Going Beyond the Hour of Code

During CS Ed Week, countless teachers and students experienced computer science for the first time. Whether it was their first, second, or hundredth time, I hope that this taste of CS left them hungry for more. Code.org has created a great compilation of resources for how students can continue learning. In this post, I’d like to suggest some ideas for how teachers who are new(ish) to CS can go beyond the Hour of Code. 

Take an online course

There are a number of excellent online learning opportunities designed specifically for educators. Some favorites (all free!) include:

Read a book, blog, or magazine

If you prefer learning through reading, some great options are:

Connect with other teachers

Meet other teachers in person. Don’t worry if you don’t have experience! Friendly and inclusive learning communities include:

Online communities include:

  • CSforAllTeachers (a virtual community of practice, for all teachers from Pre-K through high school who are interested in teaching CS)
  • ScratchEd (online community and resource sharing for educators who use the Scratch programming language)
  • #csk8 Twitter chats (K-8 CS teachers chat about designated topics on the 1st & 3rd Wednesdays of each month at 5pm PT / 8pm ET)

Test out curriculum yourself

A great way to build your knowledge and skills is doing exactly what students would do and go through curriculum yourself. See Code.org’s comparisons of CS curricula by grade level:

 If you want to spend less time, try some different Hour of Code tutorials.

Start a club

You don’t need to know CS in order to start a club. You can simply create the time and space for students to learn before or after school, or during lunch. Plus, there are several organizations that provide curriculum, and some can even provide volunteers to teach the content! Strong options include:

Dabble in the classroom

Don’t stop at CS Ed Week. Keep going all year long! Some ways to get started with incorporating more CS in your classroom include:

Go all in!

Yay! You want to do even more. You could:

Bryan Twarek School District Representative


By no means is this intended to be an exhaustive list; rather, it’s just a starting place. If you have a suggestion to add, tweet to @csteachersorg and @btwarek.

Bryan Twarek School District Representative

Cybersecurity is everywhere. Is it in your K-12 CS program?

Scarcely a day goes by without the mention of cybersecurity in the news—from Edward Snowden breaching security at NSA (and now following NSA on Twitter), to customers of Target and Home Depot having their data compromised, to Hillary Clinton’s private email server and private email account while she was Secretary of State, to hacking of sensitive government data by foreign citizens, cybersecurity is in the news and is newsworthy. One of the more common themes in cybersecurity is the dearth of qualified cybersecurity professionals and how the United States might address that lack in the education system. Several colleges and universities have begun to add cybersecurity programs, and credentialing bodies are developing certificates and credentials for those already in the workforce but perhaps lacking the proper skills and training. The ACM Education Policy Committee and the ACM Education Council have both entered into discussions about cybersecurity education. The Committee for Computing Education in Community Colleges (CCECC) of the ACM Education Board has done quite a bit of work on cybersecurity education at the community college level. But, where is cybersecurity education in K-12?

Once again I had the pleasure of representing CSTA at a great K-12 education conference. This conference was the National K-12 Cybersecurity Education Conference held in Linthicum, Maryland (near Baltimore). Tammy Pirmann (CSTA School District Representative) and I both presented sessions about CSTA and cybersecurity education. Tammy’s panel discussion focused on curriculum and programs of study while my panel discussion and break-out session focused on standards. The conference had a great mix of K-12 educators, post-secondary educators, state-level educators, industry and governmental organization representatives, and curriculum developers.

There are some really awesome cybersecurity initiatives taking place in K-12 classrooms. I was able to participate in three hour workshop about the Baltimore County CyberSTEM program in which elementary school students engage in hands-on activities and learn about the field of cybersecurity. They learn to apply basic security concepts through gaming, modeling and simulation, robotics, digital forensics, cryptography, system vulnerabilities and cyberethics, safety and security, while investigating exciting careers that interconnect the fields of science, math, technology and computer security.

