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

October, 2010

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Microsoft Free Tools for Teachers


    Every so often I do a talk on various free software tools that Microsoft has available for teachers. The other day I did one such talk at the Mass CUE conference. In preparation I made a handout that listed the resources I talked about and then a bunch more. I thought that this might be a good time to post my latest list. Note that I always miss things because there is just so much available that it is hard to keep track of it all. You may want to check out from time to time to see some of what is new. The list with the logos includes what I talked about in my presentation while the list below that is a “kitchen sink” of tings I would have talked about it I’d had more time. I apologize for the lack of fancy formatting.


    image Mouse Mischief

    imageAuto Collage

    imageWorldWide Telescope

    image Photosynth

    image SongSmith


    imageWindows Live SkyDrive

    imageWindows Live Writer

    imageBing Search


    image Bing Maps

    imageMicrosoft Translator

    Lesson Plans -

    How-to Guides -

    Expressions Web Design course -

    Office Online -

    Add-Ins for Office 2007 Search Commands -

    Save as PDF -

    Getting Started Tab –

    Office 2003/2007 compatibility pack –

    Microsoft Math add-in for Microsoft Word -

    Learning Essentials for Office 2007 -

    Digital Storytelling -

    Windows Live Photo Gallery -

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    An Exploratory Computer Science Course


    One of the great things I get to do these days is to participate in advisory boards for Programming and Web Development programs at some local career/technical high schools. The other night is was at Greater Lowell Tech and they were telling us about their new exploratory course. The way things work at their school is that freshmen attend a series of three week long exploratory at each of the “shops” or technical programs. The idea is for the students to have the opportunity to try a lot of different things before they decide on what area they will study for the next few years. Now of course many kids come with pre-conceived ideas. Maybe it is cosmetology or auto repair. Or health care or agriculture or any of the other fields. But most are there will an open mind. So each program or shop tries to promote their course of study while at the same time setting realistic expectations about the work and learning that is involved.

    The Programing and Web development program is no exception. So there is a lot of career talk about to possibilities for jobs in these fields. They do explain that students will need college as well but that they can get a good start in high school. Then they teach some web development and some programming. This year they are using Microsoft Expression web for the web development part of the exploratory. They like that they can work with a split screen that shows the HTML code on the top and the way the page would look “for real” on the bottom. Explaining HTML is an important concept and they want students to learn it. Expression Web lets them do that easily.


    The programming part of the exploratory is done using Visual Basic. This is not an in depth how to program but a basic step by step introduction. Three is only a week or so to do it in after all. But what happens is that students get to see what programming is like and achieve some basic success. And develop a taste for more. In fact many of the students from the first couple of sessions of the exploratory are now staying after school to learn more on their own and from their peers. And it looks like enrollment may be up for next year for the serious sessions.

    One of the additional “selling points” is that students who enroll in the Programming and Web Development program of study get copies of the software  for use at home. Since the web development course uses Expression Web and the MSDN AA program, which the school is a member of, provides student home use licenses this is a great opportunity. Likewise the first real programming course also uses Visual Basic and students can install professional Visual Studio at home. For students who are motivated, and many of these students are very motivated, this is a great incentive.

    BTW there is a full semester web development curriculum and a bunch of individual curriculum items at the Expression Education page. And the Visual Basic project book  that Greater Lowell has adapted for use in their exploratory course in available from Visual Basic .NET Projects

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Imagine Cup 2011 IT Challenge



    Imagine Cup 2011 is the premier student technology competition. Inspired by the UN Millennium Development Goals, Imagine Cup encourages students to help ‘solve the world’s toughest problems’ using technology.

    The IT Challenge is about preparing students for careers in IT – skilling you in interpreting customer needs and managing configurations that require an in intimate understanding of how all the pieces fit together to solve real-world problems. Learn about the technologies at

    Register at for the IT Challenge to take the 60 minutes online quiz at your convenience during the 24-hour open period per the following schedule

    Round 1 Quiz Dates





    November 1, 2010

    Nov 1, 8pm to

    Nov 2, 8pm

    Nov 1, 7pm to

    Nov 2, 7pm

    Nov 1, 6pm to

    Nov 2, 6pm

    Nov 1, 5pm to

    Nov 2, 5pm

    November 17, 2010

    Nov 17, 8pm to

    Nov 18, 8pm

    Nov 17, 7pm to

    Nov 18, 7pm

    Nov 17, 6pm to

    Nov 17, 6pm

    Nov 17, 5pm to

    Nov 17, 5pm

    December 2, 2010

    Dec 2, 8pm to

    Dec 3, 8pm

    Dec 2, 7pm to

    Dec 3, 7pm

    Dec 2, 6pm to

    Dec 3, 6pm

    Dec 2, 5pm to

    Dec 3, 5pm

    December 14, 2010

    Dec 14, 8pm to

    Dec 15, 8pm

    Dec 14, 7pm to

    Dec 15, 7pm

    Dec 14, 6pm to

    Dec 15, 6pm

    Dec 14, 5pm to

    Dec 15, 5pm

    January 13, 2011

    Jan 13, 8pm to

    Jan 14, 8pm

    Jan 13, 7pm to

    Jan 14, 7pm

    Jan 13, 6pm to

    Jan 14, 6pm

    Jan 13, 5pm to

    Jan 14, 5pm

    January 30, 2011

    Jan 30, 8pm to

    Jan 31, 8pm

    Jan 30, 7pm to

    Jan 31, 7pm

    Jan 30, 6pm to

    Jan 31, 6pm

    Jan 30, 5pm to

    Jan 31, 5pm

    • Each quiz can be taken as many times as you’d like, during the designated 24-hour period
    • You’ll have 60 minutes to complete each 30-question quiz
    • The questions will test your knowledge around Windows 2008 R2, Hyper-V Virtualization, Exchange 2010, SharePoint 2010, Windows 7, System Center  2007 R2,  SQL 2008 R2, Office 2010, Office Communication Server 2007 R2, Windows Mobile, and other Microsoft server, client, and online products and services.
    • Learn about these technologies at
    • Check out the resources at

    The good stuff: cash prizes!

    The Top 6 finalist teams will score a trip to New York City for the Worldwide finals in July 2011 and compete for these cash prizes:

    1. First Place: $8,000

    2. Second Place: $4,000

    3. Third Place: $3,000

    Good Luck and see you in New York at the Imagine Cup finals!

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