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

March, 2012

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    The Best and Most Innovative Teachers


    Being somewhat opinionated about the subject (who am I kidding – most subjects) and at the same time being more or less incapable of keeping my opinions to myself I have written here about what makes a good teacher a number of times. I’ve talked about subject matter expertise and passion for the subject and for sharing that knowledge several times. But of course its more complicated than that – most things are. In a recent conversation with a person whose job it is to help teachers become better teachers I was told “the good teachers all want help to become better. The poor teachers are not interested.” There is a modesty of sorts in the best teachers. It’s not that they don’t know that they are doing a good job so much as they are driven by the notion that they could do a better job. These are the teachers who have N years of experience rather than one year of experience N times. These are the teachers who try new things retaining and polishing what works to make it better still.

    These same teachers are always willing to share what they are doing with others. It doesn’t seem to be as much about thinking they are so wonderful as it is about a combination about being excited about the results and wanting to have other people suggest how it could be even better. I see this at conferences and forums all the time. Many of the best presentations are by teachers who were more or less pushed into submitting proposals. Others are by people who almost seem surprised at the success they have had and can’t wait to share it. It’s not an immodest sharing as much as an “oh my goodness this exceeded my expectations and maybe it will work for you” sort of shading.

    I was reminded of this all this morning as I read a couple of posts by tow outstanding computer science and information technology teachers -  Doug Bergman and Lou Zulli over on the Teacher Tech blog. Both of these gentlemen were recounting some of their experience applying for and being accepted at the Microsoft Partners in Learning US Forum. Doug talks about how the application process supported his own self-analysis of what he was doing in his school. (Guest post: One Teacher’s Point of View and Reflection) The process helped his own thinking about what he was doing, how well it was working and how he could explain/demonstrate that it was working. This helped him to share what he was doing in a positive way. And led to his attending the US Forum last year.

    Lou Zulli in his guest post  (Guest post: Educator Examines His Teaching, Shares His Learning) shares some of the lessons he learned about the application process and what he learned about innovative programs from his experience. It’s another good read for those thinking about applying this year  but also for people thinking about what good educational projects are. In the post he shares some of what the applications he read had in common.

    • Technology was not the focus of the lesson but the tool used for the outcome.
    • The teacher was the guide not the sage. Students were allowed to work autonomously.
    • Projects were cross-curricular and collaborative.
    • When possible they moved outside the classroom.
    • Projects should be replicable.
    • Do not create a project just for the Forum. It should be a project that promotes learning and advances your curriculum.

    Participating in the US Forum and the Global Forum that brings the best teachers from around the world together has been an invaluable almost life changing experience for the teachers involved. As a judge at last year’s US Forum I was awed and really honored to meet so many great and yet humble teachers. It changed me as well. I encourage any of my teacher readers to at least take a look at the program and look at the application, as Doug did, as a chance for self study. And since you will have filled it out anyway – apply.  If you get to go it may be the experience of a lifetime.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Windows Phone Software Development Kit


    I know I have mentioned the Windows Phone SDK (software development kit) a lot in the past but usually only as a reference along with other things. It really deserves a post of its own though. The Windows Phone Software Development Kit (SDK) 7.1 provides you with all of the tools that you need to develop applications and games for both Windows Phone 7.0 and Windows Phone 7.5 devices. In the past there were sometimes a couple of separate downloads required in order to make everything work together but these days one site has it all. At the AppHub you can get the Windows Phone SDK, explore the documentation, connect with the community and learn how you can publish apps and earn money.

    The Windows Phone SDK includes the following

    • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone
    • Windows Phone Emulator
    • Windows Phone SDK 7.1 Assemblies
    • Silverlight 4 SDK and DRT
    • Windows Phone SDK 7.1 Extensions for XNA Game Studio 4.0
    • Microsoft Expression Blend SDK for Windows Phone 7
    • Microsoft Expression Blend SDK for Windows Phone OS 7.1
    • WCF Data Services Client for Window Phone
    • Microsoft Advertising SDK for Windows Phone
    Download the Windows Phone SDK 7.1 for Windows Phone. The Windows Phone SDK 7.1 allows you to create apps and games for Windows Phone 7.5 and 7.0, and is available in English, Japanese, Chinese (Traditional), French, German, Italian, Korean, Russian, and Spanish, and includes productivity enhancements such as an app profiler and an improved emulator. The Microsoft Advertising SDK for Windows Phone is also now conveniently built into the Windows Phone SDK, making it easier to earn money through in-app ads.

    Related posts of mine include:

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links 19 March 2012


    Have you gotten the free software tools to develop for Windows Phone 7.5 and Xbox LIVE Indie Games Please take a look at these great resources. By the way I have added a new list to this blog of Useful Download Resources you’ll find it on the main page. You’ll find some good links there for:

    Kathleen Weaver has started an interesting project. She is writing about Programming in Visual Basic in order to teach programming. The site is in blog format so start reading at to understand her plans and goals.

    APCS teachers will want to take a look at Pex4fun, an online lab for APCS.

    Congratulations to Mark Guzdial for winning the  IEEE CS 2012 Computer Science & Engineering Undergraduate Teaching Award Well deserved!

    Doug Bergman is profiled in The Cross-Curricular Power of Computer Science One of the recent posts in a year long series highlighting teachers from around the world.

    Channel 9  @ch9 has a new video out: Bizzy Bees - A XNA for Windows Phone 7 game building walkthrough

    Stack Exchange Q&A site proposal: Computer Science Education

    Stack overflow is one of the top online forums sites for software professionals to ask and answer questions. They have a Proposed Q&A site for serous K-12 and post-secondary computer science educators that will be created if enough people committee to participate. I have signed up as I think this could be a great forums for sharing ideas resources and to build community among CS educators.

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