Additional profile information on Alfred Thompson at Google+
Brian Scarbeau, a computer science teacher for some 21 years, answers a question from another teacher about how he runs his classroom at his blog. In his post he talks about how his classroom is set up physically -a horseshoe arraignment for the computers with chairs in the middle of the room for lectures and how he uses technology – SmartBoards, LCD projectors and laptops – to teach and more. He also talks about how his teaching related to teaching math, what courses he teaches, and what software and textbooks he uses. It makes for a very interesting article.
One of the things I have learned from good teachers is that not everything works as well for every teacher as it does for some. There is no single right answer on how to teach. But at the same time when teachers share ideas with each other there is always a lot to learn. There are always ideas that one teacher can borrow from another to improve the way they teach. I appreciate Brian sharing his ideas via his blog. He’s long been generous of his time in answering email and phone calls from other teachers. That blog of his gives him a way to share with more people. I wish more teachers did the same thing. (Note: That at my site here I do link to a number of other Computer Science teachers who blog. I’d love to add more teachers to the list.)
I just found this article by Joshua Bloch, a developer from Google of all places, that points out that a lot of common examples of a binary search have a bug in them. The short answer is that they break when the sum of the high and low values is greater than the maximum supported integer. This is an article you want to save and use in class as an example of the kind of thing that causes problems for even the professionals.
I last wrote about textbooks for Visual Basic last December. Now that the year is winding down and the VB 2005 books are starting to become available I thought I would ask - what books are you looking at for next year? Are you able to update textbooks for Visual Studio 2005 or are you going to get by with what you had this year? If the later what sort of things would make this easier for you?
I know that a lot of people just can't buy new books as often as the computer industry updates their software. The upgrade from Visual Basic 2003 to 2005 is not all that major. Well if you are a professional developer it probably is but for a very basic programming course it’s probably not much of a big deal. There are things added that you are not going to know about but you may not think of that as a problem. On the other hand some things just might make your life easier. The Class Designer for example might save you and your students a lot of time.
I want to make some time this summer to develop some teaching aids but I’d like to know what is useful. Are video demos useful? Are you looking for explanations of new language features or perhaps some interesting new .NET classes that are written at student reading levels? What am I not thinking about? I can’t do everything but if I can do a few things that make it easier for teachers to use Visual Studio 2005 I’m happy to give it a go. Leave a comment or send me email at AlfredTh (at) Microsoft.com