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

November, 2010

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Lines Can Be Fun

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    Graphics can be a lot of fun for students. Well honestly they are fun  for a lot of adults. Recently I read a blog post by Cate Huston (Experimenting with a Visual, Activity-Based Curriculum) about some totally visual, graphical project based learning she was working on. Leading off was an image that brought back lots of fond memories for me. You see back in the old days before graphical capable monitors our best, often only, way to do colorful graphics was via dumb plotters. It was with one of those that I discovered computer graphics and with that the interested things one could do with straight lines. For years (dare I suggest decades) my graphical version of “Hello World” has looked something like this.

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    Don’t you just love the patterns? OK may be it is just me. The code for this example is in Small Basic BTW and looks like this:

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    Pretty simple. The first version of that I ever wrote was in FORTRAN and I’ve lost count of how many times I have written it since. It’s a simple fun example and it makes a good demonstration of simple looping. But you can get a lot more complicated. You can also have it draw in all four corners like the sample on Cate’s blog post.

    One of my favorite programs from college was a program that drew shapes based on how many sides I asked for. OK that was too simple so I then had the program rotate the shape and shrink it until small and then increase the size until full sized again.What did you get? Something like this.

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    Those are obviously three and seven sided figures. (That program is written in Visual Basic FWIW) There are patterns in both that I never anticipated before I had the computer draw them for the first time. They are caused by moiré patterns BTW. A two sided shape really surprised me but I leave drawing that to the student.  In fact it was the surprises that made this program so much fun for me.

    Several of my friends experimented with graphing different equations while we were in college. Some of them created some very interesting designs that way. I think when we think graphing equations we look at things that are linear or very simple but a real mathematician can, I am sure, find some equations that are a lot more visually interesting and dare I suggest surprising to students. It seems to me that a bit of a surprise  can be a good thing. We need more of it!



  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Windows Phone 7 Development for Absolute Beginners

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    I’m excited about this. It is a series of videos designed as a four day workshop for learning Windows Phone 7 development. And it is for absolute beginners not seasoned professional developers. It’s from Microsoft’s Channel 9 team and so the production quality as well as the technical information is rock solid. May be just the thing for getting started in smart phone development in school, as a hobby or even eventually career work. Check it out.

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    What:    Beginners learning to develop in a few hours using Windows Phone 7

    Where: http://r.ch9.ms/BeginnerWP7Dev

    Channel 9 has just launched an all new series that teaches beginning developers with little programming experience how to develop applications for Windows Phone 7. This series assumes that you have absolutely no knowledge of C#, Silverlight, or mobile development.  In just a few hours, you will understand the needed concepts to build applications.



  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    EduBlogger Nominations 2010

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    I have this whole mixed emotion thing with the EduBlogger awards. On one hand I think that everyone who blogs in education is a positive force and basically a “winner.” They are contributing to idea sharing, resource sharing, and a whole world wide conversation about making education better for everyone. This is just an exciting thing to be a part of. Also if there are winners that also seems to imply losers which is not exactly an incentive. But then on the other hand there are people who are just doing such an outstanding job that it feels good that they get some recognition. Now in general the best blogs and best Twitter users have large audiences already. That gives them an edge in winning anything that involves a popular vote. But should they be penalized for that? Or is it better that the best get still larger audiences which will allow them to share even more ideas – including one hopes ideas from other people who don’t yet have a great audience? So with all that I have decided to nominate a few people this year.

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    My Nominations for The 2010 Edublog Awards are:

    Best Individual blog - Dangerously Irrelevant This is a tough category to pick just one blog for. There are many outstanding blogs that I could nominate. But forced to pick just one, this blog by Scott McLeod is a great choice. Incredibly well-written, full of great insights and ideas this blog is a conversation starter. It is a blog that educators at all levels and in all roles can learn from. Scott is on Twitter @McLeod

    Best school administrator blog - Principals Page The Blog This is not your average blog by a superintendent of schools. There is lots of humor here. Intermixed with fun links and discussions are some real insights into being a school administrator. I retweet links to this blog a lot and it is one of my first reads of the day. He’s also on Twitter @principalspage

    Best resource sharing blog - Doug - off the record I hesitate to nominate Doug Peterson in this category because its one I might get nominated in. But it would be an honor to lose to him. He’s a great guy and shares many many great links and ideas. His eclectic mix of links which come out daily includes something for just about everyone in education. His point of view posts are full of wit and wisdom. If you are not following Doug you should be. And he’s on Twitter @DougPete.

    Best Group BlogThe Educators’ Royal Treatment This group blog has an outstanding group of contributors from all areas of education. Managed by Ken Royal (Twitter @KenRoyal) there are posts on many education topics and they tend to be particularly well written.

    Most influential tweet / series of tweets / tweet based discussion - #edchat So much more than a hashtag, this is a regular global education discussion on Twitter. It is a must follow and must participate in activity.



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