The Bootstrap Blog

Lightweight Lessons

Over the past two years, we've completely rewritten our entire curriculum library into a new format we call "Remix". This is the most ambitious change to our materials in our 13 year history, and we're excited to share it with you! This series of posts will focus on the problems Remix solves, and what that means for teachers. If you'd like to read them all, here's your table of contents:

Instead of shipping giant, monolithic units, all of our materials are now available as a collection of highly-focused lesson plans. Each lesson is written for a single 55 minute class period, with optional content for teachers who want to spend more time on the topic.

All of these lessons are now lighter and cleaner, making the information you need available without forcing you to sift through pages of text to find it! We know there will always be some folks out there who need the entire textbook. And don't worry, those units aren't going away! In fact, all of our older materials have always been available - for free - on the course homepages (see Algebra, Data Science, and Reactive).

Every lesson is divided into "activities", each of which follows a consistent pattern: Many lessons also include a Common Misconceptions section, warning teachers about what to look out for, as well as an "Additional Exercises" section, with resources to go deeper and make additional connections. (Eagle-eyed teachers will notice that our structure is heavily inspired by the Illustrative Mathematics format!)

It was time for a change. So let's take a look at what Remix has to offer....

How did we get here?

Here's a PDF of the very first unit, written in 2005 (before we were called "Bootstrap"!). Back then, teachers weren't comfortable diving into computing. They wanted everything written out as clearly as possible. In 2007, Emmanuel jokingly asked several teachers "what do you want, a script?" The teachers answered, "Yes! Give us something we can practice in the bathroom mirror, and we'll rewrite it on our own!"

So we crafted our materials to read almost like a textbook. This was great for beginners who were nervous about diving into programming, but stifling for teachers that already felt comfortable. Veteran teachers asked for a stripped down version of every lesson that would make it easier for them to read and change as they saw fit.

But the world is different than it was in 2005. New teachers are far more comfortable experimenting with programming than they used to be, making the textbook-style prose more of a hindrance than a help. More teachers are using tools like Google Slides, teaching in flipped classrooms, or teaching remotely. We built Remix to reflect the ways the world has changed, to be responsive to the needs of today.

Posted June 11th, 2020