Saturday, October 24, 2015

CS50xCedarville weeks 6-9

In week 6
We spent the entire week working on Greedy.  Students felt overwhelmed with Greedy so after a day of trying to figure out the math I created this simple math worksheet for them to do. 
Finding change worksheet.

On Friday for our Feature Flick we watched a clip from The Simpsons, this somewhat summed up how students were feeling wading through code. J

Week 7
Introduced Binary Bulbs (thanks Doug Lloyd), got Buggy, and relaxed with puppies via the link provided in the 2015 version of CS50 online. I found Buggy to be a really good review here.  Common mistakes with loops and syntax was discussed.  By doing a Buggy lecture I found it helped discuss the remix that was occurring with Binary Bulbs and discuss that some bugs are syntax and some are logic errors. This week we also discussed how students could use their account that was created for the purpose of accessing the IDE to also upload the assignments we were completing to to obtain that certificate if they desired.  I thought this was an easy way to encourage students to be Lifelong Learners if they got accustomed to going to EdX to submit assignments “just because”. A few students liked the idea but are struggling with needing the tasks in the IDE and in Virtual Box to upload from Dropbox per the EdX specs. 
I had the opportunity to take a formative assessment while reviewing Buggy.  I turned Buggy into a 4 question quiz that I uploaded to Schoology.

Week 8
A few weeks back (week 2) I asked students to use Excel formulas to draw conclusions regarding a school-wide survey.  My eighth grade students made a video of the results and this class watched the video and reflected on how students view school in general and what they like and wonder about our CS50x course.  As a result of what they wondered we took a break from the CS50 curriculum because students mentioned that they wanted to understand more about design.  We took two days looking at some programs available that could be used for their final projects and do not require you needing to know any code.  Students quickly wanted to change the drag’n’drop features and noticed they could manipulate the features if they understood the code.  This was on a whim but a great “break” and put us a bit behind the curriculum but refueled the need to understand what’s going on under the hood versus the interface people see.

Feature Flick Friday included: The Net

Week 9
We spent this week working on Skittles.  We went backwards in the CS50 curriculum because I completed certain projects over the summer and just had not completed others before the students but wanted to expose them to them after I had a chance to look them over.  I split groups up to define an algorithm for Skittles and told them that other than rand we already learned about modulo and loops via Mario and Greedy.  Watching them work and write pseudocode as a small group of 5 versus alone was a good review and opportunity for all students to see how each other tried to solve the problem.

Looking forward:
Command line arguments

Looking back:
The Technology Timeline is growing, look at 200's and beyond.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

CS50xCedarville Week 5

In week 5
Back to Greedy, starting with a short on Floats and the Fahrenheit lesson. This lesson is a new addition not part of the CS50 edx course. I love taking it from this angle and only talking about the floats here.  That was a much better approach for my students.

Then a quiz on Tuesday, and the writing of our Greedy pseudocode.  The quiz checked if they could call a directory independently, compile, run and use the correct syntax for a ‘for loop’. 

At the end of the week I actually pulled the students on a different project.  This project included reviewing a student survey within the district. The survey was anonymous but I shared the results via an .xlsx file.  Then I challenged students to pull three pieces of information from the survey that was immediately apparent by looking at the results.  For example, use a =Countif statement to see how many people used the word “stupid” when describing their classes.  Or see use an =If statement to see if students that believe education in America is failing also play sports or don’t play sports. Are there any correlations.  Essentially, we used some code to review a survey and draw some conclusions about our school survey.  This was a neat opportunity to see how we can use the tool of programming outside our classroom.  information about Excel formulas:

Oh, and since it wasn’t quite time for a feature flick we found some humor with the IKEA catalog video. 

Looking ahead: continue Greedy

CS50xCedarville weeks 3 & 4

In week 3 (4-day week) we submitted Scratch assignments and discussed libraries.
I showed the short from the CS50 library on libraries AFTER we talked about what was in our school library! 

On Thursday I introduced Greedy only to realize that float and round and libraries were too much.  So I flipped the script!  On Friday, I said in order to do Greedy…we noted we would have to do something over and over as in counting coins but let’s look at your Scratch projects.  

Essentially, I decided to go with Mario instead.  This visualizing a pyramid set a lot better with students.  They were using INT and not converting anything.   The math seemed simpler to them.

In week 4 we continued Mario. 

Drawing the pyramid was very helpful and putting in o for space until they “had” it was helpful too.

Then on Tuesday something unexpected happened.  Students asked if they could stay with me for lunch because they did not want to stop working on their code!  Of course, I obliged.

