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

August, 2008

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Kick Off Meetings


    My wife is in new teacher orientation this week. She’s helping teachers new to the district understand how things work there. Next week all the teachers will be in for meetings. This is a typical way for the school year to start. I’ve been seeing Twitter messages from teachers all over the country who are going through these meetings for the last couple of weeks. Some of these events are helpful and interesting. Some of them are, well let’s just say not so interesting. None the less these meetings are important.

    Kickoff meetings at schools set part of the tone for the year. This is when teachers learn about changes in policies and procedures that have been developed over the summer. Pity the poor administrators who work through the summer on trying to improve things and get things approved by school boards. Goals for the year are outlined and discussed – sometimes vociferously. And there is often training. Teachers are trained in techniques, technology integration, new curriculum and teaching methodology, classroom management plans and all sorts of other things.

    This week I am in a week of meetings to kick off the school and fiscal year for my team. It’s a little like the school kickoff meetings in some ways. There is some training. There is some discussion of new processes, plans, programs and goals for the new year. There are even some vociferous conversations. :-) One thing that is different though is that we are also having team social events. There are about 20 people in these meetings and we work all over the country. This is one of the few times in the year when we are all in the same place. Most of the rest of the year our meetings will be virtual – conference calls and Internet conversations (email, Instant Messages, etc). So we use these meetings to really get to know each other. There are a couple of new people who I have never met in person before. Others I only see at these meetings and the occasional national conference.

    In many ways the social events – the chance to meet in an informal way – is probably the best part of these meetings. There is some of this in school start up events as well but its not as key a part of the schedule. There is usually breakfast and lunch at school kickoff days and there is a lot of re-connecting at these times. And of course during the days when there are classroom setup a lot of people spend time chatting on things that may not have to do with school. I did go on a state-wide event for teachers in Catholic schools in New Hampshire once though. This was actually a dinner cruise which included no more than a perfunctory kick off speech or two by administrators. Mostly is was social networking. I really appreciated that as a new teacher.

    Schools are social organizations and the opportunity to bound with other teachers is, I think, an important and valuable part of the required meetings for teachers before the students show up. I don’t think we always appreciate that aspect of the meetings but I’ll bet people would notice the effect if these meetings didn’t happen.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    OneNote Videos on TeacherTube


    Mike Tholfsen, the OneNote Ninja, found some time to record and upload a bunch of videos about OneNote to Teacher Tube. The video he did on the OneNote 2007 Toolkit for Teachers is included in the collection. Mike is promising a bunch more that are specifically targeted at education users including teachers and students.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    New Web Design Curriculum Released


    Are you looking for ways to engage your students in 21st century learning? Would you like to generate enthusiasm and excitement about using technology in your classroom on a daily basis? Are your students interested in developing skills they can employ immediately for fun and for profit? Would you like to provide your students with opportunities to work on complex projects in teams? After teaching computer science for more than twenty years, I am pleased to be a guest writer on Alfred Thompson’s blog. He is a knowledgeable, dedicated and insightful colleague. My goal for this blog today is to inform you about new teaching and learning materials that are now available (in beta form) at no charge.

    I am excited to announce the creation of Introduction to Web Design Using Microsoft Expression, a one semester curriculum unit, released just in time for the start of the new school year. The curriculum, written by a team of eight outstanding classroom teachers from across the country, provides an extensive collection of unique teaching materials that thoroughly span Web Design knowledge and skills and promote meaningful, real-world learning experiences. Students will engage in authentic learning experiences and design modern Web sites with the same tools that professional Web designers currently use. I can guarantee that this curriculum is unique because it represents the best thinking of a team of talented educators – all of whom have taught multiple subjects for many years. We have synthesized the creativity of web design, computer science, media arts, math, fine arts, science, business education and home economics teachers.

    By providing students with opportunities to be creators, rather than only consumers, of technology, Microsoft aims to motivate the next generation to explore and develop their talents. Many students who would be intimidated by a programming class enter the technology pipeline via web design, gaming or robotics. The content in this web design curriculum is appropriate for secondary students and non-technical community college and university students. In order to make your life as a busy educator a little easier, we have based the detailed lesson plans, tutorials, presentations, student projects, and assessment rubrics upon the ISTE's National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) and 21st Century Skills.

