About Dave Reed

David Reed is the Director of Computer Science and Informatics at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. He has been involved in K-12 CS education for more than 20 years, serving as Chief Reader of AP Computer Science from 2004-2008 and on the CSTA Board of Directors since 2009. He was a member of the ACM/IEEE Computer Science Curricula 2013 Task Force and is the author of an introductory computer science text, A Balanced Introduction to Computer Science, which has been used in colleges and high schools.

CSTA Annual Conference in Omaha

If you haven’t already registered to attend the CSTA Annual Conference on July 7-10, I hope you are planning to do so soon. CLICK TO REGISTER This is the first time the conference has been held in Omaha, which is hard to imagine given that the city’s nickname is “The Big O.” You would think every CS-related conference would want to be here. If this will be your first visit to Omaha, prepare to be impressed with a modern, friendly Midwestern city. I’ve lived in Omaha (technically, in the suburbs) for 18 years now, and will be happy to serve as your tour guide. Here is my top 5 list of things you need to see when you come to Omaha this summer:

  1. Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium: If you have any flexibility in your schedule, you absolutely have to go to the Henry Doorly Zoo. Rated the world’s best zoo by TripAdvisor, it has something that will appeal to everyone. It houses one of the largest indoor rain forests, the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit and swamp, one of the world’s largest indoor deserts (inside the world’s largest geodesic dome), the largest cat complex in North America, a walk-through aquarium, and a penguin house that is wonderfully cool in the summer. Unfortunately, it closes at 6pm, so try to come a day early or stay a day late to visit the best zoo in the world!
  2. Old Market: This historic district is only a 4-5 block walk from the conference hotels, so it will be an easy destination throughout the week. The four square-block district contains a wide variety of restaurants, bars, art galleries, and upscale shops, while still maintaining the feel of Omaha’s past as a frontier city and trade center. Some of my favorite destinations are Blue Sushi, which has a great happy hour (and awesome vegetarian sushi), Wheatfield’s Eatery and Bakery, which is famous for its breakfasts and desserts, and Hollywood Candy, which has every kind of candy there ever was.
  3. Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge: The conference site, the CenturyLink Center, and the conference hotels are right on the Missouri River. There are walkways and parks on both sides of the river and a 3,000-foot pedestrian bridge that connects the Nebraska and Iowa sides. Be sure to take time to stroll across the award-winning bridge and visit another state!
  4. Durham Museum: Located on the far side of the Old Market, only 0.7 miles from the conference site, is the Durham Museum. The region’s premier history museum is housed in Union Station, an art deco train station built in 1898. If you don’t have time to take in the exhibits, at least pop into the lobby and enjoy the architecture.
  5. Road to Omaha Statue: Right next to the conference center and hotels is TD Ameritrade Park, which is home to the College World Series every June. This is my favorite time of the year, when fans from the eight best college baseball teams take over Omaha for two weeks. Obviously, you will not be there for this event (maybe next year?), but you can get your picture taken with the famous Road to Omaha statue outside the stadium.

So, register now and I’ll see you in July.

Dave Reed
Past Chair, CSTA Board of Directors

2016 CSTA Board Election — One More Day to Cast Your Vote!

The 2016 election for five open positions on the CSTA Board of Directors runs through March 22. If you were a CSTA member as of February 16, you should have received an email from ElectionBuddy.com with a personalized link to the online ballot. If you didn’t receive the email, contact customerservice@csteachers.org.

The CSTA Board of Directors consists of eleven voting representatives, elected by the more than 22,000 CSTA members worldwide. The candidates for the 2016 elections are:

  • 9-12 Representative: Stacey Kizer, Chinma Uche
  • At-Large Representative: Myra Deister, Michelle Lagos
  • International Representative: Miles Berry, Michael Jones
  • State Department Representative: Anthony Owen, Doug Paulson
  • University Faculty Representative: Darcy G. Benoit, Fred G. Martin

Full details about the election, including statements by the candidates, can be found online at http://www.csteachers.org/page/boardelections.

Dave Reed
Chair, CSTA Board of Directors

Better Know a Committee – 2016 edition

The CSTA Board of Directors is a working board. Board members work closely with the Executive Director to articulate the vision for the organization, plan initiatives and activities, and help carry out the organization’s business. Much of this work is done through standing committees and task forces. Following a tradition begun last year, the chairs of the various CSTA committees and task forces will be posting brief reports in the Advocate. Keep an eye out for these reports in the coming weeks to stay informed about current CSTA activities.