On Wednesday students began completing Mario and became teacher assistants asking questions like, “I see you have the correct number of hash marks but your pyramid is facing the wrong way, why do you think that is?”  And “I see you are subtracting the row from the height each time but what counter does your first row start?  Is it 0 or 1?”  What awesome teachers!

Since we started with VirtualBox and struggled with the accounts at first with regards to getting the accounts verified with school email it was now that I introduced the IDE.  At this point students were saying that they would like to work on our projects at home so the completion of Mario allowed us to introduce how we could do the same activity in the IDE.  I chose to have them re-type the working Mario code and then run Check50.

Every other Friday is Feature Flix Friday and this week’s clip was courtesy of The Internship.  We discussed how programs are created by people and for people.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

CS50xCedarville Week 2

In week 2 most of our class time was spent on

1) Installing the appliance
Hello, world – After installing the appliance we setup Dropbox and wrote our first C code.
I did this to show students the real code and syntax we would be moving towards.
I also wanted students to know why we downloaded the appliance. This approach also gave me the opportunity to work with students that were not as comfortable and send students more comfortable straight to Scratch after making their computers say Hello, world.
Tip: I found that students named pset1: Pset1 and PSET1 this lead to a discussion regarding #casematters. Just getting into the correct directory was an issue for some students. Then some students named hello.c: Hello.c and HELLO.c and that was once again an opportunity to show where we needed to be precise. Next time, although teachable moments, I would indicate to use lower case in the naming.

Common error: even after telling students that stdio was short for standard i/o many students typed studio.h so look for that error as you are helping students troubleshoot

2) Working on Scratch projects
Students needed more time on this, I allowed 4 class periods which was approx. 3 hours but many students do not have Internet at home and were not finished. I had them share their project asking that it met the minimum requirements and I’m making it a Brain Break for the remaining of the quarter where students can work on Scratch if they finish the assigned task. I’ve offered bonus points to individuals that go back and continue to enhance their Scratch projects as we move forward. Some students are working on Choose Your Own Adventure style games.
See example:

TechnoMonsters: creating expectations on myself
On day 10 I cut the party music before the bell and students commented, don’t we get music today?  I feel sorry for the sub should I ever need one. With that said, I have a play list started and don’t worry, on day 10 I switched to the White and Nerdy video by Weird Al and they enjoyed that just as much if not more.  I included the playlist below but note…I’ve not shown the videos of these except for the Lexus Hoverboard, White & Nerdy, and CS50 Week 0.  The others played music only.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cs50x Cedarville week 1

In week 1 we explored more about what a computer is and what it does.  We cleared up some misconceptions that although the computer speaks in ones and zeros when we discuss computer or programming languages we don’t necessarily mean binary.  The vocabulary terms compiler, pseudocode, loop, and condition were introduced.  Adding to the previous terms algorithm, computer, compute, and binary. A different student each week is assigned to define the vocabulary terms and include a pictorial representation of the term. They must submit these in a format that I can display on a word wall aka Tech Terms

On Monday we discussed operating systems and system requirements for software we download and/or install.

On Tuesday we began discussing algorithms after a brief discussion on computing.  I asked where they heard the word algorithm before and how it was used.  A student rattled off the quadratic formula and said that is an algorithm.  When I asked what it was used for…crickets.  Students knew what the formula was called, knew they were supposed to memorize it but not one student could share when they would use it. I asked them to think about why they don't know when to use it for or what reason.  

A student submitted Mario as a Tech Timeline addition from the week before so this was an opportunity to discuss Mario.  A tease.  I brought up the picture and asked are all of Mario’s pyramids the same height?  How could we write an equation to build a pyramid 8 high?  It began a discussion that I said, we would come back to, but had them thinking.  Note: the high school students know Mario and were excited to discuss Mario.  The thought they may get to play Mario in class has them eager for this discussion to come back up. ;-)
Instead of me ripping the phone book I asked two volunteers to race to find Mike Smith in the phone book this was awesome because one student was looking in the M’s.  I handed out water bottles as their participation prize and then walked through the process of looking for names in the phonebook and whether the name was in the Ms or Ss we were expecting them to be sorted.  We also discussed that as humans we determined we found Mike Smith upon finding Michael Smith but would a computer be able to make that distinction?

We left class after the 3rd discussion…what if we turned 2 pages at a time? It was twice as fast as one page but we could miss the page we were looking for which literally happened for me as I was talking.

