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

Assessing computing

When assessing students’ learning in computing, I think we’ve a couple of approaches. One would be to look at the projects students do, whether these are open ended, design and make tasks or more constrained solutions to problems we pose, perhaps assessing these against agreed criteria or using a rubric. The other is to ask questions and use their answers to judge what they’ve learnt: these questions can be quite open, or perhaps as straightforward as multiple choice. I think a good assessment strategy ought to draw on both approaches: we want students to be able to work creatively on extended projects, and we also want to check, from time to time, whether they can remember the things they’ve been taught.

Responses to questions certainly have a place in summative assessment at the end of a course, but I think they’ve much to offer for formative assessment before, during and after lessons or units of work:

  • How can we tell that students have made progress? By their doing better on questions at the end of a topic than they did at the beginning.
  • How can we tell if they’ve understood the idea we’ve explained? By getting responses from a carefully designed, hinge-point question straight after our introduction.
  • How can we engage students in a meaningful discussion about CS ideas? By having them work together to answer good questions?

Lots of teachers are doing this sort of thing already – writing their own questions to ask their class, or just making these up on the spur of the moment. That’s fine, but coming up with good questions is surprisingly difficult, and it’s not particularly efficient having lots of teachers all doing this independently of one another, when a divide and conquer approach to question writing would work, if only teachers could share their questions with one another.

For the last couple of years, CSTA’s UK little sister, Computing At School (CAS) has been working with assessment experts at Durham University, Cambridge Assessment and EEDI to crowd-source an ‘item bank’ of quick fire questions that teachers can use with their classes. We’ve standardised on four response multiple choice questions (a format that US-based members of CSTA are likely to be quite familiar with already), and have adopted EEDI’s Diagnostic Questions (DQ) platform for hosting the questions, making it easy for teachers to compile questions into quizzes and assign these to their classes.

Access to the questions, and use of the DQ platform is free for anyone. The questions are released under a Creative Commons licence, so teachers are able to embed these in their own virtual learning platform or presentation software if they wish, but our hope is that students attempt these on the DQ site, so we can use the data from hundreds of thousands of students attempting thousands of questions to work out how hard each questions is, whether a question is good at discriminating between stronger and weaker students, and where common misconceptions are in school level computing.

As I write, we’ve some 8,049 questions online: mostly covering middle / high school CS, but there’s some coverage of elementary school CS and of information technology and digital literacy – I’d really encourage you to register on the DQ site and have a browse of what we’ve got: you can filter down through different aspects of CS, and sort questions by most likes, most answered, most misconceptions etc. It’s easy enough to add questions to a quiz of your own, and we’ve got 384 shared quizzes which are free to use too. Once you’ve registered, you can access the questions at bit.ly/quantumquestions.

We’re already getting some insights from students’ answers to the questions, highlighting the areas of the CS that students seem to struggle with, such as understanding variable assignment, code tracing and data types. We’re also running Rasch analysis on students’ responses, and plan to use this to identify lower quality questions, as well as making it easier for teachers to find questions suited to their students’ current level of achievement.

It’s a crowd sourced project, and so we’d be very glad to have more questions: I’d be glad to support anyone interested in getting their questions onto the site, or who’d be interested in learning more about writing good questions. If you’d like to learn more about the project, check out bit.ly/projectquantum, or watch the seminar Simon Peyton Jones and I gave at Cambridge Assessment last month.

My Journey With CS

I’d like to get personal for this post.  My last post was about state-level CS policy.  I’ve been engaged in this work for the last few years at the NH Department of Education.  This time, I’ll talk about the path that took me to this work, and where I’m going from here.  My goal here is to highlight what CS has done for me. My path has been far from traditional, and it might help to illustrate that CS is not just a path to software engineering.  So here goes…

How I got into computers

My dad worked for the cable company.  He studied electronics when he was a teenager, but never got to complete his studies.  He started at the cable company much later in life as a lineman and worked his way up to a role in which he was designing communication infrastructure for central NH.  We always had the latest electronics, and when I was a teenager, we were the first house in our town to have broadband internet.

