Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Thoughts on #ISTE2015 Tuesday

Today was about the conversations. I was able to connect with a number of the people I respect and admire who I communicate with online most of the year.  One of the conversations was with Vinnie Vrotny who is one of the people whose work with MakerSpaces is an inspiration for me.

Vinnie and I talked about creativity and how it seems that too often we school the creativity out of students. Makerspaces with their open ended projects are a way to encourage students to recover and hold on to their creativity. In my visits to the exhibit hall I have been looking at creative maker space sorts of tools. There are a good number of them.

Another conversation was with Cameron Evans who is a education CTO with Microsoft. He was pointing out that there is a lot of the same every year in the exhibit hall.. Largely the same companies showing the same sorts of things, albeit in new versions, in isolation Cameron’s thought was that it would be interesting if ISTE got a bunch of companies to set their products up in a sample classroom of the future. It’s an interesting idea. A virtual school with different rooms set up by different groups of companies might be very interesting.

Some things do change though. The blogger cafĂ© is not as it once was. Having a space with chairs and places to plug in technology is great. At the same time the community is not what it was in the early, pre-power and chairs, days. A lot of people there are not big social media people are there. And that is fine. IT makes it a little harder for the bloggers/tweeters/etc to find each other. Not as easy but not impossible. I managed to find someone pretty much every time I stopped by. So better or worse doesn’t really mean anything – different is the word.

In the area of computer science I am seeing a little more this year than last. Most of it this year is focused on elementary schools. Code.Org logos are on almost every poster or playground session that involves coding for elementary schools. My interpretation is that code.org is energizing a lot of teachers. It will be interesting to see how that develops.

Speaking of code.org, the organizations founder Hadi Partovi was on a panel at ISTE debating the idea that CS should be required for all students. The discussion covered the usual points. Thinks like a shortage of trained teachers, trouble fitting it in the schedule and money of course. It was pointed out that most of the money these days goes to the things that standardized tests test. I think the session was attended mostly by people who already believe that all high schools (at least) should offer CS even if not a required course. I don’t know it if changed any minds but it was interesting.

Tomorrow is the last day and I am looking forward to the maker space playground.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Thoughts on #ISTE2015 Monday

ISTE is huge. I mean really huge. There are something like 20,000 people here in Philadelphia. There are a lot people here I want to see and talk to. I was able to connect with a bunch of them on Monday. Very lucky in some cases and we happened to bump into each other. Others I sought out and still others tend to be interested in the same things I am.

The exhibit hall is also huge. It is, depending on your point of view, the worst thing about ISTE or the best thing. There are a lot of people who get paid to speak about education and technology who will tell you the exhibit hall is too commercial. and down right evil.  And there are a lot of others who will agree with them. Other people see the exhibit hall as a place to learn about new technology and learn how to use it to teach better. I lean towards the latter. Yes, there are companies who are just interested in making a buck and others who are out to control education whether their products work or not. But I believe that most people in the exhibit hall honestly believe they are offering tools that will help make education better. Some of them may even be right!

I tried to get into a session on educational use of Minecraft. The line was huge and there were easily twice as many people as could possibly be allowed into the room. Needless to say I didn’t get in. I got a brief demo of it at the Microsoft booth but I still don’t “get it.” There are other sessions this week and maybe one of them will make it clear to me.

Also at the Microsoft booth I learned how to create a Sway. “Sway is an app for expressing your ideas in an entirely new way, across your devices.” It looks like it may be a more interesting way for students to share information. And maybe for me as well.

I also learned about a new student response system. I’ll blog more about that after a) it is officially released and b) I have a chance to try it out. I am hopeful it will make my classes more interactive.

Beyond that I am excited about all the robots and 3D printers on display in playgrounds (being demonstrated by teachers) and on the exhibit floor. My wife and I picked up a pair of Ozobots and a Finch robot that she will use in her school. OK one of the Ozobots will probably run around my desk in the fall. A lot of people seem to be using robots to help teach programming these days. (Note I list a lot of educational robots elsewhere on my blog)

The Maker movement is alive and well at ISTE. Lots of playground and poster sessions. Lots of 3D printers as I said. Most of the 3D printer companies seem to be developing curriculum materials as well. The authors of Makerbot’s curriculum guide are at ISTE trying to talk to teachers about how they are using 3D printers so they can improve the book for the next version. I find their people very friendly and very willing to help teachers BTW.

