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Do It Without Code

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 1 October, 2014 - 23:27

One of the projects I like to assign involves counting the letters in a set of text. In other words, how many times does each unique letter appear in a string. How many “a”s, “b’”s, etc. I usually want some thing that looks like this:

Students generally understand what I am looking for very easily. Writing the code seems to be harder. Students tend to say they don’t know where to begin. At first this project is pretty abstract to them. So today I tried something different.

I put a sentence on the board and asked them to count the letters on paper. Five minutes later we talked about how they got their count.

This was pretty interesting to me. There were several different ways of doing this which were different from how I approached the problem. Several students took the first letter in the string (a “T” in this case), copied it to a piece of paper and then traveled the length of the string counting how many times “T” was there. Then they looked at the next letter, copied it and again searched through the rest of the string counting that letter. And so on.

Other students listed all 26 letters and went from letter to letter in the string making a hash mark next to the appropriate letter on their list.

There were subtle variations on these two solutions but the basics were the same. The second solution is the one I have coded many many times over the years to where it has become the only solution I think about. The first one though is pretty interesting though.

Having two solutions game me a wonderful opportunity to talk about analyzing algorithms for efficiency. In this case we have an obvious tradeoff between space (the first solution optimizes how many counters we use) with performance (the first solution does a lot more comparisons). I wish I could say I’d planned that.

Regardless of intent I think we had a good discussion. Now we’ll see how the students do at converting the ideas into code.

Categories: Planet

We Need to See beyond The “Tool”

The Principal of Change George Couros - 1 October, 2014 - 09:37

I have ensured that I never say, “Technology is just a tool”, because I know the power it can have when used in meaningful ways.  Don’t believe me? Watch as this boy hears for the first time and see how technology will transform his life from here on out.

Does technology seem like just a “tool” to the boy who spent his life with a stammer and then had a teacher give him an iPod that empowered him to speak in front of his classmates?  (By the way, he ended up getting his own show.)

Or just a tool to Martha Payne, the young blogger who raised “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to feed children in Malawi?

Or even the girl who had an author she admired comment on her blog without even trying?

Or so many other stories of people having incredible new opportunities that technology afforded them.

Yes, any technology is a “tool” if we are going to argue over semantics.  But I rarely hear people talking about referring a pencil or a pen as a “tool” because we know that the ability to read and write is transformational to lives.  But with new technologies, we can go a lot further than we have ever imagined.  That is why I have been so focused on the idea of the “Innovator’s Mindset” recently;  if we think differently about what these “tools” can afford our students, we can help them create opportunities that we could not have even imagined or had to access to when we were kids.

To create “different”, and ultimately “better”, we need to think different.

Sometimes I feel that when we say “technology is just a tool” as educators, we forget that our roles are much more than teaching a curriculum, but to not only help transform the lives of our students, but to help them create a better world.  I believe that we need to inspire our kids to do something better, and ultimately, what they do, will inspire right us back.  That takes a lot more than what any curriculum offers.  That is why I become a teacher.

Technology will never replace great teachers, but technology in the hands of a great teacher can be transformational.  

There is so much more we can do now with and for our students; we need to embrace that.



Categories: Planet

In Edinburgh: Thinking About The Scottish Enlightenment & Contemporary Australia

Darcy Moore's Blog - 1 October, 2014 - 09:01

“This was a townscape raised in the teeth of cold winds from the east; a city of winding cobbled streets and haughty pillars; a city of dark nights and candlelight, and intellect.”      Alexander McCall SmithThe Sunday Philosophy Club

“Edinburgh is alive with words.”  Sara Sheridan

Climate change argument is absolute crap.” Tony Abbott

“Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia.” Tony Abbott

Edinburgh has exceeded our expectations as a travel destination. The spectacular location of the city, architecture and wealth of history to explore is really exceptional. I was not cognisant of just how grand the Scottish capital became in the 18th century and did not know the city was referred to as the ‘Athens of the North’ until visiting last week. Wandering the streets and enormous public parks or ascending the extinct volcanic rim that provides such mighty, magisterial views of the capital, shows why this moniker is justified. The city is just magnificent – classical and romantic – for spending time reflectively. You must visit if you have not already had the chance.

When first exploring any city the pleasures of trying to get a sense of the place is one of the great joys of travel. I loved the vibe in Edinburgh’s open spaces and old streets. It was impossible not to notice how many people had books out in public. I saw numerous bibliophiles reading while walking. Reputedly, almost 20% of the population comprises of students who attend the four universities in the city and this continues a tradition that stretches back to the 18th century when Edinburgh experienced an intellectual golden age.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

The Capital of the Mind

Reading the Capital of the Mind: How Edinburgh Changed the World by James Buchan by night during our stay, to complement what I was seeing during the day, has been instructive as the Scottish Enlightenment never previously consumed much of my (reading or thinking) time. David Hume and Adam Smith are familiar thinkers but many of the central figures of the period (other than the poets and novelists) are not so well-known to me. This has been an oversight that needed correcting, especially in these Dark Times where Enlightenment principles are being decried in public and political discourse in Australia by our federal government.

The thinkers during this period of Scottish Enlightenment had quite a radical belief in the primacy of human reason and rejected any authority that could not be justified by this reasoning. As one reviewer summarised effectively:

This was the group of geniuses and atheist bachelors whose abrupt arrival on the scholarly scene gave us the foundations of modern Western politics, science and philosophy. Edinburgh had surprised and surpassed itself.

The story of how an extremely conservative, religious society bred thinkers that effectively laid the foundations for modern society is intellectually fascinating – and unexpected. I will not summarise here other than to say that 1746, the Battle of Culloden, was the end of the Middle Ages and Scotland started to benefit from the growth of literacy and a burgeoning tradition that valued education. What was sown, was reaped. A bookish, scientific and rational culture developed quickly in response to the joyless madness of what passed as religion in the capital. Edinburgh soon became a centre of learning, especially for the medical sciences and philosophy. The very geography of the city seems to have assisted so many to aspire to the loftier places of the intellect.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Calton Hill and Holyrood Park

My favourite space in Edinburgh quickly became, with its commanding views of the city, Calton Hill. Walking around the National Monument, seeing Arthur’s Seat, once a prehistoric hill fort in the distance, is truly an uplifting, transcendental experience. One really has the sense of this post-Enlightenment era building project reflecting the spirit developed in that age. James Hogg, in his The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner wrote:

“An exaltation of spirit lifted me, as it were, far above the earth and the sinful creatures crawling on its surface; and I deemed myself as an eagle among the children of men, soaring on high, and looking down with pity and contempt on the grovelling creatures below.”

