New Computer App teacher looking for help

This is a discussion on New Computer App teacher looking for help within the C++ Programming forums, part of the General Programming Boards category; Okay, this is probably going to come across as very strange, so I'll give you a little background. I graduated ...

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    New Computer App teacher looking for help

    Okay, this is probably going to come across as very strange, so I'll give you a little background.

    I graduated with a bachelor's degree in Instrumental Music Education in 2004 and proceeded to take on a band directing job for my first year of teaching. I passed my residency, but due to some administrative shifts, I lost my job and have recently taken on a new job.

    The strange part? I teach Computer Applications. Something that has absolutely nothing to do with my degree. Unless I taught them Sibelius or Finale *shrugs*

    Anyhow, right now all I have is beginning computer app. This I can handle--basic typing, Microsoft Office applications, building simple websites using Publisher, and using the Internet efficiently. This is plenty to fill a semester.

    Next semester, however, I am required to teach Advanced Computer applications. I think I have a whopping 5 students in that class (it's a small charter school) Several of them have approached me with a desire to learn C++ but I have never used it.

    What books would be useful for me, and what software would I need? I would have to put it on enough computers to support the class...however, the school is young and has room to grow so I might need more in the future. What kind of cost would I be looking at? How long should it take me to learn how to use this (I am a quick learner)? And finally, is it really worth the time to teach high schoolers this program? I teach in a college prep school so these kids are no strangers to a little hard work, but would there be another programming option that I could teach them?

    I could also use more information on html and the more difficult options when it comes to website building, but I know this really isn't the forum. If anyone can direct me to a better place, I'd appreciate it!

    I'd love to continue teaching this class as I find it much more fun than what I was doing (I still love what I did last year but this isn't quite as stressful ) so any input would be appreciated!

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    carry on JaWiB's Avatar
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    I don't really have any book recommendations, but a board search should turn up some, and I'm sure others could recommend some.

    As for the software, with such a small class I suppose you might just want a free IDE/Compiler (Dev-C++ being the best I know of). Microsoft Visual Studio is great if you have the money, and they offer Academic versions (basically, you get a discount). You might check out this page.

    And I can't really say how long it would take you to learn it (especially to the point where you could teach much), but I personally think it's a great thing for high schoolers to learn. (I'm a high schooler myself!)
    "Think not but that I know these things; or think
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    What books would be useful for me, and what software would I need?
    I would highly...highly recommend.
    Problem Solving with C++ The Object of Programming by Walter Savitch
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...books&n=507846
    It also comes with the Student Edition of Visual C++ 6.0 (you would want to update that edition on the CD with the latest service pack download from microsoft.com).

    It not only teaches you how to program, but it also teaches the theory and how things are working in the background. But it is never too much information at once, very well paced. Plenty of examples and every example code in the book comes on a CD ready to run or tweak yourself.


    I tried learning to program for years on my own, but I could never find a book with enough information, or vice versa it had too much information, they never “flowed” right, and where just hard to read. I finally decided to take programming in College, this was the text book and I was like “wow, I wish I had tried this book before I put out all this money”. Even though I would still take the class( counts as my foreign language).


    But would there be another programming option that I could teach them?
    To tie that into your next question about web design.
    HTML creation in raw form (not using a program to do everything) is considered programming. Learning syntax and how to apply it. I suspect you would also find it easier to keep them interested in that since it would be “cool” to have their own website.

    http://www.w3schools.com/html/default.asp


    Good luck.

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    Teach yourself C++ in 21 days is pretty good and could fill alot more than 21 days. I haven't seen some things that I might have wanted in the book yet, but I will keep looking.
    Adam

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    LOVE LOVE LOVE the html site!

    I had been looking at the Savitch book earlier this evening. I like that it comes with a version of C++ that I could work with at home so I can spend some time learning it.

    You would think, me being the computer teacher, that I would have the authority to upload/download software onto my computers but alas, they have 2 engineering majors who do that stuff. I already know it's going to be a blast explaining to them why I need them to put C++ on my computers lol.

    I'll be speaking with my administrators about finding a reduced price for this program. Already some students who are in my beginning class said they would like to take the advanced course with me next semester if they are allowed. I think that's kind of cool...kids who *want* to be in my class

    Anyway, thanks for the help! I will probably buy that book and get started on it next week. And the html site is just too much fun. It's like a month's worth of lesson plans already made

  6. #6
    Dae
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    Quote Originally Posted by beanroaster
    Teach yourself C++ in 21 days is pretty good and could fill alot more than 21 days.
    Having read it and I would have to disagree, as have others on this forum (although google.com cache results show some people though it was a good book, back in 1999-2001); I used to say it was a good book also, but that was because I was a newbie. Check amazon.com reviews.

