CSTA Board of Directors Election

The election for six open positions of the CSTA Board of Directors is underway. If you were a CSTA member as of April 1, you should have received an email with a personalized link to the online ballot. If you did not receive your ballot email, then several scenarios might have occurred.
1. CSTA does not have your correct email.
2. The email was caught by your spam filter.
3. The email bounced due to some technical issue on your end.
We have tried very hard to get the word out about keeping your email address up-to-date. In addition to being a requirement for voting, a valid email address allows CSTA to contact you with information and professional development opportunities in your area. If you have not been receiving any announcements from CSTA in the past year, chances are your email address on file is not correct. Contact Chris Stephenson at c.stephenson@csta-hq.org and she can get your email corrected.
If your email address is correct but your organization has an aggressive spam filter, it may have caught the ballot email. Please check your quarantine zone and hopefully it will be waiting for you there. If your spam software has already discarded the email or some technical glitch prevented it from being delivered (e.g., a full mailbox), a second ballot email will be sent out around April 21. The email will come from elections@electionbuddy.com, so you may need to add this address to the white list for your spam filter.
The CSTA membership is a vibrant community of more than 16,000 teachers and administrators. Don’t miss the opportunity to vote and help select the Board members who will represent your interests. The election ends May 5.
Dave Reed
Nominations & Election Committee
CSTA Board of Directors

CS Team Testifies on California Bill 1764

Yesterday the California Assembly Committee on Education unanimously passed Bill 1764. This bill would encourage districts to expand computer science courses in high schools and its passage at the critical committee level is the result of the hard work of many individuals.
AB 1764 would allow school districts to award students credit for one mathematics course if they successfully complete one course in computer science approved by the University of California and/or the California State University as a “C” requirement. Such credit would only be offered in districts where the school district requires more than two courses in mathematics for graduation.
AB 1764 was jointly proposed by Kristin Olsen (Assemblymember 12th District) and Joan Buchanan (Assemblymember, 16th District) and both Buchanan and Olsen spoke eloquently about the importance of computer science in preparing students for future opportunities and meeting the needs of California’s innovative industries. They also thanked the members of the committee for recognizing the need to better prepare students for the demands of the workforce.
Representatives from many organizations were on hand to support the bill, including Andrea Deveau from TechNet, Amy Hirotaka from Code.org, Robyn Hines from Microsoft, and Jullie Flapan from Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools (ACCESS). The star of the day, however, was Josh Paley.
Josh is a teacher from Gunn High School and one of the founding leaders of the CSTA Silicon Valley Chapter (among many other volunteer duties). Josh spoke passionately about the importance of making computer science courses both available and attractive to high school students. He also gave examples of many of his students who have gone on to innovative jobs as researchers, scientists, and entrepreneurs.
Speaking on behalf of the bill, Josh noted: “This legislation should not only encourage young people to move toward good, open jobs, but great jobs that drive innovation.”
Having been approved by the Education Committee, 1764 will undergo some minor edits and a significant number of additional Assemblymembers will be added as coauthors. It will then go to the Assembly floor and then (if it passes) to the Senate Rules Committee for a committee assignment (possibly the Senate Education Committee).
There is a long trip ahead for this bill but key support from the Assembly Committee on Education and all of the individuals and organizations working on behalf of computer science education in California have given it an excellent beginning.
Chris Stephenson
CSTA Executive Director

Computer Science as a School District Marketing Tool

We are seeing many indications these days that administrators are realizing that a strong computer science curriculum for students is a critical aspect of providing high quality education. Now it seems that school district are beginning to use this message to attract parents as well.
The Crowley Independent School District in Texas is a great example of this new thinking. As CSTA member Lynne Ryan explained, a new toll road called the Chism Trail is about to be opened that will connect downtown Fort Worth with communities south. More than half of this new tool road will be in Crowley ISD. When the new road is opened, the community expects to see tremendous growth due to development. In expectation of these changes, Crowley ISD has launched a new marketing campaign to highlight the excellence of its school system.
The campaign consists of a series of five short videos that were created to “sell” the strengths of the district. The video topics include:

  • Developing 21st Century Learners
  • Real World Applications
  • Advanced Academics
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Focus on the Future
  • The Developing 21st Century Learners video focuses on student access to new technologies to promote and expand learning and Lynne herself talks about the importance of tools for collaborative learning and exploration.
    The world is changing and parents have a lot more flexibility and power when it comes to school choice within many public school systems. The Crowley ISD videos demonstrate the importance of strong computing programs as an indicator of a forward-thinking learning environment.
    Chris Stephenson
    CSTA Executive Director

    Helping Students Get a Handle on Data

    A day never goes by that I don’t hear some mention of data (big or otherwise) that has create problems or is being used to solve a myriad of problems. “If only we had more data on Flight 370” or “The government has too much data on our citizens”.
    So in a world that simultaneously experiences too much and not enough data, how do teachers help their students understand what all the hub-bub is about and to feel in control of data rather than victimized by it?
    The topic of data is not one that we, as CS educators, can ignore. Data Science is a part of Exploring Computer Science (ECS) curriculum and in the upcoming AP CS Principles course. It’s popping up in many other curricular areas and you might be called on to help colleagues incorporate it into their areas as well. The challenge is that that many of us need nearly as much help in learning about data as our students do!
    While the topic of data is not exactly new to CS curricula, the availability, abundance, and the importance of data, not to mention the tools for powerful analytics and visualizations, are certainly beyond anything most CS classrooms and K-12 teachers have typically been equipped to handle. The list of data topics and skills that our students will need to be effective citizens is long.
    But there is good news! CSTA is going to be part of the solution in providing resources and opportunities to members. Take a look at the agenda for the 2014 CSTA Annual Conference in July. There are several sessions on data. In addition, a set of professional development kits will be coming online soon. While the kit resources were specifically created to enhance ECS, the lessons, teaching tools, and ideas for student activities will enhance any classroom. The kits will be perfect for Chapters to offer two to six hour workshops. My guess is that it won’t only be CS teachers knocking at the door!
    Watch for news about these new PD resources in the next month. We’ll let you know when they are ready.
    Pat Philips
    Editor, CSTA Voice

    NJ CSTA Chapters Join Forces!

    CSTA-Central NJ and CSTA-Northern NJ are working together with their advocacy efforts. A few members from each chapter focus on state-wide advocacy. The mission of this small advocacy group (CSNJ) is to establish K-12 Computer Science as an essential academic discipline in NJ. CSNJ believes that all students should take Computer Science classes to help develop logical thinking, problem solving and computational thinking skills necessary for the jobs of tomorrow.
    The state of NJ requires students to complete three years of math and three years of science to graduate. CSNJ is proposing an additional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) graduation requirement. They call this proposal 3+3+STEM. The STEM requirement can be satisfied by a Math, Science, Computer Science, or Engineering class. CSNJ has their first meeting with members of NJ Department of Education scheduled for next week.
    In addition to the efforts of CSNJ, both NJ CSTA chapters have been awarded CSTA grants promote CS Education statewide. With funding provided under a mini-grant program sponsored by the ACM SIG Governing Board, they will co-sponsor an informational booth at the New Jersey Educational Association (NJEA) convention in November to advocate for Computer Science education in New Jersey and are submitting a proposal for a professional development (PD) workshop on CS education to the NJEA. If the workshop proposal is accepted, members of the chapters will present a PD workshop on the state of Computer Science in New Jersey and the impact of CS on student achievement and future career prospects.
    The two chapters will also co-sponsor an informational booth and a half hour presentation on Computer Science education in New Jersey at the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) conference during October 2014. The workshop will focus on the state of Computer Science in New Jersey and the impact of CS on student achievement and future career prospects.
    Funds from the grants will also be used in support of CS advocacy activities such as meetings with legislators, business leaders, educators, parents, administrators, members of local school boards, other education professionals, the commissioner of education, the State board of education and any other stakeholders who can influence the direction of CS education in New Jersey. Both chapters will work together to develop the materials for the booths and the workshops/presentations. Both CSTA NJ chapters will be represented at these state conferences to show cohesiveness and statewide initiative.
    NJ CSTA chapters have worked very hard to advocate for CS Education in our state.
    For more information on CSTA in NJ, visit: http://www.cstanj.org/home
    If you haven’t started advocacy work in your state, now is the time!!!
    Fran Trees, CSTA Chapter Liaison
    Proud member of CSNJ!