I felt no ‘contempt’ on Calton Hill but did wonder what projects were developing in Australia that were truly nation, or epoch-making, as I walked or sat for several hours above the city. Our federal government is currently defined by what it is effectively dismantling or stomping on rather than building. It would be fair to muse about, considering the decisions made in the last year, if the religious values of the federal cabinet are impacting on rational decision-making. In fact, Australia’s political representatives increasingly seem more religious than the citizenry, considering statistics the census reveals about what Australians say about their belief, or rather lack of belief, in supernatural deities. Decision after decision seems to espouse values most Australians find anachronistic and reveal somewhat unbelievable, anti-Enlightenment values. The growth of religious schooling is but one example of a secular state funding values are not based on science or rational decision-making.*** Fine for the private citizen but not for government. 

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Holyrood Park is an unusually large (259 hectares) and green space in the centre of a capital city with evidence of human occupation dating back to the fifth millennium BCE. My family especially enjoyed the services offered in the park by the Historic Scotland Ranger Service. My children learnt about the geography, history and ecology of the area in a kinaesthetic, hands-on manner. They dressed up – as did I – and wandered about the park with rangers (in costume) who skilfully constructed an engaging historical narrative. The photos show how much fun the kids had during the day bow drilling, making wattle fencing, grinding barley in a quern and dressing-up.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Castles, Language, Greyfriars, Harry Potter and Learning

Travelling with family really is an opportunity to spend time together and learn, as Miss 8 says, about ‘random stuff’. We enjoyed visiting Edinburgh and Stirling castles and the kids never tire of interactive displays or dressing-up at these sorts of historic sites. We also had a great deal of fun with Scottish vernacular during the week in Edinburgh.  I originally assumed that another nickname for the city, ‘Auld Reekie’, was to do with it being smelly in the historic past but later realised ‘reekie’ means ’smoky’.

My youngest daughter really likes to imitate accents and a unique opportunity presented itself with a Scottish version of a favourite picture book. Playing with language is fun and helps to make children powerfully literate. Travel is just a superb way for them to make connections and grow to have a deeper appreciation of the richness and variations found in the English language. Just for fun, you can hear Miss 8 reading ‘The Gruffalo in Scots’. 

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Wandering around the city led us to Greyfriars Kirk, made famous for many via the stories told of how JK Rowling found inspiration for characters, and Hogwarts, for the Harry Potter novels. We did a fun HP tour that had a magician. He was quite good. The kids loved it and learnt much about how a novelist finds inspiration for stories in the environment that surrounds her.

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore

Final thoughts

The list of cities that have resounded with me more than Edinburgh is brief. It would be great to stay for a longer period of time and explore more of the countryside, maybe the Orkneys and Hebrides too. I did travel to Scotland in the mid-90s and especially enjoyed Glasgow and Iona. Hitchhiking provided a great opportunity to chat with a range of different kinds of people. Everyone was very welcoming, often offering accommodation at their homes. In fact, now I think about it, I was heading to Edinburgh at that time but chose to take a lift offered elsewhere on a whim. Such is life.

It needs to be said that I truly could despair at the directions successive Australian governments, regardless of political lineage, are taking our nation except for a belief that rational, progressive thinking will ultimately overcome ignorance and superstition. It should not be taboo to ask why the leaders of so many nations around the world believe in a supernatural deity and how this influences decision-making in supposedly secular states. The fact that there is no science minister for the first time since the 1930s in the current federal cabinet and that the PM is minister for women (and only has one female in cabinet) is yet another indicator that he is cocking-a-snoot at his critics and ideological opponents. The endless ‘dog-whistling’ is just crass and mindlessly tribal. A more enlightened, mature, inclusive, data-driven approach to policy would make more sense for all of us.

Surely, in 2014, that is not too much to ask.




BTW Our next stop is Reykjavik, Iceland.

Featured image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by Darcy Moore: http://flickr.com/photos/darcymoore/15352993185

*** Australia’s PM is being lampooned internationally for his bumbling hard right, anti-Enlightenment values, as this satirical program reveals (NB maybe NSFW).

The post In Edinburgh: Thinking About The Scottish Enlightenment & Contemporary Australia appeared first on Darcy Moore's Blog.

Categories: Planet

International Day of Older Persons

As my good friend, Sebastian Panakalof Kerala, India has reminded me, it is International Day of Senior Persons tomorrow, October 1st. He is has asked me to “wave to friends at the “Senior Citizens Forum Alangad” and wish them well!” Here is my response (but unfortunately, I forgot to actually wave.)


Sebastian asked me to share this with him in asynchronous time in case I am not online when he is ready with the Senior Friends. I considered

  • dropbox
  • email (file is rather large to send through to India)
  • adding media to my blog (reduced the size of the movie through Moviemaker)

I think the easiest will be the blog as Sebastian can right click on the video and save it to his desktop.

Categories: Planet

6 Reading Comprehension Problems and What to Do About Them

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 30 September, 2014 - 21:15

High school history has a tremendous obstacle to learning — getting students enthusiastic about reading difficult texts. When I teach World History to my 9th graders, I have come up with a list of 6 common challenges I face when trying teach reading comprehension. Here’s a glimpse into how I meet these 6 challenges and help my students win!

Note from Vicki Davis: When I find great products, I see if there is a fantastic teacher who is using the product every day to write the post. Actively Learn has a free version anyone can use. This is a sponsored post by Actively Learn and authored by MJ Linane, 9th grade World History teacher in Mattapoisett, MA. MJ is teaching those tough history texts in high school as he works to align with Common Core reading standards. I like this product because you can use most of these features for free. (Sign up for Actively Learn.) — Vicki Davis

1. Did the student read the text?

Sometimes I don’t know until my students walk in the door if students have read their assignment. The reality is: some will and some won’t.Some teachers feel that it is unfair for them to be held accountable to Common Core or state standards of instruction if the students do not even read the text that can help them improve.

Assigning reading questions is one solution but that leads to another problem.

2. Does the student comprehend what they read?

The typical way  that I handle reading comprehension is by assigning reading questions. These are either found at the bottom of the reading selection or on a different answer sheet.  The questions I assign often follow similar themes.

I want student answers to show me:

  1. Did the student comprehend what they are reading?
  2. Did they look up the words they couldn’t figure out?
  3. Did they understand what is significant in the story?

When I assign these readings for homework, I ask myself, is the student simply copying the answers from another student?

If a student says that they don’t understand what they read, were they just skimming the reading? In order to help students, I need to know where they skimmed and where they truly struggle. If I want to really help students improve, I must answer this next challenge with a solution.

