. More on this once the AP exam is complete. These possible AP classroom quizzes would be the main opportunity for letter grade students to “move up”, and I am making no guarantee that participation in these quizzes guarantees a grade change. There will be no semester final.

(2) MOBILE GAME: Certification will remain optional. I will most likely assign a game project to be completed in Unity for those interested in possibly “moving up” their grades. This will be separate from the recently completed Create With Code game project. This will not be assigned until early to mid May. There will be no semester final.

(3) ANIMATION PROJECTS: Sketchup Assignment 12 (Amazon object) and Assignment 13 (House) will continue. We will also do Assignment 16 (a final “short film” project) in Adobe Animate after the House assignment is done. There will be no semester final.

NOTE: Based on the way the PYLUSD COVID-19 grading system works, all of the assignments mentioned above are optional for students selecting “Pass / Incomplete” who have already passed. All of the assignments mentioned above are optional for students who select “A-D / Incomplete” and are already satisfied with their grade, for example “A” and “B” students might already be satisfied with their grade.

Grading and Teacher Scheduling Part 2: The District Changes Their Mind!

Hello students! Apparently, PYLUSD district officials can’t make up their mind after thinking about grades and scheduling for five weeks! In fairness to them, they’ve had a lot on their plate, “best” practices are changing daily, and they’ve been pulled in a lot of different directions, I get that. But, you know… pick something please and go with it 🙂

Anyway, the positive of all of this is that you, the student, now have more options. So from your perspective, this is all good news. You can stick with Pass / Incomplete if your grade remains “low” by the end of the school year, OR you can attempt to “move up” your grade in the A-D range if you had a “B” grade or lower. Those of you that had an “A” grade as of March 13th are in the best position of all, and I would argue that you “earned” that advantageous position.

Based on this new grading information that was released yesterday, I will be adding back some planned assignments that I “removed”, and have clear detailed information for each class by Monday, April 27th. I already know basically what I’m going to do, but I want to wait until after a leadership meeting today with the YLHS staff before I say anything final.

If you have any questions, email me…

–Mr. Eliot

Grading and Teacher Schedule Changes

As you have hopefully read earlier this week, the PYLUSD school board and administration have modified high school teacher grading and high school teacher scheduling for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. You can read the official announcement HERE. Below are some “questions and answers” about how this affects our classes. If you want to take a deep dive, the California Department Of Education’s FAQ about grading during COVID-19 can be found HERE.

Q: WHAT HAS CHANGED WITH REGARDS TO GRADING?
A: It is my understanding that all students who had “A to D-” grades as of March 13th 2020 (the last regular day of school) now have a “Passing” grade for the semester. Also, work started after that date may NOT lower a student’s grade. So, if you were “Passing” on March 13th, you must pass for the semester. Students that had an “F” grade as of March 13th will be given an “Incomplete” for the semester if the grade is not raised, and have the opportunity to bring that grade up by the end of the semester and beyond.

Q: WHAT ABOUT FUTURE ASSIGNMENTS FOR THIS SCHOOL YEAR?
A: In my opinion and for my classes, since any grade I would assign to current and future work has no effect on your grade, there is no point in assigning or grading new work. Work that I cannot grade, and work that does not affect your grade, constitutes “busy work” in my opinion. So I will no longer assign new “required” work for students in any of my classes from today until the end of the school year.

Q: WHAT ABOUT ASSIGNMENTS WE ARE WORKING ON NOW?
I will continue to provide help, assistance, and lessons for those “willing and interested” students who wish to finish assignments we have started. In particular, I will do the “roof” demo and other demos for the Animation Projects students to continue to create/build their 3D house. However, this assignment has no effect on your grade, so you are not required to complete it.

Q: WHAT ABOUT QUIZZES AND SEMESTER FINALS?
A: Since all but one student had a “D-” or higher grade as of March 13th, I honestly don’t see the point in having a second semester final exam in any of the classes that doesn’t count.