    Senator Gillibrand Proposes New Legislation for CS

    U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced today her education agenda to encourage more youths, especially women, to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and to encourage the development of computer science career education programs that meet the market needs of employers.
    “New York is home to some of the greatest colleges and universities, a world-class workforce and innovative career opportunities,” Senator Gillibrand said. “But if we’re going to keep our competiveness in the global economy, and keep our skilled workforce in the region, we must prepare our students with the education they need for the jobs of the future. That starts with getting more talented students from diverse backgrounds into the STEM pipeline at a younger age, expanding engineering education, and developing programs that will introduce students to the many career opportunities in computer science. We are relying on our children today to be the innovators of tomorrow. It’s our job to make sure they are prepared.”
    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020 1 in every 2 STEM jobs will be in computing and there will be 1.4 million jobs in computer science and only 400,000 students with a computer science degree. Despite these opportunities, most states do not offer computer science courses as part of their core curriculum in math and science and have focused on offering technology literacy or computing application courses.
    Gillibrand’s proposed Computer Science Career Education Act, would establish a grant program to encourage the development of computer science career education programs that meet the market needs of employers and better integrate secondary and postsecondary education. Grants under this program would be awarded to a consortium between State or local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, non-profit organization, and employers in the computer science sector.
    Chris Stephenson
    CSTA Executive Director

    A Year Later: the Centrality of Teachers in Code.org

    It has been a little over a year since Code.org released its viral video in the midst of a larger push for computer science education. The video used well-known celebrities to speak to the importance of computer science, but this initial video did not propose any solutions to make computing more accessible for students. I wondered and blogged about why teachers weren’t more visible in this campaign to draw attention towards computing education (LINK).
    What a difference a year makes.
    This month at SIGCSE, Hadi Partovi delivered a powerful keynote in which he articulated Code.org’s successful Hour of Code and their vision of district partnerships to increase access and diversity for computing. A common thread throughout his comments was the centrality of the role of teachers.

  • Teachers were credited for the unprecedented success of the “Hour of Code”.
  • The importance of providing high-quality professional development experiences for teachers was highlighted. Hadi even carefully reframed a question about professional development that had initially used the language of “training teachers”.
  • Code.org has created an educational team with vast K-12 teaching experience in diverse contexts to support curriculum development and professional development opportunities.
  • Code.org’s explicit commitment to working with public schools provides curricular and instructional supports for classroom teaching in settings where students historically have had the fewest opportunities to pursue computing.
    In talking with K-12 teachers after this keynote, there was a huge buzz and a sense of empowerment for being recognized and affirmed for their important role in reforming computer science education. It was especially rewarding for teachers to be recognized while sitting alongside 1200+ fellow SIGCSE educators, most of who work in higher education and have little understanding about the nature of K-12 teaching.
    It was a great day to be a K-12 teacher at SIGCSE.
    Joanna Goode
    CSTA Teacher Education Representative

