Posted by Mike McClendon on Mar 01, 2019

Voice - the voice of K-12 computer science education and it's educators

A web search for “AP Computer Science A Java” returns over 17 million hits; it’s awesome to live in such an information-rich era, but this is overwhelming.

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A web search for “AP Computer Science A Java” returns over 17 million hits; it’s awesome to live in such an information-rich era, but this is overwhelming. Where do new high school Java teachers even begin to find helpful materials for their classes? When a new teacher asks me, I point them to three excellent resources that I have used with great success over the past several years. I’d like to share my classroom-proven suggestions with you.
First on the list is the excellent, comprehensive computer science (CS) curriculum package from A+ Computer Science, a company created by Houston-area CS teacher Stacey Armstrong. The materials are designed for high school teachers and include a sample syllabus, slides, labs, quizzes, and tests. Java is the middle course in this package, which also includes material for both a beginners’ course and a more advanced course.
The Java material is very comprehensive, thoroughly covering the essentials of Java to help students prepare for their first college CS course and it completely covers the topics required for the AP exam. A+ also offers an online practice site and several additional testprep materials. I consider A+ a must-have for a new Java teacher.
Most of my students tell me that YouTube is the first place they explore when they want to learn something, and YouTube has scores of Java tutorials. I use several different YouTube resources for Java topics, but one creator really stands out because of the positive responses from students. My high school students easily relate to Bucky Roberts and find his explanations and examples clear and easy to understand.
I also really like Bucky, but with one reservation—I always completely preview his videos before showing them. Sometimes his humor is a little “on the edge.” I mark the humor spots and fast-forward through them.
There are countless Java books available, many of which my students will not use unless forced to by an assignment. My goal is to excite students about CS by using learning materials that they enjoy. A collection of Java books by Annette Godtland is an example of such a resource. There are currently four books in the Do-It Yourself Java Games series. The first book, Do-It-Yourself Java Games: An Introduction to Java Computer Programming is just right for high school CS beginners. The depth and complexity of topics increases with each subsequent book in the series. Students respond positively because the books are project based, which is exactly how they want to learn. Java topics, such loops, conditionals, classes, and methods are taught as a means to solve challenges encountered while creating a program. The books are written in a dialog style, more like a teacher-student interaction than a traditional textbook monologue. I hope these suggestions are useful for your teaching.