A Celebration of Arkansas Giants in Computer Science

In the past, I have typically used my blog space as a Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) Board Member as a place to advance policy or focus on initiative ideas. With this blog I will focus on the main purpose of CSTA, supporting computer science educators. On December 6, 2018 as part of the 2018 CS Education Week Announcements, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the creation of the Arkansas Computer Science Educator of the Year (CS-EOY) Award. During the planning and development of this award, we wanted this award to be on-par with the state’s Teacher of the Year award in terms of prestige and recognition.

My office launched the application request system on February 4, 2019 and over the next month we received 30 completed applications. The state’s #CSforAR / #ARKidsCanCode Computer Science Specialists, Jim Furniss, Tammy Glass, Kelly Griffin, Lori Kagebein, Eli McRae, Jigish Patel, Leslie Savell, and Zack Spink, under my facilitation completed the first level review. This review process, which focused on the overall quality of applications, each of which included a resume, letters of recommendation, and an applicant selected artifact; the applicant’s vision for and understanding of the value of computer science education for the current and future generations of Arkansas students; the applicant’s understanding of how their implementation of computer science education exemplifies quality teaching; and the applicant’s current and long-term impact on computer science education locally, statewide, and nationally, resulted in the selection of the five CS-EOY State Finalists:

  • Carl Frank; Computer Science Teacher – Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts; Hot Springs, AR
  • Josefina Perez; Business/Computer Science Teacher – Springdale High School; Springdale, AR
  • Brenda Qualls; Computer Science Teacher – Bryant High School; Bryant, AR
  • Kimberly Raup; Computer Science Teacher – Conway High School; Conway, AR
  • Karma Turner; Computer Science Teacher – Lake Hamilton High School; Pearcy, AR

Many of you probably recognize these names, as they have been significant members of the CSTA and greater computer science education community for some time both in Arkansas and nationally.

The second round review focused on the same criteria and was conducted by Anthony Owen, Arkansas State Director of Computer Science Education; Don Benton, ADE Assistant Commissioner of Technology;  G.B. Cazes, Metova Executive Vice President; Jake Baskin, Executive Director of Computer Science Teachers Association; Dr. Sarah Moore, Arkansas State Board of Education; and Sheila Boyington, Thinking Media/Learning Blade President/CEO.

On Thursday, May 2, 2019, Gov. Hutchinson held a press conference to recognize the work and selection of these five finalists. In addition, Gov. Hutchinson recognized Ms. Karma Turner as the 2018-2019 Arkansas Computer Science Educator of the Year. During the press conference, each of the finalists received $2,500 and recognition plaque. Ms. Turner received an additional $12,500 and a 2019 Computer Science Educator of the year trophy from Gov. Hutchinson. These awards were provided through funding from the ADE Office of Computer Science, which is a Special Project Unit formed to implement Gov. Hutchinson’s visionary Computer Science Education initiative. Arkansas is recognized nationally and internationally as leading the computer science for all education movement through Gov. Hutchinson’s #CSforAR / #ARKidsCanCode initiative.

For additional information:

Karma Turner’s NCWIT Aspirations in Computing biography may be read at https://www.aspirations.org/users/karma-118731

The Computer Science Educator of the Year award was announced by Gov. Hutchinson on December 6, 2018 as part of the 2018 CS Education Week Announcements: https://governor.arkansas.gov/news-media/press-releases/governor-hutchinson-ade-announce-creation-of-computer-science

The application process was announced by ADE Commissioner’s Memo on February 4, 2019, at http://adecm.arkansas.gov/ViewApprovedMemo.aspx?Id=3898

Anthony A. Owen
State Department Representative


Teacher, Facilitator or Guide?