We can identify specific places where students struggle. We can also embed questions in the text (where they should be instead of at the end of a chapter.)

3. Where does the student struggle with the reading?

Research says that ⅔ of students are struggling readers; they cannot correctly identify the main idea when they read.

Students need to be able to decode and comprehend what they are reading.

As students read, two issues besides knowing how to identify the main idea  continually cause students to struggle:

  • the difficult language in historical texts
  • poor question design in the book

I can’t change the texts but I can change the way I design my questions.

Where do we ask students to demonstrate their understanding? To make the reading a “big picture”, teachers will commonly put questions at the end of the reading. Most of the questions in my textbook are at the end of the reading or on a separate page.

Once again, research shows that this is absolutely the worst place to put the questions. Students are “passively” reading, instead of being actively engaged. This is complicated with traditional paper/pencil because paragraph or sentence specific questions break up the page and can interfere with students understanding the reading’s “big picture”. To help students, we have to improve not only the questions but WHERE They are placed in the text. (Yes, there is a solution to this problem.)

Actively Learn is a powerful tool that aligns individual student responses with whether they are meeting standards. 

4. How can I give meaningful feedback to students to encourage and help them improve?

It is hard to tell if a student is struggling when using traditional worksheets/questions. It is even more difficult to give quick feedback on student comprehension. The alternative is to give low-tech, highly efficient verbal feedback during a class discussion. This method also has its problems as well. Students have to be willing to ask a question publicly or approach the teacher privately. For me, the trouble is that I am one in a class of 30 and I can only help an individual or small groups of students at once. Surely, there are students I am missing but I am limited by traditional approaches.

To truly understand what a student comprehends, there needs to be an individual  conversation about the document. Yet, it is nearly impossible to provide that to a class of 30 students. Even small group or think-pair-share leads to a scenario where the grouped students might be discussing the wrong interpretation of the document. If I am faced with multiple groups misinterpreting the document, then I have a possible problem with differentiated instruction.

Again, there has to be a better way than these traditional means that we teachers have used for decades.

5. How can you get meaningful data on where to help your whole class?

A couple of years ago I gave a test on 20th century imperialism and it seemed that a lot of students struggled with questions that dealt with analyzing  primary sources. It took me well over an hour but I went through each test, question by question, and put all the question data together myself. (This was before the widespread use of online questions). My efforts were time consuming and revealed very little.

Immediate, actionable data has only become more important given today’s pressures to improve student’s reading comprehension scores. In addition to finding these sources, designing questions and meaningful lessons around them, we now have to become statisticians? Where can teachers find the time?

Yet, we need individual and collective class data to appropriately help those struggling students.

6. How do I align all of this with standards?

Even after confronting all these questions every time we assign meaningful readings our job is not complete. We then have to validate that the assignment is aligned with the proper standards. This step could take some time depending on how familiar you are with your relevant standards.

For me, it takes an additional 10+ minutes to make sure my readings are inline with my state standards for teaching history and the Common Core ELA standards for history. This should probably be the step I start with but it has the least impact on my students and therefore usually is a neglected until the very end. I would spend more time in considering the standards first if I could align them quickly so I can get right to question design.

OK. So now, how do we meet these challenges and teach nonfiction text, put questions in the text, improve the questions, personalize learning AND align with standards? Let me show you the approach I use in my classroom with Actively Learn. You can use this for free but I’ll explain the difference between the free and premium version.

Actively Learn works on multiple platforms. I use it to coach students to improve their reading comprehension of nonfiction texts.

Review of Actively Learn: A Free Way to Improve Comprehension of Non-Fiction Texts Student Reading Assignments: Common Challenges.

You have just asked the students to complete a reading assignment. It is a short story, or a primary source, or a poem, a nutrition guide, a website about biological cell structures. In truth, it doesn’t matter what the style is, the same student skill set is required for all of those.

How Actively Learn Helps Me Meet the Challenges of Tough Non Fiction Text

Actively Learn is a digital reading platform that provides educators with new tools to get every student reading closely. Teachers need to know exactly what students can comprehend and where they struggle. In a classroom of students it can be difficult to personalize every reading assignment. Actively Learn gives teachers a solution to that challenge.

How It Works:

Teachers can select any digital source and create a personalized reading experience for all students. Each teacher has a “My Workspace” to keep their digital readings and the associated questions. Teachers can then start putting together their collections from three sources.

Readings can come from:

  1. Selecting a text from the Actively Learn Catalogue
  2. An article from the Internet
  3. A PDF
  4. A Google Document

My actively learn workspace of documents. PDF’s, websites, and other text can be pulled into the app.

I tested all three methods and found the process very intuitive and easy to navigate. All of the reading assignments and questions can then be Common Core aligned. Also, in case teachers are stuck on what questions to create, the Catalogue offers questions that other teachers have created for the readings.  

What Actively Learn Does:

Once the reading is ready teachers assign it to their classes and students can begin to interact with it. Teachers will have already entered in notes, videos, and/or questions directly into the text so students will have to address those questions/extensions exactly where teachers want them to. In my traditional class, readings require students to go from the reading to the answer sheet, trying to match content to questions. It is a process that dulls the experience and breaks the flow of reading. Actively Learn allows teachers to focus on text that needs further explaining or extension. This is done in real-time and class-wide.

It is hard to tell if a student is struggling when using traditional worksheets/texts. Students have to be willing to ask a question publicly or approach the teacher privately. For me, the trouble is that I am one in a class of 30 and I can only help an individual or small groups of students at once. Surely, there are students I am missing but I am limited by traditional approaches.

With Actively Learn, if a student encounters difficult vocabulary, there is an online dictionary able to help them. They can also ask questions and share ideas with the class directly in the text itself.

Teachers can grade student responses right in the text. So once students are completed teachers can look at the class summary  data. Actively Learn allows for both individual student comprehension stats but also class-wide Common Core strand progress. It is helpful to see which skills need improvement class-wide.

What’s missing?

Actively Learn is essentially a “Freemium” service so there are some features that are behind a paywall. Currently a school/district has to pay for a shared curriculum library and student diagnostic reports. Also, there are user options that have yet to be included. For instance, there is currently no way to rename a reading title once created. Also, when students are commenting on a reading assignment, the other students can see the comments in real-time. This is a double-edged sword because while it allows for awesome collaboration, it also might allow struggling readers the chance to mimic other students, masking their true comprehension.

The student data reports are a good feature but remember that  long-term individual student tracking is a premium feature.  It is a great start, but if you try it out and it works for you, you’ll want to consider the premium version to track improvement.

Do you need this?

