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Staying Current

I have been struggling recently with issues of funding at my school for my program. I know all schools are facing funding issues so I am not alone. Currently the textbooks that I am using in computer science have copyright dates of 2002 or older. So, I have been seeking other ways to keep my content and pedagogy current.

In a previous blog post I had written about a grant I received that partially funded digital computer science curriculum. That worked perfectly for my computer science classes not only because I use Moodle to house my curriculum but I could use it for 3 of my 4 classes. I also continue to peruse the A.P. listserv for mentions of teachers offering their successful lessons. If I can't use their lesson this year, I know I can use their materials next year.

I attended SIGCSE this year. I was able to make some contacts and attend workshops during which some wonderful ideas were presented. This is my first year attending SIGCSE so it was a little overwhelming. I did come away with many ideas. A few of them were: using Google Forms to check for understanding in the computer class, using Pex4Fun from Microsoft Research as a review, and ideas for using Google's AppInventor.

I also use Twitter to stay current. Through Twitter I have found an add-on to Google Docs for assessment called Flubaroo. (http://www.flubaroo.com/) It was created by a teacher to streamline assessment. I was also introduced to another freeware program, Hot Potatoes (http://hotpot.uvic.ca/ ). It allows me to embed warm-up exercises into my Moodle site in the form of crosswords, short answer, and jumbled sentences.

With shrinking budgets and no funding for professional development, how have you been able to keep your content and pedagogy current? I would welcome more ideas.

Myra Deister
CSTA Board of Directors

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