Category Archives: Teacher Trainings

Top 20 Ways to Learn Computer Science Online

I’ve been trying to keep up with all of the new ways to learn to code online – the first list is here. The new APCS Principles course has a lot of elements that move beyond teaching computer science as a coding class, including teaching about the Internet and using data. It is getting hard to keep up.

Modest Maps

A few top 20 lists:

And for a little numerical diversity:
I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.

My Latest Project – CodeVA

So anyone that has spent more than five minutes with me in the past three months has heard an earful about our new project. CodeVA is a non-profit focused on bringing computer science education to students and teachers across Virginia.
CodeVA
Launching in summer 2014 CodeVA brings two initiatives:
  • Teacher Training
    • In partnership with Code.org CodeVA is working with four Virginiaschool districts to train new computer science teachers.
  • Summer Camps
    • To bring computer science to kids across central Virginia CodeVA is running five summer camps.

 

Connect With Us:

 

Created by Rebecca Dovi

I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.

My Brain Might be Full

As always CS & IT 2012 was amazing this year. I got back from California Wednesday night. Our presentation about CS Principles went well. At least I assume it did. Lots of good questions and no one threw anything.

Every presentation I sat in on was great. I’ll summarize those later when I am a bit more caught up and my kids stop asking who the strange lady walking around the house is. All the presentations are here.

Of course one of the best parts about the conference is seeing everyone. I still find it a bit funny to talk to folks that wrote the books I turn to all the time in class. I have not yet asked anyone to sign anything, I don’t want to come off as too stalker-ish.

We are still hard at work planning our own Virginia conference this September 28th. Lots of fun things planned for everyone. I hope to bring a small slice of the energy from CS & IT back home to Virginia.

Created by Rebecca Dovi

I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.

Summer of Computer Science

The class of 2013 has graduated, which means summer vacation has finally started. I got hit with the flu this past week which has made the last week extra hectic.

Finally

Posts may be a bit sporadic this summer. I won’t step foot in Virginia until mid July, and then only for three days:

Hope to see you at one of these – if you are there make sure to say hello.
I  follow computer science stuff on Twitter – so drop me a line and let me know how your summer is going. We have so many things happening as a community right now, it is really exciting to see all the hard work so many people have put in through the years building a k-12 computer science presence really start to take off. Here’s hoping big changes are coming – because every kid in the United States should have the opportunity to take a computer science class.
Created by Rebecca Dovi
I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.

Know a K-12 computer science educator?

Do you know a computer science educator? If so, please share with them this low cost, high quality, professional development opportunity. The Computer Science & Information Technology (CS&IT) Conference is the only international conference specifically developed for K-12 computer science educators. This year the conference will be held at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center in San Diego California, July 10 – 12. To see the agenda, register for the conference, , or reserve your reduced housing rate, visit CSTA Annual Conference.

 

Created by Rebecca Dovi

I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.

Join the Central Virginia CSTA

Hi folks! We’re trying to streamline the membership list for the Central Virginia CSTA Chapter. Our first goal building a teaching community to support computer science education in Virginia. That means getting as many people to the table as possible.

Please take a second to fill out the form to become an official member.

Click here to Join CSTA Central VA

  • Who can join?
    YOU! Anyone passionate about computer science education in Virginia is welcome. Our members include K-12 teachers, parents, college faculty and folks from the business community that all believe in the power of computer science education.
  • Why Join?
    Because there is power in numbers. There are a lot of issues facing computer science education, from training in curriculum and instruction to advocacy for equity and access. The CSTA is on the front line.
  • I am already a member!
    Please fill out the form anyway – we are trying to centralize to one list.
  • How can I help?
    There are a lot of ways to become involved. Local chapter meetings are the best place to start. By meeting other people working to improve computer science education you become a part of a great community working to improve the education of our kids.

And if you prefer a QR code:

I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.

Harvard: Introduction to Computer Science

I’ve been looking at what colleges do for their CS 101 classes. Here is a site for a Harvard class – all the lessons are available as videos and slides. This course seems to use scratch and C++, similar to what I am planning for the CS Principles course.

I have finished lesson 1. I really like the way binary numbers are introduced.

Created by Rebecca Dovi

 

I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.

Getting Things Done for Teachers

Teaching can be like a field trip back to 1982. Phone access is limited and the web is filtered (if it is working at all that day).

