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

April, 2009

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    When Should Professional Development Be Offered?


    Let’s say you want offer a professional development workshop. When is the best time to do it? During the school day? During the evening? On the weekend? During summer vacation? How about webcasts and similar so called web 2.0 training tools? This is a challenge for many. The answer is obvious of course. Well except that for different people different answers are the obvious one. Let’s take a look at them.

    During the School Day – I have met teachers who will only take training when it means they get out of school. After all they are only paid for a set number of days and training is work related right? People in business take training on paid work days so why not teachers? But then there are teachers who just can’t get the days off from school. They have principals who don’t let them take off for professional development or contracts that require them to pay for substitute coverage out of pocket. Ridiculous? perhaps but I’ve heard from more than a few teachers that they would like to attend a workshop if only they could get sub pay covered. And let us not leave out the dedicated teachers who just hate to lose time with their students. This is especially true in AP courses where time is not your friend.

    Evenings/Weekends – Well there is no conflict with school or need for sub pay. On the other hand even teachers like to have some time with family. Or the inevitable grading. And after a long school day? Hard. But people do it. My wife has signed up for and taken a lot of evening workshops. A lot of teachers work on their graduate degrees at night as well. But it’s still hard. Which is better between an evening or a week end? Informally it appears that both are equally good. Or bad. People will tell me that one will work and the other will not but different people will tell me that in different ways.

    Summer vacation – I took a bunch of workshops during summers myself and loved them. To me that was the ideal time to take a course, a workshop or other professional development opportunity. No distractions. No pressure to do a prep or grade papers. But do I need to remind people that these are not paid work days? Some people will just not interrupt their well deserved summer vacation without getting paid for it. I suspect that some of these people talk about “life long learning” as it if is for other people BTW.

    But even without the no pay/no work attitude that a minority espouse it is often hard to build a critical mass of teachers. After all people take trips, visit family, work second jobs, and generally fill up their summers quickly. The well established workshops and summer programs usually need to attract from a wide geography to fill up. I’ve seen a lot of proposed summer workshops, even free ones, fail to get enough people to sign up to make them practical.

    Online How about webcasts? Things on the Internet that you can watch when ever you have time? I’ve heard a number of people propose that as the heart of a new model of professional development. It costs a lot less than in person training and it is almost completely flexible. But do people sign up for them and if they do sign up do they find them as valuable as in person training? It seems like the answer but is it?

    If you are a teacher when is your preferred time to take professional development and why?

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Recent Links Twittered April 03 2009


    It seems like I have been twittering (at AlfredTwo) a bunch of links lately. Usually these are light weight links, useful but not a big deal enough to write a blog post about. Since I know that a lot of people are not following me on Twitter (which is fine) and that a lot of people also look for things using search engines I thought I should collect some of those links in a post for future reference.

    Free Posters for your classroom from Microsoft – Yes there are product ads on them but they’re still nice posters. And they talk about things like cooperation and student involvement and stuff like that.

    @AngelaMaiers Twittered about an Education Jargon Maker – Just too funny but maybe you can use it to spice up a grant proposal of something. :-)

    Microsoft opened a web site to communicate about their NECC 09 involvement and announced an NECC scholarship sweepstakes (which I did blog about).

    I re-tweeted a Tweet from @MSOfficeResKit about Office 2007 tips & tricks

    I twittered a link to a CSTA blog post titled Do High School Computer Science Teachers Want a Professional Organization? that really deserves some attention.

    From @MrAndyPuppy I retweeted this link to DaVinci (Microsoft Surface Physics Illustrator) Can you imagine teaching Physics with that?

    Well that will give you some idea of what sort of thing I am Twittering about these days. Of course there is the odd funny link like to some xkcd cartoons. And some good conversation with educators around the world. So a mix of serious and fun. Occasionally something that is both helpful and fun.

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  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Are You Ready to go to NECC? Register for the Microsoft Teacher Scholarship!


    Hello Teachers!

    Would you like to attend NECC 2009 in Washington, D.C.?

    Microsoft is ready to help FIVE K-12 teachers attend the 30th Annual National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) June 28–July 1 in Washington, D.C.*

    NECC—the premier forum in which to learn, exchange, and survey the field of educational technology—features hands-on workshops, concurrent lecture-format and interactive sessions, discussions with key industry leaders, and the largest educational technology exhibit in the nation. And we want you to attend!

    Win a $1,500 subsidy for NECC

    On each day of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4-8, 2009), we’ll randomly select a K-12 teacher to receive a $1,500 subsidy to help pay for costs associated with your NECC registration, travel to and from and accommodations in Washington, D.C. If your name is chosen, we will contact you immediately to coordinate permissions and travel arrangements.

    Enter at: 


    Do you prefer Facebook or Twitter? We’d like to meet you, keep in touch with you, and give you a chance to meet others before you go.


    Join our Facebook group and socialize with others like yourself and meet members of the Microsoft education team. Note: To view our Facebook group you must log in to your Facebook account. Go to: 


    Connect with us on Twitter and be the first to know about Microsoft’s NECC plans. Follow Karla Tharin Hakansson at: 

    Check out more opportunities at our NECC 2009 website! 

    * No purchase necessary. Open to teachers / faculty members at accredited K-12 educational institutions in the 50 United States (includes DC). Participating teachers and faculty are eligible to win only if they provide a signed letter of approval from their educational institution. Contest ends May 1, 2009. See official rules for details.

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