Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

May, 2006

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Upgrade Your Game


    Do you know students who are interested in doing some game programming developement? The Visual Studio Express group just opened a new web site with game programming code and resources and a contest that students may want to enter. The site is called Upgrade Your Game. There is probably enough there to keep some students busy writing code and having fun with it all summer long. Plus they can win a some really fun prizes in the related contest.

    At the site students will find the code for four complete and simple games in their choice of Visual Basic .NET or C#. There are also webcasts, some more complex games and links to other resources for people who want to learn about programming games.

    Who knows but you may find some things you can use for projects next school year. Or at least some things to keep people busy as this semester runs to a close and students look for semester projects.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Computer Science Beyond Just Programming


    These days I have a lot of my conversations with teachers via MSN Messenger. It’s pretty easy to notice that someone is online and send a quick hello to see if they can talk. I try to keep my outgoing pings to when I really have something to say because I know that teachers are busy during the school day. And I’ve had the experience of a chat window opening during a demo and kids wanting to know “who is Roseann and does Mrs. Thompson know about her?” But honestly I love getting distracted from my own work. Working out of my home office I don’t get a lot of social time during the day where I can just chat with anyone. So when a teacher friend sends a “hello do you have a minute to chat” I generally am ready to chat.

    Yesterday one chat with a teacher friend for Texas developed into a discussion about wanting to teach more than programming in a computer science course. There is a of course a lot more than just programming in computer science. While there isn’t a lot of time to cover as much as we’d like it would be nice to at least introduce some of the big issues that are not programming. Some of these are as much ethical and political as they are technical.  Pat Phillips introduces one such topic in her blog this week.

    The issue in question is the recent news about the NSA setting up a huge data mining operation to study phone calls made by Americans. This involves important technical issues to be sure. How do you set up a database like that? How do you search it and what sort of things do you look for? But there are clear ethical and political questions around privacy and Constitutionality as well.

    Reality Check is a service at MainFunction that helps to facilitate this sort of big picture discussion. Each edition of Reality Check includes a topic, references to online news about the topic and questions that can be used in class or out of class to get students to think about important computer science issues of the day. If you want to take your students beyond programming I urge you to check it out.

    BTW if you are a teacher who would like to chat via MSN Messenger my account there is Be sure to introduce yourself the first time you “call.”

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    AP CS Teacher Web Sites


    I found an interesting web page the other day. Sam Markowitz is building a list of links to web sites by Advanced Placement Computer Science teachers. If you are an AP CS teacher with a web site you may want to add it to the list. All AP CS teachers will want to check out some of the other web sites that are there to see what resources you can find that others are sharing.

    If you are a computer science teacher do you have a web page? How about a blog? I'm linking to blogs by other computer science teachers and am always interested in adding to it. So let me know if you do. I'm also interesting in CS teacher web sites but since Sam is already building a list of those I think I will just add a link to his site from here.

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