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

August, 2008

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Top Conversations and Links for July 2008


    July was interesting. If you missed it (all you lucky teachers who got to actually relax and disconnect in July) here are some of the highlights according to comments, reads, and links followed.

    Tops would have to be the Microsoft Visual Studio Middle School Power Toy 1.0 with a lot of comments and a lot of people following the link to the download page. Related to that was two posts I made about some of the pieces  the Visual Programming Flow Chart and the Visual Declarative Designer. I’ll have more posts on other features as soon as I catch up from all my recent travel.

    The other big draw in terms of reads and people following the link was my post about trueSpace7.6 the FREE Fully-featured 3D Authoring Package. A lot of people see the possibilities with that tool!

    The tops for conversation was The Four Digit Problem post with several people contributing code snippets or discussing the ones that others had entered. Next to that was my post called Recursion See Recursion Again which was about recursion if you hadn’t guessed. :-)

    I was really surprised by the traffic to my NECC 2008 Trip Report as well. I was recently at Microsoft Research’s faculty summit and need to post a trip report on that one as well. I got to see and try the new spherical Microsoft Surface there. Very cool.

    Over all it was a good month with some interesting topics. Now that we’re in August I know that a lot of people are ramping up to get back to school. Some teachers, especially in the south, are back organizing their classrooms this week. My wife and son have meetings this week and next with official contracted days starting soon. It is time to start thinking about the new school year for just about all teachers. Student, I suspect, want to wait a while to think about it. :-)

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Teaching Casting


    I love a good analogy. Actually I even like so-so analogies. But this one about casting variables from Rob Miles is a particularly good one I think. I can see saying “and now playing the role of an integer is 3.14159” What was that you are asking? Well those of you who haven’t read Rob’s post are asking anyway. So here is the deal.

    In programming sometimes we need to cast a variable of one type into the role of acting like a variable of another type. For example we want a pair of integers to act like real numbers so that we can get an answer with a fractional part. Sometimes it is hard for students to get the picture of what is happening though. So I like Rob’s analogy of “You can think of casting as making a movie. You take an actor (Christian Bale) and cast him as a character (Batman). For the duration of the film the character will behave in terms of the role they have been cast into.

    I think the original meaning relates to foundry work though. Melting something and pouring into a mold. But on the other hand casting in the role sense makes it easier to see casting the same variable multiple ways for multiple uses. Besides even the high school I attended doesn’t teach casting in metal anymore – though foundry was a required class when I was a student. Students do understand casting for roles in plays, movies and TV shows though.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Math In Office


    OK here is another link for you math teachers out there. Murray Sargent has a blog called Math in Office that as you might expect focuses on mathematics related features and tools with Microsoft Office.

    Sample interesting looking posts include:

    It’s not a high volume blog but I suspect you’ll find things there that you may not easily find anywhere else.

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