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

January, 2008

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    More Kids Programming Environments


    I'm always looking out for new tools and environments for teaching young people to program. Recently I found a list created by someone else. The list is here and it has a few I haven't read of before. It also has some short one line to one paragraph reviews of many of these tools. There is a lot there and I am still going through it.

    If you find other first programming languages or tools I am always looking to learn what others are using and doing. And if you are interested in this topic I use the tag first programming experience to mark the blog posts I write on the subject. You can use that link to find a summary of the more recent posts I have made on that topic. There is a complete tag cloud that you can use to search my blog on the blog web page BTW.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    10 Golden Rules For Teaching Computer Science


    It's often amazing what you find while you are looking for something else. Last week while following a bunch of links from my referral logs I can across a PDF of a presentation deck by Andrew Tanenbaum. Now Professor Tanenbaum is one of the great names in computer science education. He's an ACM Fellow, an IEEE Fellow, and winner of many awards including the 1997 ACM CSE award for Outstanding Contributions to Computer Science Education. It appears that the presentation I found was the one he gave when accepting that award. And it is brilliant.

    You can find the paper here and I recommend looking at it. It may be ten years old but it is not really dated in any way that matters. In fact it is that he sticks to principles not fact and follows the rules in his talk that it stands up so well. What are his ten golden rules?

    • Think long term
    • Emphasize principles, not facts
    • Expect paradigm shifts
    • Explain how things work inside
    • Show students how to master complexity
    • Computer science is not science (He is of the school that says it is engineering I talked about that debate here)
    • Think in terms of systems
    • Keep theory under control
    • Ignore hype
    • Don't forget the past

    Look at the presentation where he elaborates on these points for added value of course. These "rules" work for me. I think that my teachers over the years have stuck to them pretty well. When I look back at my own teaching I think I was aware of most of these and tried to practice them. My undergraduate degree is in Systems so that was always part of my thinking. I'm not sure I always did a good job of teaching how to master complexity though. That is an area I think many of us need to work at.

    I think this is a great list. What do you think? Anything missing? Anything that should be gone? Anything you don't agree with the way it is worded?

    [Update: Check out this blog post with a great review of the list. ]

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Tablet PCs in the K12 Classroom


    I found a bunch of new information and case studies about schools using Tablet PCs across the curriculum and thought I would share it. It's not computer science but since it is technology in the classroom and using technology to teach better I thought people might be interested. 

    Jim Vanides over at HP blogged about a new Math System for use in elementary schools that is based on the Tablet PC. The software is from Carnegie Mellon and they are looking for schools/teachers to help them test and refine it. Visit their site here for more information. Jim also talks about a new book on Tablet PCs in the K-12 environment that is available from ISTE  that looks interesting.

    Microsoft has published a new case study on  how the Forest Ridge school (a private all-girls school) is using Tablet PCs and OneNote 2007. There is an article and a video here.

    BTW you can look at OneNote to see other blog posts I have written about OneNote and Tablets to see posts I have written about Tablet PCs.

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