Tuesday I have some more sessions I want to attend. And I hope to talk to more people. The one on one conversations are often as educational as sessions. And I only made it about a third of the way through the exhibit hall today. So lots to see and learn.

Interesting Links 29 June 2015

I’m at ISTE in I’ve already connected with a few old friends and hope to connect with many more. If you are also at ISTE I hope you’ll track me down. I’m attending as many CS related sessions as I can. For links this week I have a mix. Some information about what looks like a great professional development opportunity and some humor for teaching about passwords among other things.

Last week Microsoft hosted a teacher boot camp  for about 40 teachers to learn about teaching with the material that is used in Harvard’s famous CS50 course. They are hosting a second on at Harvard in early August. More information at  https://cs50.wufoo.com/forms/register-for-cs50-ap-bootcamp/

Katie O'Shaughnessey@KTOCompSci (shown below) has been blogging about the Redmond boot camp. I think she had fun!

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Spaceballs 12345 is a funny bit from the classic movie Spaceballs it’s a humorous example of bad passwords

Bloomberg Business has an interesting article about The Old Coding Languages That Refuse to Die How did they leave out BASIC? 

Five of the Best Computer Science Classes in the U.S. is also from Bloomberg Business. You’ll find Harvard’s CS 50 on the list.

9 App Features That Developers Should Consider When Creating EdTech Apps is an interesting article from Sam Patterson @SamPatue If you are thinking about having students write educational applications

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What will go if we teach CS?

It’s a constant question that comes up when we talk about adding (more) computer science to K-12 curriculum. Katie O'Shaughnessey talked about it in her excellent post Day -1: #cs50bootcamp: It’s all about scheduling in schools… what will go if we teach CS? Brian Sea asked me via Twitter “why not ask students? They can vote with their feet.” If only it were that easy.

Yes, in theory students can vote with their feet – they can sign up for the courses they want to sign up for. In practice school guidance counselors have a lot of influence and they don’t always see the need for more CS. Much of the reason for that is that they are influenced by college admissions officers who don’t seem to emphasis the value of computer science in their process. Many of us have been asking for universities to look for more CS in incoming students for years with little progress.

The only way to really get enough  people to have some exposure to CS in K-12 (or perhaps focus in during high school) is for there to be a required course. That pushed the “where will it go” question and the fighting begins.

Art, music and world language departments are often the ones with the most skin in this game. They are the departments that depend on elective courses the most. And they are important courses. Adding a new required course may very well cut back on their enrollment. The schedule of a school day is a zero sum game.

I wonder though if the problem is not overstated in many schools. I teach at a Catholic school where four full years are required. We still require more credits than most of the local public schools. If we can find room for four full year courses why can’t other schools find room for one semester or even full year of CS? Oh and by the way we do have a CS requirement or graduation.

I think that rather than assuming the schedule is full schools should look at what is actually happening in student schedules. If there are study halls or students only taking a couple of courses their senior year than clearly there is room for a required CS course. If not, well, than maybe something does have to go but with the increasing importance of CS in every facet of life room for CS needs to be found.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Do Grades Kill The Magic of Learning?

I was reading Mark Guzdial’s blog this morning (A goal for higher ed: “There is magic in our program. Our program changes lives.”) and as often happen it got me thinking. His daughter is in a summer program with no grades and no tests. The idea is that students are there for learning’s sake. Scott McLeod also had a recent post about learning for the sake of learning - Summer of Code Scott’s family is learning to code on their own (with help from some online resources he lists.) Again there are no grades involved. It’s about learning.

Grades bug me. One summer I was teaching summer school at a prestigious boarding school. One of my students was very concerned that her good but not exceptional grade in my course would bring her GPA down to the point where she was not the top student in her class at home.This has stuck with me for probably 20 years now. How can we have a system where the grade is more important than the learning? And yet that is what we have.

I took my first computer science course near the beginning of my university career. I loved it. It was magic. I spent every free hour for the rest of my college career learning as much as I could. Some of it in classes but much of it on my own and with peers. My transcript may show how much (or how little) I cared about grades but my career over the last (gasp) 40 years shows, I think, shows how much I like learning.

I was lucky in that I had professors who encouraged experimentation and independent learning. They all seemed much more interested in us learning than in the grades themselves. It is an attitude I hope my students see in me as well.

There is a magic in knowledge, in learning, in ideas. There is no magic in grades. The hard thing is getting students to want to learn things. Passion from teachers can help. It is something I strongly believe teachers need to have to be good teachers. But it is often not enough. Grades are the club we use to force students to do things that we believe they will learn from. This often results in short term learning that fades with time. Hardly a good thing. In the long term this emphasis on grades as a mix of carrot and stick detracts from learning.

