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April 2008

Programming an XNA game

Using the DVD that I received from Microsoft on the Cruise Ship, I was able to get a 2d single shooter game working on my PC,

Took me 2 days.

Man, is XNA sweet. It took us a whole semester to do the same work -- of course, it is not orginal yet, but I will see what I can get a kid to draw for me.

Classroom Discipline

This week, I've had several occasions where the need for classroom discipline has become evident.

The first: Our school has asked a teacher not to come back. Several of the teachers in my part of the school have shared our concerns with his lack of classroom discpline, and the fact that he teachs math very old school and our kids don't get it that way.

The second: I had a first year Alternative Certification teacher teaching the same subject come and stay with me for a day. She was impressed with both student behavior AND hall behavior. I spend a LOT of energy keeping kids out of my part of the hall, and it definately pays off.

The third: and this is a situation that really has to change. I won't let my kids participate if it continues this way. We get the whole district together for a Saturday tutoring session, and the students that attend are just flat out rude. As a whole, those students are Magnet students and I suspect that they might even have a smaller class size that I am used to. I know that the teachers have expressed distain for the classroom discipline classes that our district has required us to attend.

FYI: Those are CHAMPS, and oddly enough it's based on the same system of reinforcement and expectations that I use as a very successful dog trainer. Basically you establish rules of behavoir, establish rewards and consequences. All really good stuff.

And as I told the other teacher--it doesn't not matter how well you know your subject or can deliver it, if your students are not behaving they can't learn anything.

Yes, there is a future in High School Computer Science

Alfred asked:

Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson : Is There A Future For High School Computer Science?

Is There A Future For High School Computer Science?

And I am seeing that there is, but maybe NOT in AP Computer Science. 

I finally got my counts, and I've achieved my major goal, once again, when I haven't in several years.  That goal is to teach CS full time.  Next year, I get to teach 6 sections!  No web, no math.  I am very happy.

Here's the deal. My regular CS count has tripled, which should make Alfred and Microsoft very happy since that is where I teach VB.

My PreAP count has halved, as has my AP CS A count.  Though I'm not sure how accurate that APCS count is, as at least one student isn't enrolled in it, who wants to me. My AP CS AB count is 2.  Interesting.

I'm going to work on making the PreAP more motivating and see if that helps.

Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson : College Board to discontinue the AP CS AB exam

Quoted from

Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson : College Board to discontinue the AP CS AB exam

Well the news hit like a thunderclap in the Advanced Placement Computer Science world today - the College Board has decided to discontinue the AP CS AB exam after next school year.


Yes, I was shocked to read the email about the end of AP CS B.  i've sat back and just let the fur fly, and what has come out makes sense.  There are two explainations -- both related. The first explaination is that it is a purely economic decision. The second, is that few minorities sign up for the test.

Both answers make sense, especially taken together.

As an AP CS teacher at a small urban high school, I am relieved. Because of our own district decisions, having both A and AB tests mean that I have to teach at least three preps, but usually 4. The most number of students I've gotten for the AB is 3, and rarely are those students as serious as they need to be. I do have a high passing rate, but the sample size is extremely low.  It's hard to prep for 3 students when you have 60 taking a different prep.

Next year I'll have 2 AB students, both of which are capable of passing.  I'm planning on taking a one week staff development that was to focus on the AB (last year, I focused on the A), That's a lot of staff development for 3 students.

However, I really don't like the idea of expanding the A so that it meets the requirements of a full year of computer science, which is one of the plans floating about.  Thankfully we have a PreAP number which should help. We can also keep the AP CS II designation, and use that as needed.

All in all, I think it's a good thing.

However, I wouldn't be surprised if some corporate sponsors stepped in and financed it.  And they probably should.

Technology Prices going down

We had a major storm this week, and as always, I lost a piece of equipment.  This time, a 19" LCD monitor. 

I decided to go over to the local Office Depot and replace it.  Found the exact same monitor for just under $200, so pulled the ticket and went to the register.  Took a while for them to come back with it, and when they did, they told me that there was "good new and bad news".

Bad news -- they didn't have the 19" monitor.

Good news -- they had the same brand monitor (Viewsonic), but bigger 20" wide screen, for $50.00 less.

Yes, it's the monitor I'm using to write this post.