    The first 4 of the 8 learning modules are available for you to download right now at Microsoft’s Pre-Collegiate Faculty Connection. The remaining 4 modules will be available September 15.

    • Module 1: HTML Basics 2 weeks

    Module 1 introduces basic HTML tags and cascading style sheets (CSS) through projects designed to experiment with page design and introduces the concepts of Web standards and accessibility.

    • Module 2: The History and the Future of the Web 1 week

    Module 2 explores the past and future of Web technologies and the structure of the Web. The rights and responsibilities surrounding intellectual property rights in an electronic world are emphasized.

    • Module 3: Designing for Communication 2 weeks

    Module 3 explores human communication and the unique challenges that electronic modes of communication present for effective transmission of ideas.

    • Module 4: Working with Images 3 weeks

    Module 4 uses Microsoft Expression Design to create images. Image concepts related to scanning, digital photography, and image manipulation techniques are included.

    • Module 5: Beyond the Basics with Expression Web 2 weeks

    Module 5 introduces the Expression Web environment and provides tutorials to guide them in creating a Web site.

    • Module 6: The Design Process 3 weeks

    Module 6 explores Web technology careers and simulates the design planning process of Web design professionals. Team collaboration and customer interactions are emphasized.

    • Module 7 The Production Process 3 weeks

    Module 7 guides students in the production of the Web site that was planned and designed in Module 6.

    • Module 8 Web Publishing and Maintenance 2 weeks

    Module 8 establishes processes and techniques for selecting hosting services, evaluating the effectiveness and usability of Web sites, and providing maintenance over time.

    This curriculum project represents an expansion of a short Expression Web curriculum unit and tutorial that we developed for United States high schools in the fall of 2007. The need for additional and more extensive web design teaching/learning materials was identified by feedback we received from teachers who participated in our 2 pilot projects in the fall of 2007 and spring of 2008. The following information may be of interest to you and your students:

    • 75% of for United States high schools offer a Web Design/Development class (2007)
    • 71% of the educators involved in the Expression Web tutorial pilot reported that it was a valuable teaching tool and they would use it again. The remaining 29% strongly agreed with that statement, yielding a full 100% accord amongst pilot educators that the Expression Web tutorial was a valuable and useful teaching resource.
    • 64% of students reported that, after participating in the Expression Web tutorial, they would like to build another Web site.
    • 57% of US teens report that they create content for the Internet

    The curriculum is currently in beta version and is being taught by educators in the US and several countries through a pilot program. Schools participating in the pilot program receive a free subscription to MSDN AA for High School that provides the Expression software needed to teach the curriculum.

    Expression Web is Microsoft’s most recent Web design and development software. It replaces FrontPage and gives your students the tools they need to create high quality, standards-based web sites that meet today’s standards with sophisticated CSS-based layout and formatting. There are many additional resources for learning Expression Web and Design. Learn Microsoft Expression offers training for both Expression Web and Expression Design with tutorials, videos and quick start guides. These are great for teacher preparations as well as valuable tools for teaching in the classroom.

    We hope you and your students will enjoy this new set of teaching and learning materials! The 30 high school girls that participated in Microsoft’s “Digigirlz” technology camp last week at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington were able to learn how to use the software and build simple web sites in less than four hours. The girls voted to have a web site design competition and created some truly amazing sites. Students who have a “service learning” or “community service” requirement at their high school have reported that they completed this assignment by building a web site for a local non-profit organization in their community. We trust this curriculum will help you provide students with useful opportunities to engage in creating in and out of classroom experiences that you want.

    We would love to hear from you! If you are interested in learning more about joining our team of teachers who are piloting the curriculum or want to let us know about interesting projects your students are working on, please contact me.

    Pat Phillips, Director
    Web Design Pilot Programs

    EDIT: Some links below:

    ·         Your Learning Guide to Expression Web Tutorial

    ·         Expression Web Curriculum

    ·         Introduction to Web Design Using Microsoft® Expression® (Beta)

    ·         Introduction to Web Design Using Microsoft® Expression® (Beta), Module 1 HTML Basics

    ·         Introduction to Web Design Using Microsoft® Expression® (Beta), Module 2 History and Future of the Web

    ·         Introduction to Web Design Using Microsoft® Expression® (Beta), Module 3 Designing for Communication

    ·         Introduction to Web Design Using Microsoft® Expression® (Beta), Module 4 Working with Images

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