So trying to stay productive in a web 2.0 world can be a challenge.

1982 called – they want their technology back

One of the best tools I have developed over the past few years is adapting the principles of David Allen’s GTD to the classroom.

The system is pretty inclusive, and you can read about it in lots of details in his books. For me there are two parts that have worked especially well in the classroom.

The first is changing how you tag your to do list. I used to keep it by noun- or topic. So it was sorted by APCS, Intro class, or Website. In other words I listed things by what part of my job they were related to.

Which had nothing to do with WHAT I actually had to do.

So now I keep the list by verb. By what I actually need to do. So I have a phone call category and a errand school category. And grade and email categories, you get the idea.

As you all know just getting to the phone or to the office to check your mailbox can be a real challenge. I want to make sure when I get to use the phone I have a full list of ALL the parents I need to call. If I am going to make the 5 minute trek to the front office (my lab is in the absolute back corner of the school) I want to make sure I have everything I need with me.

To support this I built a binder specifically for my planning period where I stick all the paperwork that fits these categories, so everything is in one place when I actually get planning time. That typically is about 30 – 45 minutes a day, so that time is pretty valuable.

I use Remember the Milk for my list. It makes filtering by activity super simple and I can add things on my phone. There is a free version of the app.

The second part I really use is the weekly review. The idea is you regularly go through all of your inboxes – email, mailbox, papers to grade, all of it, and you build and capture what is there and what needs doing. This year I am managing these reviews about every other week due to my limited planning time.

Again, there are tons of web resources out there describing different takes on this. I keep it pretty basic. The idea is everything you touch (or open in the case of email) gets planted somewhere. For me it is either a to do, something to store and reference later, or trash/recycle.

Included in this is a review of the calendar. I look over the past few weeks to see if there is anything unfinished still hanging out there, and look ahead and cross check my lesson plans so I am not tying to do a class discussion on the day of the senior picnic.

Anyhoo, I keep getting asked this year how I get everything done. Frankly I don’t, but having this system in place lets me really concentrate when I need to without worrying that I am forgetting something. And sometimes the appearance of efficiency is almost the same thing.

Created by Rebecca Dovi

I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.

Coding Online

Over the past year so many new tools for teaching Computer Science have arrived.

Image from Code in the Browser

Here are just a few:

Several of these let you start trying out code without really being aware of what language you are using. It leads to the question – does language matter?

I am starting to wonder if we even should be teaching a specific language in the beginning. Perhaps a better approach is to expose students to successful coding situations, build some positive experiences, then start to get more depth with one language.

This list is a quick start. Let me know if you know of any sites that should be listed.

*Updated 4/7/13

Created by Rebecca Dovi
I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.

SIGCSE

I just got back from SIGCSE 2012 As always they put on an amazing event hosting over 1200 computer science educators.

My “Yarn-Saver” sock pattern

It is a bit odd being a high school teacher at these events. Our world differs so much from the  college arena. A great example is the obsession with posters. In high school this means busy work festooned with bubble letters and glitter. I can only assume the college level posters have a higher purpose.

I attended because of the CS Principles Pilot. Plugging along on the project this year feels isolating at times. I worry that I am not doing this correctly. This fades when I get a chance to talk to the other piloters, so it was great to have a mini-reunion. SIGCSE has renewed my energy in building my pilot course, along with a huge to do list.

Goal: End the isolation and get surrounded by lots of great CS teachers, local and elbow to elbow.

Luckily attending SIGCSE also means sitting in on other great presentations. My personal favorite was the paper presented by Michelle Craig about knitting pattern’s and program tracing. My own knitting bias aside, it was a very interesting take on how new programmers acquire language. For instance the repeat-until structure is mroe intuitively obvious to a novice that the typical while structure we introduce.

I’d also add that we create knitting patterns to create artifacts. This can get lost for new programmers. No one wants my dusty pile of knitting magazines, but  most of my family and friends appreciate the socks they describe. Or at least they pretend to, and some days that’s all that counts.

Created by Rebecca Dovi

I have spent the last 18 years teaching math and computer science at Powhatan High School in Powhatan Virginia. I currently teach Algebra 2, Exploring Computer Science/Game Design, and AP Computer Science. I also facilitate a Middle School Tech Club, Game Design and Tech Divas Summer Camps.