Author Archive

Prepare for IT Interview

08/29/2017 1 comment

Here I summarize some resources for students to prepare for IT interview:

Meanwhile, there is some opposite opinion about whiteboard interview:

Some other recommended books are:

Basically, whiteboard interview is a good tool to check / demonstrate a person’s problem solving process. However, it is not good enough to check students’ practical skills in debugging a piece of code, searching related reference and reusing existing code, etc.

For students, it is important to know the interview style on whiteboard, fluently use at least one programming language, and be able to demonstrate their thinking process to solve the problems. Other than that, practical experience working on some open source projects will help to improve other part of practical skills, such as debugging, etc.

Categories: Uncategorized

No Student Left Behind

This seems to be ideal for students’ learning. However, when I think about this, a lot of challenges appear in my mind, especially for HBCU students.

As we all know that, HBCU students come with diverse knowledge background, and mostly underprepared. There are many issues associated with that. It is very challenging to teach students with diverse levels. Class time is limited. How can I take care of the slow learners and the fast learners at the same time? If I focus on the need of the slow learners, then the fast learners will feel like that they already know that and it wastes their time. If I focus on the fast learners, then the slow learners have no idea what you are talking about. So, in class, a teacher can only focus on the middle level students. It is reasonable, but not ideal.
And I also have some make up strategies to help students:
(1) Encourage and comfort my students that, it is not a big deal if you learn things slow or fast. As the kids learn how to walk, some slow, and some fast, while when they grow up, it makes no difference. The key is that you have to find ways to master the skills or knowledge.
(2) Encourage students to use my office hours, and I can use extra time to help the students who are a little behind.
(3) Assign extra tasks or assignments to fast learners, to challenge them to learn more.

Above strategies are traditional ones. They do help the students who are motivated and willing to learn. However, there are more challenges today. Not many students are willing to learn, or they have no idea how to learn, or they are occupied by many other things and have no time to learn. Those who really need extra help seldom use the office hours. If a student misses the classes very often, and don’t use the office hours to look for help, how can a teacher really help him / her? This is more common in HBCUs. And HBCU faculties actually are doing a lot of “baby sitting” things: sending reminder emails / making reminder calls; pushing students to learn; studying and trying different teaching strategies to motivate students; giving second chances / grace periods, etc.

It’s not all about teaching knowledge. Students should take the responsibility of learning, and they need to be trained about how to learn efficiently. One day, I visited a small Christian private school, and the teaching style really inspired me. One teacher are dealing with multiple level students from 1st grade to 6th grade. The classroom is separated to small box, each student is watching video and interacting with the virtual educational program. The teacher’s responsibility seems to be organizing and managing the learning environment, and making sure all the kids follow the instruction in the virtual educational program. Maybe the teacher answers the special requests from each individual kids too.

So, I’m thinking if we can have a virtual educational program to deal with different level of students’ need. More than the case above, I will expect that the virtual educational program can evaluate the students’ knowledge background, diagnose the students’ level,  and provide suggestions about the students’ learning plan. Then the students will take the responsibility to lead their own learning progress. And a teacher’s responsibility will focus on the students’ learning progress and help the students to learn better. Traditional role of teacher needs to be re-considered.

Categories: Uncategorized

A Letter from Student

I feel so blessed when I get the following email from one of my previous students. I’m so glad and proud for my student. To be a good teacher is not easy, I’m still learning. Hope the following email can be an encouragement to all teachers. Life can change lives. (Note: To protect some privacy information, I hide some personal information on purpose. Thanks for understanding. )


Categories: Student News

Research Conference for Undergraduates

To encourage and train our students to do research professionally, some national or international research conferences for undergraduates could be very helpful. So far, I find some resources collected here for future reference:

Categories: Ideas / Resources

Twelve Characteristics of an Effective Teacher

There are some good points from:

Characteristic 1: Prepared
The most effective teachers come to class each day ready to teach.
1. It is easy to learn in their classes because they are ready for the day.
2. They don’t waste instructional time. They start class on time. They teach for the entire class period.
3. Time flies in their classes because students are engaged in learning — i.e., not bored, less likely to fall asleep.