The trick, if you will, is to find other motivations. Motivations that come from within the student rather than being forced on them externally. As I look though my curriculum and plans for next year I will focus on what students found as fun. What made them want to learn more for themselves rather than just for the grade. When students want to learn to solve their own problems they seem to learn so much more that really does feel like magic.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Interesting Links 22 June 2015

I took it easy last week. Let’s call it retirement practice.  Hope you’re enjoying your self and if you are also on summer break I hope you are resting physically and mentally.

Only a few things to share these week.

CSP: IP Addresses and DNS with Vint Cerf doing a lot of the narration. It’s a really nice video which I plan to use with my classes next year.

http://Code.org grows CS Ed partnership to reduce the Babble in CS Ed via Mark  @guzdial But do we want the Babble? I think we want some variety. How much is enough and how much is too much?

ACM, CSTA Announce New Award to Recognize US High School Students in Computing – he official press release announcing the Cutler-Bell award for high school computing. 

EV3 Basic  is a new Extension to Microsoft Small Basic that allows Small Basic to interact with the Lego Mindstorms EV3 robot. May be worth a look if you are using robots.

Interesting video from ComputerCraftEdu: Starting to Program in Minecraft. I don’t know much about Minecraft but people seem to like it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

ACM/CSTA Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing

Gordon Bell and David Cutler are two of the big names in computing. Both dis amazing things at Digital Equipment  and went on to do more good things at Microsoft/Microsoft Research. They have decided to endow a prize for graduating high school seniors residing and attending school in the US. $10,000 to each of four students who are willing to put in some work to demonstrate their ingenuity, originality and desire to advance the discipline of computer science.

ACM, CSTA Announce New Award to Recognize US High School Students in Computing A few bits from the announcement:

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, and CSTA, the Computer Science Teachers Association, today announced a new award, the ACM/CSTA Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing, to recognize talented high school students in computer science. The program seeks to promote and encourage the field of computer science, as well as to empower young and aspiring learners to pursue computing challenges outside of the traditional classroom environment.

Four winners will be selected annually and each will be awarded a $10,000 prize and cost of travel to the annual ACM/CSTA Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing Reception where students will demonstrate their programs and discuss their work. The prizes will be funded by a $1 million endowment established by David Cutler and Gordon Bell. Cutler is a software engineer, designer and developer of several operating systems including Windows NT at Microsoft and RSX-11M, VMS and VAXELN at Digital Equipment Corporation. He is Senior Technical Fellow at Microsoft. Bell is an electrical engineer and an early employee of Digital Equipment Corporation where he led the development of VAX. He is now a researcher emeritus at Microsoft Research.

Eligible applicants for the award will include graduating high school seniors residing and attending school in the US. Challenges for the award will focus on developing an artifact that engages modern computing technology and computer science. Judges will look for submissions that demonstrate ingenuity, complexity, relevancy, originality, and a desire to further computer science as a discipline.

The application period for the inaugural award is scheduled to open August 1, 2015 and close January 1, 2016. The inaugural awards will be announced in February 2016.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Which Programming Language Should I Learn First?

I hate posts that pretend to answer the question Which Programming Language Should I Learn First? So regardless of the title of this post I’m not going to answer the question. Well not exactly. One problem with most such posts is that they answer it in the context of someone looking to make a career of software development. Lots of people just want to have some fun or perhaps solve a particular problem. Another is that they assume a motivated mature adult. That is of little help to a parent who wants to get their child started in coding because “that’s the future!” The next problem is the assumption that there is a single answer. Ha! As if.

For children, especially elementary school aged children, traditional text based languages are a problem. Syntax gets them all the time. Plus the graphics on traditional IDEs are boring. I like block based programming tools for kids. I have a list of block programming languages that is getting to be scary long. It’s by far the most read blog post I’ve written. So which one should you use with your children? I have no idea because I don’t know your children.

My recommendation is to look through several of them and see which one or two appeal to you and the child or children you are working with. Scratch including Scratch Jr are very popular. So is Alice. Both are used in many schools. I find that some students love Scratch and dislike Alice while others love Alice and dislike Scratch. There are iPad apps such as Hopscotch which are very basic. They may appeal more to younger children. At some point you may want to move along to something new and more challenging

If you don’t want to learn on your own trying to keep up with let alone ahead of your children take a look at code.org and their code studio. Code.org is a wonderful resource for home schoolers, parents who want to help their children learn and other who want a friendly environment for true beginners.

