Monday, August 29, 2016

Interesting Links 29 August 2016

Classes started at my school last week. Whoa! Getting back in the groove is hard. But I have great students and fun classes so it will be ok. I spent the weekend in New Hampshire’s White Mountains which is why today’s post is late. It was great to relax though. So now some links.

CSTA Releases Revised Standards - Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA)

Here's how to do Turtle Art in Python! Is everyone moving to Python these days?

Giggletronics: Using MicroPython on the micro:bit Here’s some good information. I need to dig deeper into this stuff.

Feminist Computer Science Education "Helping" women in CS with impostor syndrome is missing the forest for the trees  I’m still making my mind up about this one. Opinions anyone?

Great getting started with TouchDevelop video I’m linking to it for my students. It’s really good and shows a lot in about 5 minutes. 

Computers Are For Girls, Too Nice post by Melinda Gates.

C.P. Snow keeps getting more right: Why everyone needs to learn about algorithms  by Mark @guzdial Alan Kay (yes that Alan Kay) continues the discussion in the comments.

Friday, August 26, 2016

App Challenge! Enter to Win $20,000 for your School

I had an email the other day about the Verizon app challenge. It looks interesting and I may have some students enter this year. The fact that coding IS NOT required opens the door to a lot more students. Anyone else using this with their students?

What is the app challenge?

The app challenge, part of Verizon Innovative Learning, is a nationwide contest in which middle and high school students are challenged to develop concepts for mobile apps that solve a problem in their community. It’s a unique, hands-on activity that teaches collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, and entrepreneurship, as well as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills and coding. It builds on students’ excitement about technology and aims to equip them with skills they need to succeed in the jobs of the future.

Gather your team. Dream up your idea. Submit your concept.

Design real mobile apps and your students could win $20,000 for your school. Absolutely no coding required.
Gather your team of students to put their problem-solving skills to the test and come up with a great app concept that helps meet a need in your school.
The app challenge, part of Verizon Innovative Learning, promotes:
— Teamwork,
— Builds character,
— Teaches critical thinking.
Find Out More


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cutler-Bell Scholarship Deadline November 1 2016

Dave Cutler and Gordon Bell have funded an amazing CS competition for American high school students. Last year’s winners had some truly impressive projects. Do you have a student doing some out of the box thinking and building something impressive? Have them look into entering this event. There is money and recognition in it for them.

The ACM/CSTA Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing is a prize designed to recognize talented high school students intending to continue their higher education in the areas of computer science or technology. 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.

The prize is a made available through a $1 million endowment established by David Cutler and Gordon Bell. Dr. 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. Dr. 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.

Up to four winners will be selected annually and each will be awarded a $10,000 prize which will be administered through the financial aid department at the university the student will attend.

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 2016 award is scheduled to open May 1, 2016 and close November 1, 2016. The winners are expected to be announced in January of 2017. 

Any questions? Contact us at

The Cutler-Bell Application deadline is November 1!

**Click here to apply for this year's award**

Monday, August 22, 2016

Interesting Links 22 August 2016

I meet my new freshmen students today. I hope they are as excited as I am. Should be a good year with lots of interesting things to try with my students. It starts with an attitude shown by this cartoon. I want to get them DOING things. New things. Innovative things. Projects that are about them!

And now some links.

Wisconsin eyes model academic standards in computer science actually they are looking for feedback. I hope they look at the CSTA Standards and the K12 CS Framework. 

Scratch now has  Educator Accounts That should make some things interesting and even easier for many teachers.

Microsoft announced the new Microsoft Innovative Educators Experts and Showcase Schools Spoiler alert: I was named an MIE Expert for the second year in a row. Great company to be included in. 

School study of computer science key to Irish knowledge economy  via @IrishTimesBiz People are seeing the need for more CS education everywhere th3ese days.

From Computational Thinking to Computational Participation in K-12 Education Really good and thought provoking post by Yasmin Kafai

imageStudents who are interested in creating apps should check out the Congressional App Challenge

Intel's Joule is its most powerful dev kit yet  via @engadget A bit pricy but looks like it might work for some makerspaces.

Supports for blind CS students: Guest blog post from Andreas Stefik /  via Mark @guzdial as a follow up to a post I linked to in last week’s interesting links post.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Interesting Links 15 August 2016

Teachers report on Friday this week for back to school. The College Board was making a big thing about Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles starting for real last week. Are you back yet? Seems like just yesterday we were celebrating spring graduations. I’ve been on social media less than usual or maybe e it’s been quiet as so many people get ready for school. In any case just a few links to share today.

Sheena Vaidyanathan took on the question of What’s the Difference Between Coding and Computational Thinking?  Her illustrations are a bonus

Technology allows us to teach students where they are.” /  I was interviews for Anthony Salcito’s blog highlighting teache3rs. It came out fairly well though I wish I hadn’t used the term “real computer science” in one reply.