These past weeks I have been thinking about how Computer Science education and the way to teach it has evolved. I have been a teacher for about 19 years now, and most of the time my students make the most interesting questions that get me thinking and researching about certain topics. That is how this blog was conceived. I am currently teaching my 9th graders how to work with BBC Microbits. (By the way, Microbits are awesome!) To introduce them I start giving them instructions that are very detailed about how the Microbits work and to get acquainted with the Make Code interface. When I say detailed, it is very detailed. I give them a step by step guide including screenshots of where to find the necessary blocks, how to save, download the program and upload it to the Microbit. How to use the Microbit simulator included in the Make code interface. Once we do several projects in which we learn how to make the Microbit sing, how to work with the LED screen and how to connect alligator clips, I assign a project in which they have to come up with a character and incorporate the Microbit as part of it adding at least 2 actions with it. That’s when it all goes south!!!!

Many kids seem lost. It’s like they have never used a Microbit before. That got me thinking. When I started learning programming, I learned using Pascal with a green and black screen and all programming was text based. It was hard!!! But I also remember a professor telling us that if we learn the hard way then after any programming language should not be as hard to learn as we had the base and logic to programming. At the time I really hated that comment as any student would’ve but today as a teacher I wonder if I am up to something here. Am I, as a teacher, allowing my students to really think on their own? To really grasp the logic of creating a program. Or are they just little robots following my instructions?

I decided to analyze the progression of my students to get to ninth grade Computer Science. Throughout their early years we want to engage them and get them to like and be interested in Computer Science and all the possibilities they have with it. As we introduce them to all the wonderful things that we can achieve with Computer Science, we look for tools that are engaging and fun. Many companies have helped produce such introductory tools, which make it so easy for kids to learn that they start enjoying programming. However, they get so used to it that then the progression to more complex programming seems harder. Emphasis on “seems”. Making the transition from block programming to text programming is set by many of these tools, including the Microbit. The Microbit can be programmed using blocks, JavaScript or Python so that is covered. But there is an element that only teachers can do and it is to facilitate the transition between just giving guidelines that are so specific that it seems students are only copying a program while truncating their creativity and promoting the ability to create and discover on their own or by giving a task for them to solve on their own. I realize that although I am teaching Computational Thinking skills my kids are used to getting very specific instructions for programming. This is not bad it’s just that the transition is not as seamless as it seems. So how should the transition take place? I believe a good starting point is to be cutting on the screenshots on the instructions guide and limit them to the instructional part of the lesson, by going through the steps with them and let them take their own notes. Then when a project is assigned, they can take a look back at their notes as a reference. Another tip is to include videos as additional help but getting away from giving too detailed step by step instructions starting in the Middle School area so that when presented with these kinds of projects in High School, they have a base on how to solve them. Let the instructions be a guide and not a solved problem for them to copy.


Michelle Lagos
Representative at Large



Announcing the 2019 CSTA / Infosys Foundation USA Teaching Excellence Awards

  • “For years I never thought I was good enough”
  • “I wonder…am I doing this right”

These are quotes from our 2018 CSTA / Infosys Foundation USA teaching excellence award winners. A group of teachers that have not only made an outstanding impact within their own classrooms but also started new district wide programs; built engaging, strident led, inter-school partnerships; and lead the team revising the AP CS A exam! The truth is that even the most effective teachers find themselves facing doubt. Teaching is a HARD job, especially as a computer science teacher.

CSTA is here to make sure we take time to recognize the amazing work that’s happening in computer science classrooms across the country. This week we launched the application for the 2019 CSTA / Infosys Foundation USA Teaching Excellence Award with a few updates:

  • The application is split into two parts, making it easier to apply, and only requiring additional steps, like letters of recommendation after an initial review. We hope this will encourage more teachers to apply before that self doubt we all have creeps in.
  • We’ve doubled the number of awards, because there are so many outstanding teachers and we want to acknowledge them all.  Starting this year there will be five winning teachers and five honorable mentions.
  • You can now nominate a great teacher, encouraging them to complete the application and letting them know that you think they are an excellent computer science teacher.

The first round of the application is open through April 14 and shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes to complete. For more information and to apply now visit the award page.


