I think there's lots of things in life I would do better if I'd had a practice run first. Probably storming the fences at Seabrook, probably teaching my first class back in the 80's, probably raising children, probably being a big sister. I'm definitely wishing I'd had a practice Rwanda first. I'm just now figuring out what works (best) here.
I decided to give my Object Oriented Programming an ambitious final project. I decided to go with the prevailing collaborative behavior and let them work in groups. However, I got really strict about group membership and responsibility: each group could have no more than 5 members, all identified at the onset and the final grade dependent on each member's familarity with the product. For the first time all semester, I have most of the class actually typing code into their computers! I am getting specific questions! I am watching them try different things. I was able to say "I live to debug!" and have students appreciate what I'm offering! It was really quite satisfying.
My plan is to spend the last week of class (since we magically got 2 more weeks when they changed the academic calendar two weeks ago) interviewing each group. There was kind of a bit of the wildebeest strategy going on and I'm trying to tease out those hiding in the pack. I think it's working.
The other task I have is to make up the final (now only worth 40% of the grade as of yesterday. It was worth 60% of the grade last week). I'm really challenged by making up a short answer OOP question set. Maybe I can find an old AP exam ... (I guess I'm falling under the collaboration spell too)
In any case, I always feel most at home here when I'm teaching and today was a good day.