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

February, 2009

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Five Year Blogging Anniversary

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    Today marks five years of blogging for me. That day was a Saturday as well. Funny how things work out.

    I have to say that time does fly when one is having fun. My first blog post was at a blogging/community site called the Spoke. I wrote about business travel that day. It was the start of an experience that has made me friends and acquaintances all over the world. And broadened my thinking on many topics.

    Today the Spoke has been closed but I have moved my blogging in more directions. I blog about social computing and other more random topics at by blog on Live Spaces – my Alfred Thompson the Cyberspace People Watcher  blog. I blog about computer science and education topics at blogs.msdn – my high school Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson blog. I blog about random stuff at  Mr T's rants and ravings – a blog hosted by a former student. And I micro-blog at http://twitter.com/alfredtwo Perhaps I should consolidate into one blog somewhere. Perhaps one day I will. But for now this is working for me.

    So to all who read my blogs, link to my blogs, comment on my blogs and those who have participated in blogging with me for the last five years – Thanks!

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Are you certifiable? Are your students?

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    Microsoft just released a web site at www.areyoucertifiable.com that just may be the way to find out if you are ready for a professional certification. There are two sets of questions/quizzes to try out – IT Professional and Developer. The questions are a mix of serious technical questions that could have been ripped right from the regular certification exams and the occasional pop culture (well geek culture) trivia question. The format is game show with graphics and of course the ever popular Clippy (ok maybe let’s call him the forced into retirement over the hill Clippy – but at least he is famous enough for his own Wikipedia page) as host for much of the sessions.

    So sign up, choose a character, select your field of expertise, and pit yourself against the entire online tech community in a quest for Tech IQ supremacy, a top spot on the leaderboard—and ultimate bragging rights.

    The next step may just be the http://www.microsoft.com/click/thrive/ site where you can find information about training, professional development, career information and more information on certifications.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    TCEA 2009 Day 2

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    Today I attended several sessions. One was on using robots in computer science classes. The presenter said that girls really liked working with the robots. This sort of surprised me because I tend to think (possibly because I am a man) that robots were “guy things.” But apparently girls like to create different sorts of robots. The puppy robot made with the Lego NXT system was pretty cute though. So I guess the key thing may be to allow the level of creativity that lets girls and boys put their own slant on the projects.

    Another session was on “Life after AB – What’s next?” This topic is of course a response to the College Board closing out the more advanced of the two Advanced Placement Computer Science exams. This has some serious consequences and is very likely to reduce the number of CS course offered at many high schools. The problem is that by a student’s senior year many of them really want the added weight of an AP course on their transcript. If there isn’t an AP CS AB course many of them will not take an additional CS course no matter how advanced if there is not AP weight to the grade. They’ll take some other AP course. It wouldn’t be so bad if there was other honors weighing but many schools only have two weights. So while we’d all like to think that students would take a course to learn interesting things that isn’t always the primary motivation. This is a problem without an easy solution.

    And of course I attended the TA/CS SIG meeting and gave my invited talk. I had some weird problems with the projector and could not get my computer to display on it. Fortunately my manager was there and we were able to hook his laptop up. We couldn’t do the demos that I wanted to do though because even with his computer things were not quite right. Still the talk seemed to be well received and we did demo Kodu to some teachers after the business meeting was over. As always it was great to see some familiar faces and meet some new people. The people in the TA/SC SIG are just some of the best people and I always enjoy meeting with them.

    Tomorrow with my talk out of the way I will relax a bit. I have a number of sessions I have marked to attend – one on hosting your own robot competition sounds pretty interesting for example. Plus I’ll hang around the bloggers garage and visit the exhibit hall as well. I need to bring some information home for my media specialist/technology integration specialist wife.

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