I took a programming class in 9th grade, and I hated it.  I don’t remember exactly why, but I told myself that wasn’t something I would do.  I didn’t write a line of code again until college.

Studying CS

When I went to college, I was undeclared in the College of Engineering & Physical Sciences.  A semester in, I declared Computer Engineering, and later switched to CS. Why was CS different for me the next time around?  I’m not sure. Maybe it was the professors or TAs. Maybe it was the Engineering survey course I took when I was undeclared, which helped me to see the big picture of how CS impacts the world.

In the higher levels I took as many interdisciplinary courses as possible.  My school offered me a research assistantship to work on data visualization for physics simulations, so I stuck around to work on my MS degree.

Teaching

I’m not sure if my lack of focus is a good thing or a bad thing, but after almost 6 years of college, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I took a leave.  I worked a few brief stints in industry, but wasn’t passionate about what I was working on. I realized that teaching & learning are what drive me, so I decided to teach.  It wasn’t hard for me to become a HS math teacher, and I was in the classroom in no time. Unfortunately, I had no idea what I was doing!

I got my legs under me, and then had an opportunity to switch schools and teach more CS.  This was amazing for me. I got to rediscover what I love about CS, and reinvent myself as a teacher.  I was in this job when the Obama administration announced the CSforAll initiative. I was introduced to equity issues in CS while participating in an NSF-funded research project.  The principal investigator on that project became a mentor to me. I started advocating for broader participation in CS at my school.

Advocacy & Policy

I caught wind of a state-level job that was opening up: STEM Education Director.  I thought this would be a great opportunity to work on broadening participation statewide.  I got the job in part because of my experience and goals in CS education, and my connections with local leaders.

The mentor mentioned above brought me onto our state team in the ECEP (Expanding Computing Education Pathways) Alliance.  This team established the CS4NH Alliance. With a strong team in NH and national support from groups like CSTA, ECEP, CSforAll, and Code.org, we’ve made great progress in short time.  

The Next Chapter

With inspiration from the many amazing people I’ve had a chance to work with, I decided to apply to doctoral programs.  In the fall, I’ll be going back to school and start working on a project funded by NSF under the STEM + Computing Partnerships program.  Wherever this leads me, I hope to inspire and empower the next generation of CS educators.

And the moral of the story is…

I hope you take something of value away from this story.  Here are a few that come to my mind as I write this:

    • Apply your CS skills and knowledge in other domains.  CS has helped me to analyze not just explicitly computational processes and computing systems, but also teaching and learning processes, and complex systems like our public education system.
    • Connect with CS innovators and be a sponge.  I’ve been inspired and mentored by CS innovators and educators.  I truly believe that the CS Education community has some of the most amazing, supportive people in the world.
    • Keep your ear to the ground.  Keep track of what’s going on and what opportunities are out there.  Follow your muse!

 

 

CS educators and advocates – keep on innovating, and share your story!

David Benedetto


David Benedetto, At-large 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 does CSforAll mean for teacher preparation programs?

In a CSTA Voice article last year, I argued that a goal of CSforAll students means we also need to have CSforAll teachers. There are many professional development efforts underway that target existing teachers such as those supported by the National Science Foundation for courses like Exploring Computer Science and Computer Science Principles and for curricula like Bootstrap, Project GUTS, and Everyday Computing. However, these are not long-term sustainable models. In addition to in-service programs, computer science needs to be integrated as a part of pre-service, or teacher preparation, programs.

Change is Coming

Many states are adopting student standards and teacher credentialing in computer science. In 2017, the Iowa Department of Education established a working group to create computer science standards, Ohio required the state board to adopt K12 CS standards, and Tennessee created an endorsement in CS. These are among many legislative efforts (described at code.org/promote) that have an impact on teacher preparation programs.

