Did you know? NSF programs for K-12 CS Education

It was my first CSTA conference(Omaha, NB: https://www.csteachers.org/page/2018conference) so all was new and exciting. I did peruse the exhibit hall when I first got there but didn’t spend much time. I went back the second day and wow! really glad I did. I spent a lot more time looking at each booth and talking with the people at places of interest. I learned A LOT!
While I don’t have the space to articulate everything I learned, I want to share one in particular that we might not think too seriously about.
The National Science Foundation booth was a natural for me to stop at – I was fortunate to have done 2 sabbaticals there during my career. It was great to visit with a former colleague and catch up on what’s new. I learned about 2 programs that I had not realized were applicable to the K-12 audience.

They are (quoting from the official NSF website):
STEM + Computing K-12 Education (STEM+C)
The STEM+C Program focuses on research and development of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to the integration of computing within STEM teaching and learning for preK-12 students in both formal and informal settings. The STEM+C program supports research on how students learn to think computationally to solve interdisciplinary problems in science and mathematics. The program supports research and development that builds on evidence-based teacher preparation or professional development activities that enable teachers to provide excellent instruction on the integration of computation and STEM disciplines.

Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST)
ITEST is a research and development program that supports projects to promote PreK-12 student interests and capacities to participate in the STEM and information and communications technology (ICT) workforce of the future.
The ITEST program supports research on the design, development, implementation, and selective spread of innovative strategies for engaging students in technology-rich experiences that: (1) increase student awareness of STEM occupations; (2) motivate students to pursue appropriate education pathways to STEM occupations; or (3) develop disciplinary-based knowledge and practices, or promote critical thinking, reasoning skills, or communication skills needed for entering STEM workforce sectors.
ITEST projects may adopt an interdisciplinary focus that includes multiple STEM disciplines, focus on a single discipline, or focus on one or more sub-disciplines. The ITEST program supports projects that provide evidence for factors, instructional designs, and practices in formal and informal learning environments that broaden participation of students from underrepresented groups in STEM fields and related education and workforce domains.
Why should we care about these programs? While you currently may not have time to write or participate in one of these projects, please to keep your eyes open for the projects that do get funded to see what interesting new ideas and activities are being developed. We’re part of an important emerging core area in K-12 education. These NSF-funded projects should give us much to think about. And you never know when you might be able to contribute.
Hurray for all of the things we can learn from the Exhibit Hall!!

Jane Prey
ACM Representative

Jane Prey, ACM Representative

Tapestry Workshops: Diversity-focused Professional Development

When my children were growing up, I remember Teacher Professional Development time as days when I had to remember not to send them to school! (lol)! After joining the CSTA Board, I learned how absolutely critical these Professional Development opportunities are in keeping our teachers excited, engaged and current in their classrooms.

My former UVA colleague and dear friend Jim Cohoon and his late wife Joanne McGrath Cohoon developed a diversity-focused professional development workshop for high school computer science teachers who are interested in attracting and retaining more and diverse students to computing. The Tapestry Workshop has been successfully enabling teachers since 2008 and financial support is available.
The 2018 Tapestry Workshop application is now open but closes April 2, 2018 so time is short!
Many thanks to Leslie Cintron for her words below.

What is a Tapestry Workshop Diversity-Focused Professional Development for High School Computing Teachers?

Tapestry Workshops (tapestryworkshops.org) are diversity-focused professional development workshops for US high school computing teachers. The workshops focus on providing research-supported training and motivation for high school computer science teachers to attract and retain more and diverse students to computing. Tapestry Workshop participants learn about proven practices for increasing the number and diversity of students in high school computing classes. In addition to learning about evidence based diversity-focused strategies for teaching computing, participants discuss teacher challenges and how to overcome them. The multi-day workshop allows participants to actively engage with peer teachers and to reinforce and integrate inclusive pedagogical strategies into their teaching.

Why Focus on Teachers?

By focusing on teachers, Tapestry Workshops produce measurable and ongoing improvements in computing diversity. Teaching the teacher ultimately affects many more high school students than direct student intervention would affect. Since 2008, in excess of 600 teachers have received Tapestry Workshop training. Independent evaluation shows that after taking a Tapestry Workshop more than 80% of workshop participants report enrolling more Computer Science students in general, and more female and under-represented minority students in particular.

Apply for the Tapestry Workshop

This year, thanks to generous support of the National Science Foundation, NCWIT and the Infosys Foundation USA, Tapestry will offer an enhanced 5-day Tapestry Workshop at the Pathfinders Summer Institute 2018, July 15-20, 2018, in Bloomington, Indiana. The Infosys Foundation USA is generously covering 50% of all expenses (including tuition, airfare, accommodation and meals) for each Tapestry Workshop participant from a US public high school. Full scholarships are also available.
To apply go to Pathfinders Summer Institute 2018 at infypathfinders.org and choose “Tapestry Workshop”.
The deadline for applications is April 2, 2018, but Tapestry is accepting participants on a rolling basis. Enrollment is limited, so high school computing teachers are encouraged to get applications in soon and tell your colleagues too!

Can’t make Tapestry at Pathfinders Institute but still want to participate or host a Tapestry Workshop? Contact the Tapestry team at lighthousecc.tapestry@gmail.com or jpc@virginia.edu

Jane Prey
ACM Representative

Jane Prey, ACM Representative

What’s It Like To Serve On A Board?

Throughout my professional career—academia, industry, government, I’ve been involved with many boards. Most of my experiences have be positive; most of them were part of loving, respectful, inclusive communities. I’ve served on boards that focus on teaching in higher education, boards that are charged with the welfare of a community, boards that are responsible for specific events, boards that are strictly oversight or advisory and others that are active doers.

I have recently been lucky enough to join the CSTA Board of Directors. Based on my early experience, the CSTA Board is a hybrid of doers and overseers. It’s a wonderful mix of high school teachers, higher education faculty, state and local K-12 administrators and industry representatives.

When you attend the CSTA Annual Conference, or participate in one of the many activities offered from the chapters or other members of the CSTA community, all of these people, ideas and activities have somehow, someway passed by the attention of the CSTA Board. Board members are active participants in all areas of the organization and execution of the Annual Conference, aiding the conference chairs with whatever and helping keep the Board posted on all of the great ideas and activities. The Chapters as well are encouraged by the Board, which always welcomes their creative ideas. Board members live to be enablers!

In addition, at my first (and currently only) face to face meeting, we dealt with more serious issues like the budget and strategic plans. I was impressed with the many ideas and differing perspectives offered by all of the members of the Board—this isn’t a shy group! I was also happy to see how respectful and seriously everyone reacted to divergent opinions. We’re all trying to do our best for CSTA. It’s amazing how much business gets covered in this one-day meeting. To keep up to date and keep moving forward, we also have monthly video and conference calls with full agendas, too. I appreciate well-run meetings where people do get a chance to visit and catch up but where the focus still on getting the business done. Fred Martin (CSTA Board Chair) is a master!

We all know that it’s really fun, useful and professionally stimulating to be a member of CSTA and that its members (YOU) are what make it the GREAT organization it is today. But if anything about being on a board intrigues you, if you’re interested in seeing how the behind the scenes stuff works and you have the time to invest, the CSTA Board is a pretty amazing place!

Jane Prey
ACM Representative