If you would like to know more about a committee or task force, or possibly volunteer to help out, please feel free to contact us.

  • Communication & Publications: Stephanie Hoeppner (smhoeppner@gmail.com)
  • Curriculum: Deborah Seehorn (deborah.seehorn@outlook.com)
  • Equity: Alfred Thompson (act2@acthompson.net)
  • Funding Development:  Fred Martin (fredm@cs.uml.edu)
  • Governance: Myra Deister (mjdeister@fjuhsd.k12.ca.us)
  • International: Mina Theofilatou (theoth@otenet.gr)
  • Membership: Laura Blankenship (lblanken@gmail.com)
  • Nominations & Elections: Deborah Seehorn (deborah.seehorn@outlook.com)
  • Professional Development: Tammy Pirmann (tpirmann@gmail.com)
  • Research: Aman Yadav (ayadav@msu.edu)
  • Teacher Certification: Tammy Pirmann (tpirmann@gmail.com)
  • Assessment Task Force: Aman Yadav (ayadav@msu.edu)
  • Chapters Task Force: Fran Trees (fran@ftrees.com)
  • Computational Thinking Task Force: Irene Lee (lee@santafe.edu)
  • K-8 Task Force: Sheena Vaidyanathan (sheena@computersforcreativity.com)

Dave Reed
Chair, CSTA Board of Directors

CSTA Board of Directors Election (part 2)

As a follow-up to the reminder about the CSTA Board of Directors election, here are some notes from the Nominations & Elections Committee.

  1. We apologize if any candidates have had trouble submitting applications or experienced delays in receiving acknowledgements. CSTA is currently transitioning to a new association management system (AMS) and had some related technical issues for a period. If you have any problems in the future, please contact nominations@csta-hq.org or customerservice@csta-hq.org.
  2. There are five open positions up for election in 2016. Two other positions, School District Representative and Teacher Education Representative, were scheduled to also be open this year. This would have resulted in seven of ten elected Board positions being open at once. In situations where 2/3 or more of the positions are open, the Nominations & Elections Committee is charged with extending one or more positions by one year to ensure Board continuity. No Board member can have his or her term extended more than once.
  3. In case you were on the fence about applying for the Board, here are answers to five of the most common questions that potential candidates ask:Q: How much work is involved in being a Board member?
    A: You have probably seen the phrase “the CSTA Board is a working board” in several places.  What this means is that members of the Board are expected to help carry out the business of the organization – not just advise or supervise.  This includes two face-to-face board meetings, one held in conjunction with the CSTA Annual Conference and another held in the late fall.  While these meetings are packed and productive, most of the Board’s business is conducted throughout the year by committees, with individuals working from home and coordinating via phone conferences. The time commitment can vary by task, e.g., the work conducted by the Elections & Nominations Committee is concentrated around setting up and running the annual elections, and is light during other times of the year. On average, I would guess that the workload averages out to 2-3 hours per week.Q: Are Board members expected to cover their own travel expenses to meetings?
    A: No, expenses for travel are reimbursed (within reason) following CSTA’s travel policy guidelines.  This includes travel, hotel, and meals at Board meetings.  It also includes expenses related to attending the CSTA Annual Conference, since Board members are expected to attend this event and help out by proctoring sessions and assisting with registration.  A copy of the travel policy is provided to all newly elected Board members.

    Q: Why are there different positions on the Board, such as 9-12 Representative and At-Large Representative?
    A: The mission of CSTA is a broad one, promoting K-12 CS education and supporting the interests and professional development of our 22,000+ members.  It is essential that the Board have a diversity of perspectives and experiences to address the issues and challenges that arise in the organization’s business.  Each position has requirements to ensure that key perspectives are represented on the Board.  For example, the 9-12 Representative is required to be a “9–12 classroom teacher who is currently teaching computer science at the high school level.”  Once on the Board, all members are equal in status and welcome to contribute to all initiatives.

    Q: If I apply for a position, does that automatically mean I will be on the ballot?
    A: Unfortunately, no.  According to the CSTA bylaws, the election ballot will list at most two candidates for each open Board position.  If more than two qualified candidates submit applications, the Elections & Nominations Committee is charged with selecting the two most outstanding candidates to be placed on the ballot.  Committee members independently rank the candidates using a rubric that considers factors such as leadership skills and experience, understanding of core issues in CS education, and alignment of goals to CSTA’s mission.  While this model does sometimes mean that highly qualified candidates do not make the ballot, it does allow for us to keep the ballot size manageable while still providing detailed statements from each candidate.

