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Working With Reporters

I have spent the last three days talking to reporters from the business and educational press about the new resources we created with IBM and it has been a really interesting experience!

Just to give you a little background, we began this project last Spring with funding from the IBM Foundation. IBM is very concerned about the dropping enrollment in computer science and when they asked CSTA what teachers needed most, we told them: "Good, classroom-relevant teaching and learning resources designed by people who have actually taught in K-12." And so IBM not only gave us funding to create three new resources, they contributed three people for our team of six curriculum specialists.

The team met for four very intensive days this past August, where they reviewed an extensive collection of existing resources, chose three they wanted to create, and designed and developed them. After an intensive team critique of each resource (which led to a number of revisions) the resources were pilot tested in actual classrooms. More enhancements were then made based on teacher and student feedback.

As part of the roll-out for these resources, I have spoken to many reporters in the last three days, and I have learned three really intriguing things from them.

1. The crisis in computer science is finally becoming big news. Both the trade reporters and the education reporters know that there is a connection between K-12 computer science education and the high tech industry, and between the health of the high tech industries and national economic survival in the new global economy.
2. Reporters are really surprised to hear that people think there are no jobs in computer science.
3. Reporters are pretty sophisticated people and they understand the difference between doing something because it is the right thing to do and doing something to sell a specific piece of hardware or software to schools. What really interested them about this project was that nothing we created was tied to an IBM technology. It was about supporting K-12 computer science education, not pushing product.

So here's to reporters who write stories about the importance of K-12 computer science education.

Here's to IBM, for caring, for getting it, for helping us do something good and useful for teachers, and for being a great corporate partner!

And here's to our new resources:

Project-Based Learning Module
This learning module provides teachers with an overview of Project-Based Learning (PBL) and is intended for use as a professional development resource. It includes two Powerpoint presentations, each offering a slightly different approach to the topic, and several additional documents and resources that include reflections, sample worksheets and templates, and links to additional readings and project samples.

Web Site Design Learning Module
This learning module introduces students to the principles of web site design and includes a series of four lesson plans and student activities handouts. It is intended for students with a level 1 or 2 basic understanding of the Web.

OO Design Using Pong Learning Module
This learning module features an object-oriented implementation of the classic video game, Pong. Students will design and implement Pong using object-oriented programming concepts. This resource is intended for use by beginning Java programmers, but includes suggestions for enhanced learning for more experienced students. Teachers should have experience working with an object-oriented Java program using multiple classes, such as College Board’s Advanced Placement Marine Biology Case Study.

You can now download each or all of them directly from the Recommended Resources section the CSTA website or from the IBM Academic Initiative website.

Chris Stephenson
Executive Director

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