Because the United States has a distributed control model of education, this means that teacher preparation programs are driven by state requirements for licensure. When states adopt new standards and licensure requirements, teacher preparation programs need to be ready to teach those new standards and prepare students for licensure.

Models for Integrating CS

So, how can teacher preparation programs meet the growing demand for K12 CS teachers? Some schools have included a module on computational thinking in existing tech integration courses while others are integrating CS across the curriculum. Some schools target secondary STEM education majors while others want all education majors to have some experience. Each school will need to grapple with their state context and their own program structures to determine a model that will work. Ideally, all pre-service teachers will have a basic understanding of computer science as a discipline, its impact on our society, and key equity issues that impact it.

Last spring, a group of leading experts in computer science education gathered for the Finding a Home for Computing Education in Schools of Education Strategy Workshop. The report synthesized the conversations and existing efforts and will suggest frameworks and models for integrating CS in the field of education at the post-secondary level. Videos from the workshop are available now and the report will be released April 12, 2018, on computingteacher.org.

A Role for Classroom Teachers

Integrating CS in teacher preparation programs will be a massive effort that requires many people from a variety of areas to make it successful. Education faculty may not have had much experience in computer science and, just like our students, may feel quite intimidated by the subject. The CSTA community is a great resource for them!

If you’re a current classroom teacher, you could:

  1. Host students for field experiences that include a CS component
  2. Connect with your local college education programs to help them develop programs to meet new licensure and certification requirements
  3. Share your experiences with students considering a career in CS teaching through guest lectures or mentoring programs
  4. Teach college courses related to CS education

Jennifer Rosato


Teacher Education Representative

Board Candidate Personal Statements

Hello fellow CSTA members! Below please find several of your candidates personal statements for you to use as you consider who best to vote for in the current election.

NOTE: You can even find more information about each candidate, as well as the election itself at here:


Dr Jason Zagami: International Representative
I am seeking to represent international members of the Computer Science Teachers Association. Living far from the United States and Europe gives a different perspective on global computer science education. Many countries have made great strides in K12 CS education that are rarely acknowledged, with innovative and complex approaches to providing opportunities for students to study CS. I see the role of the international representative as keeping the CSTA board aware of what is occurring beyond the USA, and ensuring that CSTA initiatives apply globally. My own experience in CS curriculum reform has been in Australia, Oceania, India and East Asia, but I have been also active with UNESCO and the annual EDUSummIT forums looking to shape global CS education, particularly in support of developing nations. As a teacher and teacher educator for 25+ years, my focus has been on expanding perceptions of what CS can involve, in pedagogy through the use of visual programming languages and data visualizations, project-based learning, and educational games; in content through the development of computational, design, futures, strategic (entrepreneurial and business), and systems thinking skills as the reason we teach lower order processes such as coding; and through technologies such as robotics, automation, and AI systems. My research as an academic is focused on improving CS education and bringing it to the level of understanding we have of cognitive and curriculum processes found in mathematics and science. Much of CS curriculum development is currently guesswork or drawn from higher education, and CSTA is well placed to progress our understanding of what works best and when in CS education. Female participation is another area I am deeply concerned about in CS education, and as CS increasingly becomes the avenue for employment, we must ensure that everyone has access to these opportunities. CSTA is well placed to encourage research and promote initiatives to address this inequality. At a global level, CS opportunities are not well distributed, and the CSTA has a responsibility to providing educational opportunities to all member nations. To achieve these aims, I have experience in working on and leading professional associations as state and national president of Australian CS Teacher associations, and look forward to bringing a wider perspective to the CSTA board to address the needs of the many CSTA members outside of the USA, and of course benefiting all CSTA members as a result.