Now maybe your child is more interested in moving atoms than pixels. Robots might be the thing for them. I have a post on Robots for Teaching Programming if you’re interested. I just found out that there is an extension to Small Basic (a very nice language for beginners) that lets one program LEGO Mindstorm EV 3 robots called EV3 Basic. That post has more options as well including robots that are programmed with apps suitable for younger children. Again personal taste and interest is likely to be a big factor in success.

Lots of these tools scale up into high school by the way. App Inventor, Snap! and TouchDevelop are all used with success with high school students.

For more traditional languages there are too many options to name. Which one is best? That all depends on what you want to do. The language of the existing Advanced Placement Computer Science course is Java. I don’t recommend it as a first language. Others like it fine but not me. I like Visual Basic which some people hate because they have old fashioned ideas about what BASIC is like. If your second language will be Java (for what ever reason) perhaps C# will work. It has the curly braces and semi colons but also lets you do graphics much easier than Java does.

The new Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles (APCSP)  course does not require a specific language but some favorites are already showing up. Snap!, App Inventor are two of them (see I told you they scale up to high school) but Python and it’s cousin Processing are gaining widespread popularity from middle school to university level as first languages. You may want to find out what language your local high school is using – assuming they teach computer science at all. Most high schools do not.

If you are in high school and your school does not offer real computer science courses you may also want to look into what languages the universities you are looking at applying to use in their first course.

If you know that you want to write phone apps then your choices become narrower. For iPhones you used to be limited to Objective C and Swift and you’d have to have a Mac to develop on. If you want to develop for Android you can start with App Inventor or move along to the more advanced Android developer environment.

Or if you want to go multi-platform there is the Xamarin platform that lets you create native iOS, Android, Mac and Windows apps in C#. Since I love C# that is something I plan to learn more about over the summer. So many options I just can’t see trying to give one definitive answer.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Interesting Links 15 June 2015

First Monday of summer break for me and I sure do have a lot to do. Just none of it school related. I’ve got some good links to share. Some CSTA news for starters. And some fun stuff at the bottom of the post. Enjoy.

Dr. Mark R. Nelson, new Executive Director of the CSTA, introduces himself on the CSTA blog. Very exciting to have a new management team at CSTA. Especially as Lissa Clayborn, who has been acting Executive Director, is staying on as the new Chief Operating Officer.

Homeland Security Today: New Program to Advance Women in Cybersecurity Careers

Know an 18 year old US computer science major? Have them apply now for The Shutterfly Scholars $10,000 Scholarship & Donation Program.

What is code? Bloomberg News has the answer. Not just a short answer either. Pass it on to administration perhaps?

CS and Gender: A multi-year project via @DuPriestMath Lots of good thoughts and insights from Dawn DuPriest.

The Open Door Isn’t Always Open Chris Lehmann writes about what the open door really means. Is the door open if no one walks though? Makes me realize that just telling students the can come for help isn’t always enough. Sometimes I have to tell them they need to come.. 

19 Frustrations Every Programmer Can Relate To Some funny. Some less funny. All somewhat real

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From xkcd - this is what happens when just anyone can create their own programming language :-)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Last Day of School

Today is the final day for teachers at my school. Students finished yesterday. Through some luck of timing and hard work all my grades are already in the system. After our final meeting as a faculty, a closing of school Mass (I teach in a Catholic school) and lunch my summer break begins. Teachers know that is not quite the same as a vacation though.

Yes I’ll be spending some down time. Some great time with my now 8 month old grandson for sure. Some time in the water swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding. Some time reading for fun. And I will get to sleep late most days. But there is work to be done as well.

There is a difference, as one superintendent told me, between teaching for 25 years and teaching one year 25 times. I’ll be looking at the projects I assigned this past year and thinking about what worked and what didn’t. I’ll be revising instructions, tuning up my rubrics, and modifying my schedule. I’ve already been updating my PowerPoint decks but I will be writing some new ones and recording Office Mixes so students can watch them online. I’m going to revisit the CodeHunt exercises I created as well. I think I can make better use of them if I plan things better and create a few more exercises.

I’ll also be thinking about new and I hope better projects.And examples. I want to do more working examples with students next year. I also want to find or write some sample code for students to read. I’ve become convinced that students need to read more code than they write. I think it will help them see how things come together better.

