Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Active Recruiting

I was sad after choice sheets went out and came back for next year, and only 3 people had signed up for AP Computer Science. I had tried to send out enticing "see what we do in here" types of e-mail about 3 times this year to show the projects and stuff. Alas, to no avail.

Then during the CS workshop in Denver, I kept hearing about how everyone ACTIVELY recruited students, and how students HAD to feel individually welcomed. You may make a broad statement to the whole group, "Yes, you can do it. You are WELCOME in class." , but there will be students thinking, "She can't mean me."

So this past weekend, I looked at the choice sheets and found students that I thought had potential to really enjoy and succeed in the class. I sent personalized e-mails to each one. Here's a version of the e-mail (and p.s. In the 2 days since, I've had at least 15 students say yes to CS next year.):

I hear that you have signed up for an online course as an elective next year, and I want to convince you to switch to Computer Science instead. Here’s why:

  • For an online course you’ll be sitting in a room by yourself reading through text and taking tests all year.
  • In computer programming (it won’t be an AP course) you’ll learn how to do valuable fun things and get to actually use what you have created. And you get to interact with others for the whole year.
  • There will be no written homework in the Computer Programming class for the coming year. It will strictly be fun, useful, usable coding. You’ll create games and pictures and code that will do specifically what you tell it. 
  • It's a weighted class.
  • We’ll do graphics and learn about web design and learn how to solve all sorts of problems with our coding skills.
  • This will look good on your college application. Not many girls (or people in general) take computer programming in HS, and you will stand out.
  • Computers are UNIVERSALLY used, and you will have a leg up with your programming knowledge in practically any field you study.
  • Here are some cool people who use programming in various ways for their jobs:
  • Here’s a HS girl that used programming for cancer studies:
  • Here are some direct quotes from students who have taken HS programming:
"Everything in the world today is based on computer technology."
"It is the one true completely hands-on course. It is the way education should be."
"It helps me to understand the logic behind games...which I love!"
"I love it!"
"Computer Science has taught me to think outside the box.  Programming is an excellent way to improve problem solving skills.  I wouldn't trade my four years of Comp Sci for anything."

  • You may think programming is hard or boring.  One: it’s “challenging” but doable. I won’t let anyone fail in either grades or skills. You WILL succeed and you will feel great about doing something that other people think is hard. Two: it’s totally not boring. Of course, anything can be made boring, but there are so many fun things to do and ways to learn about programming, that if you EVER come up to me during the year and say it’s boring, I will work my behind off to change things up.
  • I promise you that if you sign up, you will not regret it, and who knows, you may find a new skill that you can use forever and actually enjoy.

I’ll check back with you this week to see your decision since I have to let Ms. W. know by the following Monday. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Ms. D


  1. Here is what our CS teacher does...

  2. Anonymous6:28 PM

    Interesting read...Forbes Top Ten skills for jobs in 2013--Bet they'd get a bunch in your class

  3. Thanks, keninwa! That looks like a great idea.