Jake Baskin
Executive Director CSTA


Narrative imagining: A celebration of Computer Science in Arkansas

“Narrative imagining — story — is the fundamental instrument of thought.  Rational capacities depend upon it. It is our chief means of looking into the future, or predicting, of planning, and of explaining.”  – Mark Turner

A few weeks ago, I put out a call over our state’s Computer Science Education Listserv, which anyone is free to join at http://goo.gl/forms/FqGJ2CtXe1, with the subject line of, “Looking for a cool student story to highlight at a state level…” I wanted to share these stories with Governor Asa Hutchinson so he could continue to be aware of some of the real-life outcomes of his vision and focus. The response from the call was outstanding; I received feel-good stories about lives changed and practical implementation stories about the successes that schools are enjoying because they are focused on their students. Today instead of a call to action, as I have used my time on this blog in the past, I am going to share some of these stories just for your consideration, reflection, and as a celebration of Computer Science in Arkansas, its students, and schools!

John Mark Russell, Ignite Technology Instructor at Bentonville School District, shared the following:


“I have three of my Ignite Technology students working as interns at Walmart labs.  These students work on Walmart’s Next Generation Point-of-Sale system. Our students helped develop a new cloud-based system using Kubernetes.  The business objective was to create a seamless checkout experience for Walmart customers.
Our students worked side-by-side with Walmart IT professionals to build Docker images, and to write code using Java and NodeJS.  As of January, the student’s code is being deployed in over 5,000 Walmart locations. To quote Walmart manager and student mentor, Jeff Parker: Students should be able to point at the Self-Checkout’s and say, “I helped make that happen.”
I am thrilled that our high school students have production code running within the world’s largest retailer.  We call this Real. Relevant. Learning.”

Jason Crader, Middle School Teacher in Little Rock School District, shows how Computer Science is also impacting our middle-school students:

“We have two fifth grade students who have created the Book Bracket Battle to help improve reading at our school. It’s like the NCAA Basketball tournament, but for picture books. During the first semester, they filmed local celebrities reading books and then edited the videos to make them more interesting to watch. After getting everything filmed, they created this website (https://bookbracketbattle.com/)  for classrooms in our school and around the district to use to vote for their favorite books. There is a weekly battle that takes place between two books that will eventually lead to crowning a champion in April.”

Ryan Raup, of Conway School District, shared how Computer Science through Micro:Bits has made a demonstrable difference with a particular 3rd grade student:

“Earlier this year, I introduced some of my 3rd graders to the micro:bit. The students had prior experience with block style coding in Code.Org so the Micro:bit was a nice next step. Two students really stood out for me because the micro:bit, hands on learning and critical thinking of working through the tutorials and then personalizing their specific projects was a great fit for them as individual learners. Student A has Attention issues and was having some difficult days and weeks during this time. He is a bright student and excelled at the micro:bit and was able to focus and be self disciplined to work through different tasks on his own with minimal support from me.  Those same days he could not stay in his seat and work independently with a traditional resource like books, pencil and paper. The micro:bit was a wonderful option for me to have to help this student. Student B was also successful at manipulating the different projects and was glued to the display and the micro:bit. Student B also has some minor focus issues and can be rude and short with other students socially. He is also a bright student and loves a challenge. Not only was he able to work independently and work through the tutorials in micro:bit he excelled in working with other students and showing them how to use the micro:bit. He was calm, direct and considerate of those that he helped. I saw this new strength in him that I had not seen before. As educators we find ourselves looking for resources to help us reach students that can be difficult to teach at times for reasons as stated above and many others. We often talk about the higher level problem solving and the project oriented aspects of programming but forget that programming is great for behavior and learning disabilities as well. If you are a teacher in a building or district that is slow to try new things with technology, I would suggest stressing the classroom benefits side of micro:bit and other programming resources. I am so thankful for tools such as micro:bit which was introduced to me a couple of years ago and finally brought into my classroom last year. Every year, I reflect and base my success on the number of students I can truly reach or find their strengths and passions and Computer Science is a wonderful systematic approach available to me.”