If your students read, then yes! What about those among us who have tools that deal with reading already? When I originally came across Actively Learn, I couldn’t help but compare it to tools I already use.

My school uses Google Apps for Education and I kept on questioning why would I need this if I have Google Drive? They serve two different purposes. Google is for writing and  although students can collaborate on Google Drive, it doesn’t work best for tracking students for reading skills. Actively Learn is a new platform offering new tools. It is worth checking out!

MJ Linane is a High School history teacher and educational blogger. MJ is interested in education technology and its impact on student learning. He can be found at his website and blog, TeacherRevolutions.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to edit and post it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

The post 6 Reading Comprehension Problems and What to Do About Them appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

Win Grants and Promote Safe Driving with #CelebrateMyDrive

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 30 September, 2014 - 06:42

Car crashes have been the number one killer of our teenagers for more than 30 years. With cell phones, distracted driving is causing even more deaths! Join #celebratemydrive to promote driving safety and win GRANTS (they are giving ten (10) – $100,000 grants AND ninety (90) – $25,000 grants!). 

Register Your School Now!

 Join the State Farm 2014 Celebrate My Drive Program by registering your school by October 7. After October 7 you will have your students and parents take online safe driving pledges as they learn more about driving safely.

What can you win?

As you can see in the video above, 2 schools (one larger school and one smaller school) will win a concert from the band Perry. They are also giving away:

  • 90 grants of $25,000 each
  • 10 grants of $100,000 each

This is a great cause and can help your school when times are tough. But talk about tough times, nothing is as bad as the death of a student for a senseless auto accident (or the death of a student at all.)

Click here to register now.

Who can participate?
  • Public, private or charter schools in the USA (except NH)  and some provinces of Canada.
  • See the official rules to make sure you qualify.


Only registered high schools can win prizes. You have until October 7 to register your school!

Step 1: Register your school (by October 7) Ask a school administrator to register your school for “Celebrate My Drive” at www.celebratemydrive.com. You must register by October 7 so your parents and students can participate! (See Step 2 for what you do AFTER October 7)

In case you think your school is too small, there are two categories of participation: schools with more than 750 students and those with less than 750.

Click here to register now.

Step 2: Encourage Your Students & Parents to Commit to Safe Driving (October 15-24) Between October 15 and October 24, parents and students aged 14 and up can sign a safe driving commitment at www.celebratemydrive.com .  Those with the most commitments during the period WIN. 

Use the school toolkit with flyers, press releases, and daily announcements already written for you. (The registration toolkit rocks.) The one week between October 7 and October 15 gives you time to get the word out so plan your school announcements accordingly!


Teach kids to keep 2 eyes on the road and 2 hands on the wheel and save lives!

As much as we love technology, we MUST help kids learn to pay attention and drive safely. As part of the campaign, State Farm is promoting 2N2® — 2 eyes on the road, 2 hands on the wheel.

When Kids Are Safe Drivers We All Win

We have a bench on our campus of a precious child who died many years a go in such a senseless accident. Your school probably has automobile accident tragedies too.

Whatever comes out of this, if you can have students focus on driving and keep 2 eyes on the road and 2 hands on the wheel – THAT IS AN AWESOME THING.

So… why not? Save a life. BIG WIN. Get money – not as big a win as saving the life of a child but still a WIN.

Find Out More About the Celebrate My Drive Challenge

Read the Celebrate My Drive Rules

Prevent teen car crashes and win grants for your school by participating in Celebrate My Drive. You need to register before October 7, 2014. Only registered high schools can win prizes!


Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to edit and post it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

The post Win Grants and Promote Safe Driving with #CelebrateMyDrive appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

Interesting Links 29 September 2013

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 29 September, 2014 - 20:19
The big deal for me this past weekend was the birth of my first grandchild – a grandson. People are already asking me about what his first technology will be. I think I’ll leave that to his parents. At least for now. Earlier in the week though I did collect a few things to share.
First off, in case you missed them, I’ve blogged about several contests/competitions/awards for students lately. Check them out and see if any are appropriate for your students.
iPads and Pens in the classroom by Garth Flint. It sure does seem like a lot of technology is thrown into schools without proper planning and teacher preparation.
This is the largest collection of FREE Microsoft eBooks I have ever seen. Your IT support people may be very interested.
CS EdCamp Anyone? is my latest guest post at the CSTA blog. What do you think of a computer science unconference somewhere and sometime?
Inspiring Quotes from 10 Influential Women in Tech something for a bulletin board perhaps?
I love this carton from xkcd. A lot of people, basically people without experience with computer science, don’t understand the difference between what is easy and what is hard in software.
Categories: Planet

What Our Fear Actually Inhibits

The Principal of Change George Couros - 29 September, 2014 - 04:21
#143665140 / gettyimages.com


Sitting with a principal whom I have the utmost respect for, we talked about how she embraced technology now, which was quite different about how she was in the past.  What she said to me, really stuck out to me.  She told me that it was not that she didn’t see the value of technology, but that she didn’t understand it that well, so it was easy to dismiss it.  I was so appreciative of her honesty, but what I know of her, is that not one person was held back in her tenure as principal because of her fear of the unknown.  She is the type of principal that empowers her people and gets out of their way.  This is not always the case though.

Often we look at our own fear of what we don’t know, and realize deep down that it is often holding us back.  It is easy to dismiss many aspects of learning, but it is also easy to say something is “stupid” when you have never used it.  I used to say that about Twitter, about blogging, about mobile phones, and so on.  I know better now.  How could I make an adequate judgment of something that I had never used or tried?

Working with a student recently, he was telling me how he didn’t see how blogging would be helpful to him and that he saw it as a useless task.  I asked him if he had ever blogged, to which he said he hadn’t.  I then told him that I could give him a million reasons why it was awesome, but I asked him to give it a legitimate try for a month and then he could tell me what he really thought.  But I emphasized that he really had to try and give it a valiant effort.  He happily accepted and I look forward to hearing what he thinks after he jumps in. Blogging is not for everyone and he might hate it, but he will know from experience, not from simply dismissing the unknown.  We can learn a lot from this kid.

Here’s the thing…when we dismiss something because of our fear of the unknown as educators, we don’t just lose out ourselves, but those that we serve lose out as well.  Teachers impact students, principals impact teachers and students, and superintendents can impact everyone.  When our fear holds us back, it often holds others back as well.  Fear often has the power to kill innovation.

One of my favourite quotes on this topic is from Michael Jordan who says, “limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.” What I love about this quote is that limits and fears are used synonymously. Our fears limit us to do less, but in education,we are not the only ones that lose out.

