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

November, 2009

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links and Twitter Lists


    Short work week last week. Not a lot of great links showing up in my RSS reader or my email inbox. It seems like a lot of people took the week off completely. I needed a bit of a break and I’m sure many others did as well. I do have a couple of interesting links to share though. Two of them are among my Twitter lists. Twitter recently added a feature that lets one create public and private lists of people’s accounts on Twitter. I’ve created several of them. And several private ones (like family members for example). I’d like to talk about two of the public lists though.

    @alfredtwo/education – This is a pretty good sized list – well over 200 people. Who is on it? Technology coordinators, computer teachers of all sorts, English teachers, Librarians, middle school teachers, education consultants, professors of education and related subjects and more. Basically I look for people who are in education and technology in education. This is the list of people I follow to learn about the latest in educational Web 2.0 applications. I look to this list to learn about new ideas in teaching, classroom management, dealing with administrators and tech support people and much more. This is my attempt to keep my finger on the pulse of education as it is shared on the Internet. It’s a pretty interesting bunch of people. One might even say eclectic as well.

    @alfredtwo/cs-teachers – This is a pretty short list right now but I really hope it grows. This is the list I use to look at Tweets (Twitter messages) from people I know to be actual computer science teachers. People in the trenches as it were who are teaching programming, serious web development, AP CS and other computer science courses. There aren’t enough of them out there in my opinion but I don’t want to miss anything the ones I know about say. If you know of people who should be on that list please let me know.

    You can follow either of those lists or any of my others if you have a Twitter account. Or just follow me @AlfredTwo and see what I find interesting during the week.

    Now for some other links.

    Karen Lang had a very interesting post at the CSTA blog called Down and Dirty Programming which is a fascinating look into a course she created to prepare students for programming competitions. It is a look into different learning styles, classroom management, and how students learn. This article is well worth the read and I hope you’ll do so and leave some comments over there as well. Join the conversation!

    CACM (aka Communications of the ACM) had an interesting article about how schools are making computer science relevant by adding video game development to CS courses. Closely related is a CACM blog post by called Games in Schools--Sugar-coated Learning? The latter is about educational computer games. Frankly I see a close tie between the two topics because I see a lot of interest in having CS students create games that are educational for other students. And perhaps as a way to  teach computer science. See Kodu for example.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Thoughts on the Edublogger Awards


    Earlier in the week I received an email telling me that nomination for this year’s Edublogger Awards are now open. Some really great blogs are nominated every year. Last year this blog was nominated which I thought was really great. I didn’t win which was not as great but honestly I can’t say that I am surprised nor that I felt like I deserved to win. The thing is that these awards are really designed for more general education blogs. What I am trying to do here is to create the very best blog resource that I can for high school computer science teachers. It’s a bit of a niche audience. And while others read and I hope benefit from what I write I don’t ever expect the have the audience of a Vicki Davis or Will Richardson (who is not writing as much as he used to unfortunately) who write about Web 2.0 and education by any stretch. Nor do I expect to reach the likes that Ken Royal, Doug Peterson and Larry Ferlazzo whose posts or articles, information and resource lists are useful to huge numbers of teachers around the world. And honestly I hope I never have a larger readership than Scott McLeod whose Dangerously Irrelevant blog is at the top of my must read list these days. So I don’t expect to ever win any big blogging awards. For a while that bothered me. I have a frail ego, you know, being a man and all. :-)

    I’m ok with it though. No really. As I look at what I am trying to do and who I am trying to reach I think I’m going ok. If you know of a blog that is aimed at high school computer science teachers that is doing a better job let me know. I want to follow them and learn from them. And try to do better.

    Since today and I’m in a thanking frame of mind what I am focusing on is thanks for the people who read here, who comment here, who share ideas and resources for me to post and share with my readers and most of all for those people who come up to me in real life and say “I get useful things from your blog.” You make it all very worthwhile for me. And I also want to thank the people whose blogs I have listed above for all I learn from them. Keep it up.

    Oh and the very best computer science related blog out there is Mark Guzdial’s Computing Education blog. But he and I are trying to do different things so I’m fine with that. Besides that I am grateful for all I am learning from his blog. If you are interested in computing education at any level Mark’s blog is a must read. Thanks Mark!

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    What does it look like?


    Every so often someone suggests a project and I ask myself “why wasn’t I clever enough to think of that?” Actually it happen more often than I would probably like to admit. There are a lot of really good out of the box thinkers in education. The other day was just such an example. And I learned about it on Twitter with reinforces to me the value of Twitter for learning. Chris Champion (blog Twitter @ChrisChampion) TwitteredAsking students 2 find images to describe programming terms.” What a great idea. The student finds a picture and places a good definition as a caption. Great memory aid!

    Chris went on to say “ROFL when student found an ad: child with lice inspection comb for "Debugging”” Kids are going to surprise you. They are often much more clever than we expect. I suspect that many students coming up with images to describe programming terms are going to come up with humorous ideas. Humor stimulates a lot in the brain so I suspect this is a very good outcome. But even without humor having images has got to be helpful in making ideas stick. And if you are stuck for things to hang on the computer lab wall there you go. :-)

    You can see the ad Chris’ student brought in here – Lice as debugging. If you try this with your students I hope you’ll share any particularly interesting results you receive.

    By the way I am on Twitter @AlfredTwo. If you’re on Twitter please follow and let me know you are out there.

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