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July 2012

June 2012

Moodle Queen = Setting up Moodle on a USB Stick

There are three people in our district who are considered Moodle Queens:

A  CS teacher at SEM as she is the best at setting up tests.

The Moodle Administrator for the district.

And myself for setting up courses.

Well, I’ve gone a step further, I’ve figured out how to set up Moodle on a USB stick.

Why?

I’m about to go to California and present at a workshop and I never trust anyone else’s internet.  For example, I’ve been at two places in the Dallas area where I can’t use my phone internet:  UTD and Craig Culwell Center.  Worse yet, it took a while for me to get internet at the Craig Culwell center and I was a presenter.  I did have my USB Moodle site with me, so I wasn’t completely fubarred.


Had a blast!

Went to an AP thing today by Region 10.  A.C.T. Summit and it was all good, and had fun stuff.  I presented AP Computer Science and Gridworld second session.

The Keynote speaker has written books on over achieving kids, and had a lot of good ideas on how to deal with them and their parents.

I asked a question as I had had something interesting come up lately.   I invited a dog agility mom to come to a Teacup trial and she said they wouldn’t because they were competing to get an AKC scholarship.  Oh, and the kid is in 7th grade.  Looked it up today and the scholarship is for $1000 – $5000 so I don’t really blame them.

Probably looks a little different on the college application too.

Went to the AP Statistics session taught by a colleague and it was VERY good.  It also gave me a chance to polish up my presentation.

The AP CS was mostly math teachers, but we had fun anyway.  I think the biggest thing they got out of it was that they didn’t ever want to teach CS.

The last session I attended was a general session on why kids take CS, basically a summary of a paper the presenter did for his PhD.  Had some very interesting ideas, basically that the more kids think they will do well, the more they enroll in AP Courses, the better they do, etc.

He suggested that we encourage kids to take AP tests a second time (which is a game we used to play when we had two AP CS courses – which I mentioned).

And at the end, we both acknowledged that kid that signs up for AP CS is not only going to get into college but they are going to be successful.


Running into students

Went to a dying mall near my house, that they are trying to revive when I heard “Mrs. Weaver” – I turned and found one of my former students – and a very frustrating one at that.

I put on my biggest smile and asked how his summer was, and in a halting voice he told me, and his mother repeated clearer, so I told him some of what I was doing and shook his hand.

I am ALWAYS happy to run into students.  With my more able students, I may act annoyed, but they know the truth.  They see the twinkle in my eye.

Moral:  If you see your former teacher, say something.  We always like running into you.


My IT Department Will Not Let Me - Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

Why IT departments don’t trust computer science teachers I don’t really understand.

via blogs.msdn.com

Actually OUR IT Department is pretty good.

When our district buys computers they ask the lead teachers (I am one of them), what we want, and usually have us review the image.

They also leave me with the Deep Freeze Console so I can Freeze and Unfreeze the computers and make my own changes.

I would say one of the reasons they work well with us, is that one of them used to be on eof us. They also all seem to recoginize that their job is to make our jobs easier and that ultimately we're about the kids.

However, in my twenty years of teaching we haven't had many problem children either. No grade changers, have had a few kids end up on wrong sites accidently, and a few on purpose.

On the whole though, everyone is there to get the job done.


Do you want to teach Computer Science in Texas?

I have been teaching high school Computer Science in Texas for 20 years and have helped other people get their teaching certificate.

You can go through an alternative certification program, but I don’t recommend it.  Until you get your certification, you are the first to go when they are cutting positions, and that is happening a lot lately. 

I recommend my route, which is to go through a local university, get a defiancy plan and get a traditional teaching certificate.  I went that route, and so did several of my friends.

The good thing, is that any courses you take will count towards a Master’s degree, something all school systems like and pay more for.

I needed Speech, Texas Politics and several pedagogy courses.  Take them, you’ll find few pedagogy courses that focus on Computer Science and you need the knowledge for the certification test.  Student teaching is helpful too.

I was lucky, my district was able to put together a pedagogy course that focused on CS one summer – we used it to develop new curriculum.

I will warn you that teaching CS is probably as hard as working in industry.  You don’t have much help, and in fact, most staff development opportunities feel like some type of ego battle.  Not sure why, I think it comes from some of the male dominance in the field but the women are as bad if not worse than the men.  Actually I think it comes from not being secure in the field – a lot of CS teachers started out as math teachers and feel the need to constantly defend themselves around the true CS people.

The other problem is that everyone in your building expects you fix their stuff.  I don’t mind fixing things, but most of the time I have to tell people that their computer is broken and can’t be repaired.  They don’t like that.

You often have to teach a lot of different subjects, but I don’t mind it.  I found in student teaching, if I had to teach the same course all day, I got bored.  Or even just two.  So teaching web, CS Fundamentals, PreAP, and AP, plus doing Robotics Extracurricular makes me happy.  I know, I’m weird.


So it’s summer, why are you working?

I’m taking a short break from curriculum writing, something I’ve been doing since I was released from school on Friday.  I am also working on the two presentations I’m giving this summer:

  • June – Gridworld, one day for Region 10
  • July – CS&IT on Fundraising

I’ve also found teaching is a whole lot easier if I walk in the classroom in August and I have everything planned out for the year.

I still have to tweak things – if kids don’t get a unit I’ll have to change the way I covered it (and I’ll fix that next summer), and when the schedule gets changed I’ll have to make some changed.

It means I have more time to grade and interact with students when prep work during the year means giving a copy of the already prepared plans to my evaluator.


Summer Plans are coming together

First, I was really excited to get an email that I got accepted to a Tapestry workshop in Duluth in August.  I think I’m going to drive – though looking into other forms of transportation.  There are places I’ve wanted to see along the route, and as I keep saying, it’s just up I-35.

I finally got money from the district to go to an AP Summer Institute, that’s going to be the week before in Dallas. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself and working backwards.

My first deadline is to finish the Scope and Sequence for Computer Science Fundamentals.

Then I am presenting at a local AP event – covering Gridworld.

I am presenting at CS&IT in California the week of July 10.

Have an IBM Camp experience with a student.

Then the AP Summer institute and trip to Duluth.

Somewhere in there I am taking a class at UTD.