Categories: Planet

No regrets

Lucacept - Jenny Luca - 28 September, 2014 - 03:14

Matthew O’Reilly’s TED talk makes me ponder as I sit in an apartment in London after another day treading the pavements abroad.

My husband and I planned this overseas trip that is almost coming to an end always with our children front and centre. We wanted them to have opportunities to see other cultures, to live as others live, to gain an understanding of world history and our place in it. There’s little doubt it’s done that, and so much more.

My fondest memories are of the time we have spent as a family. Not just the happy and tranquil moments, but the times when we’ve been squabbling on the streets as we find ourselves aimlessly lost, or the times when we walk through yet another subway station and hit another infernal passage of stairs. The best times have been when my children have put their arms around my shoulder and waist and walked with me down cobbled streets sharing the moment.

I always worry that I work too hard, or commit too much time to others and not the ones closest to me. This trip has been special. I’ve taken myself away from everything that is a distraction and committed to family. I don’t think I’ll be living a life with regrets.

Categories: Planet

CORE VALUES- respect, responsibility, empathy or persistence

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 27 September, 2014 - 01:40


  • Expected behavior is made explicit through the Core Values of the school, and is reinforced in every classroom and all common spaces.  - A.T. Garcia

Tags: education, learning, teaching

by: A.T. Garcia

Categories: International News

Learning @Learning2

The Thinking Stick Jeff Utecht - 26 September, 2014 - 01:10

There are different ways to measure success. Last week at the first ever Learning2 Africa conference that was held at ICS Addis Ababa, Ethiopia we measured it in a few different ways.

  • 118 of 119 of the participants on the survey said they would recommend the conference to a friend or plan on attending next year.
  • Before we left the conference we had a school step up wanting to host it for 2015
  • We had inquiries from other schools in Africa to host the conference in 2016.

Now there are a lot of ways to measure success and when you get responses like this from the participants from the first ever Ed Tech specific conference on the continent you’re doing something right.

It’s crazy to go back through my blog and read about this conference over the years. The things we have tried, the failures, the successes and how a little conference that was suppose to be a one off in 2007 in Shanghai, China has turned into a yearly conference that sells out in a matter of months and is slowly spreading….is well….I pinch myself.

What makes this conference so successful? I believe it’s the values of the conference that we try and hold true to every year.

Learning is Social:

Traditional Ethiopian coffee ceramony

The majority of the money for the conference goes to social gatherings. At the recent Learning2 Africa conference that included taking all 150 of the participants plus committee members and presenters out to a local Ethiopian restaurant for dinner. It means finishing every night with a social event with free flow wine and beer. It means giving space during the conference for people to talk and bounce ideas off each other.

 This is also why we run a “cohort” strand through the conference. An hour each day for those that teach the same subject to come together and talk about what they are learning at the conference, share resources from different sessions, and set up a way to connect even after the conference is over.

 We know learning is social and so we make social a large part of the conference

Learning is Participant driven:

Matt Kelsey, one of this year’s Learning2Leaders in Africa, wrote a great blog post about this as he reflected on the conference. Less than half of each day’s learning is driven by the conference timetable. The 3 hour “extended session” where participants spend 3 hours going deep in one area is less than half of the conference each day. The rest of the time is driven by participants. Unconference sessions which participants get to create and then choose to go to each day, the workshops that are a time for participants to share with each other what they are doing in their own classroom, and the cohorts which are driven by what that group wants to discuss together.

There has been a lot of talk in education about student’s driving their own learning. We believe the same thing about conferences. We believe if you get out of participants ways they’ll learn on their own. Set up a structure and then let them go.

Continue to innovate:

Students try on Google Glass for the first time

One of the core values of Learning2 is to continue to innovate as a conference. We were one of the first conferences to use Twitter. In 2007, the first year of the conference, we made every participants sign up for a Twitter account. Twitter had only gone mainstream about 6 months earlier.

In 2012 we switched from participants uploading and sharing images of the conference on Flickr to Instagram. As Instagram was just going mainstream.

This year there was no big “tool switch”, however because the conference is participant driven and it was our first time putting a conference on in Africa we found being able to adapt on the fly in the middle of the conference was our biggest asset. Educators know this….if something isn’t working in a lesson you switch, you adapt. You get feedback and you make changes.

I found it interesting how many people thanked us for listening to them and making changes on the fly. Everything from setting up a “Mindfulness Center” after one of our Learning2Talks focused on “Being Mindful” to changing the schedule, adding or rearranging transportation and just doing what was best for the participants.

It’s amazing what happens when you apply the Pedagogy or better yet the Heutagogy we want to see in the classroom…..to a conference.

Inking at Learning 2.012

I know I’m bias. I was on the founding committee of the conference in 2007 and I now sit on the advisory board that oversees the conference and its’ structure. So you can take all of this for what it’s worth. But you can’t tell me we’re not doing something right. That we have something special here worth spreading. The #learning2 hashtag alone tells the story of how participants are feeling. The fact that a couple of our Learning2Leaders last year felt they wanted to remember the conference by inking themselves with the conference logo says something. There is something here when a High School Science Teacher seeks me out after the conference to tell me in his 29 years of teaching this is by far the best conference and PD he has ever attended.

Here’s what I’ve learned. No matter their age students want to be in control of their learning, they want to be engaged in the conversation and they want us to continue to learn with them. It is a simple recipe actually, create a conference the way we know students should be taught and then innovate with them.

Learning2 Asia is Oct. 2 – 4 I encourage you to follow the hashtag #learning2 on Twitter and learn with us.

Categories: International News

3 Essential Keys to Living Large

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 25 September, 2014 - 21:00

“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging and it’s very difficult to find anyone,” said Gandalf the wizard.

Bilbo Baggins the Hobbit replies:

“I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”

1. Are We Reading or Are We Starving Bakers?

With these words echoing in my mind yesterday– the youngest person I know — our 86 year old learning lab director Mrs. Grace Adkins says:

“The problem with most teachers is we are starving bakers. We bake up learning for everyone else and we don’t take time to read and learn anything ourselves.”

It is so easy to get into those habits and routines that are ours as teachers — grade the folders & hand them back, mark attendance & take the lunch count, serve lunch duty & trudge back to your room, tutor kids after school & go home later than you planned, struggle to cook dinner & leave the dishes in the sink, sit down to watch a little tv & wake up on the couch in the middle of the night, alarm clock goes off & get dressed, and do over.

When do we read? When do we learn?

Have we had the excitement of reading something new and discussing it or trying it with our students in the classroom? Have we read something that ROCKED OUR WORLD lately?

