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

February, 2010

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links 8 February 2010


    Well did you watch the Super Bowl? I confess that I did not. I’m just not that into football. Still I had a good weekend and as usual I have spent some time looking though my Twitter feed of the last week for interesting things to share. I hope some of you are finding this useful or interesting. It’s serving as a good way for me to track things and record useful (to me) information. And now this weeks list.

    Details for this year’s CSIT Symposium details have been released. I’ll be in California this Saturday meeting with the rest of the planning committee as we work out still more details but you can register now. I hope you’ll come. It will be at Google HQ. I think they are an Internet advertising company of some sorts. Doug Peterson (@DougPete) who is one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter is also on the planning committee BTW. So Canada is represented. :-)

    @TeachTec sent out this link to a Project Natal video that explains how yesterday’s STEM students are today’s creative wizards. It was created as part of the Connect A Million Minds project which is a Time Warner Cable effort in conjunction with FIRST Robotics and CSAS - The Coalition for Science After School.

    Also from @TeachTec - Getting kids to tell their stories and the free teacher's guide to digital storytelling. Share this with a lot of other teachers you know. English/language arts, social studies, you name it.

    The  @innovativeteach Twitter account linked to a blog post on their site called AutoCollage - a simple workshop Included in the post is information on how teachers can get AutoCollage for free.

    The CSTA Blog had an interesting post called Getting Students to Test Their Programs This seems to be a big problem with some students. They are either unwilling or find themselves unable to really test their programs. Do you see this problem? How do you deal with it?

    The CACM blog also has some interesting posts last week. One in particular got to me School pupils' attitudes to programming: "what's that?" How many students stay away from programming because they don’t know what it is? How about students who decide to major in computer science while being clueless about programming? How can we fix that?

    Alerted by @blogCACM on Twitter I found this  Bruce Schneier & Marcus Ranum point/counterpoint: "Should we ban anonymity on the Internet?" They spent a little more time just debating if banning anonymity on the Internet is possible than on if it is the right thing to do. But both make interesting discussion topics. Dealing with ethics in computer science in your classroom? If so this may make a great item to talk about.

    The @iRobotSPARK account alerted me to both the @roboweek account and to the First annual National Robotics Week which has been announced 4/10-4/18 Besides that article which lists some events already scheduled look up the National Robotics Week home page.

    New Learning Resources on the Visual Basic Developer Center (thanks to Beth Massi on the Visual Basic Team Blog)

    Today we revamped some of the Visual Basic Developer Center Learn pages with more content that allows you to pivot on more fine-grained topics and tasks related to Visual Basic programming. We’ve started with the Introductory Topics and Language Syntax pages. To get there, head to and then click the Learn tab. There you will see a set of general topic areas to explore.

    The US Imagine Cup Twitter @imaginecupus retweeted a message by @LouisIngenthron with a link to a post that shows you how to create a simple endless ocean for an XNA C# game. Just one of the latest posts at Coding 4 Fun.

    Are you following me on Twitter?

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Bliink Web Design Competition for Texas High School Students


    The Microsoft Corporation, NASA, the Texas Business & Education Coalition, and the State of Texas would like to invite you and your students to participate in the bliink web design competition exclusively for Texas High School students. Information at

    · Participants must register by 11:59 pm February 24, 2010 and use the referral code TexasNASA.

    · Every team member must register individually. Students who register are not obligated to submit a Web site; however, students who do not register by the above date cannot submit a Web site entry.

    · Final submissions must be received by 11:59 pm PT on March 25, 2010.

    Will you be at TCEA? Microsoft will be running an Expression Web Introduction session at 11 AM on Wednesday February 10th in  Room 410 at the Hilton – The same Hilton as a lot of other TCEA sessions will be held.

    You may also join us at TCEA for a three-hour hands-on workshop on Friday, February 12 from 8:00am until 11:00am

    Registration required (This web site is down as I write this but should be up Monday the 8th once the TCEA server move is completed.)

    SEE A DEMO AND ASK QUESTIONS about blink or Expression Web.

    Get Expression Studio free-of-charge for your school in our live webcasts. Check the schedule at Http://

    For more information about Microsoft at TCEA please see my previous post Microsoft at TCEA. I really hope to see a lot of my Texas readers at TCEA. Please at least stop by and say hi. Or is that howdy?

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    What Are You Learning This Summer


    No, really! Are you making your summer plans yet and do they include learning time? I have some ideas for you. First off is CS & IT run by CSTA. This is in my opinion the single best day of professional development of the year for computer science teachers. Great sessions. Great networking. Lots to learn. (BTW I am on the planning committee this year and will definitely be there.)

    You’re invited to the 2010 Computer Science and Information Technology Symposium, an annual conference for Computer Science and Information Technology teachers sponsored by the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA). The 2010 Computer Science and Information Technology Symposium will take place Tuesday, July 13, 2010, at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA.

    This event will provide a full day of relevant, practical, classroom-focused professional development for computer science and information technology teachers. CS&IT is also an excellent opportunity to network with colleagues, earn eight professional development seat hours, attend interesting and relevant sessions, enjoy a relaxing lunch, clean-up on product giveaways, and tour the Google campus!