Arkansas will continue to lead by supporting our schools and students through this initiative. In addition, the Arkansas Department of Education Office of Computer Science and its team, under the vision and support of Governor Hutchinson, continues in our commitment to assist other states and our nation as a whole. The State of Arkansas is appreciative of the continued work and efforts of educators, policy leaders, and computer science advocates as we all continue to embark on and expand computer access and positive impacts.

Anthony A. Owen
State Department Representative


What Employers of Computing Professionals Want

There are lots of important reasons for teaching K-12 / pre-university students computer science.   Providing the first step towards ultimately becoming a computing professional is just one, which applies to a minority of the students; for most it is an important life skill that they will use as citizens and in whatever jobs they have.   But some – hopefully more as we teach more computer science in schools –go on to become computer professionals.  So it may be interesting to share some insights into what their prospective employers are looking for.

I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to interface with lots of computing employers for years, both tech companies and other companies looking for computing talent.   I’ve done this in a variety of regions of the US, primarily Indiana (where I was from 2007-15), Colorado (where I’ve been the rest of my adult life), and the Bay Area (where I go frequently for professional reasons and to keep our airlines solvent).

Regardless of the region, or the size or type of company, one hears a consistent set of desires for computing employees: 1) we need more of them; 2) we need better diversity; 3) we need them to have strong non-technical as well as technical skills.  K-12 computer science teachers can play an important role in all these regards.

The quantity need is self-explanatory.   If there is any surprise, it is that everyone says this – whether famous large companies or small ones, whether situated in a tech hotbed or not, whether tech companies or other types.  University computer science enrollments have exploded in recent years – tripled or more at many places – but it’s still not satisfying demand.   The huge increase in students taking things like CS AP hopefully points to even more growth.

Companies view diversity as a social imperative but even more as a business imperative.   It is documented that diverse teams produce greater creativity and better business results.   And products designed for a diverse market need diverse input in their creation.   We are seeing progress in the gender and ethnic diversity of students learning computer science in schools but have a long way to go to produce a computing workforce that reflects society.

Finally, managers almost always stress the non-technical skills computing professionals need beyond computing: communication, collaboration, often some business understanding, ethics, and more.   Being a computing professional has evolved to a job where one often works on professionally diverse teams, and on projects (e.g. autonomous vehicles, or social networks) that require a sensibility about people and the world.   Working practice of those skills into your computing course is a good way to reinforce their importance.   And when that student who already has taken several computing classes comes to you to ask about another, it might be good to point them to a communication class instead!

Bobby Schnabel, Partner Representative

Never too late to innovate

Last summer, after nearly 19 years as a CS teacher, I started thinking how my class has evolved exponentially over the years and how this school year I wanted more of those deeply gratifying “Aha” moments from my students. So, I started researching ways in which my Computer Science class should evolve beyond updating the content to align the new standards. I realized I was giving myself a big task, considering that I was still mapping my curriculum to the new CSTA standards which it is a lot of work by itself. My goal, my hope is that my experience is useful to other CS teachers out there looking to make some reinvigorating and refreshing changes.

So here is my journey to start the new school year. Part of my research included finding out how important Computer Science skills are in the work force. What would my kids really need once they leave our school and be prepared for both college and “real world”? There is so much information out there that is easy to become overwhelmed so I had to narrow it down to focus on my goal. What would bring those “Aha” moments to balance the covering of my content and preparing my students for when they leave High School? I remembered that when I was in High School, I was required to take a home economics and woodwork shop class. I remembered the best part about these classes was the satisfaction when I finished a project and could take it home to show off. The closest to that emotion I have seen in my students is when a program finally works and they get the result they want, or when a robot finally performs as expected due to its programming. So, I thought why not combine the CS skills and content with that satisfaction of creating something tactile that can be used in real life besides software. Basically, bring CS alive through STEM and real-world applications. I was able to pull this off with 3 simple steps that did not break my school’s budget:

Step # 1: I redesigned my computer lab. I didn’t want to be a makerspace; after all this is a Computer Science class not an engineering course but I needed some elements of the engineering process. This didn’t require a large budget so it is always good to start to look at what you have and how to use it, what your school has and how to recycle any pieces of furniture you can find. I’ve never had a class with more than 24 students as that is my school’s policy but my lab had 30 student PC computers. I took 6 student PCs out and kept 24 which left me with 3 long tables. I used two of those to create a working area, where students could 3D print and assemble robots & collaborate on other innovations. Now I had 3 main, clearly identified areas in my lab: The Research & Innovation Area, which is where the PCS are located, students can research and investigate prototypes, program and research. The Engineering Area, which is where students get their hands “dirty” building their prototypes and The Robotics Area where I have my robotics table to assemble and test robots.

Step # 2: I requested the school purchase materials that I needed that were not your typical Computer Lab things like included drills, screw drivers, sand paper, tweezers, wrenches, solders, cable strippers, etc. I also got lucky when my school got two 3D printers donated so now, I had 3 at my lab. These are part of the Engineering Area.

Step # 3: I had to “spice up” my projects for the semester so they were fun, engaging and aligned with the content I needed to cover. I took some time to research many innovative projects and found some that were just right. My students are now creating digital pets with Microbits, which are cheap and simple yet very adaptable electric boards, they are making collaborative projects like designing a drone 3D model that can be printed and programmed using two Microbits, building hats that sing and even video games played with controllers that they designed. Other simple yet valuable projects include measuring the humidity in soil.  

This past December I finished the first semester and I can say that these changes have been successful. It is possible to integrate Computer Science into STEM without losing the essence of what Computer Science is. The students were very engaged, they treaded unfamiliar territory with power tools and allowed their minds to be challenged while having fun. Yes, at times the classroom was a little bit of an organized chaos, but this is exactly how learning should be; challenging and fun.

Michelle Lagos

Michelle Lagos
Representative at Large

New Year, New Ideas, New Strategies: Personalizing Learning in Computer Science Education

It’s that time of year when everyone is reflecting back on the experiences they’ve had the past year and thinking about resolutions for the upcoming year. As teachers, we usually reflect back during the summer months on how the school year went. However, teachers also use the end of a semester as a time to reflection. Often times after winter break, teachers start new classes and have new students. With the start of a new semester, teachers have the opportunity to review and build upon previous experiences from first semester, but also implement new ideas and new teaching strategies. With the second semester quickly approaching, it has me thinking of my own resolutions for second semester and what I would like to do differently. At the beginning of this school year, I attended a workshop where I learned about the five elements of personalized learning set forth by my school district. I remember walking away from this workshop with a handful of ideas and strategies that I could implement in my own classroom. However, here I am at the end of the semester, and I haven’t had the chance to fully implement the five elements. So as my second semester resolution, I am committed to personalizing the learning experience for students in my computer science courses. Below is my plan as it aligns to the five elements of personalized learning.

Element #1 – Know Your Learners:  Knowing my students’ interests is the beginning of personalizing their learning experience. By using interest inventories, I can find out what areas of computer science they’re interested in, what they already know, what they would like to learn, and how I can help them to further their overall interests in computer science.

Element #2 – Voice and Choice: I know that all students learn differently, so why should I force all my students to sit through a lecture or have them all do the same project with the same requirements? By letting go of the uniformity, I provide voice and choice for my students. Students will not only be given a choice in how they access the content, but they will also have a choice in how they demonstrate their proficiency. Ultimately, I want my students to have the opportunity to demonstrate their learning in a meaningful way and give them more ownership of their learning.