Leaders are readers. When we refuse to learn, we should hand in our leader learner card because we are hypocrites.

Let me ask you this — if your mind was fed by books would it be starving or stuffed full?

2. Do We Still Have Adventure in Our Lives?

In the movie The Hobbit, Gandalf goes on to say to Bilbo:

“You’ve been sitting quietly for far too long. Tell me, when did doilies and your mother’s dishes become so important to you? I remember a young hobbit who always was running off in search of elves and the woods, who would stay out late, and come home after dark, trailing mud and twigs and fireflies. A young hobbit who would have liked nothing better than to find out what was beyond the borders of the Shire. The world is not in your books and maps; it’s out there.”

Books aren’t enough, though. Adventures get our endorphins flowing — they stimulate our mind. They enrich us. What happened to that sense of adventure you used to have? When you actually tried new restaurants? When you took time to spend with new people? When you walked a different route as you worked out?

Adventure doesn’t cost anything (although zip lining is pretty crazy awesome!)

This past Saturday I went to visit Mom and Dad as usual. My sister found and quite literally saved four puppies who had been abandoned on the dirt road a few months back. Well, now these puppies are in the crazy growing stage where they are half idiot and the other half cute. We walked them to the catfish pond and watched as they took flying leaps onto each other’s heads as they tried to eat the catfish food and the fish. I practiced my speech for this upcoming Saturday at the BAMMYs (an 3iTalk). It was a hilarious adventure and it didn’t cost a dime.

My sister and I laughed at the puppies swimming with the catfish as I practiced my speech for the BAMMYs next Saturday. It was awesome.

You’ve got tennis rackets, paint brushes, skates, skiis, fishing poles, and all matter of adventure items in your closet. Hey, you even have walking shoes in there. You’ve got awesome music you haven’t listened to in years on that Smartphone and a pair of earbuds lonely for your ear canals wrapped up in your pocketbook or drawer. You’ve got free easy adventures ready to go.

If your home, classroom, and school events are your Shire — how often do you venture out to have a real adventure? Have you been sitting quietly far too long? Your soul is made for adventure – if you’re feeling blah it might be because you’ve forgotten that!

3. Do You Make Time to Wonder?

Austin Kleon in his book Show Your Work! makes an awesome point about having a Wonderbox.

In the drawing below (since I’m really into visual notetaking now – I’m making it a habit of drawing my notes for the best books I read) you can see my pitifully scribbled notes on the concept of the “Wunderkammern” or “wonderbox.”

Kleon says we should all have things that spark our interest and creativity. For me, I’m including treasured collections of:

  • heroes
  • stories
  • movies
  • music
  • books
  • art
  • plants
  • shells
  • blogs (my RSS reader — I’m talking blogs that just rip my head off wow me of all kinds of genres.)
  • jewelry
  • mentors (people I go to for inspiration/ advice)
  • dreams
  • my Bible and favorite verses
  • certain apps


The visual notes I took on the section of Austin Kleon’s book “Show Your Work” where he discusses the concept of the “Wunderkammern” or treasured collections of things that inspire you.

How do you collect wonder?
  • On my smartphone I have a playlist called “WonderBox” – it is an eclectic mix of my favorite music.
  • On my bookshelf I have a “wondershelf” that inspires me with wonderful thoughts. I can always find things on my wondershelf to get me excited.
  • I have a “wondershelf” in my Makerbot Thingiverse account (for my 3D printer) things that make me wonder and be curious.
  • I have a “wondershelf” of wonderful quotes and verses written on index cards that I’ve put on a ring and flip through in my office. Some are painted on signs or on things that I’ve used to decorate my house.
  • The mantle in my den has things I’ve collected from around the world that make me wonder.
  • I have a collection of magnets from the places I’ve been over my stove — I ponder the people, faces, and places and wonder about things I saw.

You get the point. Intentionally create spaces and places that fill you with wonder and make you feel alive.  Do you have a sense of wonder?

Do You Live Large?

There’s a verse in the Bible that talks about living life abundantly — to the full. That is what I want for my own life. Not stuffed full of STUFF but intentional things that have meaning. Serving others is part of that, for sure. But part of living large for me is the books I read, the adventures I have, and the things I wonder about.

It is easy to stay comfortable — like Bilbo Baggins.

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations if you live near him,” says Gandalf.

And there is a live dragon. There are live dragons of all sorts in our lives. In this case, that live dragon is the complacency and unwillingness to change that will ultimately cause boredom. While you can have great comfort in routine – there can be great adventure in sometimes breaking that routine. While it might be easier to tune into your TV set than to turn on your Kindle – great joy comes from great books. While it might be easier to have a hodge podge collection of things — a real sense of wonder emerges as you create WonderBoxes of spaces and things that fill you with wonder.

As you look at your school — what kind of people live in these parts? Those interested in adventure or those content to keep the routine of the Shire?

But as for you — are you one people can call on for adventure? It spills over into your classroom in subtle ways, you know? That sense of wonder, learning and adventure is felt and inhaled by every single student who crosses your threshold. You cannot lead them on their own adventure if you’re not willing to go there yourself.

So, my friends — no starving bakers, no Shire-stuck people wandering through our days like zombies. Here’s to living large and the kinds of classrooms we create when we reach out and do that!

QuestionHow do you live large? What are the things you do to break out of your routine? You can leave a comment by clicking here.



JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit

Movie: The Hobbit – Directed by Peter Jackson

Austin Kleon Show Your Work!


The post 3 Essential Keys to Living Large appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

IBM Master the Mainframe Contest

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 25 September, 2014 - 04:16

For something different, IBM is running its tenth Master the Mainframe Contest for students age 13 and up.

From the web site:

What you need to know:

In Fall 2014, IBM is running its tenth Master the Mainframe Contest for students across the Unites States and Canada.

No experience with mainframes is necessary. In fact, the contest is designed for students with little or no mainframe experience, increasing with difficulty as the contest progresses. Students just need to bring drive and competitive spirit and be ready to compete! Frequently Asked Questions/Answers: When is the contest?

Registration will be open from September 23rd until December 31st! The contest runs from October 6th until December 31th. Students can register and join the contest through December 31st. Why compete in a Mainframe Contest?

The prizes up for grabs in the 2014 Master the Mainframe Contest include:

  • IBM Master the Mainframe T-shirts
  • IBM Master the Mainframe Prize Packs (which includes):
    • Hooded Sweatshirts
    • Water bottles
    • Messenger Bags
    • IBM Notepads
    • And other cool IBM swag
  • Tablet Computers
  • All expense paid trip to the IBM facility in Poughkeepsie, NY
  • Experience!

