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December 2013

November 2013

PBL Problems – students running off at the mouth

I have a giant, almost not ending PBL – building a robot – and a side effect is students running off at the mouth. One student has been a particular problem and was toxic. He slowed work down and made students uncomfortable. Some was flat out racist, some sexist, and some a bit locker room in nature.

I was trying to let the students work it out, but it just got worse and we are hitting a hard deadline.

I finally pulled him, told him his conversation was toxic, and put him on a solo side project. Had some blowback, he complained, an administrator talked to me and it got very comfortable but I stuck to it. I also made it clear we could not be successful without his contribution.

I did see the main project make good progress so positively reinforced that and on task conversations.

The solo project wasn't making satisfactory progress, so Wednesday, day before Thanksgiving break, I declared it help "Student X", made him in charge of everyone including me and we knocked it out. He was positively reinforced- he got caught up, he got to be in charge and felt included in the group again.

Win, win all around.

Nothing has a quick and easy answer

Starting with chess. I played chess with a couple of my robot kids at lunch. I "handed them their asses", but ended the game with a quick lesson in why I bet them. Also in how to get better at chess, study end games.

Today, favorite song, "Bye, Bye Miss America Pie", the long version, which sadly, I know all the words. Ending with playing Rudy Valence and Buddy Holly. I spared them the Big Bopper, but only because the bell rang.

Surface 2 – Battery life

The battery life seems to be better. Not sure, yet. One of the problems I would have with the old Surface is that I would swear I put it away charged, and pulled it out uncharged.

Like the power thing better, the light is on the side rather than the tip so it's easier to tell if you have power.

It works well with my VGA projector but I ended up with a way smaller screen and icons with it. For a while I was stuck with it but now it is back to normal. The resolution said it was the same each time. Very weird.

Grading on the Surface 2 (With Azure)

Using a Java server I set up on Azure I've been able to grade some Scratch assignments. It's easiest to run Scratch 2.4 (the one we have at school) , and grade that way. I'm hoping to grade other assignment too.

Having the larger screen, and the ability to run programs on a server and remoting in solves most of the grading issues. I'm fastest grading on my school computer with both monitors but I am at least productive with this option.

Thanks @shanselman for the idea.

Can run both Scratch and JCreator with this option.

Upgraded to a Surface 2 RT

I loved my Surface RT. It was great. Due to @shanselman and having already seen one, I upgraded to a Surface 2 RT at Best Buy. Love the extra screen resolution.


I had bought my original Surface at the local Microsoft store right after they came out. Good place but almost in Oklahoma. We live a good 30 minutes away. They have always given me good service though.

I went to the Best Buy this time which is only an exit away. Did have a bit of mixup and glad the Geek Squad discovered it. The sales guy got me an old Surface, not the new.

I already had a Type Cover – don't like the Touch Covers and Best Buy wouldn't take it as trade in. I did check and it does work fine. I also have several other keyboards that would work fine also. I also have two additional power bricks.

I had the Geek store put a Zagg screen protector on the Surface 2 as I always regretted not getting one on the original surface, however, right now it has a ton of bubbles, I'll let you know how it works out. I also haven't been happy with Zagg in the past but Best Buy swore they would be good. I have the one year service agreement too, for damage and will move my theft coverage in the morning.

My original sleeve works – it's great and I keep my hotspot in it for when I go to the gym and out and about.

I also got the Bluetooth adapter for the type cover, and it is quite awesome.

I only got $100 for the old Surface, but it was worth it. Didn't have to look for a buyer. I think I could of sold it to a student but don't like doing that.

Presenting at #TCEA1011 was easy

I did a presentation on "Why Should you Teach Computer Science" today and it was easy. Could have walked in with my purse and done. Didn't need my two computers, etc.


Have my powerpoint on Skydrive.

I did add quite a bit of information on fundraising, specifically on

Years ago I quit presenting at the local regional because I had to bring everything I needed for the presentation, including the projector. Parking was miles away from the group gathering place. The presentation place was miles away and there was no one to help setup. I quit the regional TCEA stuff all together.

I'm back and all in because of this group! Good job!