Michelle Lagos: Representative at Large
Hey there CSTA Members: I work at the American School of Tegucigalpa in Honduras as the Computer Science Department Head and grades 9-12 CS teacher. I am Honduran born and raised with a passion for Computer Science Education. As many of our members, I stumbled into teaching Computer Science. CS ED is not my first mayor, I am a Computer Sciences Engineer who started teaching CS when I was finishing college and got hooked on it. After two years doing full IT work as the IT officer for Latin America & the Caribbean for a British organization called Christian Aid, I realized that my passion was teaching and therefore I decided to become a teacher for good. I have been a CSTA member since 2008 and am currently one of the two Representatives at Large on the Board of Directors. I am running to serve a second term in the same position. My first experience with the CSTA board was in 2012 when I ran for the International Representative position. At that moment the 2011 version of the CSTA standards was our main focus as it had been recently released. I had the amazing opportunity of working in the Curriculum committee alongside Deborah Seehorn and Tammy Pirmann. One project that I am proud of during this term is getting our standards translated into Spanish which turned out to be a very helpful tool for international members. If you have attended the CSTA conference there is a chance you have seen me at the registration table or volunteering around. Volunteering during a conference is a lot of fun and you get to do some great networking with fellow CS teachers as well as get to know vendors that can provide you with tools that can help your instruction. Working on the board of directors is about having conversations on how to support our teachers in the best way possible. It is bringing the voice of the members to a table of CS leaders that have our best interests at heart. During this time, I’ve had the honor to work with and learn from people that are very well respected in the CS ED area. I would really be honored if our membership allows me to keep on working with the board and see some projects that are on their way to be fulfilled. Thank you for the support you have shown me so far.

Dr. Amy Fox: 9-12 Representative
I am currently the founder and President of the Lower Hudson Valley Chapter, which chartered in the summer of 2015. We currently have over 20 districts involved spanning 3 counties in New York State. I am grateful for the opportunity to potentially serve in this position to help further the goals of the CSTA and our local chapter. I believe working with CSTA members and chapters from all over the country will help me understand the challenges of computer science teachers in diverse school settings and learn about CS policies from all over the country. This knowledge, in turn, can help the chapter grow in our ability to reach out to the greater community and understand NYS computer science policies and trends. It is my goal to both learn from and contribute to the membership in ways that enhance computer science education for all students.

Miles Berry: International Representative
It’s been my privilege to serve the CS education community as the international rep on CSTA’s board for the last couple of years. I’ve had some great opportunities to visit other countries to share what we’re learning about implementing computing education for all back in England, and to learn how other countries are introducing CS in their schools. Let me share four great projects here. For anyone interested in laying a foundation for CS in kindergarten, it’s hard to do better than Linda Liukas’s Hello Ruby work in Finland. Linda has written and illustrated a series of three books, each featuring Ruby, a small girl with powers of logic, perseverance and imagination. Alongside the books, helloruby.com has a great set of unplugged, craft-based activities through which young children can learn computational thinking and what happens inside a computer. New Zealand’s Tim Bell has just received SIGCSE’s outstanding contribution to CS education award. Tim’s CS Unplugged takes some of the harder ideas from CS and makes these accessible to children (and teachers) through practical, classroom based activities. More recently, he and his team have plugged some of this back in, with companion coding activities in Scratch. His CS Field Guide is brilliant too, for those learning or teaching CS at high school level. There are so many fab CS education initiatives in the USA, but if I have to pick one, it would have to be Scratch, from Mitch Resnick’s Lifelong Kindergarten team at MIT. For me, the wonderful thing about Scratch is not its block-based approach to building (rather than writing) code, but rather the global community of young coders that has grown up around it, with a vibrant culture of sharing, remixing and informal learning. It’s also great how Scratch has led on to the development of other tools like Scratch Jr, Snap! and GP. Finally, I have to mention the ‘problem solving activities for computational thinkers’ textbooks that have been developed by KOFAC in South Korea, covering topics such as AI, the internet of things and gene editing. The books combine authoritative, engaging text with practical activities, some unplugged, but others using Korea’s equivalent of Scratch, Entry. I’ve uploaded English translations to Computing At School’s site at http://bit.ly/psafct. I talk a little about these projects, as well as coding competitions in Singapore, in a presentation I gave at Microsoft in Reading, England last November: https://youtu.be/yxd7V6rEH94.