Characteristic 2: Positive
The most effective teachers have optimistic attitudes about teaching and about students. They
1. See the glass as half full (look on the positive side of every situation)
2. Make themselves available to students
3. Communicate with students about their progress
4. Give praise and recognition
5. Have strategies to help students act positively toward one another

Characteristic 3: Hold High Expectations
The most effective teachers set no limits on students and believe everyone can be successful. They
1. Hold the highest standards
2. Consistently challenge their students to do their best
3. Build students’ confidence and teach them to believe in themselves

Characteristic 4: Creative
The most effective teachers are resourceful and inventive in how they teach their classes. They
1. Kiss a pig if the class reaches its academic goals
2. Wear a clown suit
3. Agree to participate in the school talent show
4. Use technology effectively in the classroom

Characteristic 5: Fair
The most effective teachers handle students and grading fairly. They
1. Allow all students equal opportunities and privileges
2. Provide clear requirements for the class
3. Recognize that “fair” doesn’t necessarily mean treating everyone the same but means giving every student an opportunity to succeed
4. Understand that not all students learn in the same way and at the same rate

Characteristic 6: Display a Personal Touch
The most effective teachers are approachable. They
1. Connect with students personally
2. Share personal experiences with their classes
3. Take personal interest in students and find out as much as possible
about them
4. Visit the students’ world (sit with them in the cafeteria; attend
sporting events, plays, and other events outside normal school hours)

Characteristic 7: Cultivate a Sense of Belonging
The most effective teachers have a way of making students feel welcome and comfortable in their classrooms.
1. Students repeatedly mentioned that they felt as though they belonged in classrooms taught by effective teachers.
2. The students knew they had a good teacher who loved teaching and preferred it to other occupations.

Characteristic 8: Compassionate
The most effective teachers are concerned about students’ personal problems and can relate to them and their problems. Numerous stories established how the sensitivity and compassion of caring teachers affected them in profound and lasting ways.

Characteristic 9: Have a Sense of Humor
The most effective teachers do not take everything seriously and make learning fun. They
1. Use humor to break the ice in difficult situations
2. Bring humor into the everyday classroom
3. Laugh with the class (but not at the expense of any particular

Characteristic 10: Respect Students
The most effective teachers do not deliberately embarrass students. Teachers who give the highest respect, get the highest respect. They
1. Respect students’ privacy when returning test papers
2. Speak to students in private concerning grades or conduct
3. Show sensitivity to feelings and consistently avoid situations that unnecessarily embarrass students

Characteristic 11: Forgiving
The most effective teachers do not hold grudges. They
1. Forgive students for inappropriate behavior
2. Habitually start each day with a clean slate
3. Understand that a forgiving attitude is essential to reaching difficult students
4. Understand that disruptive or antisocial behavior can quickly turn a teacher against a student, but that refusing to give up on difficult students can produce success

Characteristic 12: Admit Mistakes
The most effective teachers are quick to admit being wrong. They
1. Apologize to mistakenly accused students
2. Make adjustments when students point out errors in grading or test material that has not been assigned

Rescue Corrupted Disk / SD Card, etc.

About a year ago, my macbook pro died with a corrupted hard disk. I tried multiple ways, the disk just could not be fixed and was not readable or bootable. I had to replace it with a new hard disk, and I was still considering the possibility to get the files back. I tried an open source recovery tool, and it really helped. The basic method was:
1. Make a bootable USB drive;
2. Reboot the system from the USB drive;
3. Run the tool and recover the corrupted files from the dead disk to another selected place.
This tool worked on the command line, but I could not exactly remember the name so far.

Now, one of my SD Card corrupted. To rescue the lost pictures and videos, I searched online and found a tool named TestDisk & PhotoRec, command line based open source software. It works great. It just brings back my memory about the corrupted hard disk for the macbook pro. I am not sure if they are the same one, but they do work the similar way.

Keep a record here for future reference:

Apply Regular Expression Search in Word

Find and replace text by using regular expressions (Advanced)

Simply find Find and Replace” and select “wildcards”, and then you can apply the regular expressions. And the very basic rules are:

To find Type Example
Any single character ? s?t finds sat and set.
Any string of characters * s*d finds sad and started.
The beginning of a word < <(inter) finds interesting and intercept, but not splintered.
The end of a word > (in)> finds in and within, but not interesting.
One of the specified characters [ ] w[io]n finds win and won.
Any single character in this range [-] [r-t]ight finds right and sight. Ranges must be in ascending order.
Any single character except the characters in the range inside the brackets [!x-z] t[!a-m]ck finds tock and tuck, but not tack or tick.
Exactly n occurrences of the previous character or expression {n} fe{2}d finds feed but not fed.
At least n occurrences of the previous character or expression {n,} fe{1,}d finds fed and feed.
From n to m occurrences of the previous character or expression {n,m} 10{1,3} finds 10, 100, and 1000.
One or more occurrences of the previous character or expression @ lo@t finds lot and loot.

For representing the special symbols above, you can use “\” in front of the symbol to identify it. For example, if we want symbol “*”, we should use “\*” in the regular expression.