The sessions about the standards pointed out that there is much common ground among the organizations working in the computer science, engineering, and technology education space. It was good to have an open dialog and to be reminded that we can all work together to become stronger—and to promote cybersecurity education through our various groups. Even very young (Pre-K) children need to learn the basics of cyber safety—most of them use some sort of device before they ever enter a formal classroom. There was much discussion about standards and where cybersecurity education standards would logically fit. The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) is working with the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation to lead the Formal Cybersecurity Education Component.  Their mission is to bolster formal cybersecurity education programs encompassing kindergarten through 12th grade, higher education and vocational programs, with a focus on the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines to provide a pipeline of skilled workers for the private sector and government. They have a great interactive Cybereducation map that highlights schools, teachers, companies and agencies that support Cyber Education in the United States.

The good news for K-12 CS educators is that there are many great resources to assist you in the classroom as well as opportunities for you and your students. The National CyberWatch Center K-12 Program extends the National CyberWatch Center mission of advancing cybersecurity education by leading collaborative efforts and strengthening the national cybersecurity workforce to the K-12 community. Check out their fantastic summer programs for students (camps) and PD opportunities for teachers. Perhaps you attended a program last summer—we learned about them at the 2015 CSTA Annual Conference! (They also have curriculum resources for teachers.)

So, when you are ready to implement cybersecurity education in your K-12 CS classroom, the resources are there. You will be able to find curriculum resources, PD for yourself, speakers for your students, summer camps for your students, career opportunity resources, and much more. You might even plan on attending the next National K-12 Cybersecurity Education Conference. Cybersecurity is everywhere, and it should be in your classroom.

Deborah Seehorn
CSTA Board of Directors Past Chair

Website Links:

National K-12 Cybersecurity Education Conference http://www.edtechpolicy.org/C32015/index.html

CyberSTEM Program

National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) http://csrc.nist.gov/nice/education.html

Interactive Cybereducation Map

National CyberWatch Center K-12 Program http://www.nationalcyberwatch.org/programs-resources/

CSTA Annual Conference http://csta.acm.org/ProfessionalDevelopment/sub/CSTAConference.html

CSTA Chapters and CSTA International Affiliates

CSTA Chapters:

CSTA supports the development of regional CSTA Chapters. A CSTA chapter is a local branch of CSTA designed to facilitate discussion of local issues, provision of member services at the local level, and to promote CSTA membership on the national level. We have 52 CSTA Chapters in 35 states and 4 CSTA Chapters in Canada. The current list of chapters can be viewed at: http://www.csta.acm.org/About/sub/CSTAChapters.html. The goals of a CSTA chapter include holding regular membership meetings and regularly communicating with the chapter membership. Many chapters find it helpful and rewarding to provide professional development activities for their membership.

CSTA International Affiliates:

Due to international laws relating to fiduciary responsibility for chapters, CSTA is unable to support the formation of chapters in countries other than the U.S. and Canada. As part of its commitment to meeting the needs of CSTA members and developing a strong international community of computer science educators, CSTA encourages affiliate relationships with similar organizations in other countries. A CSTA international affiliate is a sister organization committed to supporting improvements to pre-college computer science education at the national level. We have established an international affiliates program and provided a comprehensive guide on affiliate formation. Information on becoming a CSTA Affiliate member at: http://csta.acm.org/About/sub/Affiliates.html.

Both the CSTA Chapter application and CSTA International Affiliate application can be found on the CSTA Web site. We encourage your active participation in supporting CSTA through chapters and affiliates.

Submitted by Fran Trees, CSTA Chapter Liaison

Welcome to the CSTA Advocate!

In any professional organization there is always a need to find a balance between communicating effectively with members to ensure that that they have access to relevant and timely information, and bombarding them with unwanted messages. In April, we launched the CSTA Voice, a quarterly newsletter dedicated to informing members about important issues affecting computer science education and the activities of the organization. We think that the newsletter is a great way to communicate more formally with our members.
At the same time, however, we wanted a way to reach out on a more informal basis, provide up-to-the-minute information, and foment discussion, without filling up your email in-boxes. Our solution was to build this blog. Now you can check in any time to see what is new, where CSTA is going, and what folks are thinking. So welcome to the CSTA Advocate!