Recruiting Promoting And Classroom Management Ideas

This is a place to share ideas with one another. The first draft content is based on Luther's notes from brainstorming sessions and may not be very complete or accurate; please add to it.

If you want to add a separate page to discuss an idea, in edit mode surround the idea's name with triple square brackets, save, and then click the newly-created link.

Educating decision-makers and councillors

  • Prepare (and practice, role-play) elevator-talk pitches to make to principal.

Recruiting students

  • Hang posters near/in the girls' bathroom.
  • Have visually-interesting station in class sign-up open house.
  • Occasionally say the word “Robots” to boys in the midst of explaining how rewarding computing careers are to girls.
  • “A syllabus is just a list of words they don't know yet” — Seth Reichelson.
  • No computer science jokes, nothing exclusionary.
  • To students heading for engineering: “You haven't had computer science? They're all going to laugh at you.”
  • Opening up with the interesting stuff, not with laying down the law, etc. The first weeks matter for interest.
  • Decorate room to be nice to look at, no inside jokes, no
  • Bring puppies.
  • Ask classes with lots of girls to help with projects in class.
  • T-shirts instead of signs, with a target audience of people that don't take computer science. Walking billboards.
  • Ask existing students to bring girls to you.
  • Recruit girls in groups (ask them to come in groups, invite them to bring their friends, etc.)
  • Stand at the door and say hello to the students
  • Send postcard to students along the lines of “You did so well in your math class, I know you'd excel in computer science.”
  • Secret Doughnut Party: send invitations to people registered for clsas before class begins and ask them to bring a friend.

In-class activities

  • Logic groups, brain teasers, etc.
    • Form groups of 3 by having students sort themselves (by birthday, home town, weight of heaviest pet, hair length, …) (non-verbal is more personal)
    • Have students spend time filling in a clock with “appointments” with other students; later tell them “meet with your 2 o'clock appointment.”
    • Never tell them the answer, but do talk through solutions they create.
    • When students already know a logic problem, good! Praise their prior knowledge. They are either lucky or studying outside of class.
    • The Impossible Quiz; Crossing the River with Dogs: Problem Solving for College Students by Ken Johnson, Ted Herr, and Judy Kysh; the cards from Mindtrap (a board game)
  • Tell the students about the jobs in computing (quantity, quality, and diversity)
  • Ask students to work together. “Have you asked Joe?” “I don't want to bother him.” “Joe, would that bother you?” “Yes” “Good. Ask Joe.”
  • Paired programming.
    • NCWIT Pair programming in a box
    • Students do need some training.
    • When a special-needs student is present, approach the partner and tell them you recognize the situation (but beware of violating privacy… don't share details).
    • Rotate the pairs. Makes it easier to identify problem students, distributes weight of difficult partners, and short-term relaitonships are easier to tolerate.
    • If odd number, have a group of three.
    • PairEval and CatMe, two tools for having students tell you things to help you make good pairs, and to rate their partners and pair experience.
    • We learn best from someone of about the same skill level as ourselves (Vygotsky's “zone of proximal development”); hence, match up close-to-same-grade students. It appears that perception is more important than reality (students should think their partner is equal-to or slightly-better-than self).
    • Problem partner? Talk to them, “how's it going with your partner”; also tell them "I shouldn't see this pattern again when we switch pairs”.
    • Grade with multiplier; if you did 70% of what you should have, you get 70% of the grade of the assignment. Do this in a conversation, work with them, help them feel lucky.
    • Have them use textual, not numeric, techniques for having students evaluate their partners.
    • Make assignments tough enough they see the need to collaborate.
  • When student gets off task, inquire into what they are looking at and why they find it interesting. Get to know them.
  • To inhibit grandstanding: circle on board with dot in it. “Circle is everything you could know about computing, dot is what I know; you probably have a different dot. We will have a dot day where we can share, but that day is not today.” Then tell them when the day is.
  • Lecture less.
  • Use videos, have discussion times, readings, writing assignments.
  • Mastery learning: if they don't get it, let them learn and re-take the examination.
  • Have students write about their own values.
  • Give constructive feedback without invoking fears of biases or unfair focus: “I am holding you to a very high standard. In order to meet that standard, you need to do . I know you can do this.”
  • It can be good for students to raise their concerns, but dangerous for them to do so in class. Explain what is not permitted (e.g., “no sexualized language”) and give students invitation to raise their own concerns to you in private or by email.

Potential examples/assignments

  • Data Mining, based on extracting patterns from sales data, Netflicks, Twitter, DNA Strings, etc.
  • Velocity analysis to detect handwriting forgery on tablets.
  • Jim Cohoon's assignments
  • Make your own girls robotics club that has students bring robots to elementary schools.
  • Fractal trees, Koch curve, etc. (recursion)


  • Contact your local college/university and ask if they can get students to come visit your class. Reach out to national organizations like SWE, IEEE, ACM, etc. When they come, invite other students to join as well.
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