  • CSTA Georgia-Alabama Reception at SIGCSE

    On March 7, 2014, after a long day at SIGCSE, the members of the Georgia and Alabama chapters of the CSTA got together for some collaboration and conversation.
    CSTA-Georgia Vice-President, Deepa Muralidhar, thought it would be a great idea for the neighboring chapters to get to know each other. With the financial support of Jeff Gray and the University of Alabama, as well as Barb Ericson and Georgia Tech, Deepa was able to plan an evening reception with light refreshments. Several people were kind enough to help Deepa with the planning and implementation of the reception including: CSTA Director of Development Lissa Clayborn, Jeff Baker and Carol Yarbrough of the CSTA-Alabama chapter, and Crystal Furman CSTA-Georgia.
    Approximately 30 members of the Georgia and Alabama chapters of the CSTA met and mingled with each other and members of the CSTA Board of Directors. Chris Stephenson, Executive Director, CSTA said a few words to get the reception started. As always, her words were inspirational and well received by the crowd. Chris’ remarks were followed by a game of “Sort and Mingle”, devised to help members get to know a little bit about each other. After that, it was time to enjoy great food and conversations with fellow CSTA members.
    A great time was had by all. It was a great opportunity for the Georgia and Alabama teachers to get to know each other and socialize. This was especially true for the members of the newly established CSTA-Alabama chapter. The Alabama chapter is just getting started and beginning to plan activities and future meetings. The reception was a great way for the Alabama teachers to learn what the Georgia teachers and CSTA National Board members are doing and get ideas for chapter activities.
    We hope to continue to find opportunities for the neighboring chapters to get together and collaborate. We encourage other closely located chapters to do the same. The evening proved true to the theme: Collaboration opens new avenues.
    Carol Yarbrough
    Vice-President, CSTA-Alabama

    More on Social Networking for CS Educators

    Last month Patrice Gans had a great post Creating a Professional Learning Network here on the CSTA blog about creating a professional learning network using Twitter. I thought it might be worthwhile to add some suggestions of my own.
    You may wonder how this works in practice and I ran into a great example recently. Mike Zamansky, a CS teacher and CSTA member from New York City (on Twitter @zamansky), tweeted a link to a blog post he wrote about a lesson in sorting he had taught. Carolyn Petite, a CS teacher from Ohio (on Twitter @cfhsPetite) replied to his tweet with two resources that she used. A follow up reply from Mike included two more resources. So in a short period of time two teachers had shared five different teaching resources with their followers and each other. I eventually captured these resources and some others I knew about on my blog post Resources For Teaching Sorts.
    As you can see this sharing occurs across multiple channels though. Tweeter is great for sharing resource links and short discussions. Blogs are great for longer discussions and more in-depth information. (I have a list of computer science educators who blog BTW.) But that is not all.
    If blogging and Twitter are not your style there are also email lists and even Facebook. The CSTA has a Facebook group where some great discussions take place on a regular basis. CSTA also runs an email discussion list for members. You can join the conversation there at http://listserv.acm.org/scripts/wa-ACMLPX.exe?SUBED1=csta-members&A=1.
    These are friendly venues for asking questions, answering questions, sharing news and ideas and building relationships with one’s peers. Everyone’s ideas have value and are worth sharing. Especially yours!
    Jump in the water is fine!
    Alfred Thompson
    At-large Member, CSTA

    CSTA Teacher Leader Testifies in Illinois

    CSTA is now advocating for improvements to computer science education in many states and members of the CSTA Computer Science Advocacy and Leadership Team (CSALT) such as Steve Svetlik of Illinois have been instrumental in these efforts, working with legislators and testifying on key legislation.
    This week, Steve and IL representative Ken Dunklin testified before the IL House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on House Bill 3695. If it passes, this legislation will allow students to count an Advanced Placement computer science course as one of the three mathematics credits required for a high school diploma. Attendees at the event report that Steve was an excellent speaker and the committee members were clearly impressed with his knowledge.
    Not only did the committee unanimously approve the proposed legislation, but all of the committee members asked to be added as co-sponsors!
    After his time before the Committee, Steve walked around the building, talking with additional legislators and getting them to sign up as sponsors as well.
    Other CSTA members in IL also played a role in CSTA’s advocacy efforts. Jessica Handy, Government Affairs Director for Stand for Children Illinois, reported that 33 witness slips were filed in support of this legislation.
    HB 3695 will now go forward to the House and is expected to be called to the floor within the next couple of weeks.
    Congratulations to Steve and thanks to Rep. Dunkin, Amy of Code.org, and Jessica of Stand for Children and to all of the CSTA members who made this accomplishment possible.
    Chris Stephenson
    CSTA Executive Director