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

June, 2012

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Interesting Links–25 June 2012


    Well I am not at ISTE this year. Sorry to miss it but in the long run it worked out as I am taking care of some important family stuff this week. If you are there I hope you will say hi to any Microsoft people you run into.  But Monday is for Interesting Links so here goes.

    Soma Somasegar, Microsoft’s VP for developer tools, write about the Imagine Cup at Students Developing a Better Future .

    Also I updated my Computer Science Education Blog Roll. More people writing blogs about computer science education it seems.  Anyone I'm missing? Please let me know.

    My VP Mark Hindsbo @mhindsbo: was reminding everyone to vote for the USA in the Imagine Cup People’s Choice voting – now at the world wide level. Please help celebrate great student developers and vote for team USA!

    Interesting idea passed along on Twitter by  @courosa: "Call for Ray Bradbury to be honoured with internet error message - 451" The idea is that this code would be returned when a site can not be showed because of legal censorship. And interesting idea and a good topic for discussion.

    Interesting article in The Atlantic about How America Can Get More Start-Up Talent Hint – include more computer science education. Seems like I’ve been saying that for a while. Maybe even at Computer Science in the Common Core–Speak Up

    Microsoft’s  Bill Buxton@wasbuxton posted a link to a catalogue of his interactive device collection: I think many students will find the collection an interesting and valuable starting point for their own looks into interactive devices. There is a rich history that not many young people know about.

    An interesting article I found via @blogCACM on Twitter What is the quality of academic software? It is highly critical of software developed by academics. Some valid points but some perhaps not as valid. Check it out and think about it for yourself.

    Incase you missed this recent post I hope you will check it out if you are interested in teaching computer science at an early age. Studio K – Program  to make Kodu Curriculum and Tools more accessible in Classrooms

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Computer Science in the Common Core–Speak Up


    Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I really believe that we need more computer science in education long before university. The only national influence on getting any computer science often seems to be the Advanced Placement Computer Science exam though. Good (or bad) as that may be it only effects a small number of schools (about 2000) and a small number of students (rightly 26000 in 2012 I hear). What we really need is for some influential group to speak up and say that computer science is core and needs to be everywhere.

     Achieve is developing “Common Core” standards that are moving into adoption in a large number of states. One would like to think that they would be including computer science in the STEM core but they are not saying much about it.  Aside from some mention of computational thinking (a good thing) the STEM standards do not really go strongly into emphasizing computer science. This is, in the opinion of many a real problem.

    Computing in the Core (CinC) which also runs Computer Science Education Week posted a position on their news page yesterday that I think is worth reading. From Tell Achieve that the Next Generation Science Standards Should Include CS

    Computing in the Core (CinC), which runs CSEdWeek, is deeply disappointed that both the math and science standards leave computer science by the wayside. While the math standards are well on their way to being implemented and assessed, Achieve’s new effort on the science standards is still in development, and they need to hear from you about the importance of having real, engaging computer science in these standards. (Draft Letter, .docx,.pdf,.txt)

    Those of us who value computer science education and believe that its importance is being under valued and under taught have to get up and speak up. Now’s as good a time as any. Later may be too late.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Thinking About Next School Year


    As the rolling schedule of school year openings and closings continues it looks like school is just about done everywhere in the US this week. Today is the last day with students at the school my wife teaches at. It seems like most of the local schools finished this week already. Of course in parts of the country schools have been finished for weeks. There will be the same sort of rolling start in the fall. Or actually the late summer as some schools start in early to middle August.  Still that is some time away and most teachers really need some time to clear their heads once school finishes for the year. But as a recent blog post over at the CSTA blog (Traditions of New Year) reminds us this is a good time for looking back AND forward.

    The summer is a great time to reflect on what worked well, what worked poorly and for computer science educators “what new technology should I be teaching next year?” Sure it is easy to teach the same old technology and tools. One can rationalize that quite easily with the reassuring statement “it’s the concepts that matter and we can teach that with the same technology.” There is truth in that statement as well. You can teach a lot of the same concepts with Qbasic as you can with Visual Basic and Visual Studio. You can teach concepts while ignoring phones and Xbox games. You can still do a lot with systems running Windows XP even though support has expired. But you also have to ask yourself if you’re doing the students any favors or just making your own life easier?

    More than ever students are looking forward for relevance to themselves and to career development. They are using new technology and they want to use it better and more completely. Sometime this year your students who get new computers will find them running Windows 8. This is two big steps beyond Windows XP. Windows Vista is past and while Windows 7 will be on a lot of computers for some time to come Windows 8 is going to be different. Will you be ready for it? There is a Windows 8 Consumer Preview available. It’s free! Summer is a great time to try this new operating system out and see how it works. You can also get the Visual Studio Express Beta for Windows 8  and start learning who to develop the new Metro style apps for Windows 8. You can be leading edge by the fall and ready to fly wit Windows 8 once it is released. Assuming you can get your IT department to install it.

    BTW I try to tag things I post about Windows 8 with the windows8 tag. You can use that to search for more resources on my blog. Trust me when I tell you there is a lot more of that sort of thing coming!

    Which reminds me – if you are part of a school IT department this summer is a great time for you to also install a copy of Windows 8 Consumer Preview and start testing your school applications software against it. Wouldn’t your superintendent be a lot more impressed by you telling them what works and what doesn’t yet work than you telling them “I have no idea what Windows 8 mean to us?”)

    Students are demanding more Phone development options in school. Today students have a hand portable device that they are using and what to create their own apps for. Are you ready to help them learn how? Have you looked at the free Windows Phone Development Resources that are available? Have you visited the Microsoft Faculty Connection to see all the free curriculum resources that are there? Oh and some cool Kinect resources as well.  Summer is a great time (OK after you’ve napped for a week Smile) to download some of these and teach yourself what you know your students will be excited to learn. Take a look at the list of Latest Curriculum Resources at the Faculty Connection that I posted recently. Great stuff there!

    Lastly think about the Imagine Cup for your students. Yes that means Big Projects! But big projects are change the world or at least change a student’s life projects. While a lot of schools have students enter the various game design competitions give some thought to a Software Design Challenge team and take some something really big. Will there be a Windows 8 specific challenge? Honestly I don’t know but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were. Wouldn’t it be great for a high school team to do well or even win if there is?

    Summer is a great time to recharge your batteries if you are a teacher. It’s also a great time for professional development. Will I see you next month at the CSTA CS & IT Conference? Self study is a great way to learn as well. Don’t let your brain atrophy. There is a lot of new technology out there and the resources to learn/teach it. Go for it!

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