    I would recommend starting the class out on this next book, and you'll probably see some more people on this forum agree
    Accelerated C++: Practical Programming by Example
    by Andrew Koenig
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...books&n=507846


    Its a great book to begin learning the programming language, and quite small (350 pages) so its meant to teach the language and not the definitions of everything.

    The next book, and its solution book, start out on the basics too, but give a good description and complete definitions of everything in the language (function prototype, function heading/body, preprocessor directive, using directive, and some more descriptive ones I cant remember, in addition to the regulars: pointers, references, objects, etc.). Its a good reference, and is 1200 pages.
    C++ Primer Plus, 5th Edition
    by Stephen Prata
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...books&n=507846

    C++ Primer Answer Book
    by Clovis L. Tondo
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...glance&s=books


    Then there is a book written by the creator of C++. It contains a lot of information on the language, and is a great reference, although quite advanced and gets into the knity grity.
    The C++ Programming Language, Special 3rd Edition
    by Bjarne Stroustrup ISBN 0-201-70073-5
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...glance&s=books

    C++ Solutions: Companion to the C++ Programming Language, 3rd Edition
    by David Vandevoorde
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...glance&s=books


    The STL (Standard Template Library) is a major use in C++ now a days. It's logical that after finishing basic C++ that you would move onto learning the STL. Although I'd make sure you actually do know the basics (how objects, variables, etc. work). This next book is highly rated and can be used as a reference (best choice when it comes to STL), but again.. advanced:
    The C++ Standard Library: A Tutorial and Reference
    by Nicolai M. Josuttis
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...glance&s=books


    Site on STL: http://www.sgi.com/tech/stl/stl_introduction.html

    Assigning projects on algorithms and binary trees, or arrays, and linked lists would be useful, as they arent just things you find pointless, but have good use in programs.

    For Windows based computers I'd get Dev-Cpp.. fairly easy to use and good for beginners to experts.
    http://www.bloodshed.net/devcpp.html


    As for HTML.. well you can learn the basic HTML syntax to give an idea how to structure an HTML document, but a more standard way of developing HTML documents is to use a fair amount of CSS (like header files) in it. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are like a wrapper for HTML and is highly efficient. I would recommend using Macromedia Dreamweaver for developing HTML websites, and not Publisher or Frontpage. Its trial for 30 days, but I dont know what it would cost to put it in a school.

    The cost of the books would be about $250, unless you're getting multiple copies. But I would only get multiple copies of the book you plan on teaching with (in my opinion Accelerated C++), and the rest used as reference. You could also get the PDF version and allow students to access it over a networked server.

    It should take you a month max to pick up the basics of C++, up to polymorphism, exceptions, inheritance (I mean a month for you, not the students, students.. 75 hours, maybe longer, about 2 and a half months on my school system, less than a month on-your-own 5 hours/day time). Then probably a month to wrap it up and apply STL to it. Thats it for C++, essentially (unless you want to go into details of every function, like streams, which you could still get a good idea about). After that its about learning how to do things with C++, like algorithms, graphics libraries, API, ports, etc. and those books would be bought individually. I doubt you'd get as far as that though.. and if you did, you could just distract the class with a few win32 tutorials (windows programming). This would be a nice choice, since its layed out like notes and in sections (like a class):
    http://code.glowdot.com/tutorials/wi...ial.php?page=2

    You could teach Java, but C++ is well worth it (more than Java, or any other language I can think of).
    Last edited by Dae; 09-15-2005 at 12:26 AM.
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    I'll be speaking with my administrators about finding a reduced price for this program.
    You do not have to use Visual C++, it is just the one that comes with the book I refered to.
    You can use this one:
    http://www.bloodshed.net/devcpp.html

    Totally free!

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    Assuming you are using windows, Dev-C++ should be fine. Visual C++ is very nice despite its price, but be careful about using version 6.0 (or earlier). It is out-dated but many still use it, which is not necessarily a good thing.

    Accelerated C++ is the most commonly recommended book for learning C++. I don't know how well it would work in a classroom setting, maybe very well, maybe not. The latest edition of C++ in 21 days is not bad, but if these kids are ready for some hard work then Koenig and Moo's book is probably the best bet. I agree with Dae's list, although I doubt the students would need anything beyond the first three. Maybe you could get a copy of the others for your and their reference.