Today's mainframes are growing in popularity and require a new generation of mainframe experts. This contest is designed to equip students with basic skills to make them more competitive for jobs in the enterprise computing industry. Participation in the Master the Mainframe Contest could give you the edge you need.

To help employers connect with the best mainframe students, contestants are encouraged to check out the jobs posted on the System z job board at Systemzjobs.com. Who can compete?

Anyone is who is currently a student at the high school or university level can compete (13 years of age or older) – no experience is necessary! Please click here for the official rules and regulations.

Categories: Planet

4 Reasons People Don’t Blog and Ideas to Help Change Their Mind

The Principal of Change George Couros - 24 September, 2014 - 10:13

A lot of work that I do is not only showing people how to do “stuff”, but more importantly, trying to help them embrace change. One of the most powerful ways to not only change the teaching profession as a whole, but also as individuals, is through the act of blogging.  One of my favourite articles on the topic of blogging is from Dean Shareski, which he shares how he believes blogging makes better teachers.

Thousands of other blogging educators could echo similar words. In fact, I’ve yet to hear anyone who has stuck with blogging suggest it’s been anything less than essential to their growth and improvement. I’ve no “data” to prove this but I’m willing to bet my golf clubs that teachers who blog are our best teachers. If you look at the promise ofProfessional Learning Communities that our schools have invested thousands, more likely millions to achieve, blogs accomplish much of the same things. The basic idea of the PLC is to have teachers share practice/data and work in teams to make improvements. A good blog does this and more. While the data may not be school specific, great bloggers know how to share data and experience that is both relevant and universal so any reader can contribute and create discussion.

Yet fear of the unknown is a powerful thing.  I have learned how hard it is to move people from a “known average” to an “unknown amazing” because of fear.  So for some of the arguments I have heard against the idea of blogging, I wanted to provide some of my counter-arguments on the topic.


1. Blogging is useless. – The thing with this argument is that I have rarely (if ever) heard this from someone who has consistently blogged on their teaching and learning for any amount of time.  As I was talking with a student the other day in a school who was about to start his own blog in class, he argued with me on the merits of the activity.  I asked him, “have you ever blogged?”, to which he replied “no”.  I challenged him to give it one month, and a legitimate try and then offer me his thoughts, to which he said, “I will.”  Even in Dean’s article, he uses the same argument:

So here’s my plan. Hire a teacher, give them a blog. Get them to subscribe to at least five other teachers in the district as well as five other great teachers from around the globe. Have their principal and a few central office people to subscribe to the blog and five other teachers as well. Require them to write at least once a week on their practice. Get conversations going right from the get go. Watch teachers get better.

Try that. If it doesn’t work after a year, you get my golf clubs.

PS. The only people allowed to criticize or challenge this idea are people who have blogged for at least one year and written at least 50 posts. The rest of you can ask questions but you can’t dismiss it.

It is easy to criticize something you have never done (all of us our guilty of this, including myself), but to me, a viewpoint is not truly valid unless you have experience.

2. I have no time. – We all have the same amount of time and it is not like those who blog have 26 hour days, compared to the rest of the population.  It is not about time, but more about priority.  If people see it as important, they will make time.

So one of the things that I try to focus on is the importance of blogging for not only reflection, but open reflection.  The art and practice of reflection can help make ourselves better educators and learners.  For us to truly help students, we need to be masters of learning before we can become master teachers.  Reflection helps in that process. But “open reflection” helps others and not only pushes our profession forward in a communications aspect, but also in making each other better.  Clive Thompson wrote a quote on how blogging makes us all smarter:

Having an audience can clarify thinking. It’s easy to win an argument inside your head. But when you face a real audience, you have to be truly convincing.

This “audience” helps us to really think about what we write and go deeper in our learning.

But that being said, it is hard to find time in your day to start the practice.  What I focus on is helping educators not focus on doing everything that they are already doing plus blogging, but looking at doing something different.  For examples, many teachers use what is called DEAR Time (Drop Everything And Read), where students take a certain amount of time to read. Many teachers model the importance of reading during this time and take part in the practice.  Could you not change the “R” to represent the word “Reflect”?  If we had “Drop Everything And Reflect” time embedded in our week, could you not find the time to model the importance of reflection for your students by sharing what you have learned?

There are things that you are already doing (writing emails to others, putting things in word documents) that can be easily thrown onto a blog instead. Again, it is not about more as much as it is about different. Find what you are already doing in your practice, and think about how you can add that into a blog.

3. I’m a private person. – Blogging does not mean giving up privacy.  There are things in my life that I keep totally private in my life and don’t share on my blog and I choose what I am comfortable with.  You do not have to share your most personal secrets just because you have started a blog. Your level of comfort with sharing will change over time, whether you share less or more.  Every person is unique in what they are comfortable with sharing.

But it always freaks me out when teachers close their doors and don’t want anyone to see what is happening in their classrooms.  This does not mean that bad things are happening in the classroom, but sometimes the perception because of this practice paints a different picture then what is actually happening.  When we are taking care of other people’s kid throughout the day, I think that we have to try and find some comfort level in what we share.  I understand that this is a tough one for so many people (and understandably so) because it is easy to be criticized and have our words morphed online, but that being said, working with a generation of students where public is the “default” mode of practice, should we not put some of ourselves online to understand the importance of developing our own digital footprint?  Many teachers think that not sharing anything online will ensure they never have a footprint, but the only thing that is a certain as that they will never have a footprint that they create.  These are some of the realities of our world that we do have to help kids navigate as educators, and we should try to find a way to put some of ourselves online.

4. No one cares what I have to say. - Out of all of the arguments listed, this one bothers me the most.  First of all, if I was to ask the same teacher who uses this argument to not blog an interview question along the lines of, “what learning can you share with the rest of our staff that will help us become better as a school?”, I highly doubt their response would be “nothing”, and if it was that, I would struggle to hire them.  Yet too many educators, sharing feels like bragging, and modesty often trumps their comfort level in posting their teaching and learning online.

I get it.

But if we are really here to help kids, does it matter if they are in our grade, our school, our class, our world, or anywhere?  Whatever we share can help someone else, maybe not everyone else, but someone.  They may not take what we share exactly the way it is written, but if they turn it into something to help their kids, is that not worth it.  Just remember, if you impact only one teacher, you often impact at least 20 kids, if not a whole lot more.

One of my favourite videos on this topic is, “Obvious to You, Amazing to Others”, which has a great message on the impact we can have on one another:

Our impact on one another as teachers should never be underestimated.