On Wednesday, we had peanut butter jelly time

Pseudocode via Peanut Butter & Jelly

Following PB & J the quote of our week happened following the peanut butter jelly time.

p.s. I allowed all students to make a PB & J (18 students) after the demo

Thursday we began downloading VMware Workstation to install the appliance, we discussed being able to install software, reading the prompts, understanding where our software is installing.  We normally would not have students install software on lab computers but I recognized a value in them going through the process just in case they wanted to install at home.  I placed the link in our LMS to make it easy.

While the appliance downloaded we walked through the Algorithm lesson written by David J. Malan on TedEd.  What I liked about the lesson was having questions to check for understanding.  I added the lesson to my lessons and tweeked it a little and took a little out but now can see myself creating my own lessons on TedEd on related topics.

Friday, because we had issues with the VMware Workstation download we downloaded Virtual Box and that vbox version of the appliance. 

Looking toward next week:
Bits & Bytes

More algorithms

Saturday, August 22, 2015

CS50x – Cedarville Launch

I launched my CS50x teaching experience on August 19, 2015.  I started the course by passing out a syllabus with my expectations and discussed what the class would be about.  I shared with students some successes my middle school students experienced via coding in my classroom last year and why we were expanding to a high school course this year.  I shared that the course was put on the books as Coding and Apps in January but was somewhat modified over the summer to become 

CS50x-Cedarville: Coding and Apps a course that would study computer science and would use tools such as programming languages to create applications to be displayed as final projects in April 2016.

We discussed that we would have opportunities to create individually and as a group.  Our first class included binary math in which I invited students to the head of the class to write the binary equivalent to our typical base 10 numbers.  (I don't have lights nor did I have the opportunity to recreate that demo.) Those lucky volunteers were awarded with sunglasses that I picked up at the Ohio State Fair after giving my personal information to places like Fiat and 5-hour Energy just so I could have “gifts” for my students.  

My course that will be delivered via Schoology, our choice LMS, warned students about the extent of the work involved, but that it may likely be one of their most memorable classes this year.  I began class with a station on Pandora (long story…I queued up different music and the wifi went out so I had to switch to plan B and I don’t have a team) Entense Techno was the playlist and I turned off all the lights just before the bell and turned on stage lights. #HavePlanB

I discussed throughout this 3-day launch some technology history and since I do not have the halls of memorabilia as at Harvard I created a tech timeline
Technology Timeline

My students’ first assignment was to add to it (due Monday). 

To introduce the Tech Timeline assignment we used Feature Flix Friday to review some clips and discuss technology (not computers specifically yet) and the thought process involved when analyzing a situation or solving a problem.  I chose to use Back to the Future II as my Friday Flick (entire playlist below).

Looking to next week:

I have queued up the What is a computer?  And What is computing?  Modules adding the video - Which is on the plate for Monday & Tuesday of the upcoming week and lookout for Peanut Butter Jelly Time on Wednesday.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Teaching Technology vs. Using Tech to Teach

As a computer technology teacher I'm asked frequently by teachers what tech is available for teaching their content in their classroom. Occasionally teachers want to actually teach a tech subject in their classroom.
In previous blogs I've referred teachers to various sites:
Websites for your classroom
Web 2.0 that you can use
Making sense of PARCC test prep tools

What's important to keep in mind is teaching technology is totally different from using technology to enhance understanding of other content. 

Before using technology to enhance the teaching in your classroom it's important to make sure students know how to use the technology. 

My 3 go-to sites for teaching basic tech concepts and safety: 

Internet Safety Easy Tech: Internet Safety (Free in Ohio)‧ Online safety instruction and compliance reporting that exceeds E-Rate requirements

Responsible Use of Technology
Netsmartz Educator pageNS Teens can help teachers build an Internet safety curriculum with a free collection of teaching materials including videos, lesson plans, and games.

Document applications & Google 
By delivering more than 1,100 lessons to millions of people all over the world ABSOLUTELY FREE, is a worldwide leader in online education. 

These sites are easy to use with curriculum already developed and a wide range of skills covered.  Since Internet Safety could mean anything from profile pictures to identity theft going through the sites and selecting the topics you want to cover within the site is much more comprehensive than searching several sites for the same topics.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Professional Development for Teachers: Part One (CS50 AP)

I had the opportunity, as many teachers do, to participate in some professional development activities throughout June.  Each opportunity was unique and many were FREE, if you can get there. One opportunity took me across the country and was well worth the trip.