    One request, please do your best to teach modern C++, meaning standard code and C++ style. Read comp.lang.c++ and comp.lang.c++.moderated and these forums to get a feel for what is considered good, correct code versus what is frowned upon because it leads students into bad habits.

    Here is a link to a PDF article I recently mentioned in another thread about Stroustrup's thoughts on how to teach the language:

    http://www.research.att.com/~bs/new_learning.pdf

    Good luck.

  9. #9
    Dae
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daved
    Assuming you are using windows, Dev-C++ should be fine. Visual C++ is very nice despite its price, but be careful about using version 6.0 (or earlier). It is out-dated but many still use it, which is not necessarily a good thing.

    Accelerated C++ is the most commonly recommended book for learning C++. I don't know how well it would work in a classroom setting, maybe very well, maybe not. The latest edition of C++ in 21 days is not bad, but if these kids are ready for some hard work then Koenig and Moo's book is probably the best bet. I agree with Dae's list, although I doubt the students would need anything beyond the first three. Maybe you could get a copy of the others for your and their reference.

    One request, please do your best to teach modern C++, meaning standard code and C++ style. Read comp.lang.c++ and comp.lang.c++.moderated and these forums to get a feel for what is considered good, correct code versus what is frowned upon because it leads students into bad habits.
    Visual C++ also requires a handbook and there are usually seperate forum for problems with it, while Dev-Cpp is much more simple to use and straight to the point of programming C++.

    I wouldn't say Accelerated C++ is 'hard work' compared to C++ in 21 Days though, not sure Daved means that.. but thats how it came off. They are similar, and start off basic, but Accelerated C++ goes into an innovative way of teaching and tries to keep it interesting (starts off basic, but goes into concepts most books dont usually introduce early in the book as to produce grounds for the concept, which is something 1/3 reviewers said C++ in 21 Days lacked, besides using future-deprecated header files).

    Also, comp.lang.c++ and comp.lang.c++.moderated are google newsgroups if you didnt know, http://groups.google.com/group/comp.lang.c++.moderated
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    All right, guys...riddle me this.

    What about certification? How would I go about getting certified in C++ or would that even be necessary? I haven't had a chance to talk with my principal about the matter today, but the person in charge of ordering books told me to go ahead and get the ISBN number for the books I wanted so we can order them now. It takes awhile for schools to get books...go figure, they are only a little important!

    I was looking at the Microsoft site and they have videos and other things about certification but I'm wondering if I need to find a class instead.

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    I had been looking at the Savitch book earlier this evening. I like that it comes with a version of C++ that I could work with at home so I can spend some time learning it.
    That might not be a good idea since the compiler is supposedly MSVC++6, which is rather outdated. I would go for the Accelerated C++ book instead, with Dev-C++, which uses the MinGW port of GCC for its compiler.

    What about certification? How would I go about getting certified in C++ or would that even be necessary?
    I think that you should learn C++ before thinking about certification - getting certified wont help your students, it may (or may not) help you. What will help your students is for you to learn C++ well and teach it well.


    Incidentally, you might want to consider HTML Dog as an alternative to W3Schools, which tends to teach things that are non-standard, deprecated, or browser specific.
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    Regarding certification, you COULD go for an MCSD with the emphasis on C++ (over VB). The MCSD is available for either. There is also the MCAD. If I recall, the MCAD is 3-4 exams and the MCSD is 5. In fact, if you get your MCSD, then you automatically have your MCAD. Exams are about $150 a piece. They are taken at a certified testing facility and are times exams. I've got my MCSD in VB. You'll have a few exams about the lanugage and a few about general business functions such as "Analyzing Business Requirements" or something like that.

    Here is the thing! The language exams have little to do with the language itself and are mostly targeted at server requirements, setups, installation requirements, and what not. MS figures anyone can learn to code
    Code:
    int intNumber = 0;
    and therefore they test you more about the harder skills of understanding how to make it all work.

    I don't recommend it for first time programmers. I think you'd be better off to get a year of teaching it and then look into the certification and decide if there is a benefit.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enahs
    To tie that into your next question about web design.
    HTML creation in raw form (not using a program to do everything) is considered programming.
    HTML creation is not programming. It is word processing.

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    Dae
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rashakil Fol
    HTML creation is not programming. It is word processing.
    Scripting?
    Warning: Have doubt in anything I post.

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    All right, I'm definitely holding off on the certification for now. $150 for each test? I'm a teacher! I don't have that kind of money

    Really the certification just sounds like something I'm not ready for. But I think I could learn C++ quickly if the need arises.

    Thanks for all the input!

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