I am not in the camp that says, “Everyone should __________”, with any tool or platform. People have different lives and situations, and I have learned to honour that.  Blogging may not be for you.  But for some, they are right on the cusp, and giving them an alternate viewpoint to the one thing holding them back might just change their mind.  I have learned a ton not only from my own blog, but from benefitting from others that have been willing to share their teaching and learning with me, and because of that, as Dean Shareski stated, I am better off for the willingness of others to share.

Categories: Planet

3 Strategies for Building an Authentic Audience for Your Student’s Work

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 23 September, 2014 - 20:54

Building authentic audience is an essential technique for 21st century teachers. Linda Yollis, a 27 year elementary teacher shares with us how she uses social media in the classroom.  Using their class blog and teacher’s social media connections, Linda’s students write for the world. Let’s learn as Linda Yollis @lindayollis, classroom blogging extraordinaire, shares how she engages her students using blogging.

Listen to Linda Yollis – Every Classroom Matters Show #49 

Listen on iTunes: Trial and Error episode

Add @lindayollis to your PLN: Mrs. Yollis’ Classroom Blog

Linda Yollis – Show #49 – Trial and Error: 3 Strategies for Building an Authentic Audience for Your Student’s Work

Linda Yollis, 3rd grade teacher, finds using social media with students can be incorporated into many content areas.

Teaching with Twitter

In one instance, she posted out a question on Twitter asking what the weather was like for other people. She and her students received many responses from around the world, incorporating geography, math, English, reading, science all into the answers.

Classroom Blogging

Linda is excited about learning and finds this is contagious and has spread to her students. She does incorporate digital safety along with teaching subjects like coding, which she learns right along with her students. Their blog is a classroom activity to which the students contribute. Students write posts, comments, add code, and pictures of the day.

About Linda Yollis: Linda is an award winning teacher, having won the several Edublogger Awards, earned the Google Certified Teacher designation, and Digital Voice Awards. Her class blog is nominated for a Bammy Award this year and she keynoted last year at San Luis Obispo County Computer Using Educator’s conference.

Every Classroom Matters is a bi-weekly radio show by Vicki Davis on BAM Radio network with best practices for busy teachers. Subscribe.

Need help listening to the show?

If you’re clicking “Play” on the BAM Radio Site, this often works best in Internet Explorer. Or subscribe in a podcatcher. To get help use this tutorial.

Show notes prepared by Lisa Durff, Production Coordinator for Every Classroom Matters.

The post 3 Strategies for Building an Authentic Audience for Your Student’s Work appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

American Computer Science League Programming Competition

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 23 September, 2014 - 20:00

If you didn’t see this in the recent CSTA email blast read below about the ACSL Programming Competition:

ACSL has offered a unique programming competition for 36 years. Here are some excellent reasons to participate this year:

  • ACSL contests are conducted at your local school or institution throughout the year.
  • All of your students can compete and be successful, not just a very few.
  • All necessary preparation materials are supplies as soon as you register.
  • The contest allows for various experience levels - Junior, Intermediate, and Senior.
  • The Classroom Division provides a non-programming version of the contest.
  • Programs can be written in any language(s) that the students know how to use.
  • ACSL can extend the actual curriculum in computer science or be used as an extracurricular activity.
  • New, creative contest questions and programming problems are used every year.
  • Previous years' contest questions are able to be purchased for extra practice.
  • Important Computer Science topics such as Boolean Algebra, Graph Theory, Computer Number Systems, and Data Structures are introduced.
  • Prizes are awarded on a regional basis to top scoring students and teams during the year.
  • Fast e-mail response is provided for all questions and concerns.
  • Sample student-written programs in several languages are provided after each contest.
  • The level of programming increases in difficulty as the year progresses starting with only IF-THEN statements for the first contest.
  • ACSL has sponsored regional contests continuously since 1978 and is now international.
  • There is an annual All-Star Contest that is hosted at a different location every year and this year it is in Orlando, FL!
  • ACSL is on the Approved Activities List of the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
  • ACSL is an institutional member of CSTA.
  • All of the ACSL team members have been high school Computer Science teachers.

If you are interested in participating in the ACSL contests, please visit our web site www.acsl.org, read the 'How the ACSL Works' link and view the 'Sample Questions' link. All questions about ACSL can be sent to Jerry Tebrow @ jerry@acsl.org.

As in the past, ACSL will include a free contest CD in the registration packet that is sent to all new teams if the advisor is a CSTA member.

Categories: Planet

Interesting Links 22 September 2014

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 22 September, 2014 - 19:57

Last week ended with International Talk like a Pirate day. I doubt this would have spread as far as it has without the Internet. Things were very busy for CS education on the Internet last week. I’ve got a lot to share today. I hope you find something useful here.

Last week I learned about Gidget  (thanks to Mark Guzdial) which is a more text based programming environment for teaching programming.

Gidget is a game designed to teach computer programming concepts through debugging puzzles. Gidget the robot was damaged on its way to clean up a chemical spill and save the animals, so it is the players’ job to fix Gidget’s problematic code to complete all the missions. As the levels become more challenging, players can combine newly introduced concepts with previously used commands to solve the puzzles and progress through the game.

The MacArthur “Genius Grants” for 2014 were announced last week. A computer scientist, Craig Gentry who is an IBM Research Scientist in their Cryptography Group was one of the recipients.

I created a short video introduction to operators (math and relational) in C# which you can watch or download from Office Mix - https://t.co/sCpaJGvyNt

Mark Guzdial announced the release of JES 5 (the Jython Environment for Students) It includes: New Jython, Faster, Updated Watcher, with Jython Music.

Karen North is  hosting a Houston Texas area Code Studio workshop (for teachers, grades K-5). 

The 2015 Code Hunt Challenge is part of the Microsoft Imagine Cup competitions.  The first event was over this past weekend but they are running more of them monthly. Worth pointing your students to since they don’t have to go anywhere but the Internet to take part.

You really want to look at this blog post -Wolfram introduces "Tweet-A-Program" – the Wolfram language looks VERY interesting. If you don’t think so yet you will after seeing the examples there.

Microsoft launches Cyberspace 2025 Essay contest for university students navigating the future of cyber security policy:

Today, we’re kicking off this year’s contest, the  Cyberspace 2025 Essay contest.  This year, we want to hear from University students who are conducting original research on how they see the future of cyberspace.  The inspiration for this topic comes from our recently published paper, Cyberspace 2025: Today’s Decisions, Tomorrow’s Terrain, where we consider the impact that such factors as demographics, education, immigration, regulation, technology, collaboration, and even trade will have on the future landscape of cyberspace and cybersecurity.

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