    Q: Why should I consider running for the CSTA Board?
    A: Serving on the CSTA Board of Directors is an extremely rewarding opportunity to give back to the teaching community.  Board members help to set the vision for the organization and work to promote CS education on a global scale.  Their work supports and provides professional development for CSTA’s more than 22,000 members.  In addition, working closely with other amazing educators is rewarding in itself.

Details on applying for the CSTA Board of Directors can be found at http://csta.acm.org/About/sub/AboutFiles/Election2016.html. The deadline for submissions is January 31 (11:59pm PST), so don’t wait too long. Questions can be directed to nominations@csta-hq.org.

Dave Reed
Chair, CSTA Board of Directors

CSTA Board of Directors Election (part 1)

These are exciting times for CSTA, as we prepare to launch a new website as well as  initiatives centered on professional development, advocacy and equity. Why not take this opportunity to help shape the future of the organization by running for the CSTA Board of Directors? There are five open positions on the board this year, four representing  specific perspectives and a fifth, at-large position.

  • 9-12 Representative: A classroom teacher who is currently teaching computer science at the high school level.
  • At-Large Representative: An educator with responsibilities for K-12 CS education.
  • International Representative: An international (outside the United States) classroom teacher who is currently teaching or promoting computer science at the pre-collegiate level.
  • State Department Representative: An educator or administrator who reports to a state department of education and oversees, in some capacity, computer science education.
  • University Faculty Representative: A faculty member from a university computing department offering graduate degrees in computer science.

To apply for one of these position, you simply need to submit a resume and a brief application form – details can be found at http://csta.acm.org/About/sub/AboutFiles/Election2016.html. The deadline for submissions is January 31 (11:59pm PST), so don’t wait too long. Questions can be directed to nominations@csta-hq.org.

Dave Reed
Chair, CSTA Board of Directors

CSTA Professional Development Committee

The Professional Development Committee’s purpose is to improve teaching and learning in the computing disciplines by identifying the ongoing professional development needs of members; by developing, facilitating, and overseeing the professional development activities of the organization; and by building partnerships with other organizations that support CSTA’s mission and goals.

Specific initiatives include:

  • Encouraging networking and resource sharing opportunities for members.
  • Building upon the success of the CSTA Annual Conference to provide more professional development opportunities for members.
  • Developing and disseminating materials and providing support for local, chapter-driven professional development.
  • Expanding the presence of the CSTA, especially board members, at regional and national conferences.

The current members of the committee are Dave Reed (chair), Myra Deister, Irene Lee, and Fran Trees.

Dave Reed
Chair, Professional Development Committee

Technotrash and the Future

Part of our job as teachers is to excite our students about computing and to show them how computers affect their lives, both now and in the future. These days, many of our students are (rightly) concerned about the environment and are aware of stories in the news about the growing problem of technotrash. As the latest technological gadgets are released, the obsolete technology is discarded and finds its way to landfills, where toxic and non-biodegradable components raise environmental issues. I ran across this interesting article the other day on Science Daily: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150526123835.htm. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have developed a technique for building the substrate layer of computer chips from wood (technically, from a biodegradable cellulose nanofibril). Greener computers may be on the horizon.

Dave Reed
Chair-Elect, CSTA Board of Directors

Nifty Assignments from SIGCSE

I got back last week from another great SIGCSE Conference. If you don’t know about it, SIGCSE is the annual conference for the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education. While the conference has traditionally focused on higher-ed CS, it has been putting greater emphasis on K-12 topics in recent years, including a special two-day registration rate for K-12 teachers.

For many attendees, myself included, the highlight of the conference is the Nifty Assignments panel, which is run each year by Nick Parlante and Julie Zelenski. This panel presents creative, classroom-tested assignments, along with resources to help teachers adapt the assignments to their courses. These assignments can range from the simple and creative, to the complex and mind-boggling. Personally, I have been inspired by a number of the nifty assignments over the years, and have integrated variants of nifty assignments in my courses. This year, two of the nifty assignments particularly appealled to me, due to their “niftiness” and relative simplicity. Peter-Michael Osera presented the Speed Reader assignment, which had students write a program (in Python) for displaying words in succession and measuring a person’s reading rate. Stuart Reges presented the GeoLocator assignment, which had students write a program (in Java) that utilized the Google Map API to locate and calculate the distances between landmarks. Both assignments were farily simple to understand, could be easily ported to different languages, and would be motivational to many students.