Kristeen Shabram: K-8 Representative
I am extremely excited to be nominated as one of the candidates for K-8 Representative on the CSTA Board. For the past four years, I have taught computer science at the middle level. During this time, I have worked diligently to bring computer science education to all 7th and 8th grade students in my school district. I have also collaborated with K-6 teachers in my school district on integrating computer science concepts into their curriculum. As a Career and Technical educator, I feel it is my responsibility to equip students with the skills needed to be successful as they enter the workforce. A solid foundation of computer science knowledge is essential to achieving that success. Currently, I am in my second year as Chapter President of my local CSTA chapter. In this role, I am serving as a change agent by providing opportunities for teachers in my community to learn about the latest research, tools, and curriculum in computer science education. I am also working to build a strong network of teachers that are passionate about promoting computer science education in my community. My passion and enthusiasm for helping younger students develop a solid foundation of computer science knowledge is what makes me a strong candidate for the K-8 Representative. If elected, I am motivated to provide teachers with innovative curriculum and professional development opportunities that will equip them with best practices when teaching computer science. If teachers have these resources, it will better prepare them to integrate computer science in their classrooms in relevant and meaningful ways, as well as prepare students for the future.

Chinma Uche: 9-12 Representative
In the summer of 2003, five Connecticut AP Computer Science teachers met to discuss how to support each other as the College Board was switching the language of AP CS A from C++ to Java. After that meeting, Connecticut CSTA (CTCSTA) was formed. CTCSTA started the process of joining the national CSTA body in 2004, and became a chapter of CSTA with myself as President in 2009.
CSTA was a small organization of members who believed that CS should be taught to all students. It comprised of people who were ready to dedicate their time and personal resources to advocate for CS. As a member of the CSTA Leadership Cohort, I formed lasting relationships with other CSTA colleagues, benefited from CSTA training, and advocated for CS education for all students. I presented at conferences nationwide and participated in many panels on CS education.
I took what I learned from CSTA to work in Connecticut. I wrote numerous letters to the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), which led to the formation of the CSDE’s CS Advisory Committee. I presented before the Education Committee and others, and have contributed greatly to the growth of CS in Connecticut. As co-creator of Mobile CSP, a College Board endorsed AP CSP course which has trained more than 200 teachers nationwide, I have contributed greatly to the development of CS teachers, leaders, and Master Teachers. CS leaders have been locally grown in Connecticut and are now leading their own projects, in part due to this course and the supportive community in CT. I actively supported bringing ECEP and ECS to Connecticut, to create additional resources for students and teachers. I advocated for teachers to be treated as professionals and paid respectably for their time. Within Connecticut, I negotiated and brought weekend and summer opportunities for CTCSTA members. My support of CS education includes serving as a Code.org Fundamentals facilitator, since 2014, by training K-5 teachers in CS.
I have been a math teacher for more than 30 years and a CS teacher for more than 15 years. CSTA has been supportive of my work and training. CSTA helped me appreciate the role CS plays in national competitiveness, and understand issues of equity and social justice as they relate to CS education. I benefited from the CS community’s willingness to share resources. The support that I received over the years has led me to commit to supporting others. I see the need for thorough training for teachers so they can be confident of their skill levels before going before students. I also see the importance of providing necessary support for teachers during the school year, given the nature of the K-12 teacher’s school day. Currently, I serve on the CSTA Board in the Chapters and Professional Development committees and I ask for your vote to continue to bring my years of experience to CSTA activities. This is important given the need to bring CS to all students, which requires the development of a new skill set for creating an inclusive classroom. I want to remain a voice at CSTA for teachers, as we march towards #CSFORALL.