Element #3 – Flexibility:  It seems like the term “flexible classroom” is all the rage these days. Providing students an opportunity to move their desks, sit in comfy chairs, and work in all areas of the classroom is said to increase learning and engagement. I was skeptical at first, but after trying it out for one week in my classroom, I was shocked. My fears of students not getting any work done and just socializing were quickly dismissed. My students really enjoyed having the freedom to move around and collaborate with each other, allowing them to make the classroom their own personal learning space. I also feel that a flexible classroom provides my students with a more realistic view of what they will encounter when they enter the workforce, especially in the field of computer science.

Element #4 – Data Informed Decisions: Students often look to teachers to be the experts, but rarely are students given the opportunity to be called the expert. By pre-testing each student, I can get a better understanding of their skill level and use this data to provide them with a more individualized approach to learning. I can also encourage students to step forward and be content experts, allowing them to do some peer-teaching.

Element #5 – Technology Integration:  The SAMR Framework is a commonly used model for technology integration. I find myself all to often integrating technology that only enhances my content, which only reaches the first two levels of the model (Substitution and Augmentation). I would like to stretch myself and explore types of technology integration what will reach the transformation levels of the model (Modification and Redefinition). One type of technology integration that I would like to implement is student-created podcasts and videos. I want to give my students opportunities to become creators of content and share their experiences with others.

I am excited to embark on my resolution of embedding the elements of personalized learning within my computer science courses. I think by embracing the mindset of personalized learning while structuring my classroom around the five elements will lead to an increase of student engagement. I am also excited to see my students take more ownership of their learning and pursue their passions further in the field of computer science.
Resources: http://westsidepersonalized.com

Kristeen Shabram
K-8 representative

CS Ed Week Celebrations

This is my first CS Ed Week as Executive Director for CSTA and I am so excited about the progress our organization has made during my tenure. While CS Ed Week is about inspiring students to take an interest in computer science, it is also an opportunity to honor dedicated teachers fighting for all students to learn computer science.

At CSTA, we’re celebrating CS Ed Week with two very cool events — both of which are honoring dedicated educators — and by sharing some big announcements. Keep reading to learn about the big things happening at CSTA.

CS Ed Week Kickoff

I was honored to kickoff CS Ed Week at the University of Washington in Seattle to award the 2nd annual Champions of CS winners. Along with the founder and CEO of Code.org, Hadi Partovi, and Melinda Gates, we honored a student, teacher, district and an organization for their outstanding work in Computer Science. Congratulations to Jocelyn Marencik, Robert Defillippo, Chanel White, Seaside High School, Lincoln Public Schools, GirlsCodingWithGirls, and AccessCSforAll — you truly are champions of computer science.

CSTA Honors Chicago’s Computer Science Teachers

In collaboration with Chicago Public School’s CS4All, CSTA and our Chicago and Suburban Chicago chapters highlighted and honored computer science teachers in Chicago at our CSTA Night for Excellence in CS Teaching. Held at Google’s Chicago office, the event included networking opportunities and the presentation of outstanding teaching and administrator awards to deserving computer science champions.

Congratulations to Chicago Public Schools awardees, Stephen Tow from Goudy Technology Academy and Jennifer Roscoe from Lane Tech College Prep, on your achievements and your scholarships to the 2019 CSTA Annual Conference. You truly are champions for your students.

CSTA’s 2018 Administrator Impact Award Winner

Each year, CSTA opens nominations for our Administrator Impact Award to honor an educator who has made a significant impact to improve access to and the quality of computer science education.

I am so excited to announce the winner of CSTA’s 2018 Administrator Impact Award Winner — Barb Schwamman, Superintendent of Osage Community School District, and Superintendent of Riceville Community School District, in Osage and Riceville, Iowa.

In Osage, Superintendent Schwamman started the 2017–18 school year with zero computer science opportunities. Recognizing the importance of computer science, she added courses at both the middle and high school levels and supported the CS Fundamentals training of about 40 K-5 teachers. Schawmman is working to add new options in game development and cybersecurity. In Riceville, she is working toward the same successes she had in Osage. Schwamman proves that rural students can benefit, sustain and grow computer science opportunities.

