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

September, 2011

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Computer Science Education Act


    One of the big issues with computer science education is that it is not an integral part of the curriculum It is almost always an elective and doesn’t count as meeting specific graduation requirements. And then there is the whole issue of lack of teacher certification standards and standard curriculum. About the only standard in education is the Advanced Placement curriculum and it is far from universally accessible. It looks like a couple of members of Congress are trying to address these issues. (From Robert P. Casey Jr. | United States Senator for Pennsylvania: Newsroom – Press Releases.)

    U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) today introduced the Computer Science Education Act, which will help prepare Americans for the more than 1.5 million high-wage computing jobs that are expected to be created in the U.S. by 2018. The bill will help states to increase and strengthen their computer science offerings in K-12 education.

    To reverse these troubling trends and prepare Americans for jobs in this high-wage, high-growth field, the Computer Science Education Act will:

    • Ensure computer science offerings are an integral part of the curriculum;
    • Develop state computer science standards, curriculum, and assessments;
    • Improve access to underserved populations;
    • Create professional development and teacher certification initiatives, including computer science teacher preparation programs in higher education;
    • Form a commission on computer science education to bring states together to address the computer science teacher certification crisis; and,
    • Establish an independent, rigorous evaluation of state efforts with reporting back to Congress and the administration.

    It sounds good. I haven’t read the bill yet as it doesn’t seem to be in the Library of Congress Thomas database yet so I’m not ready to endorse the specifics of course. But I do like the sounds of what I read on Sen. Casey’s press release. There is no telling how far a bill like this well go and even if it passes it may be very different by that time. But at least some in Congress are aware of the issue and trying to do something about it. A while back we saw Computer Science Education Week get Congressional support. Another step in the right direction though it is too early to see how much difference that makes. CS Ed Week doesn’t force or even incent states to solve the issues we see in Computer Science Education though. When ever you force people to do anything, no matter how good it is for them, there is resistance. IF this bill starts some conversations that would be a good start. We’ll have to see where it goes from here.

    EDIT: You can read the bill at

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links 20 September 2011


    I really had to post the information about the new Game development course yesterday (Game Development with XNA Curriculum–Semester Course). I’m pretty excited about that material. Teacher developed and tested and aligned to standards. And it is game development. How cool is that? Closely related to that the opening of the new Imagine Cup US website (Blogged at Imagine Cup 2012–Changing The World For The Better last week). It’s not too soon to think about putting some student teams together for that. Most high school students we’ve seen have competed in the Game Design or IT Challenge.. I’m hoping we see some highly motivated students enter this year though. Of course I ran into more stuff than that last week. This week’ links include a number of opportunities for students and teachers.

    Start with the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing for high school girls.

    The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing honors young women active and interested in computing and technology. We are looking for next generation of technical talent. Award winners receive cool prizes, gadgets, scholarships and all girls can join a community of fellow technically-inclined young women..

    And don’t forget the NFTE World Series of Innovation that I wrote about last week. It’s a really interesting set of challenges for students in a wide range of ages.

    Program Call for Participation ISTE 2012 Now open thru Oct. 5 San Diego here we come. Are you doing interesting things in your computer science courses? We really need more CS related presentations at ISTE. There are always a good bunch of CS teachers there looking for new ways to do things.

    Do you have things planned for Computer Science Education week? 4-10, 2011 – is a call to action to share information and offer activities that will advocate for computing and elevate computer science education for students at all levels.”


  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Game Development with XNA Curriculum–Semester Course


    Revitalize your Computer Science program with Game Development with XNA: Semester 1. This exciting and engaging computer science semester course enables students to apply a basic foundation in programming to create games and simulations for social causes using C# and Microsoft XNA Game Studio. Teaching resources and C#/XNA software are free.

    C# is a modern, professional object-oriented programming language which when combined with the Microsoft XNA framework creates the XNA Game Studio – a professional game development environment for PC, Xbox 360, and Windows Phone. 

    Students will:

    • Address social causes and real-world problems
    • Explore game and simulation development as communication and art
    • Apply knowledge of variables, conditionals, loops, object-oriented programming, recursion, and data structures to game creation.

    The free curriculum package includes:

    • Teacher Roadmap
    • Daily lesson plans
    • Demonstration projects
    • 14 video tutorials
    • 22 lab assignments and solutions
    • Student activities
    • Assessment tools with keys and exemplars

    Lessons are aligned to CSTA, ITEA-STL, and ISTE-NETS standards. An online Microsoft Partners in Learning community provides support for teachers. Student-directed learning resources support independent learning, freeing teachers to focus on instruction of computer science concepts and student assessment. 

    Success Scenario: Students who have had experience with a structured programming language and a basic understanding of variables, conditionals, loops, and object-oriented design.

    Download today! Teacher Roadmap | Part 1 Basics | Part 2 Games for All | Appendix

    Contact for additional information.

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