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

June, 2006

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    How will you spend your summer vacation?


    Today was the last day of school for teachers in the district that my wife (a librarian) and my son (fifth grade special education case manager) work in. They are both ready to recover from what has been a very busy school year. Other schools in other states have been finished for as much as a few weeks. I’m starting to hear from teachers who have had a short break, taken some rest and are now thinking about next year. Some of them start up again in early August and that is looking closer than you’d think.

    So what do teachers do to get ready from next school year? Obviously that depends on what they teach, how long they have been teaching, if they are teaching new courses and just plain personal style. I know that a lot of you will be taking courses. Others will be attending conferences like NECC (more on that in a minute). Still others will be spending a lot of time on self-study. They will be reading new textbooks, trying out new projects and modifying their course outlines based on what did and did not work in the year just finished.

    And of course there is some rest and recovery time. Teachers are notorious for not pacing themselves. People who work 12 month jobs know that breaks are few and far between and that a project can go on and on. But a teacher has 10 months to get everything done. Once the school year is over that is it. Your chance to teach something to those students is gone forever. So teachers tend to work flat out all the time for weeks and months at a time. It takes a toll on a person mentally and physically. That is why summer break is so critical for teachers. Without it they would all burn out in a year or two. As it is we know that half of all teachers will leave the career within five years. I don’t know how anyone could do it without summer break.

    Still as I alluded to earlier it is not all sunning at the beach.

    In less than two weeks thousands of teachers will be at NECC getting a lot of information for next year. As a reminder I will be co-hosting a Birds of a Feather session there. I will also be at the CS & IT Symposium on July 8th right after NECC. I hope to see some of you at one of these events. If you can’t make one of them I’ll be around trying to take in some sessions, visiting the exhibit hall but most of all trying to meet computer science teachers who are there. If you’d like to get together drop me an email or stop by the Microsoft booth and ask for me. I expect to be there a good bit and I will be checking in there regularly. Someone there should have my cell phone number as well.

    If you are attending NECC for the first time I will have some advice for you. I’m working on a list of suggestions of things I have learned after several visits to NECC and other large conferences. Look for that in a day or so.

    Tags: necc necc06

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Innovative Teachers Program


    Are you familiar with Microsoft’s Innovative Teachers program? This program is for all teachers and not just computer science or other technology teachers. The goals of the program are (borrowed from the website):

    Program Goals

    The Microsoft Innovative Teachers program is dedicated to providing classroom teaching and professional learning resources that:

    • Bring together a community of teachers as learners.
    • Facilitate the creation of collective knowledge.
    • Create a platform for the advancement of best practices and adoption of innovation.
    • Provide training and access to technology resources.
    • Deliver integration confidence to teachers using technology in the learning process.
    • Engage teachers intellectually and offering opportunities for them to be active stakeholders in their profession.

    One of the important parts of this program is the Innovative Teachers Forum. The Forum is a recognition of success using technology in education and involves a meeting of teaching teams at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond Washington.

    The 2006 U.S. Innovative Teachers Forum will recognize and reward outstanding examples of educators working collaboratively, to share expertise and build collective knowledge leading to professional growth and improved student outcomes.

    The U.S. Innovative Teachers Forum, supported by Microsoft along with the National Staff Development Council and the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, will bring together exemplary K-12 learning teams for two days, September 21-22, 2006, on the Microsoft corporate campus in Redmond, Washington.

    The Forum will provide learning teams with the opportunity to share expertise, engage collaboratively with their peers, and grow professionally through a series of learning projects. In addition, Forum attendees will have the opportunity to develop ongoing professional relationships with their peers from around the country—relationships extending beyond the conclusion of the Forum

    Be sure to check out the Frequently Asked Questions and answers page to learn more about this exciting event. Proposals for attendance are now being accepted through midnight Pacific Time, July 31st, 2006. The learning teams who are selected (and who will have their way paid) will be notified by August 15th, 2006.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Are you interested in robots?


    Microsoft announced a new robotics program including a development environment called the Microsoft Robotics Studio this week. The Microsoft Robotics Studio is a Windows-based environment for academic, hobbyist and commercial developers to easily create robotics applications across a wide variety of hardware. There are already a number of tutorial sessions at the web site as well as information on setting up hardware. You can use this software with Lego Mindstorms by the way. That is what I am going to start with. I’m told that there will be projects and more information about using the Microsoft Robotics Studio at Coding 4 Fun soon as well.

    The official Microsoft web site for the program is There is an interview with Tandy Trower who is the General Manager of the Microsoft Robotics Group at Channel 9. Check it out. This may be just the thing to learn with over the summer to start using robotics in your classroom next school year. Now wouldn’t that be something to jazz up an other wise ordinary programming course?

    Some related news articles at:

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