June 25 - 26 I participated in CS50 Bootcamp held at Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, WA.
An opportunity put together between David J. Malan's team at Harvard University and Natasha Chornesky's team at Microsoft.  In the two-day event I sat through an exemplar lecture, participated in a discussion, worked in a team to create a lesson, "surprise" taught a lesson, debriefed the lesson taught, participated in a "small-group" lecture, worked alongside other teachers, and learned about tools available to my students now as well as in the future. Oh, yeah, that was the first day aka Day 0. The next day we learned the philosophy for course grading, practiced grading, discussed giving students feedback and then had the layout of the course explained to us as educators.  

With all this learning the entire time we were having fun, interacting, and eating. I got to wear two hats: student and teacher. 

Why this type of PD is important
Lecture, teachers need to be reminded what it's like to be a student, it makes them better teachers. 

Discussion allows teachers (and students) the opportunity to process what they know and learned.

Team planning provides an opportunity for teachers to get new ideas and develop a plan that may look different from their usual plan.

Execution of the plan, even in a surprise way, allowed teachers to quickly gain insight and adjust parts of the plan that worked and didn't.

Debrief allows for teachers to reflect on what went right and what needs adjusting.

Small-group allowed us, as students, to work at our own pace and get help when needed quickly.

 ^PD formatted as a model for our courses.

Food and fun!  What's important about the food in PD is that we didn't have to worry about it, we could focus on what we were there to accomplish, not where to go and what to order.  

Regarding fun, it was good for us to have fun!  We were able to see value in providing fun in our classrooms to keep students interested and engaged.

The next day was a lot more about pedagogy and assessment, both very important in PD.  Understanding why the lessons are structured the way they are, how you can supplement materials to make them your own, and how to give valuable feedback to students is critical when designing a new program for students.  

I went into the bootcamp thinking they are going to give me a set of tasks that I will need to do well on in a short period of time.  It was that, but so much more, and I wasn't alone.  Bootcamp, as the name entails requires you to go in prepared.  You have to be prepared to handle the multitude of demands that will be placed on you in a short period of time and you will leave with a new outlook and be conditioned to take on new and different tasks.  Bootcamp doesn't mean the hard part is over, it means you are tasked to maintain the spirit brought to you through bootcamp.  But you have to keep working. It also doesn't mean the work is done for you but a spirit to encourage you to keep working is ignited.

CS50 Bootcamp challenged participants to bring into their schools a well-thought out curriculum that will challenge their students.  
I went in to CS50 bootcamp feeling overwhelmed.  I felt like there was no way I belonged in a level 0 Harvard course, even though I have a Master's degree from an accredited university.  I left bootcamp with a new spirit, support, and a community of educators.  
I was reminded I was not alone, and all educators across the country are experiencing similar hurdles to preparing their students for the world.

Look into taking CS50x via

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

So, you want to be a computer technology teacher in Ohio.

When I decided I wanted to teach computer technology for grades K-12 I realized I first needed to get a license.  But who offers a license in computer technology?  There are currently two options in Ohio. A license in Computer Information Science or an endorsement on your current license in Computer Technology. Below I outline how you can pursue either of those options.

Get a Master’s Degree in P-12 Education
A free-standing license in Computer Information Science is only available at Wright State University but you can get updated information on licensing programs through the Ohio Board of Regents.
While both computer teaching options are at the graduate level, there are a few more options for the computer technology endorsement.

Weighing advice
I was told by one principal get the computer technology license as quick as possible, look into the Alternative Licensure Program.  He said there aren’t as many computer teacher openings but the last opening he had was open for 6 months and he only had three applicants.  For math positions he had nearly 200 applicants. He said if you get the technology credentials, you will get the job. Other school districts said, we need math and science teachers more often than computer teachers so there are more jobs available.  Get a license in Integrated Mathematics. 

Alternative/Supplemental license options
The alternative license program allows you to start teaching after taking some online coursework.  My undergrad was in Management Information Systems and I had the computer courses necessary to teach the subject area so this was a viable choice. Ultimately I wanted options.  I wanted to teach computer technology but I got my license in Integrated Mathematics. By having a license in a core subject area I was able to add my computer information science license as a supplemental license.   This was really easy.  Make sure you either already have the coursework or take the coursework under supervision of a mentor and within two years you can progress your supplemental license to stand alone.  
See…you have options. 

Icing the cake
No matter what option you choose at some time through the progression (prior to the license, or in years 1 or 2) you will need to take the appropriate licensure exam.

010                                   Computer Information Science
016/017                            Computer/Technology (Subtests I & II)

Good luck becoming a computer technology teacher.  It’s a blast!!!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Should I go back to school to be a teacher?

