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

January, 2008

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    A Protractor Compared to a Non-pro Tractor?


    This video from MathMovesU is either funny or scary depending on how you view it. They sent some students on the streets of Boston to ask adults questions about math. Easy stuff like "what is a protractor?" and what is 52 times 2.

    Can you imagine what the answers would be like on computer science questions?

    In any case this highlights some of the problems students run into when they try to get help for school work from parents and the other adults in their life. My wife (who is a middle school teacher and who also teaches GED preparation) has gotten calls from friends and relatives to help children with their school work over the years. I'm not sure what others do if they don't know someone who can help.

    And how do you convince children that something is important to learn if it is not important enough for adults to remember? I have no answers but I am hopeful that online sites like perhaps MathMovesU can help. At least kids have some place to go.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Some Interesting and Useful Curriculum Links - Visual Basic, XNA, Other Intro CS


    Over the holiday I did some browsing around the Internet. I found a couple of new blogs to follow, read some posts by people who hadn't blogged in a while, and just stumbled across some interesting things while looking for something completely different. Among my discoveries were some interesting curriculum links that I thought were worth sharing.

    One of them is a set of online modules for teaching Visual Basic written by Professor Larry Press from California State University, Dominguez Hills. The modules are here with each line in the table being a module with hot links to information, projects, code, etc. You can read a summary including some of their findings on how well this worked here.

    From the east coast, MIT has been making curriculum available online for a while but now has a new high school page with courses designed by MIT students for high school students. You can also get a good look at their online introductory computer science courses here along with introductory courses in a number of other subjects.

    Last but not least Brian Scarbeau has started to blog about the new XNA course he is teaching this semester at his high school. Brian links to information about his curriculum and the textbook he is using. I hope he has time to keep it up though I know he is a busy guy.

    Some good things out there on the Internet these days. It's just a matter of finding them.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Top December Posts


    Well I must confess that I am struggling to get back into the whole "doing work" thing after taking the last 10 or so days off. It's a good thing I had posted some posts to appear during the break or some of your would wonder if I'd fallen off the face of the earth. Well I hope you'd notice. :-)

    I have some new things to post and I'll get them up soon but for today I am going to just highlight the top posts from last month in case you missed them or you want to go back and jump into the discussion.

    November's "Is Computer Science Dying" post continued to be a heavy traffic post well into December. With 12 comments there was a lot of discussion but plenty of room for more.

    I was pleased to see that my link to Blogs By and For High School Computer Science Teachers received a lot of traffic as well. I am always on the look out for more blogs that fit that category so if you have one or know one please leave a comment so we can all learn about it. I love to link to good ideas from teachers (like this post from earlier this week.)

    There was a lot of interest in my post about Dan Water's video casts on Robotics and .NET Fundamentals. Dan's videos can be found here on his blog or now also on Channel 8.

    My trip report about my visit to Bryan Baker's computer science class was widely read but the best thing about that post was that several of Baker's former students left comments about how much they learned from and appreciated his classes. Not much warms the heart as much as students who appreciate their teachers.

    There is still time for high school teachers (and college faculty) to get reservations for Microsoft's conference in Game Development in Computer Science which I wrote about 2 weeks ago. But registration closes January 11th so you'll have to decide soon!

    Over the break (possibly not the best timing) I posted a review of the latest information I have on a number of alternative beginning programming languages. If you are looking for something other than the usual Java, VB, C++ or PASCAL you may want to take a look at that post. If there are other languages and tools I should know about please let me know. I'd appreciate it.

    Also over the break was my attempt to start some conversation around the AP curriculum. There are a few comments (OK Baker and I were chatting) but I think the topic deserves a lot more discussion. Stop by of you have a chance. Or participate at the CSTA blog post on the same topic where there are also a couple of comments.

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