CDS 101/110a, Fall 2009 - TA Assignments

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This page contains information about TA activities for CDS 101/110a, Fall 2009.


Organizational (weekly) meetings

  • 110 Steele - Wed 3:30pm (starting on 09/23/2009).

Standing Agenda

Last week

  • Week in review

This week

  • Recitation and office hours (schedule)
  • Homework grading assigments
  • MUD cards/FAQs

Next week

  • Plan for the week

Course responsibilities

  • Mailing list administration (cisco):
    • Approve valid postings to the TA and class mailing lists.
    • Manage subscriptions to the list and fix any problems. cds101-students, cds101-tas.
  • Recording lectures (cisco) - record each lecture that Doug gives and place it online after the lecture.
  • Mud cards (Noele) - collect mud cards at the end of the lecture and distribute to the other TAs to be answered that evening. Look through the answers to the mud cards as they come up to make sure they are in a consistent style.
  • MATLAB/SIMULINK review (Andrea, cisco(?)) - present the MATLAB/SIMULINK review in the first week of class and generally respond to questions from the students regarding MATLAB and SIMULINK. Place MATLAB/SIMULINK examples on the wiki as needed.
  • Midterm (Aristo) and Final exam review (Andrea)
  • In-class demos (cisco)


  • Inbox/Outbox by STL mailboxes
  • Handed out on Monday (except the first week). Due next Monday. Graded next Monday after that.

Weekly Assigned TA

Each week a different TA will be responsible for helping with the homework problems (and solutions). The work to be done includes:

  • Prior week: look through the homework problems and solutions, flagging any issues to Doug; look through the wiki pages for the lecture and make sure all links work
  • Assigned week: take the lead on answering questions related to the homework. Lead a discussion at the TA meeting on any issues that may come up in the recitation sections related to the homework
  • Following week: decide how to divide up the grading between the TAs; tally all of the homework scores (and times) in the grading spreadsheet. The TA for the current week should not grade in that week.
  • Week 1 - Andrea
  • Week 2 - cisco
  • Week 3 - Noele
  • Week 4 - Ophelia
  • Week 5 (midterm review) - Aristo
  • Week 6 - Noele
  • Week 7 - Ophelia
  • Week 8 - cisco
  • Week 9 - Aristo
  • Week 10: (final review) - Andrea


Starting in the second week of the class, we'll have recitations on Fridays from 2--3 pm. Each TA will lead a recitation section, with the sections having slightly different "flavors" (see the recitation schedule for information and assignments). Each recitation section should cover roughly the following things (not necessarily in this order):

  • Answer any questions the students have about the lecture or the homework
  • Discuss topics that you thought were not well covered in lecture or the text book, or that are special to your section
  • Go through one of the problems on the homework for the week. This should be done on the board and/or computer (depending on the type of problem). It doesn't need to be in full detail and it can go a bit fast, but provide enough information that the students see how the problem is worked from start to finish, and what is expected in their answers on the homework. We'll decide on the problem to cover in the TA meeting prior to the recitation.

Office hours

We'll initially assign one TA to each office hour (the assigned TA for the week plus one other) but we can change that if the office hours get busy.

  • Location: 114 STL (CDS Library)
  • We'll have two hours of office hours each week. The tentative times are:
    • Sun 4--5 pm
    • Fri 4--5 pm


Creating FAQ pages

To create a FAQ page, you need to do the following steps:

  1. Search the previous FAQ pages to see if this question has already been asked.
  2. Type in the question to be answered in the search box on the left side of this wiki.
  3. Click on the phrase "create this page" (need be logged in).
  4. Enter the answer to the question. You don't need to repeat the question (it is already included in the title for the page).
  5. At the end of the answer, use the text '--YourName' so that we know who replied.
  6. At the bottom of the page, add the category information (used to list the FAQs in the right places):
    [[Category: CDS 101/110 FAQ - Lecture w-m]]
    • For new questions (unique to this year):
    [[Category: CDS 101/110 FAQ - Lecture w-m]]
    [[Category: CDS 101/110 FAQ - Lecture w-m, Fall 2009]]
    where 'w' is the current week and 'm' is the lecture number (1 = Monday, 2 = Wednesday, 3 = Friday). For homework sets, replace 'Lecture w-m' with 'Homework w'.
  7. Save the page.
  8. Go back to the FAQ page and append the following text to the URL link in your browser window: &action=purge and press enter. This will purge the cached pages and you should see your mud card response appear on the FAQ page. If you don't do this, you won't be able to see your modification.

Notes on creating FAQ pages

  • The title doesn't have to be exactly what was written in the MUD card, but should be close enough that the student will recognize their question. You should reword the question to be simply stated and descriptive of the contents of the FAQ.
  • When you are writing up the answer for a FAQ, remember that this is the first course the students are taking in feedback and control. Avoid the use of advanced concepts that the students haven't seen yet and try to explain things in a way that gives insight to someone who may be struggling to understand the concept.
  • Including pictures to illustrate your answers is a great approach if appropriate. OK to grab pictures off of the web, but make sure to list where they came from (and include a link if you can).
  • You should also look in the course text to see if there is information there that might be relevant (students are asking questions in class, so may not have read the book yet). Include the relevant section number where more information can be found, but go ahead and provide additional explanation as well.

Using the CVS server

To checkout the subversion directories:

  • Check that your computer has subversion by typing 'svn help' at the command prompt. If not, get it at its website.
  • Type 'svn checkout --username username'
  • Enter password
  • Type 'cd cds110a'
  • Use a text editor to change line 7 to SVNREPO =
  • Type 'make setup' to retrieve other necessary files

To update the subversion directories and make homework and solution files:

  • In the same cds110a directory checked out above, type 'make update' to update any changes that may have been submitted.
  • Finally, type 'make filename' where filename is a placeholder for hw# or soln# for the appropriate week. A pdf of the appropriate file should be created in your directory.

To update files in the repository or submit files to the repository:

  • svn commit -m 'comment' - updates any changes made to files that were downloaded from the subversion directories. The 'comment' should describe the changes that are being uploaded.
  • svn add filename - adds the file 'filename' to the repository.

Note: Use these commands only after updating your local copy of the directories!

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