Another technology revolution

I was honored (ok…and also proud) recently to attend the South Carolina award ceremony for the recipients of NCWIT Aspirations award. The National Council for Women in Technology recognizes girls for their interest and achievements in the technology and Computer Science classroom. They are right there on the front lines addressing the lack of gender diversity in both education and industry!

Hundreds of high school girls around the county were honored in similar events. In fact, over 8000 students have received awards over the years. For many, this will be a giant stepping stone and the encouragement needed to explore a technological field as a major in college and beyond.

Over the decades as technology has gone from the fringes of elite scientific society to something which is as common as food and shelter for most people. It has become a backbone upon which almost every industry builds it’s tools and connects with the world. Traditionally, the percentage of females involved in the design, implementation, testing, marketing, advertising, sales, and support of the various technologies has been incredibly small. Of course there have been some tremendous contribution from women, but those numbers are still far too small relatively speaking. When females have been involved, there has usually not been much credit or recognition given.

So what that translates to is that many of the products we use now have been created without significant input representing half the population of the planet. Those products naturally will have a certain unavoidable bias to them. That is so crucially important to recognize because women are different! (wait, what?!) And that is a wonderful thing! They ask different questions, interpret problems differently, understand information differently, have different perspectives and priorities, have different passions, want different things, interact with technology differently, and work with people differently. We can take advantage of that!

Who doesn’t love the amazing technology we have at our fingertips? What a typical person can do on their smart phone is more than the entire NASA computing systems used to send rockets to the moon. Walking into an electronics store today we find products available that address almost every aspect of our society. Technology is allowing us to interpret, see, and interact with the world around us in ways never even imaginable. We can find, address, and even solve problems that help us truly make the world a better place.

We are already seeing increased females taking Computer Science and technology classes in middle school, high school and in college. While we still have a huge mountain to climb, we are starting to see more women enter the tech-industry as well. This translates to more women being prominent and active contributors to the products we use every day. We will start to see more recognized female technology leaders. Not far off from now, I think the world is going to experience a new wave of innovation, creativity, and incredible technologies like we have never seen. We will identify and start to solve problems that we didn’t even know existed.

Another technology revolution.

So…to Alexa, Rebecca, Haley, Beau, Lauren, Caroline, Kelsey, Eleanor, Sammie, Amanda, Tanner, Meg, Katherine, Elen, Riley and the many thousands of girls across the United States brave enough to enter into this world, I look forward to seeing and using the products you help to create.

Doug Bergman, 9-12 Representative

Doug Bergman headshot - Gr. 9 to 12 teacher representative

Doug Bergman – Gr. 9 to 12 teacher representative

The role CSTA has played in my professional life

This month the announcement for nominations for the board of directors made me think about my path through CSTA. The first time I heard of CSTA was in 2008; starting a new job in a new school having been teaching CS to High School students and was embarking on a new adventure of teaching K-5 Computer Science. It was the first time I was teaching Computer Science to that age group and I was apprehensive about some of the content and available resources. I teach at the American School of Tegucigalpa in Honduras, a small under-developed country in the heart of Central America. AST is a N-12 non-profit bilingual school, so we are an English spoken campus. Even though most schools offer computer classes, my school has always strived to give the best college preparation possible. So the expectations for me as a teacher were high. Being part of the smallest department in my school, it can be a challenge getting PD and resources. Luckily, I found the CSTA website and went directly to their resources and curriculum sections. As I explored the page I got interested and decided to become a member. As a new member of a community of teachers I now know we share similar challenges when teaching CS.

In 2012 CSTA was calling for nominations for the board’s upcoming elections. I was hesitant, thought the odds were not good for a Latin-American teacher. Turns out I got elected as the International Representative. I got to be part of their meetings which dealt with important topics, looking to improve and support K-12 CS education. I worked with the curriculum committee, alongside Deborah Seehorn and Tammy Pirmann reviewing the published CSTA K-12 Standards. Later I collaborated on my favorite project translating the Standards to Spanish which have been helpful for those teachers teaching CS in Spanish.  CSTA is not only meetings, it is also a place to grow and share, like the Annual CSTA conference which I always attend and volunteer to help out. It takes a lot of people and work to put it together. There are many ways to volunteer at the conference and it is a wonderful way to get involved and advocate for CSTA as well as make connections.