Programming and learning CS when legally blind  by Mark @guzdial a must read if you care about #CSforAll No really you must read it.

Lastly US New Online edition did a piece on Get Experience at Top Tech Companies as a Teenager. I’m quoted but it is still a good article with some good information and links.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Trip Report: Advanced Placement Summer Institute

My school will be offering AP CS Principles in the 2017/2018 school year so it was suggested that the current computer science teachers attend an AP Summer Institute to help us prepare. Sounds like a good idea so Tom (Indelicato my department chair) and I signed up to attend the Institute in St Johnsbury Academy in nearby Vermont.


The APCSP workshop was taught by Jackie Corricelli​ who has been a pilot teacher of the CS Principles course for several years and has had a lot of training on the course. I learned a lot. One of the things that impressed me is that she models what she teaches. The workshop was very participatory and we worked though many of the things she has her students work though in her classes. This is a lot better than a “sit and get” sort of presentation that takes place too often in PD events. I recommend her workshops if you are looking for one for next summer.

I’m taking a lot of ideas home with me. Obviously I feel like I have a much better understanding of the performance tasks that students taking APCSP will have to do. That is probably the main reason I felt I needed more formal training than reading a book. The tasks have given me some ideas for my earlier courses as well. I’ve been making changes to our Explorations in CS course based on these ideas. I’ll also make some changes to how I have students  turn in and document programs in my honors programming and mobile apps courses.  Good ideas are ideas that work in different courses and levels.

Being in school full time is interesting. Living in a dorm, eating in a cafeteria, after school activities. It was sort of like being back in college again. Although the food at St Johnsbury is quite a big step above the cafeteria food I grew up with.  Dorm rooms are dorm rooms and I have stayed in a number of them over the years I have been teaching. The ones at St Johnsbury were pretty nice for dorm rooms. I don’t think HS students mess with their rooms as much as college students do.

They had a lot of adult interest activities in the late afternoons and evenings as well. It all made for a really good experience. Added on was the social time at meals and afternoons when I got to talk with other teachers. That was valuable and helped me work though a number of ideas and concepts. Picking the brains of other teachers is always helpful.

I’m very pleased with what I got from this Summer Institute. I recommend both the instructor and St Johnsbury..

Monday, August 08, 2016

Interesting Links 8 August 2016

Today is back to school for some students. Also for some teachers. I know some teachers who reported to school last week. Whoa! It’s getting close for the rest of us. Many teachers at my school were in last week to pickup new faculty laptops. Some really nice ones with Windows 10 and touch screens. Better (more performance) than my Surface. Though the Surface will still be my travel computer because is is smaller and lighter.

As it is I have started to put together some new resources for teaching various topics this school year. Some of the links below will be used by me. I hope you find some of them interesting and helpful.

Are colleges and universities really teaching courses like the new Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles course? Mark Guzdial has a list of College-level CS Principles Courses

Please take this Internet bandwidth survey to help a teacher. There vis a lot of data that that you could use in your own class BTW.

What are you doing to achieve #CSforAll? The White House wants to know

5 Free Cyber Security Courses to check out. A topic growing in importance and attracting more interest from students. has four new tools for teaching the Internet, Encryption, pixilation and data compression. They’re pretty cool and I plan to use several of them this year.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Interesting Links 1 August 2016

In parts of the US, teachers start returning to school this week. I'm not one of them but the time is approaching. Fewer than three weeks to go for me. It’s been a crazy busy summer for me. Last week was a week long Advanced Placement Summer Institute for AP CS Principles. A good session and I learned a lot. Trip report coming soon.

In the mean time a bunch of interesting links and some humor (at the bottom of the post) to share with you to start your week.

Doug Peterson seems to always come up with new and interesting ideas for projects. If you like programming assignments involving string manipulation as much as I do you’ll want to check out his post called  A cutie-pie string problem

The Future of Computing Education is beyond CS majors: Report from the Computing Research Association (CRA) Snowbird conference of deans and chairs of computing by Mark Guzdial.

NASA's 10 Coding Rules for Writing Safety Critical Program -   The focus is on C programs of some real complexity but there are some good ideas even for beginners in this post.

Google RISE Awards - annual grant program for informal edu orgs who promote CS for K-12/pre-university age youth
“The RISE program supports and connects not-for-profit organizations around the world to increase equity in CS education with a focus on girls, minorities who are historically underrepresented in the field, and youth from low-income communities.”

For your geeky pleasure - Decimal, Binary, and Hexadecimal Odometers – something fun to show students perhaps. Or maybe an example to ask them to code up? 

College Board Hopes to Broaden Access to CS With AP CSP the largest AP debut- ever!

Coding across the primary curriculum  Great post by Miles Berry by @mberry Miles is a really smart guy. He’s now on the CSTA Board where he brings a lot to the table.

150 Members of Congress from 38 states signed up to participate in the 2016 Congressional App Challenge  Has yours? Check it out as something with potential for your students to get involved with.