Thursday, March 25, 2010

TEALS is underway

In addition to teaching, I realized that I really need to scale myself out. The STEM in education problem will not and can not be solved by me alone. So with that in mind, I started a pilot program at Microsoft in conjunction with the Issaquah school district to bring 3 MS employees to teach part time at Issaquah High School.
The plan is to find one teacher for each of the following classes:
- Web Design
- Linear Algebra
I have to say, it is amazing how much the administration makes a difference. The IHS administrators are the most awesome and open minded bunch of guys and gals I know. It is their willingness and flexibility that makes the pilot program possible. We will have internal MS recruiting sessions in the coming weeks. In addition, IHS has also announced the program to the school community at large. I am very excited to say the least.
Oh TEALS stands for Technology Education and Literacy in Schools. Anything with Tech or Ed has already been taken up by MS's annual conference called TechEd. I still remember one year it was in Boston when I was in grad school and everyone had a TechEd backpack on the T...

Saturday, March 13, 2010


For the new semester, instead of the Fraction Calculator, the project has been change to a TicTacToe game. While the underlying concepts the students have to apply and implement are very similar, we'll see it does better.
THe transition from Scratch to Java has not been entirely easy. Some students in the class are still having issues with the structure of Java programs. One part is giving it some time, the other is just having them thinking in very clear CS mode. They still thinking in English terms and directly put that down the best they can into Java, instead of filtering it with what methods and techniques they have learned and then putting it down as Java code. Once again, time would correct that, but in a one semester class, there isn't much of that.
I am also toying with the idea of doing a mini-project using the RadioShack hobby kit I used as a Harvard TF to demo binary adders. I had initially considered the easier to use snap on kit, but turns out there just isn't enough real estate on the board to do an adder. So back to the kit with the breadboard...

In a way, I'm using this class to figure out 2 things. One is what a high school level general intro CS class should look like, and what should go into the 1st semester, and what should go into the 2nd. If the adder segment goes will, we will use it again next year.
Oh yeah, UPrep has a 2 week long spring break. I'm not sure how that will affect the project, but we'll see.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

From Scratch to Java

So we have now transitioned from Scratch to Java. Picture == 1000 words...