Q: WHAT ABOUT AP COMP SCI EXAM PREPARATION?
A: I will 100% support AP Comp Sci. students who are taking the AP Exam. However, I will not be officially “grading and recording” the practice work they do for the exam. Instead I will go over work practice work as a group and assist students in correcting mistakes, fixing code, and preparing for the shortened exam. Students still taking the AP exam will get as much of my attention and help as they want.

Q: WHAT ABOUT MOBILE GAME UNITY CERTIFICATION?
A: I will 100% support Unity Certification for the 10-20 Mobile Game students who wish to complete certification. This will not change. Certification is optional, and as stated above, does not affect the student’s grade.

Q: WHAT ABOUT PREVIOUS ASSIGNMENTS THAT HAVE BEEN COMPLETED AND NOT YET GRADED?
A: I will be grading the few remaining assignments (AP Comp Sci Picture Lab, Mobile Game Create With Code Unit 5, Mobile Game Personal Project Game, Animation Assignment 12) that were started before March 13th, since students who completed the work deserve to know how they did. However, only “Create With Code Unit 5” can count for the course grade (in Mobile Game Development) since almost all of the work on that assignment was completed on or before March 13th.

Q: WILL ZOOM LESSONS CONTINUE? CAN WE STILL EMAIL YOU?
A: Absolutely! I plan to continue with AP Exam prep, Unity Certification, and the Animation Projects “House” assignment. However, for all three classes, these will be the final “assignments” that I give. Any work beyond that will be optional, based on student desire to continue learning, and as stated above, does not affect your grade. I can provide additional work/help for interested students in each class, and I will evaluate any such work so you know how you did. Email me please with those requests.

Q: WHAT ABOUT TEACHER COMMENTS ON REPORT CARDS:
A: As far as I know, teachers continue to be allowed to make both “positive” and “negative” comments on report cards with regard to citizenship and effort. I will fill those in as I normally would based on where the student was as of March 13th, 2020.

Q: WHAT ASSIGNMENTS ARE WE NO LONGER DOING?
A: In Animation Projects, the final “movie project”, and the semester final. In AP Comp Sci, the Robotics lab (or a replacement coding lab) and the semester final. In Mobile Game Development, Unity Certification for all students (now optional), a final game project, and the semester final.

Q: HOW DO YOU REALLY FEEL ABOUT THIS MR. ELIOT?
A: The district was in a very difficult position, during an unprecedented global epidemic health crisis, so I understand why they made the decision they made, and I support the thoughtful administrators that made this choice. I am however, very disappointed that the normal grading system has been abandoned, that grades cannot “drop” in any way, and that “real/important/accountable” teaching and learning can no longer take place. I feel this basically removed an important motivating factor from the student learning equation. I am also disappointed that hard working students who earned an “A” grade in a class, now have the same grade as a student who earned a “D-” grade in class. I don’t think I will be comfortable with this aspect of this unique situation for a long time to come 🙂


If you have any additional questions, please email me,
Stay well, stay happy, stay safe,
Sincerely, Mr. Eliot

AP Comp Sci: 4th Quarter

Hello AP Comp Sci students. Two important things about 4th quarter that starts TODAY, Monday, April 13th.

FIRST: There will be three main activities during 4th quarter:
(1) The monthlong review period as we get ready for the AP Exam at 1pm PST on Friday, May 15th. This will include quizzes, and assignments that will be graded. Whether you are taking the AP exam or not, these will be required.
(2) Your Semester Final Exam, which will remain multiple choice, though it might be shorter than 100 questions. We’ll deal with that after the AP exam.
(3) A final lab activity, also after the AP Exam, perhaps one of the official AP labs.
** Due to our inability to be at YLHS, there will NOT be a Finch robot lab this year, sorry

SECOND: You need to get ready NOW to use the AP Classroom website often:
(1) Make sure you have Zoom installed on a Windows or Mac laptop with solid Internet. You can’t use your phone or tablet for this. Laptop or Desktop computer with a webcam is strongly recommended.
(2) Make sure you can log into the AP Classroom Website (https://myap.collegeboard.org/).
(3) Install the AP LockDown Browser (https://apclassroom.collegeboard.org/lockdown). We will be using it in class for AP Exam preparation, quizzes, and you might even need it for the AP Exam itself!

