Getting Started Teaching AP Computer Science in Java with CodeHS

Want to teach AP Java to your students? Start Here!

Are you planning to teach AP Computer Science in Java with CodeHS this year? Here are a few tips for getting started!

You can teach all year for free on our Free plan, and get access to the entire curriculum. If you’d like more teacher tools and support (including student tracking, gradebooks, custom problems, autograders and more), we have other school plans.

The Basics of the Course

The way that the course works is that there is a full year long curriculum, mapped to all the CollegeBoard AP Computer Science in Java standards. The curriculum includes short videos, lesson quizzes, examples, exercises, unit quizzes, and larger programming projects.

What’s great about using the course in your classroom is that students can write all of their Java code all in the web browser! This means you don’t have to struggle to getting a programming environment set up, and can take advantage of all the grading and submission tools provided by CodeHS.

Running Java Online — How Does it Work

Normally to run Java code you would download a program (often an IDE, or Integrated Development Environment) and write and run your Java code there. You could also compile and run your code on the command line. However, Java doesn’t normally run in a web browser so we have a special setup to make that work.

Students write their code in a web browser, then it gets sent to our servers and handles running the program and communicating the results to the student browser, as well as handling input and output.

You can start writing and running programs right away — no setup required! You can even easily program in Java on Chromebooks!

Different Program Types

We provide a few different program types as part of our Java course.

Karel the Dog in Java
First we start out with Karel the Dog, which is meant to introduce fundamental programming concepts. If you’ve taught Introduction to Computer Science with CodeHS, you’ll recognize Karel the Dog, but this time it is in Java instead of JavaScript.

ConsolePrograms
We have a simple helper class we use to write input and output programs called ConsoleProgram. This gives students nicer methods to ask for numbers and user input. On our exercises there is always an autograder to check student programs.

Unit Test Programs
Unit test programs ask students to just write a single method, and their implementation is tested on a list of input cases. They get immediate feedback and unit test programs can be simple or complex. They can take in arbitrary input objects and also return primitive or object types.

Main Method Programs
We don’t use main methods in the main body of the course, but you can run regular main method programs in CodeHS. They are introduced in the end and can also be run in the sandbox.

Testing it Out

If you are planning to teach with the CodeHS AP Computer Science in Java curriculum make sure to test out all of the problems first. Once you have a teacher account you can start trying out the exercises and examples here.

Since school networks have additional restrictions beyond normal networks, make sure to test out a few things:

  • Can you easily run Java code?
  • Try running a program with input and output
  • Can you see all the videos? Most are on YouTube or hosted by CodeHS on Amazon, so you should double check that.
  • Are you using Google Chrome? That is the browser we recommend.
  • Try creating a program in the Sandbox

The Classroom

You’ll want to make sure your classroom is all set up to teach AP Computer Science with CodeHS. Each teacher has a different style, but most teachers will teach their class in a blended format.

Make sure all students have computer to use — CodeHS will work on any laptop or desktop with a modern browser and an internet connection. You’ll also want to make sure every student has headphones to use.

You can vary the class in many ways — we’ve seen great teachers present up at the front, demo sample code, do pair programming, lead activities, and more. We provide a lot of handouts and ideas as part of our teacher resources as well.

Downloading Your Code

It’s nice and easy to run all your Java code online, but you can also download any CodeHS code to run offline as well.

You can find instructions here for running Java programs in Eclipse, BlueJ, or via the Terminal http://codehs.github.io/codehs-java-library/

The Docs

Simple Docs
There are several key sources of documentation for teaching Java with CodeHS and for the AP test. We have our simple documentation that you’ll find on the “Docs” tab which is mean to be brief and show easy-to-use examples.

Java Documentation
You can find the standard Java documentation for here, which includes all the details on library classes http://docs.oracle.com/javase/7/docs/api/

CodeHS Documentation
We use a few custom classes that we have written to help in teaching, including ConsoleProgram and Randomizer that are usually thin wrappers. You can see the full documentation of all custom CodeHS Java files here: http://codehs.github.io/codehs-java-library/

AP Test

This course prepares you to take the AP Computer Science in Java test. For the 2015–2016 school year, the exam is on May 3, 2016. You can find more details on the AP College Board site here: https://professionals.collegeboard.com/testing/ap/about/dates. We also provide an AP Computer Science in Java Review Course which is Free and provides practice problems like the exam.

Other Comments or Feedback?

Do you have other comments or feedback on the CodeHS AP Computer Science in Java course? Let us know at hello@codehs.com!

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