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Now I taught middle school during the longest year of my life. And I do guest talks at middle schools all the time. But honestly I do not have the knack for doing it full time. My wife does and I know many wonderful middle school teachers who do. The thing is with middle school students is that you never really know what they are going to be up to next. Bill Gates started with computers in middle school. One of the most read blog posts I ever wrote was about a 12 year old who created his own web browser. Today I was reading about Johnny Simmons on the Windows Phone Developer Heroes Landing Page. Not long ago I got slapped for suggesting that college Phone development was a big deal - Student Develops Games For Windows Phone 7 – well hopefully this is young enough to be impressive. Johnny is 13!
You could say Johnny has apps. In fact he has at least 15 apps on the marketplace. DrawPad, pictured above with two other apps, is the most popular though Johnny likes Ink Notez best. His Dad helps him a little with the user interfaces and graphics but the code is Johnny’s work. Most recently Johnny took part in a Windows Phone 7 Hackathon in Bellevue WA and took first place for the app he created there. Now that is impressive! People come to Hackathons to learn but also to show off.
Like a lot of students, Johnny got his start through the DreamSpark program. DreamSpark is the best way for students to get free development software and to start following their dreams. So take a look at Johnny Simmons’ story on the Windows Phone Developer Heroes Landing Page. And then start working on your own dreams.
If you want more of a start, check out these previous posts for more information:
Andrew Parsons is the Game Capitan for the Worldwide Imagine Cup Game competition. This gives him a good close look at the competitors especially the finalists. This week he has posted summaries of the finalists in the three competition fields.
Embryonic is a combination of arcade style games to promote awareness and education of maternal health. The primary game is an Asteroids-style game where the player is put in charge of protecting an unborn child while later levels revolve around other parts of the process, including the umbilical cord and nutrients being delivered, as well as an awareness of rudimentary genetics.
Azmo the Dragon is a 2D side-scrolling game that helps children learn about their asthma as they play as a dragon who destroys civilizations.
Every week end I go to grab my Twitter stream and the notes I have taken over the week and ask myself “Do I have any thing interesting this week?” Invariably I have more than I expected. Stuff flows like crazy many weeks. While I pass a lot of it back out via Twitter I find that that is a transient media. Oh it’s great if you have time to follow it (and I don’t always) but you are bound to miss a lot. It also doesn’t feel like a good archive either. So something may come by while you don’t need it but not be easy to find when you do. That is why I believe that these weekly posts are a better way for me (and I hope others) to find things when I need them. Blogs are searchable.
Tara Walker recorded an hour long workshop on building Windows Phone apps that is now available for viewing. May be a good way for you (or students) to get started.
Coding for Fun (@coding4fun) posted some resources for the "graphically challenged" among us with places we can get resources that can be used in XNA games. Trust me – your programming students are probably not the graphic artists them may think they are. These are useful resources.
Learning to learn Is a great post by Garth, a CS teacher and frequent commenter on this blog, who does what good teachers do - help students to learn how to learn more. I recommend this post and Garth’s blog in general.
Have you students seen the big summer deal from Microsoft? Qualified students who buy a new Windows PC and get a free Xbox 360, too. For your graduating seniors – every dorm room can use a new Windows PC and an Xbox 360.
Programming concepts in Scratch is a very helpful post from Gail Carmichael (@gailcarmichael) . If you are using Scratch or looking into using Scratch for teaching computer science or programming concepts check out her post.
Some interesting things from Microsoft Research (@MSFTResearch:) this week How much energy is your computer really using? Download Joulemeter and find out. May be just the thing to spark conversations about power usage of computers and how that impacts both society in general and computer hardware design in specific.
Teachers looking to attend Microsoft’s Innovative Educators Forum this summer have created videos. There is a people’s choice voting now open and you can vote for your favorite People's Choice video – Two most "liked" videos go to Microsoft Innovative Educator Forum ( via @TeachTec)
Great article by @Dean Kamen on @CNN : Want U.S. to keep tech edge? Teach kids science
Insightful post by Mark Guzdial (@guzdial) If you want CS in High School, Require CS in college You have to wonder why don’t more colleges require some computer science? They require math and other sciences. CS is pretty key to the future of almost all fields. If they did require it in college, as Mark says, a lot more high schools would jump to teach it.
I had to link to this video -- 5 year old & Visual Studio – In it a five year old explains why “she likes” Visual Studio 2008. It’s funny, its cute, but there is a lot about what is in the product shown in the video.
Sitting = Bad is an info graphic posted by Ed Donahue (@CreepyEd) about how bad sitting is for you. I have been thinking about a standing desk myself. I’ve also read some things that suggest that standing desks might be helpful for the sort of student who just can’t sit still as well. Either way some things to think about.
One last thing, if you are on Twitter I hope you will follow my updates at @AlfredTwo Thanks!