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CSESI 2009

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Paul Grobstein
Paul was the keynote speaker for CSESI 2009.  I think he did a great job of opening for the institute because he began by posing questions to the teachers.  What do you think of when hear the word “computers” in the broader context of education? What are people using computers for?  From there, we discussed reality and virtuality and the idea that people see things differently. All of the teachers were actively learning because they were asked to write the first three words that came to mind when they heard the word “computers.” Then, everyone shared their words and we discussed their ideas. I think Paul used a good combination of discussion and visual models to keep the audience interested and engaged.
Tom Cortina
Tom introduced the CS Unplugged program to the teachers. The idea behind it is extremely interesting, as not all teachers and students have access to computers, and the program provides a way for students to be learning about computer science without using computers. I thought he provided some good examples of ways to get students to think outside of the box, but after awhile I think that many of the teachers got restless and needed a break or at least a chance to get up and walk around a bit. 
Tom Way
On Tuesday, Tom Way came to talk about the magic of computing. He was extremely engaging and taught us many new tricks that teachers could use to keep their students interested and attentive in the classroom. He did a great job of tying things together.   He would either think of a topic first, and then find a trick to go along with it, or he would think of a trick and always tie it back to the lesson. He made people laugh, and used many volunteers. He gave the teachers many hands-on experiences, and he even gave everyone their own magic kits! This way, teachers will have all of the tools they need to do all of the tricks he displayed. The magic tricks that Tom taught the institute were great examples of how to get students attention.
Adelaida Alban Medlock
Adelaida Alban Medlock came to the institute to introduce us to Alice 3.0. I think all participants were very excited to learn more about the program, but they quickly became frustrated with the beta version and many gave up. It was somewhat hard to follow what Adelaida was doing because as people were following along on their own computers, they would encounter bugs that made it impossible to continue. Almost none of the participants had prior experience with Alice, so I think it would have been beneficial to have made the demonstration of Alice 2.2. The participants would have still gotten the same things out of the lesson, and I think the participants would have felt less frustrated.
Michael Littman
In the afternoon, Michael Littman presented many new tools for teachers to use such as scratch, iClicker, sakai, itunes u, and Youtube. Many of the teachers didn’t know about the sites before, and it seems like they all found at least one site that they could use in their curriculum or classroom. My favorite of the demonstrations was iClicker. Using iClicker seems like a good way to see if students are paying attention, or also to see if students are understanding the material being presented to them. A teacher can use iClicker to gage whether or not he/she needs to clarify or elaborate on a topic. At the end of his presentation, Michael showed u an example on Scratch. He went through everything slowly to make sure everyone could follow along. I think Scratch is an interesting program that is a great way to show students how things would work in real life, without having to have the actual materials as a demonstration.
Peter DePasquale
Peter DePasquale introduced the CSESI participants to some of his favorite websites. Many of them could be used for the classroom, and some even for teacher’s personal lives. He provided teachers with links to resources for sounds and images and told them about virtual drop boxes, among many other useful tools. He was a great starting place to get the teachers talking about sites they use in their classroom and how they can be used in different subjects.
Dora Wong
Dora Wong, the Haverford College science librarian, had some great things to share with the CSESI participants. Most of the teachers had heard about twitter, but were hesitant to use it. But, by the end of the discussion, many of them felt like they would be comfortable “tweeting.” Dora explained that twitter can be used for PR and customer service, tweeting for a cause, event notifications, and in many other useful ways. Tweeting should be less personal, and more about a good idea, Dora explained. Another extremely useful tool Dora shared with us was Zotero, which is a citation management plugin for Firefox. Zotero extracts bibliographic information from your sources, and it then can organize them in many different styles. All of the teachers were extremely excited about this tool, and were eager to show it to their students.
JD Dougherty
On the final day of the institute, JD taught us about computational singing. Many of the teachers agreed that using music and lyrics is one of the best ways to reinforce concepts learned by students. JD then performed some of the songs he or his students had written. It was a nice, relaxing way to end the institute.

Some constructive thoughts about the institute: