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

August, 2006

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Looking for Teachers who are using Code Rules


    It's the time of year again.

    It appears that people are starting back to school in parts of the US (I've been hearing from Florida and Texas a lot lately) and the rest of the country starts soon. My wife (middle school librarian) and my son (elementary school special ed teacher) go back next week. One thing this has meant for me is a lot of questions about using Code Rules.

    Code Rules is a curriculum for teaching Visual Basic .NET that is usable at the early high school and at some middle school levels. It's free and you can get it from the MainFunction website. (Create a free account there and look for it as the Visual Basic course in the curriculum section.)

    I haven't had the chance to try Code Rules out in my own classroom so I'm not the best one to answer a lot of questions that have to do with:

    • Pacing - how long do you spend on each module?
    • Implementation - Do you have students read the material at home or at school in class.
    • Curriculum - do you have a curriculum that shows how you use Code Rules as part of a larger course or as an independent course? Would you share it with others?
    • What other related resources do you use?

    I've started a thread at the online forums at MainFunction to discuss Code Rules. If you have things to share please drop by there and give us your thoughts. Thanks!


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  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Where do you send people to ask about game programming?


    I took a look at the newly updated MSDN Game Programming forum today and it looks like a great resource. Very often questions come up from students (and their teachers) looking for help with a game program. Often these questions go way beyond the scope of a classroom textbook let alone the curriculum that everyone else is following. These forums are a great place to ask those questions. There are sections on general questions as well as using Direct X, XACT and the latest on XNA and the XNA Studio Express that was announced this week.

    These forums are read by some of the top people in industry and academia who are involved in all sorts of game development. People who answer questions here are the same types of people who write books and give lectures on these topics. So they know what they are talking about.

    If you have/know a precocious student who questions on game programming are getting too much for you then send them to these forums. Suggest that they read through the FAQ for each forum when they get there though. They really should look around to see how questions are asked, what questions have already been asked (and answered) before they jump in too deeply.

    Which reminds me – does anyone teach how to behave in an online forum these days? This isn’t the old days when you had to be a serious geek to get on the Internet. Shouldn’t online etiquette be part of the educational process? I think so. Of course when the students know more about the Internet than their teachers who will train the trainers?

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Parallax Scribbler Robot Review


    Deepak Kumar over at the Institute for Personal Robots in Education Blog has a review of a new robot from Parallax. The Scribbler holds a Sharpie (felt tip pen) and so the name. If this makes you think of the old Logo you are not alone. I like the idea of being able to draw things with a robot.

    The Scribbler is a Basic Stamp based robot that is generally programmed using PBasic. The robot costs about $80 and comes fully assembled. If this sounds interesting read through Deepak’s review. If you have one or get one I would love to hear your impressions as well.

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