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Andrew Thompson

CS/Math Instructor, Wicomico High School 


How did you get into this area?
As I graduated high school, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher.  Teaching is a bit of a legacy profession for me as my parents are both educators, and my grandfather was a pastor for his entire adult life. I chose Mathematics to be my primary teaching focus but having been the child of educators I knew that teachers often must wear multiple hats.  Thus, I decided to get my minor in Computer Science, figuring it could come in handy in the future. It turns out that in my 10th year of teaching it did. My school had a need for a new CS teacher and asked me if I would consider it.  I jumped right in!  They sent me to AP Summer institutes in my first two summers and that helped me immensely with my confidence.  I teach at school that only has 1 full-time CS teacher, so I entered a department of 1. There were some challenges along the way.   Luckily for me, my supervisors and especially the CS teachers at the other schools in my county were very helpful to make sure I had everything I needed! 
What are some successes and challenges you have experienced in getting to where you are now? 

I would say one of the biggest challenges in Computer Science is finding the right resources and curriculum. In the CS world things change and update very quickly and resources don’t always keep up.  The first curriculum I was given had links to resources that were not even live websites anymore. This however led to one of my biggest successes and that is connecting with a community of teachers that have been able to help me find everything that I need. From my fellow teachers in Wicomico County that let me shadow them my first year to get a sense that I was doing something right and sent me full folders of great PPTS, to the fellow teachers at CSTA-MD that have encouraged me and shared resources with me, I have always had support. They have pointed me to a wealth of resources online through the various coding websites, videos, and tutorials. If you feel like you are weak in an area, I guarantee there is a resource out there to help you! Just ask a fellow teacher and they will point you in the right direction! 


What's working well? 
I think I am most proud of seeing my student’s pride in their final products. One of the hardest transitions for me from Math to CS was the fact that CS is more project driven than the math classroom. However, I believe now that is one of my favorite parts. Once students are done their projects, I very nearly always have a virtual gallery walk in which students post links to their final product and then can view their classmates work. After they are done, they get to vote on superlatives. Things like “Most Informational Website”, “Most Creative Use of Style”, “Most Interesting Pictures”, “Best Overall”. I think for both me and my students, the revealing of the superlatives is our favorite class day.   

Dianne O'Grady-Cunniff, dogrady at usmd dot edu
Director, Maryland Center for Computing Education

Dr. Megean Garvin, mgarvin at usmd dot edu
Director of Research, Maryland Center for Computing Education

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Maryland Center for Computing Education
3300 Metzerott Rd. Adelphi, MD 20783
MCCE received initial support from the National Science Foundation, (MSP)2 Grant No. 0831970.