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Welcome to The Erudite Platypus, my very own passion project filled with unique and engaging content about teaching computer science in middle school. I selected the name The Erudite Platypus as I am shy, diverse, rare, yet real. Many people compare Computer Science teachers to unicorns because you never see them. We are just rare not mythical! Explore my site and all that I have to offer.  Perhaps The Erudite Platypus will ignite your passions as well.

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The Start of a New Semester

Updated: Apr 15, 2022

The start of this semester is very different than others I have had in the past. Normally my classes are filled with totally different students from the prior semester, so I can tweak and reuse last semester's lessons with abandon. Like so many other things during this pandemic year, this too has changed. This semester, my classes are a mix of 50/50 of new and "old" students. This will require a great deal of rethink and planning for a new situation.

Just like last semester all of my students are online students. After much reflection about what went well and what did not, I settled upon what things the students liked so those are elements of lessons that I will keep in the format of my lessons. I also reflected upon trouble spots that I noticed and other teachers expressed in conversations. I realized that the students had difficulty locating their files to submit to the teachers. Some students would send all sorts of work that was not ours. It was not unusual for me to find mathematics, science, or language arts work submitted to me yet I am the computer teacher. As the Computer Technology and Literacy teacher, I felt this was the best starting point for all of the students. We would begin with naming our files.

Lesson 1:

Introduction music to be played while the students were allowed to enter the class: Katrina and the Waves: Walking on Sunshine 3:49

Introductions as many of the kids are new to the group

Debugging story: The Case of the Railroad Crash from Two-Minute Mysteries Collection by Donald J. Sobol. Give students think time prior to asking questions-play May It Be by Enya 3:34

Scavenger Hunt: A good activity to have to allow the online students some movement is to have a small scavenger hunt. Today's scavenger hunt list:

Anything with flowers on it or actual flowers

A Book


Pencil or a Pen

Any type of candy

Discussion about submitting work last semester and the problems the students had with that task. Include in the discussion how files are named in Google Docs. Have the students check the link provided in the Learning Management System, in this case Canvas, and share screen of how to use the interactive video. (The interactive video I linked with this lesson is from Custom Guide ( Google Docs Training: Docs Fundamentals lessons. I linked the very first lesson in my LMS: . Have the students review the chart of how to name a doc and model this for the students in the lesson.

File-Saving Required Elements Example Non-example

Last Name Elbakidze Kimberly

Subject/Period CS/3rdA CS

Assignment Creating Google Docs Doc

Extension Doc No extension provided

*The above information is modified from a table located on pate 35 of The Distance Learning Playbook Grades K-12 by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie.

Grading Rubric for the work:

Start of Sentences: All sentences begin with an upper case letter.

End of Sentences: All sentences end with a . or a ? or an !

Name in Heading: The heading of the Google Doc contains your first and last name.

Date in Heading: The date in the heading contains month, day, and year. Example: January 11, 2012.

Subject/Period: The subject and class period is written in the heading. Example CS/3rd

Assignment Listed in the Heading: The heading also contains the assignment information. Example: Create a Google Doc.

Upper Case Letters used for Proper Nouns/Pronoun: All proper nouns are written with upper case letters. Examples: I,Chattanooga, Tennessee, January

Introductory Sentence: The paragraph contains an introductory sentence.

Supporting Sentences in Paragraph: There are at least 3 supporting sentences in the paragraph.

Conclusion Sentence: The paragraph contains a conclusion sentence.

Title of Doc File Part 1: The heading of the doc file contains your last name.

Title of Doc File Part 2: The title of your doc file contains the subject and class period.

Title of Doc File Part 3: The title of your doc file contains the assignment information.

Title of Doc File Part 4: The title of your Doc file contains the file extension.

Helpful hints for lessons: 1) Cue up all of the music and have it ready for play. Some sources of the music have ads. If you locate your music and have it cued, you can skip the ads for a musical flow to your lessons. 2) Always check with the students in class that the links in your Learning Management System work for them. Often times on the teacher's end the links appear to work but do not work on the student's end. That will alleviate frustration later in the day with the students and parents. 3) Don't forget to have fun with the students. It is vital that you create a fun, engaging time with the students as this is a very stressful time for everyone. Any fun and levity you can provide during the time you have the students is massive. 4) Just because you have the class for an hour, does not mean you have to "teach at the students" for an hour. Give them time to work on the lessons. Go over what you need to introduce, have your lesson, and let them opt to leave. Keep your Zoom open so they can pop in to ask a question. During such times I usually play classical music while I submit attendance, write messages to the parents, etc. All of these are routine tasks that I can easily stop and help a child with an issue.

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