AP Comp. Sci. Multiple Choice Practice Quiz Now On Aeries

AP Comp Sci Multiple Choice Practice Quiz

AP Comp Sci students. Before we left school (suddenly) on Friday March 13th, in class, we took a 10 question multiple choice practice test. While this test doesn’t count for or against your class grade, I wanted to grade it regardless, so you could see how you did. A couple of comments about this practice quiz:

(1) Check your score on Aeries. Aeries will show how many points you received, out of “zero possible”. I did that so the quiz had no effect on your grade, but you could still see your score.

(2) Here, in my opinion, is how you should look at your score: 10-9, excellent job. 8-7, you did well. 6-5, you did OK. 4 or below, you have room for improvement. On the actual AP Comp Sci exam, getting about 50% correct is considered a “passing” score.

(3) While the AP Exam for this year no longer has multiple choice questions, this quiz IS an indicator of where you were (regarding general Java knowledge) just before we left school. So it is interesting and useful, but not critical information.

Enjoy the rest of your break!

–Mr. Eliot

Assignments Due TODAY Before Spring Break

Hello Mustang students. Many thanks to all of you that have attended Zoom meetings, sent me email or Remind messages, and have continued to work hard and learn.

A reminder that I have asked all of you to focus on ONE ASSIGNMENT during the past three weeks as we adapt to “digital online learning”. Those assignments are due Today, Friday April 3rd. I will not assign any new work over Spring Break. The only work you should have over Spring Break would be if you are behind on work that has been due on or before today. If so, this is your opportunity to get caught up, take it!

AP COMP SCI: The Picture Lab is due today. Please make sure you read the last slide of the PowerPoint for what exactly is due in the ZIP file, and how it should be turned in on my website.

MOBILE GAME: You should be finished with your Personal Project Lab today, which you first started working on in December 2019 when you had a Developer Journal entry about it!

ANIMATION PROJECTS: You should finish and turn in your Amazon.com 3D object today that we first started working on about a month ago, on March 5th.

To make sure you had plenty of time to adapt to this new “digital” system of teaching and learning, I will not mark assignments due today as LATE until Friday April 17th. This gives you over one month as a grace period to turn in work assigned (or in progress) after school shut down on Friday March 13th. On Friday April 17th, all work assigned (or in progress) after school closed is LATE, and you will lose 5 percent per day late, as is customary in all of my classes. See the course info packet signed in August 2019.

Finally, on Monday April 13th be READY TO GO, because I will be returning all classes to a more normal schedule of learning, with new assignments, new quizzes, and new due dates that will follow expectations set in the course info packet information from August 2019.

Be safe, be well, and stay home with family,
–Mr. Eliot

Monday March 23rd Update

Hello Students! A quick update on a few things:

(1) Class meeting times and office hour are going to change. Going forward, individual class meetings will be 10:00am (recorded) and office hours will be at 11:30am (not recorded). This is so that my day flows better for grading, etc. Reminder, class meetings are for a particular class, and often include important assignment info for that class. Office hours are informal, where you can ask questions about anything you want.

(2) WHAT YOU SHOULD BE WORKING ON:
AP COMP SCI: You should be on or near Activity 5 at this point. The Picture lab will be due next week (April 3rd, the Friday before Spring Break).
MOBILE GAME: You should be done with Unit 5, and working on your Personal Project Game. This will be due next week (April 3rd, the Friday before Spring Break).
ANIMATION PROJECTS: You should be working on your Amazon.com object in Sketchup. This will be due next week (April 3rd, the Friday before Spring Break).

(3) The district has said that 3rd quarter grades will only include work completed up to Friday, March 13th. Please make sure that any assignments that were due by that date are turned in if you are missing them. I will be catching up on grading this week.