In 2016 I ran for a second term on the board, this time as Representative at Large and once again was elected to serve. This time around the experience was different as I was able to be part of different committees and meet more of the active, engaged and passionate members. I now know more about all the resources, workshops, scholarship, keynotes, PD opportunities CSTA brings to the K-12 CS teachers and how much heart is put into these. We hope that these efforts will improve CS education around the world. Family. My best advice as a CSTA member? Get involved, be an advocate, join a chapter or collaborate with other members. I guarantee that it will be worth it.


Michelle Lagos, Representative at Large

A Message from CSTA Incoming Executive Director Jake Bastin

As the incoming Executive Director of CSTA, I’m thrilled to introduce myself to the greater CSTA community. Instead of vague generalizations and platitudes, I’d like to share a story about my first year teaching computer science, and the role CSTA played in my development as a teacher.

I’ll never forget room 225 at Lindblom Math and Science Academy, my first classroom. It had some quirks: desks bolted down to the floor, four fewer computers than my largest class, a heating system that required opening the windows every day of a Chicago winter. Most importantly it had 150 students who were ready to learn computer science with me, even if I wasn’t so sure I was ready to teach it.

In that building I found incredible support — a principal who knew computer science should be a core part of the school, colleagues that I still count among my closest friends, and the most creative, determined and fun students I could ask for.

The one thing I couldn’t find was another computer science teacher.

While I knew it was best to go along with the jokes and eye rolls when mandatory department meetings were held, what I really felt was jealousy. Everyone else had a time to discuss what content and practices were working, and get ideas on how to reach individual students. A group of coworkers that didn’t always have the answers, but at least understood the challenges everyone was facing.

Then I went to the first Chicago CSTA meeting of the year and discovered I had something better: a CS department that spanned the entire city and connected me to the latest ideas in teaching and learning computer science. I had finally found my team and was thrilled to begin working alongside them.

A lot has changed in the CS education world since I joined CSTA eight years ago—a wave of publicity around computer science education and shifting policies around the world—but the heart of the movement remains the same: dedicated teachers fighting for all students to learn computer science.

Our vibrant local chapters are the heart of this organization, and in my new role with CSTA I will focus on identifying and highlighting the most successful work happening at local chapters so we can spread those great ideas to all of our members. This starts with sharing—if your local chapter has something amazing planned, or an idea you need help executing, please let me know. You can always find me at jake.baskin@csteachers.org, and if you’ll be at SIGCSE say hi in person!


Jake Baskin
Incoming Executive Director, CSTA

Common questions about the CSTA board

I hope everyone had a great holiday break is leaping back into the school year with renewed drive and energy. With all of the chaos of the new year, you might have missed the call for nominations for the CSTA Board of Directors. There is no better way to contribute to CSTA’s mission of empowering and advocating for K-12 CS teachers than to serve on the Board. There are five open positions this year, four representing specific perspectives and a fifth, at-large position.

K-8 Representative: A classroom teacher who is currently teaching computer science at the pre-high school level.
9-12 Representative: A classroom teacher who is currently teaching computer science at the high school level.
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.
At-Large Representative: An educator with responsibilities for K-12 CS education.

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://www.csteachers.org/news/379241/Announcing-the-CSTA-Board-of-Directors-Elections–Nominations-Period.htm. 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.

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 monthly virtual meetings and 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 International Representative?
A: The mission of CSTA is a broad one, promoting K-12 CS education and supporting the interests and professional development of our 26,000+ 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 26,000 members worldwide. In addition, working closely with other amazing educators is rewarding in itself.

JRN, Journalism, Media, Computing faculty members


Dave Reed
Past Chair, CSTA Board of Directors
Chair, Nominations & Elections Committee