Congratulations to Superintendent Schwamman! The CSTA family wishes her much success as she continues to expand computer science in her districts.

Infosys Grant

To commemorate this year’s CSEdWeek, Infosys Foundation USA is announcing several grants to support thousands of underrepresented and underprivileged students, young adults, and educators to learn about computer science through a combination of long-term programs as well as one-time coding events across the US.

I’m excited to announce CSTA as one of those grant recipients. This generous grant, in the amount of $150,000 will help support our initiative to grow CSTA+ membership, and more importantly, help support our 75 chapters.

Chapter Grants

From my first day at CSTA, I’ve told everyone who will listen that our chapters are the heart of our organization. I’m proud to announce the launch of CSTA’s chapter grant fund, which will make over $130,000 available to chapters interested in bringing professional development and programming to their regions. This more than meets our goal of putting 50% of CSTA+ dues back into supporting local CSTA chapters. Chapters leaders will receive more details later this week.

CSTA to take the CS Honor Society National

CSTA will be taking the CS Honor Society national for the 2019-20 school year! Launched by CodeVA, the CS Honor Society acknowledges academic excellence in CS disciplines — and the enthusiasm that surrounds it. Originally designed for Virginia high schools — with a growing number of out of state chapters — students must not only meet academic requirements but also must complete service hours in support of CS education. I am very excited about the expansion of this initiative and cannot wait to see its growth on the national level. Stay tuned for more information about getting involved.

2019 is shaping up to be a great year for CSTA. Thank you for all you do for your students, computer science education sphere and for your continued support of CSTA. I hope to see you all at the annual conference in Phoenix.


Jake Baskin
Executive Director CSTA

Celebrating CS Ed Week

This is my first CS Ed Week as Executive Director for CSTA and I am so excited about the progress our organization has made during my tenure. While CS Ed Week is about inspiring students to take an interest in computer science, it is also an opportunity to honor dedicated teachers fighting for all students to learn computer science.

At CSTA, we’re celebrating CS Ed Week with two very cool events — both of which are honoring dedicated educators — and by sharing some big announcements. Keep reading to learn about the big things happening at CSTA.

CS Ed Week Kickoff

I was honored to kickoff CS Ed Week at the University of Washington in Seattle to award the 2nd annual Champions of CS winners. Along with the founder and CEO of Code.org, Hadi Partovi, and Melinda Gates, we honored a student, teacher, district and an organization for their outstanding work in Computer Science. Congratulations to Jocelyn Marencik, Robert Defillippo, Chanel White, Seaside High School, Lincoln Public Schools, GirlsCodingWithGirls, and AccessCSforAll — you truly are champions of computer science.

CSTA Honors Chicago’s Computer Science Teachers

In collaboration with Chicago Public School’s CS4All, CSTA and our Chicago and Suburban Chicago chapters highlighted and honored computer science teachers in Chicago at our CSTA Night for Excellence in CS Teaching. Held at Google’s Chicago office, the event included networking opportunities and the presentation of outstanding teaching and administrator awards to deserving computer science champions.

Congratulations to Chicago Public Schools awardees, Stephen Tow from Goudy Technology Academy and Jennifer Roscoe from Lane Tech College Prep, on your achievements and your scholarships to the 2019 CSTA Annual Conference. You truly are champions for your students.

Congratulations to CSTA’s 2018 Administrator Impact Award Winner

Each year, CSTA opens nominations for our Administrator Impact Award to honor an educator who has made a significant impact to improve access to and the quality of computer science education.

I am so excited to announce the winner of CSTA’s 2018 Administrator Impact Award Winner — Barb Schwamman, Superintendent of Osage Community School District, and Superintendent of Riceville Community School District, in Osage and Riceville, Iowa.