All of the Nifty Assignments from past years can be found online at http://nifty.stanford.edu. Check them out if you are looking for inspiration on creating or adapting your own “nifty” assignments.

Dave Reed
College Faculty Representative, Chair-elect

Q&A: Running for the CSTA Board

The deadline for applying to run for the CSTA Board of Directors is rapidly approaching (Feb. 1).  In case you were on the fence about applying for the board, here are answers to five of the most common questions that potential candidates ask:

Q: How much work is involved in being a Board member? 
A: You have probably seen the phrase “the CSTA Board is a working board” in several places.  What this means is that members of the Board are expected to help carry out the business of the organization – not just advise or supervise.  This includes two face-to-face board meetings, one held in conjunction with the CSTA Annual Conference and another held in the late fall.  While these meetings are packed and productive, most of the Board’s business is conducted throughout the year by committees, with individuals working from home and coordinating via phone conferences. The time commitment can vary by task, e.g., the work conducted by the Elections & Nominations Committee is concentrated around setting up and running the annual elections, and is light during other times of the year. On average, I would guess that the workload averages out to 2-4 hours per week.

Q: Are Board members expected to cover their own travel expenses to meetings?
A: No, expenses for travel are reimbursed (within reason) following CSTA’s travel policy guidelines.  This includes travel, hotel, and meals at Board meetings.  It also includes expenses related to attending the CSTA Annual Conference, since Board members are expected to attend this event and help out by proctoring sessions and assisting with registration.  A copy of the travel policy is provided to all newly elected Board members.

Q: Why are there different positions on the Board, such as 9-12 Representative and At-Large Representative? 
A: The mission of CSTA is a broad one, promoting K-12 CS education and supporting the interests and professional development of our 18,000+ members.  It is essential that the Board have a diversity of perspectives and experiences to address the issues and challenges that arise in the organization’s business.  Each position has requirements to ensure that key perspectives are represented on the Board.  For example, the 9-12 Representative is required to be a “9–12 classroom teacher who is currently teaching computer science at the high school level.”  Once on the Board, all members are equal in status and welcome to contribute to all initiatives.

Q: If I apply for a position, does that automatically mean I will be on the ballot?
A: Unfortunately, no.  According to the CSTA bylaws, the election ballot will list at most two candidates for each open Board position.  If more than two qualified candidates submit applications, the Elections & Nominations Committee is charged with selecting the two most outstanding candidates to be placed on the ballot.  Committee members independently rank the candidates using a rubric that considers factors such as leadership skills and experience, understanding of core issues in CS education, and alignment of goals to CSTA’s mission.  While this model does sometimes mean that highly qualified candidates do not make the ballot, it does allow for us to keep the ballot size manageable while still providing detailed statements from each candidate.

Q: Why should I consider running for the CSTA Board?
A: Serving on the CSTA Board of Directors is an extremely rewarding opportunity to give back to the teaching community.  Board members help to set the vision for the organization and work to promote CS education on a global scale.  Their work supports and provides professional development for CSTA’s more than 18,000 members.  In addition, working closely with other amazing educators is rewarding in itself.

Download the 2015 CSTA Nominations Form at http://csta.acm.org/About/sub/AboutFiles/2015Election.html.

Dave Reed
Chair-elect, CSTA Board of Directors

Better Know a Committee

This posting kicks off a new series of blog posts, intended to inform you, the CSTA membership, as to how your Board of Directors works. In brief, the CSTA Board of Directors consists of eleven members, elected by the general CSTA membership. To ensure a diverse set of perspectives and experiences on the Board, members are elected to specific positions: K-8, 9-12 (two representatives), School District, Teacher Education, International, College Faculty, University Faculty, and At-Large (two representatives). The Board members select a Chair every two years from among the eleven, who coordinates the Board’s activities.

The CSTA Board of Directors is a working board. Board members work closely with the Executive Director to articulate the vision for the organization, plan initiatives and activities, and help carry out the organization’s business. Much of this work is done through standing committees and task forces. Over the coming weeks, the chairs of the committees and task forces will be posting summaries of their group’s goals and activities. If you would like to know more about a committee or task force, or possibly volunteer to help out, please feel free to contact us.

Dave Reed
Chair-elect and College Faculty Representative
CSTA Board of Directors