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September 21, 2007

What would you say to the world?

As educators we know that we impart more to our students than just content knowledge. Life lessons, motivations, these come along with the classroom content of variables and arrays. We share student's hopes and dreams and often wonder what happened to "so and so" every now and again.

But what if we were asked to put aside content? Focus instead on the life lessons? Many universities across the country have been asking professors to do just this in a series called "last lectures". The professors were to give what they imagined to be their last lecture in life. What would you say? Who would you address it to?

Hypothetical has a way of becoming true. This week Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch gave his lecture entitled "Achieving your Childhood Dreams" as a part of this lecture series. The catch? It just might be one of his last. Randy is one of the co-creators of Alice and has contributed enormously to computer science in his career. Randy also has terminal cancer and has been given just a few weeks to live.

The lecture that he gave was taped and can be viewed through CMU for a short while. The lecture itself is 2 hours, but watching it goes much faster than that. The Wall Street Journal has a good article with a short highlights video of the lecture.

I highly recommend watching the lecture, sharing it with your students and talking about the life lessons that it evokes. The lecture is light and full of humor and something not to be missed.

Leigh Ann Sudol
CSTA Communcations Chair

Posted by cstephenson at 11:37 AM | Comments (2)

September 20, 2007

Introducing your new board members Part III

Welcome back for the third and final installment of "Meet your new board members". The third new member of the CSTA Board of Directors is David Burkhart. David is the newest K-8 teacher representative and he and brings experience with teaching computing to the lower grades to the board. Dave and I sat down in cyberspace and had a little chat.

Where are you from and what are you doing now in addition to being one of CSTA's newest board members?

I am the Computer and Multimedia teacher at West Muskingum Middle School in Zanesville, Ohio. I also serve as the middle school technology mentor. I am a Master's Degree candidate at Ohio University, graduating June 2008 with a degree in Computer Education and Technology.

Why Computer Science Education?

I feel that it is my responsibility to show my middle school students a wide range of uses and career opportunities within my computer classes. Computer Science is one of the fields that my students enjoy the most.

What do you like to do other than teach?

I love spending time with my two sons, ages 6 and 10. They are involved in Cub Scouts, soccer and music lessons. As a family, we enjoy participating in activities with the Muskingum Valley Vineyard Church.

For you personally which of the statements from CSTA's purpose has the most significance?

Wow, choose just one? I think the purpose statement that means the most to me personally is "Build a strong community of computer science educators who share their knowledge." I feel that I have benefited so much through networking with others within the CSTA.

Dave, along with Myra and Brian are bringing new ideas to your Board of Directors, but we want to hear from you as well! What are your hot topics? What can we do to help? Either leave Dave a comment or a question here, or let us know what we should be thinking about as we continue to move forward.

Leigh Ann Sudol
CSTA Communications Chair

Posted by cstephenson at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2007

Introducing: Your Newest Members of the Board of Directors (Part 2)

Welcome to the second installment of "meet your new directors". Today's featured director is Myra Deister who is our newest 9-12 teacher representative.

Myra is an active teacher in Fullerton, CA and teaches mathematics as well as computer science at her high school. She is also involved in a local Java educators support group and a member of the assessment review panel for the California Standards Test in Mathematics.

What got you started in education?

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher. In high school I worked as a tutor at the local elementary school and was a member of the Future Teacher's Club.

Why computer science education?

I became interested in computers when the first Apple computers were sold commercially. I was intrigued as to how it could process the data. My husband wanted a quicker way for me to calculate grades and he found the computer and I found the software. I also decided to pursue a Master's degree around that time. I discovered that the math Master's program was not what I wanted to do, but computer science seemed interesting. I finished my Master's degree in software engineering a few years later and changed school districts so I could teach computing classes.

For you personally which of the statements from CSTA's purpose has the most significance?
"Build a strong community of computer science educators who share their knowledge."
This has been very important for me because, as the only computer science teacher on my campus, I appreciate the support of other teachers. For example, this summer our support group decided that we needed to meet to review the new case study. We met for nearly eight hours during which time we were able to answer questions as a group and become more familiar with the case study. Also, during one of the breaks, a teacher and I were taking about Online Learning Management software. I mentioned to him that I was going to purchase server space to move my computer science curriculum there. He told me that our county was offering exactly what I was looking for at no cost. I looked into to it and it was exactly what I wanted. I appreciate the help and suggestions I receive from the teachers that I meet with on a regular basis.

Is there anything else you would like to mention to help the membership get to know you better?

I live in Anaheim Hills with my husband and son. My daughter lives in Costa Mesa. My children are my pride and joy. My son is a full time student at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) majoring in communications. When he completes his degree, my entire family will be CSUF graduates. My daughter is working as a marketing manager in Costa Mesa for an IT company and does mission work with her church. She is leaving in a few weeks on a mission trip to India.

We welcome Myra to the ranks of leadership and we know that the enthusiasm that she has brought to CS teachers in her local area will translate well into the work that she does as a member of the Board of Directors. If you have any questions or comments for Myra please leave them here. :)

Leigh Ann Sudol
CSTA Communications Chair

Posted by cstephenson at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2007

Introducing: Your Newest Members of the Board of Directors (Part I)

Education changes so quickly that it is often difficult to keep up with the our professional associations. So, in case you haven't had the chance to Google the newest members of the CSTA Board of Directors I decided to "virtually" sit down with the new Directors that I met in June, ask them some questions, and share these introductions with you.

Brian Scarbeau is our Board's newest 9-12 Teacher Representative. Brian is currently working at Lake Highland Preparatory School and brings not only computer science knowledge, but enthusiasm to the Board. Last year, Brian launched the "Grace Hopper Day" to be held at schools to help students and guidance counselors understand more about computer science.

Where are you from and what are you doing now in addition to being one of CSTA's newest Board members?

I am from The City Beautiful, Orlando, FL. I am a Microsoft MVP and I help teachers and professionals work with ASP.NET and XNA (both programming packages). I am also the user group leader for Dotnetnuke, which is an open source framework for creating Enterprise Web Applications.

It sounds like you have a lot of computing knowledge, what got you started in education?

I was a recreation leader for a summer job and wanted to work with kids.

Why computer science education?

I sold Apple IIe computers and the IBM PC and I've worked on all kinds of hardware. I enjoy computer science education because its challenging and fun to teach.

CSTA has a clearly defined mission statement as well as purpose listed on the front page of our website, for you personally which of the statements from CSTA's purpose has the most significance?

This statement:

Provide teachers with opportunities for high quality professional development.

CSTA has sponsored a symposium for professionals that is by far the best professional development opportunity for cs teachers. The CS&IT symposium has been an event held after the National Education Computing Conference each year. I have had opportunities to go to this event as a speaker and as a participant. I look forward to going every year.

Enough about the serious stuff, what do you like to do other than teach?

I love being with my family and like to golf.

Is there anything else you would like to mention to help the membership get to know you better?

I'm tall, dark, and handsome.

Clearly Brian will be an asset to the organization and our board of directors. If you are interested in his work with Grace Hopper Day you can check out his website at: http://sws.lhps.org/computerscienceed.

I invite you to leave a comment and ask him any questions you might have to get to know him better :) and watch for the next two installments in this series where I introduce other new Board members to you!

Leigh Ann Sudol
CSTA Communications Chair

Posted by cstephenson at 01:28 PM | Comments (0)