In Osage, Superintendent Schwamman started the 2017–18 school year with zero computer science opportunities. Recognizing the importance of computer science, she added courses at both the middle and high school levels and supported the CS Fundamentals training of about 40 K-5 teachers. Schawmman is working to add new options in game development and cybersecurity. In Riceville, she is working toward the same successes she had in Osage. Schwamman proves that rural students can benefit, sustain and grow computer science opportunities.

Congratulations to Superintendent Schwamman! The CSTA family wishes her much success as she continues to expand computer science in her districts.

Infosys Grant

To commemorate this year’s CSEdWeek, Infosys Foundation USA is announcing several grants to support thousands of underrepresented and underprivileged students, young adults, and educators to learn about computer science through a combination of long-term programs as well as one-time coding events across the US.

I’m excited to announce CSTA as one of those grant recipients. This generous grant, in the amount of $150,000 will help support our initiative to grow CSTA+ membership, and more importantly, help support our 75 chapters.

Chapter Grants

From my first day at CSTA, I’ve told everyone who will listen that our chapters are the heart of our organization. I’m proud to announce the launch of CSTA’s chapter grant fund, which will make over $130,000 available to chapters interested in bringing professional development and programming to their regions. This more than meets our goal of putting 50% of CSTA+ dues back into supporting local CSTA chapters. Chapters leaders will receive more details later this week.

CSTA to take the CS Honor Society National

CSTA will be taking the CS Honor Society national for the 2019-20 school year! Launched by CodeVA, the CS Honor Society acknowledges academic excellence in CS disciplines — and the enthusiasm that surrounds it. Originally designed for Virginia high schools — with a growing number of out of state chapters — students must not only meet academic requirements but also must complete service hours in support of CS education. I am very excited about the expansion of this initiative and cannot wait to see its growth on the national level. Stay tuned for more information about getting involved.

2019 is shaping up to be a great year for CSTA. Thank you for all you do for your students, computer science education sphere and for your continued support of CSTA. I hope to see you all at the annual conference in Phoenix.


Jake Baskin
Executive Director CSTA

The First Next Step

As we round the corner to the end of November and head into computer science education week, we know millions of students and teachers will try computer science for the first time. I am continually amazed how Computer Science Education Week drives so much action and awareness in such a short amount of time.

As critical as computer science education week is for the initial exposure to computer science, what might be even more important is the first next step.

The momentum from campaigns like those around Computer Science Education Week and the hard work of people and organizations around the world to create equitable access to computer science education has created a wide variety of resources that make access to information, training, curriculum, content, activities and planning tools accessible and suited for a range of learner outcomes, teacher readiness and school and community needs.

So whether you’re already implementing computer science in your classroom or school or you’ve just completed your first Hour of Code and you’re ready for the next steps, here are some no cost and low cost resources available nearly anywhere you are to get you started, and help you keep going!

Code.org
Get to know Code.org beyond an Hour of Code with the wide variety of resources available to support teachers, students, administrators and communities to bring computer science to every student. Check out the Teacher Resources and the Student Resources.

TEALS
Microsoft Philanthropies TEALS pairs technology industry professionals with classroom teachers to team-teach computer science education. School applications are open now!

Professional Development Resources
This Computer Science Professional Development Guide was built with input from experts from TEALS, CS for All, CSTA, Code.org, NCWIT and Microsoft. It’s intended to help education leaders build teacher, school counselor and administrator capacity to support equitable computer science education for all students.

CSTA
CSTA has a wide variety of supports available to computer science teachers. A CSTA+ Membership offers additional benefits, discounts and access to resources specially for CSTA+ Members.

ISTE
ISTE’s tools and resources are designed for teachers who bring computer science education into a wide variety of subjects across K-12.

This is just the start of a list and definitely not exhaustive. Share the resources you love with the CSTA community! Post them on Twitter, tagging @csteachersorg with the hashtag #CSforAll so others can see them too. You can view all posts that use these two tags here.

Yvonne Thomas
Partner Representative CSTA Board