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

March, 2011

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Webcast Series for K-12 educators and teacher recognition program


    I received the following from the Microsoft Innovative Educators program today and thought it was worth sharing.

    1. We have a launched a new Microsoft Innovative Educator Webcast Series which will run monthly and cover a range of topics including strategies for implementing successful group projects online, exploring accessibility features of Windows and Office and "behind-the-scenes" tips and tricks of apps you use everyday! Many of these webcasts will be co-hosted by educators from this community! :)
      Register for the complete webcast series here: - and tell a colleague!
      These are free.
    2. The 2011 U.S. Innovative Education Forum (IEF) is Microsoft's premier, worldwide teacher recognition program that aims to showcase innovative practices in K-12 teaching and learning.
      As Microsoft Innovative Educators, you all should apply! You can apply as an individual, with a colleague or for a technology-focused program implemented within your school or district.
      The process is simple, complete an application available at:

    The IEF event is an immersive 2-day professional learning experience where you will participate in hands-on workshops and invaluable networking and collaboration with educators from the across the U.S. not to mention fun, professional learning excursions throughout Seattle.

    The event will be hosted on Microsoft's main campus in Redmond, WA (July 28-29) and if your application is accepted, Microsoft will pay all of your expenses and travel for the event!
    To learn more about the U.S. IEF, attend the April 7th webcast (within the series noted above) and hear from past participants and have any questions answered.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Top Read Posts February 2011


    When I look at the blog statistics for this blog I am often surprised. Surprised because some posts that I expect a lot from get ignored while others get more attention than I ever dreamed of. Other times I see that posts written some time ago (two and a half years ago in one case in this list) have soddenly returned to activity. And some posts from previous months are still drawing traffic even though they are not currently on the front page. Search engines account for much of this of course. People are still looking up IBM’s Watson and Microsoft’s Kinect for example. And sometimes someone with a large following links to an archived post sending many new people to read that post. So there is logic to the list of top read posts in February 2011 even though it is not always intuitive.

    Are Programming languages really languages? – One of several posts written this month that was linked to by the influential Code Project website. There are 21 comments on this post with people taking both sides of the question. I see that as very positive and the comments make for interesting reading. And potentially a good start for an in-class discussion.

    Fizzbuzz – a programming question Code Project also linked to this post, one of several project related posts this month – others were Credit Card Project and a link to Kenny Spade’s Triangle Shooter . There were 47 comments on this post as person after person tried to impress readers with their great code. You’d have thought I was looking to hire someone. With a wide range of different solutions and programming languages demonstrated I think the comments are very useful. I only wish there had been more discussion of the code – though there was some.

    Do your students understand this cartoon? A Golden oldie. This post was written in 2007 and is a discussion of a cartoon from xkcd showing an SQL Injection exploit in an interesting way. A blog primarily focused on global warming of all things ( ) recently used the same cartoon as an example sending readers to this post for the explanation. Apparently a lot of people were interested in that explanation. This proves once again that once something is on the Internet you can never tell where it will show up.

    What does Watson mean? IBM’s Watson computer recently beat the two top human champions of the Jeopardy! quiz show. Interestingly enough a Congressman, who had been a five-time winner on the game, recently beat Watson in a short match – see IBM's Watson takes on lawmakers in game effort

    How does Kinect work? This post from last November continues to draw in traffic via search engines. I recently updated the list is resource links to include an interview I recorded at Boston’s Museum of Science where I explain a lot of what goes into Kinect. If you are interested in Kinect then check it out.

    Kindergarten computer science Some information about computer science in the much younger grades. I am seeing a lot more interest in this lately. I need to address it more often I think.

    Teaching learning and the job interview – Posts on how to teach are as interesting to people as those on what to teach. This post takes about a could of teaching methods that are interesting if not exactly convincing to everyone.

    How not to teach programming See what I mean about “how to teach” being interesting? This one also has a bunch of comments and as usual my readers leave a lot of wisdom in the comments. They make the post more valuable than what I originally wrote. So if you missed the discussion in the comments it may be time to revisit the post.

    Resources for teaching binary numbers Month after month search engines bring readers to this post from April 2010. Apparently this is a big issue. So also check out my blog entries tagged with the Binary key word if you are looking for still more.

    Characteristics of a good programming project Computer science teachers are always looking for good projects but what exactly is a good project? Some of my thoughts are here as well as links to some posts on the subject from Hélène Martin.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Resources for Teaching Security


    I’ve been at SIGCSE this week and trying to soak up as much new things as I can. Today I ran into a couple of resources for teaching security in different ways. I’m still looking at them but at first look they appear to be potentially very useful.

    Elevation of Privilege (EoP) Card Game  Green Monster

    Elevation of Privilege is the easy way to get started with threat modeling, a core component of the design phase in the Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle (SDL).

    The Elevation of Privilege (EoP) card game helps clarify the details of threat modeling and examines possible threats to software and computer systems.

    The EoP game focuses on the following threats:

    • Spoofing
    • Tampering
    • Repudiation
    • Information Disclosure
    • Denial of Service
    • Elevation of Privilege


    CyberCIEGE enhances information assurance and cyber security education and training through the use of computer gaming techniques such as those employed in SimCity™. In the CyberCIEGE virtual world, users spend virtual money to operate and defend their networks, and can watch the consequences of their choices, while under attack.

    CyberCIEGE is available at no cost to agencies of the US Government by contacting Educational licenses are available at not cost to educational institutions by If you are student, ask your teacher to request the game. A free evaluation version of CyberCIEGE is available here. The evaluation version has limited capabilities, e.g., you cannot save games.
    You can customize and create your own scenarios using the Scenario Development Kit.

    cyberciengage header

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