I am asked time and time again about my move aka career change from computer science to teaching.  For me there were a lot of factors to consider.  My foot in the door of teaching was interesting and not initially planned. 

What did I DO in computer science? 
I was first a programmer and worked with programming database programs using SQL and Visual Basic to customize the database, forms and queries to individual business needs.  I worked on various projects for a company that eventually closed, as the sales were not solid.  I quickly picked up substitute teaching while looking for another job, it paid well, there was a need, and I had the qualifications.  I then worked for a consulting company that tested company’s software before they put it into production.  I wrote technical manuals, and documented errors in what was expected versus what actually happened.  I apparently was very good at it and quickly slid into a training position aka shift supervisor. I was offered several jobs but they were 90+ miles from my home. This is important!  In May of 2001 I checked into getting my teaching license for the first time.  I planned to work at a career tech center as a teacher.  I wanted hours more suitable for my family. Eventually, I chose not to enroll in classes that started in June. THEN the consulting company eventually went under for sales… too bad I didn’t know it was coming, to get unemployment while going back to school would have been ideal, but I missed the teaching program’s window. Here’s the thing, I could have worked for an established company 90 miles from my home but I was recently married, already had a 4-year-old and just bought a house in the middle of a corn field, a corn field not very close to established tech companies. I wasn’t interested in picking up and moving, moving away from our babysitters and a commute longer than 45 minutes was NOT feasible. While looking for another job I found that I was expecting another baby and well…it made sense to stop looking for employment for the moment.

Career Changer
At this point, I went back to substitute teaching.  I could pick my jobs, they weren’t every day but I could pick what jobs I accepted and could be home when my daughter, now 5, got off the bus.  That was the most important part of being a teacher, the schedule matched my school-age daughter’s schedule.  It’s not fantastic to say in an interview.  Why did you go into teaching?  The schedule. But remember above, …trainer,  …back to teaching.  There was likely more to it than I could see on the surface. I spent a couple years at home running an in-home daycare and soon found a job at an adult tech center.  I trained adults to find jobs and to learn computer skills to make them more employable and I could be home by 3:30. I continued teaching as an adjunct at a local college but then I wasn’t making the income I needed for our family versus the time I was putting in.  That’s when I started looking into other corporate training jobs or the idea of getting a teaching license again.  At this point, 10 years after the first attempt at a teaching license, I’d been teaching longer than I’d been in the computer science profession.

Being Prepared
The recommendation was to get my math license and get a computer science license as a supplemental as none of the universities in Ohio outright provided the CS license as an option. NONE of them. My initial degree was not in mathematics; it was computer information systems so I had fewer math courses than many in my cohort. I did struggle to catch-up and remember concepts, it was 12 years since my undergrad graduation and I had not used higher-level math throughout those years.  I did get the assistance of a tutor and watched videos on Youtube.  Specifically Khan Academy on problem sets I needed assistance and Shawn Teaches on YouTube.  

I found the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship on accident. <More here> When I was offered the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship I realized this was an opportunity I was practically forced to go along with.  I could not put it off any longer. They were going to help me go back to school and my stipend would allow me to quit my job so my family would be fine! 

The Student/Parent

I commuted to Cincinnati from near Springfield, OH everyday.  180 miles round-trip. I was previously very involved with my daughter's school and gave up ALL volunteer efforts while in the program.  It was enough to teach, go to college courses, and come home to feed my family.  My husband was supportive and my kids understood that when I came home I would be doing schoolwork.  I got through it by saying it's only one year, and I pretty much made it a one-year commitment.  Nothing since have I allowed to take so much time but I did leave my house before 7:30 AM and not get home until after 8:30 PM except for Fridays when I generally got home closer to 6 PM.  I worked on classroom prep every Sunday so my "day off" Saturday was generally spent on my college coursework. This did not allow for time to work on my kids’ school projects with them, or participate in taking them to practices.  I did get to pick up my youngest daughter from gymnastics on Mondays at 8:30 PM and sometimes take her, and my other daughters were in marching band that was thankfully mostly on Fridays, and the occasional Saturday contest.   I had to ask my kids to take on a lot more responsibility including teenagers making dinner but it didn’t kill them.

The payoff
I have a job now that I LOVE!  This program helped me get through it quicker with less of a financial burden but please know that it is A LOT of work.

I actually talked some about my experiences with the program in a talk at the Ohio Statehouse in 2012.  Details can be found

Best Wishes on what you decide.