I will be looking at replacing my Visual Basic unit, in my freshmen class, with a TouchDevelop unit. That will be a bit of work but I think it may be worth it. Kids really seem to like TouchDevelop and they can do some very cool things with it. I can’t just plug in a new language though but have to make sure I have the right projects for the programming paradigm and fit everything into a sequence that may not be exactly the same. Should be fun though.

Summer learning is important as well. I am hoping to learn a lot at both ISTE and the annual CSTA conference this summer. I’m also going to a smaller conference that I’ll talk about some time in the future. Few things in education change as much or as fast as computer science and technology in education. That is one of the things that makes teaching computer science so much fun.

Wow! I think I’m going to be busy. And that is a good thing. What are your summer plans?

Monday, June 08, 2015

Interesting links 8 June 2015

Final exam week at my school. Friday will be the last day for teachers. Assuming I get my grading done by then it will be summer time.   I lot to do around the house before I head down to Philadelphia for ISTE. I’m figuring out what sessions to attend today in between grading breaks. I’ve got a few good links to share. Some of them may suggest things to fit into next year’s curriculum planning. And for lab decorations!

NCWIT has a list of 46 girls-only summer tech programs. I think it is great that there are programs just for girls. Most programs are aimed at everyone but seem to attract almost only boys. In the long run we need programs that are more comfortable and safe for everyone though.

The ISTE Computing Teachers Network newsletter is now out and online. Lots of great information (15 pages worth).

Lee Kolbert has a post with a video about Intellectual Property - What's The Big Deal? It’s one of many from CommonCraft  

Coding Explained in 25 Profound Comics  a collection of CS/programming related cartoons. Some of them are pretty funny and some of them may be appropriate for a school computer lab bulletin board.

Check out this selection of student artwork created with the turtle feature in TouchDevelop

Calm TDKeep Calm Computing posters to adorn your classroom: These are based around TouchDevelop but I think they’ll fit in a lot of classrooms. I have a couple of them posted in my lab.

Visualizing how much code there is in different code bases  I see a new poster in my future.

9 programming languages and the women who created them Most of them were in the early years when software was seen as a woman’s job. Men did hardware. Others of them were as parts of teams which included men but typically only the men’s names are mentioned. All lead to other things and expanded the art and engineering of software.

Brand new on Kickstarter: from Codespiration. stories and activities to get kids coding. Looks interesting but I’d love to hear what others think.

Friday, June 05, 2015

And A Light Bulb Lights Up

Several people today linked to Tickle. Now I have heard about Tickle before. I even have it listed in my blog post about Programming With Blocks. But today I looked at it again and among the listed supported devices in the Philips Hue.image It turns out that I listed the Philips Hue as a supported device along with several types of robots and Arduino devices and drones but I never looked closely at the Hue. What is the Hue? In short it is a software controlled light bulb.

The lights connect wirelessly to a hub that can control up to 50 light bulbs. That hub connects to your Internet. One controls the various lights using smart phone apps. There are apps available for the major phones Apple, Android and even Windows. Obviously Tickle is one of the tools that lets one write software to control the lights but there are many more. There are also APIs for Philips Hue.  There appear to be several for Python for example. A bunch for JavaScript. And three for C# – which are the ones I’m looking at first.image

The bulbs are not cheap by any means but they are not as expensive as some robots either. I may have to get a couple of try them out over the summer.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Taking Things To Another Level

Many of my Explorations in Computer Science students are creating a version of the Lights Out game as their final project. (Instructions at the bottom if you’re curious.)  In this course we are only able to cover some very basic pieces of coding but they have enough information to write this game. Unfortunately they don’t have enough to write it very efficiently.

They have twenty five buttons so they create 25 click event handlers. Each event handler has between three and five if statements to toggle the squares. It works and works just fine. Well as long as they avoid making simple errors and that takes some concentration and paying of attention. Did I mention that most of these students are freshmen? Teachers know what that means. Of course this is an example of why brute force methods are seldom the best way to implement most programs. But when you have limited tools (and we don’t have time to teach every tool) one has to made do.

Some of these students will take our next programming course which is a full semester of programming. In that course we’ll get a deeper understanding of objects, we’ll learn about multi-dimensional arrays, and we’ll be able to implement this program with far fewer lines of code. For example,. creating an array of boxes means that three lines of code can do a complete reset of all box colors rather than the 25 lines of code my students use today. That code will have a lot less chance of missing a box as well.

