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Title: Java Methods A & AB: Object-Oriented Programming and Data Structures
Author: Maria Litvin, Phillips Academy; Gary Litvin, Skylight Software, Inc.
Course: Computer Science A, Computer Science AB
Abstract/Summary: As was the case with the earlier editions of Java Methods, the latest edition, Java Methods A & AB, is one of the textbooks you must consider for your AP Computer Science course. The newest version not only updates the text for Java 5.0 but also includes an earlier introduction of OOP concepts including inheritance, hierarchies, and polymorphism. Furthermore, teachers will find built-in flexibility in the textbook and significant support via the Internet.

The fundamental strength of the text is it is written in a form that students are accustomed to, much like their math and science texts. Each chapter has a brief introduction, followed by succinct sections and a summary at the end. Within the sections, the text is carefully formatted: bold highlights specific concepts, and a separate typeface indicates all examples and Java keywords. Each section concludes with challenging exercises on par with the rigor of the AP Exams. The exercises include tasks that require a programming solution and others that require a written solution. The exercises are marked to represent intermediate and complex solutions.

The text is built with flexibility in mind. The first two chapters are optional, general background information. The next three chapters on "Objects and Classes," "Algorithms," and "Java Syntax and Style" are organized without prerequisites, allowing teachers to cover them in their own order of personal preference. Chapters 6 to 13 cover the core A content, and chapters 18 to 25 cover the additional AB content. In addition, chapters 14 to 17 and chapter 25 provide a detour from the core content (but are not required for future sections) to allow students to see streams and files, graphics, GUIs and events, sounds, images, and design patterns.

One of the most attractive features of the book is that, in addition to its exercises, it also features labs and case studies. Nearly every chapter includes these guided activities that allow students to apply their knowledge. The labs include tasks such as displaying "Hello," correcting syntax errors, completing code for existing projects, and performing simple-to-complex programming tasks. The case studies include "Rolling Dice," "Snack Bar," "Dance Studio," a game called "Chomp," sliding "Puzzles," "Drawing Editor," "Stock Exchange," and a Java version of "Instant Messenger."

The supplemental content for Java Methods is significant. For students, a downloadable student disk of code includes all the examples as well as some solutions for exercises. Furthermore, the text is annotated with references to the book's Web site, which includes Web links to additional content. Available to the teacher is a solution disk with all examples and exercise solutions as well as sample syllabi for the A and AB courses. These syllabi include recommended time usage as well as references to the inclusion of the AP Case Study and AP review texts. PowerPoint slides will be available for download in September 2006. Finally, at an additional cost, the authors provide a Test Package that includes one multiple-choice/true-false test and one free-response test for each of the 26 chapters.

For many reasons, Java Methods A and AB is a text you should consider for your classroom. It is built specifically for the AP curriculum, it is written in a form comfortable to students, its exercises are challenging, and its resources are invaluable to teachers. But perhaps most simply, it is an excellent text for teaching and learning Java.
Publication Data: Skylight Publishing, 2006
9 Bartlet Street, Suite 70
Andover, MA 01810
ISBN 0-9727055-7-0

Type: Textbook
Cost: $48.00
Vendor Name: Skylight Publishing
Vendor Phone: (888) 476-1940
AP Specific: Yes
Link to More Info: http://www.skylit.com/javamethods/
Resource Includes: Homework Activities, Reference Material, Assessments, Background Material, Explorations, Simulations/Animations, Problem Sets, Discussion Questions
Reviewer Name: Brian Edward Ellis        
Review Last Modified: Jul 10, 2006 8:44:20 AM

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