What do you teach, who do you teach, how long have you been teaching?
I currently teach at Deerfield High School and have been here my entire career since 2004. This year I am teaching Pre-Calculus, AP Computer Science, and iOS App Development.
Outside of the classroom, what are a few things that you do which make you unique or motivate you?
Last year, when my students heard that I was going to be teaching iOS app development they asked me to create a mobile version of a game we play in class called NearMiss. After completing the summer bootcamp course I worked to create the game and in the Fall submitted it to the App Store. It was a unique experience taking an app from the first line of code through Apple’s submission process. I learned a lot of valuable lessons that I am now able to bring into my classroom. After that I worked with several Deerfield Students and we created a Deerfield High School Schedule app that is also on the app store. It allows for students to enter in their personal schedule and the app displays our daily bell schedule. In December our school has its annual charity drive, School Chest. We decided to sell the app for $0.99 on the app store and donate the proceeds to School Chest.
This course has definitely motivated me to become a student again and continue to learn about computer programming and software development. I can’t wait to get started on my next project and see what else I can learn and create.
What’s your connection to Mobile Makers? Why do you love teaching students how to develop apps?
During the summer I was fortunate enough to attend the Mobile Makers boot camp for teachers. It was an intense two weeks but I learned so much about creating apps and I truly enjoy working in Swift. The boot camp also gave me the opportunity to meet many amazing teachers from other schools who taught me a lot about different teaching styles and ways to connect with my students.
This year I have loved teaching students to develop apps because the they can create tangible apps without a lot of complex code. The combination of the storyboard and writing code allows for a lot of entry points for my students. The brand new computer science students are able to create apps right from the beginning of the school year, while experienced students can jump in creating very advanced apps.
Star Wars, Star Trek, or both?
Definitely both. The Star Wars movies are timeless and I can’t wait for Rogue One. However, I also spent a lot of time watching Star Trek the Next Generation.
What inspired you to teach the Mobile Makers high school course?
I learned about Mobile Makers from Tom Bredemeier at an AP Computer Science conference and his enthusiasm was contagious. When my school started discussing offering this course I couldn’t wait to bring it to my students. The swift language is easy to learn and XCode allows you to create very advanced programs by allowing for a combination of drag and drop design and programmatic design. I had been teaching Computer Science at Deerfield for a number of years and I knew this was something the students would love to learn about. I am so fortunate to be at a school that was willing to invest in having its students take another computer science course.
What do you say to aspiring developers?
Don’t be intimidated by learning how to write computer programs. Everyone can learn how to create programs and apps. As long as you are willing to learn, experiment, struggle, and be persistent you can become a successful developer. The effort is worth it because writing computer programs is a rewarding experience. It is an amazing combination of creativity and problem solving.
What words of wisdom do you have for future Mobile Makers high school teachers?
Your students will love learning how to develop apps using XCode and Swift. Don’t be afraid to let them explore the material on their own and go their own way. Teach them how to answer their own questions and collaborate with their peers. This class will be different than anything you have taught before. Have fun with it and learn right along with the students. They will teach you as much as you teach them.
Share a final nugget of knowledge about anything you want.
“What did the boolean say to the Integer?”
“You can’t handle the truth!”