One of the things I want to do next year, that I didn’t do this year, is to have students look at simple programs and find ways to make them better using new language features and new programming concepts as they learn them.  I’m hoping for a few “ah ha” moments.

More and more I want one thing to lead to another in a way that makes sense.

Image of Lights Out game boardLights Out – The game starts with 25 red buttons arranged in 5x5 grid. Each button pressed toggles itself and the four buttons around it (above, below, to the right, and to the left) between green and red. The object of the game is to get all 25 buttons green.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

You Know You Are A Computer Teacher When …

Recently I saw this meme posted on Facebook.
star wars name
Because I teach computer science and am always looking for interesting projects my immediate thought was “well this might make an interesting coding project.” It’s a chance to do some simple string manipulation.
And then there is this one:
academic speak
How about scanning a document at “correcting” the wording? I can see doing this one either way to inflated as well as to concise.
I also found this interesting post on 5 alternatives to the Fizzbuzz test for hiring programmers that has some interesting project possibilities.
See also What is Your Snowman name thanks to a tweeted link from Carolyn Petite.
Maybe I need some time away from school?

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Fun With Fonts – Adding A Little Extra Information

This week I was working through some examples of looping with students in my Explorations in Computer Science course.  We created a simple program with some nested loops to print some old-fashioned ASCII art. We created a triangle like the one below.

imageSimple enough. While I was working through the exercise before class it occurred to me that, logically, the result shouldn’t come out this way. I was, to my way of thinking, putting too many spaces in each row. Then it occurred to me that the font was responsible. The font in the listbox was the default font – Microsoft Sans Serif, which is a proportional font. That means that different characters take up different widths. Blank spaces are not as wide as the letter “X” and that accounted for the spacing.


The obvious next step was to change the font to a monospaced font such as Courier New which I did. The resulting image lines up quite differently even though the code is exactly the same.

Since this course is about a lot more than just programming, which takes up about a third of the semester, this provided something new to talk about.

Few of today’s students know much about typewriters and using monospaced fonts is not something many of them have ever done. Moving to proportional fonts for computers was a big deal back in the day. Type for printing presses has always (so far as I know) been proportional. It didn’t make sense to do otherwise. Typesetters used different sizes spaces to make sure things lined up they way they were supposed to line up. Using a computer with monospaced fonts it was pretty easy to line things up as well but the addition of good proportional fonts made things easier to read and nicer to look at but also make it very difficult to line things up at times.

Proportional fonts made the WYSIWYG editors and markup languages very important for getting good looking output. Students are used to these tools (some of them will eventually learn the LaTeX markup language) and use word processing tools regularly. We teach them about tab stops and other formatting tools. They’ll learn on their own that getting properly formatted output from programs they write themselves can get complicated. It’s probably good I give them some clues about that now.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Interesting Links 1 June 2015

Two more weeks of school for me. Our seniors graduate this weekend and then we have final exams for everyone else. The year has flown by. Soon I’ll be into summer mode. ISTE first and CSTA later in July. I hope to learn a lot and reconnect with a lot of people at both of them. Both events will help me improve my teaching practice. As do all the things I learn on the Internet during the school year. Here now some things I think are worth sharing.
Speaking of the CSTA Conference, Doug Peterson shares news about what looks like a  great UT Dallas Outing that is a free part of the conference (for registered participants). I’m really looking forward to seeing what is happening at the University of Texas in Dallas.
Ray Chambers is planning a  summer series of Touch Develop  Webinars via Skype Ray is in the UK so time zones will be an issue for some but that’s the case for anything these days. Ray really knows TouchDevelop though so making an effort to watch is likely to be a good use of time.
It's not late to Break Into Code! The beginner's coding challenge ends June 7th: It is for students 9-18 years old worldwide.
Create a Chatting Robot with @TouchDevelop and see if you can pass the Turing Test This is a lesson plan by Simon Johnson and Carrie Anne Philbin that looks very interesting. I may use it next year myself. I like the idea of of introducing the Turing Test in a way that makes sense to students.
Looking for projects? I’, always looking for them so this post on Five alternatives to the Fizzbuzz test for hiring programmers was something I found interesting. I may use some of them. 
Edutopia has a nice list of the Best Education Podcasts which may give you a lot to listen to and learn from over the summer.
Virtual Field Trips and Education (Technology) Inequalities is a post by Audrey Watters that makes the point that virtual field trips are not real trips. People seem to get excited about the idea but it never moved me.