    Take advantage of this great opportunity for professional development and REGISTER NOW for this outstanding event at:

    The cost of registration is $40.00.

    Enrollment is limited, so please complete and submit your online registration no later than Monday June 28, 2010.

    If you have any questions, please e-mail Barbara Conover at:

    Mark Guzdial is giving some Media Computation workshops this summer:

    Media Computation workshops are open primarily to University and College computing faculty, and First Courses workshops are open to all computer science teachers.

    • May 26-28, 2009 Workshop on "Media Computation" at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, CA sponsored by Mike Erlinger, Professor and Chair Computer Science
    • June 1-2, 2009 Workshop on "Engaging First Courses" at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, sponsored by Monica Brockmeyer, Associate Professor of Computer Science.
    • July 29-31, 2009 Workshop on "Media Computation at Northwest Missouri University's Liberty Center in Liberty, MO sponsored by Professors Carol Spradling and Dean Sanders from Computer Science.
    • August 3-4, 2009 Workshop on "Engaging First Courses" at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
    • August 5-7, 2009 Workshop on "Media Computation" at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

    To register for any of these workshops, please email Felicia Auzla<> with:

    Engaging First Courses Workshop (sponsored by NSF BPC Program): A whirlwind introduction to FIVE new approaches for teaching introductory courses in computing that engage students and help to broaden participation in computing: (1) Introduction to Media Computation in Python, (2) and in Java, (3) Introduction to Data Structures with Media Computation in Java, (4) Introduction to Engineering Computing using MATLAB, and (5) Introduction to computing using robotics using Python<>.

    All these workshops are free to faculty, with travel stipends ($200/person) and room and meals included, as well as a CD with all software. For more information please email Felicia Auzla

    Barb Ericson will be teaching a CS AP A workshop at Georgia Tech June 22-26th. This will not be a College Board endorsed workshop but Barb is on the Development Committee and really knows her stuff.

    […] teaching using Alice and Media Computation examples and Alice 3.0. Alice is free software from CMU that allows students to use drag-and-drop programming to create 3D movies and games. Media Computation is teaching computing concepts by having the students write Java (or Python) programs that manipulate media: negate a picture, reverse a sound, and make a movie. Alice and Media Computation is using Alice to introduce computing concepts without the added burden of typing the syntax and then reinforcing the computing concepts in Java using Media Computation. Unlike some books that start with Alice and then switch to Java we go back and forth many times to help students transfer the knowledge. We also stay in the movie making context. For example we use Media Computation to merge live action and Alice characters in a movie. See for more information on Alice and Media Computation. A book is coming out this summer and all attendees will get a book.

    Interested in Alice? THe last Alice News letter had this:

    Sneak Peek: Summer 2010 Alice Workshops

    We will be holding free Alice workshops in Orlando and Chicago this summer. Dates will likely be:

    Chicago: July 7-9

    Orlando: July 19-21

    We'll announce registration in the next e-newsletter. Note that since the Orlando Alice workshop will be held in a Disney resort, we are going to be requiring large deposits (which will be returned to participants at the end of the workshop).

    TENTATIVE dates for additional Alice workshops at Carnegie Mellon are:

    Alice Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh,

    June 21- 25 Alice 2.2 (Teaching introductory programming concepts with Alice)

    June 28 - July 2nd Alice 3 (Teaching with Alice 3 and transitioning to Java, for

    AP Java course or CS1)

    Alice workshop at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, July 6 - 10

    (This is part of the ITEST project for high school teachers from PA, WV, OH, and MD)

    Alice Workshop, Santa Clara, CA, July 26-30

    Also we are likely to have Alice workshops for community college teachers as part of an NSF-ATE grant... these workshops will be held in Camden, NJ, and Dallas, TX, but are still to be scheduled.

    Watch for registration information as the dates firm up!


    Helpful information on Teaching with Alice (course calendars, lectures, labs, assignments, exams, solutions, etc.)

    Download Alice, Alice community

    The Center for Visualization website. Archive of past newsletters; listing of grants; useful information

    for users

    How about Scratch? Then Scratch@MIT maybe for you!


    August 11, 2010 – August 14, 2010

    Come to Scratch@MIT and explore the ideas, applications, and joys of Scratch.

    Since the first conference in July 2008, the Scratch community has continued to grow and evolve, bringing in new people, new places, and new practices. Join educators, researchers, developers, and other members of the worldwide Scratch community to reimagine, rethink, and remix ideas about learning and teaching with Scratch.

    We will gather at the new Media Lab building on the campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to:

    • share stories of how Scratch is being used in homes, classrooms, and community centers
    • participate in hands-on workshops, to learn new Scratch techniques and strategies
    • discuss research examining how and what kids learn with Scratch
    • explore future directions for Scratch with members of the MIT Scratch Team

    Everyone is invited to submit proposals for posters, demonstrations, presentations, panel discussions, and workshops. Deadline extended to February 15.

    We are pleased to announce several exciting keynote speakers, including Sherry Turkle and Henry Jenkins.

    Pre-conference workshops will be held on August 11, with the main conference events taking place August 12-14.

    Conference registration opens on March 15. Early registration is $275. After May 15, registration is $375.

    Any questions? Please contact the Scratch@MIT conference chairs at

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