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November 28, 2007

Google's Open Source Contest

Like many savvy IT companies, Google has realized that when it comes to interesting students in computing, college is just too late. For this reason, Google has announced the Highly Open Participation Contest to help introduce secondary school and high school students to open source software development.

For the past three years college students have participated in Google Summer of Code (http://code.google.com/soc/) which has introduced hundreds of college students to open source software. The Google Highly Open Participation Contest, however, will be the first contest from Google's open source team exclusively for secondary school and high school students.

Students can now visit http://code.google.com/opensource to write code and documentation, prepare training materials, conduct user-experience research, and win prizes. Ten grand-prize winners will get the chance to visit the Googleplex in Mountain View, Ca.

Google will work with ten open source organizations (Apache Software Foundation, Drupal, GNOME, Joomla!, MoinMoin, Mono, Moodle, Plone, Python Software Foundation, and SilverStripe CMS) for this pilot effort, each of which will provide a list of tasks to be completed by the student participants. Tasks typically fall into the following categories: code, documentation, research, outreach, quality assurance, training, translation, and user interface.

The contest is open to students aged 13 and older who have not yet begun university studies. Contestants will be able to claim tasks until 12:00 a.m. Pacific Time on January 22, 2008. The grand-prize winners will be announced on February 11.

For more information, visit http://code.google.com

Chris Stephenson
CSTA Executive Director

Posted by cstephenson at 11:15 AM | Comments (4)

November 27, 2007

Can Bloggers Rescue America's Dropout Factories?

CSTA member Milt Haynes is looking for teachers and students in the Chicagoland area who are interested in using web 2.0 social networking technology (e.g. blogs, wikis, podcasts) as a teaching tool to get high-risk students more engaged.

A recent Chicago Tribune article by: Tara Malone called Bleak future seen for dropoutshighlights the growing number of inner-city students who are not completing high school and the social costs of failing to prepare students to be successful and engaged in today's society.

Milt also sees schools in the United Kingdom who are successfully engaging potential drop-out students with blogging technology and Milt believes that it is entirely possible to have the same kind of successes in our schools. Nodehill Middle School, for example, may be the most bloggy school in the UK. (http://joedale.typepad.com/integrating_ict_into_the_/2007/10/the-nodehill-bl.html)

Milt is looking for some Chicagoland teachers and students interesting in making their own mark in the bloggosphere.

You can contact Milt at:
Milt Haynes

Chris Stephenson
CSTA Executive Director

Posted by cstephenson at 12:10 PM | Comments (1)

November 14, 2007

Department of Education Resources

It is amazing what you can find when you troll the Internet for information on US Department of Education resources. Did you know that the US DOE keeps something called Federal Resources for Educational Excellence? Within that site there are links to useful content for teachers of all subjects (including computing).

The list of computing resources can be found here I recommend the Computing link and also the Cyberethics link for elementary and middle school teachers.

If you are a computing teacher in your district share this page with all of your teachers (no matter what the subject) for the resources that are available to them. You can also talk with your science teachers about collaborating on a project that is highlighted by some of the science and technology links available from the computing page.


Leigh Ann Sudol
CSTA Communications Chair

Posted by cstephenson at 12:11 PM | Comments (1)

November 06, 2007

IES Practice Guide for Encouraging Girls in Math and Science

This past September the National Center for Education Research released a practice guide with five recommended strategies for encouraging girls in Math and Science. The report is research-based and includes a number of interesting facts from recent educational researchers as well as recommended strategies that can be easily applied in classrooms.

The practice guide states that "To encourage girls in math and science, we need to begin first with their beliefs about their abilities in these areas, second with sparking and maintaining greater interest in these topics, and finally with building associated skills." (pg. 8) The recommendations put forward by the practice guide are:

One of the most interesting recommendations to me, and probably the easiest to implement in the classroom is the idea of prescriptive, informational feedback. "Experimental work suggests that feedback given in the form of praise focused on global intelligence (e.g., 'you are smart') may have a negative impact on future learning behavior in comparison to praise about effort (e.g., 'you must have worked hard')."

I cannot count the number of times I have just said to students, "you are smart enough to do this" or "see, that was easy" rather than acknowledging the effort and work that they put into the project. Comments such as "I believe you can do this, you work hard enough" and "that wasn't too much work" (as opposed to easy) are now going to become part of my classroom praise for students.

If you get the chance I would highly recommend reading the practice guide. It is written for classroom teachers and does an excellent job of making recommendations you can use in your classes today. Even if you don't get the chance to read the guide, please share with us what you believe to be the most interesting idea from above or even something you might do in your classroom that aligns with the IES suggestions.

Leigh Ann Sudol
CSTA Communications Committee Chair

Posted by cstephenson at 01:54 PM | Comments (1)

November 01, 2007

New CS Snips Podcasts

CSTA has a new collection of podcasts called CS Snipits that allows teachers to listen-in on interesting conversations with leaders and practitioners in the computer science (CS) field. These podcasts feature educators, industry folks, and students who are willing to take the time to chat with us about their passions.

The 2007 Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference was held in Orlando, Florida, October 14-17. This conference celebrates the technical contributions and career interests of diverse people in diverse computing fields. I love this conference because it makes college and university students the primary focus, having them participate in a variety of presentations including technical papers, panels, workshops, posters, and Birds-of-a-Feather sessions.

During our time at Tapia this year, I visited with many conference attendees, and talked specifically about projects for K-12 aimed at making computing more inclusive for all students. I especially loved interviewing the students who helped us appreciate their passion for computing and their drive to improve the world.

Here are just a few of our podcast from Tapia this year.

Edward Gonzales and Josef Sifuentes of Rice University energetically contend that if you think math isn't cool it is because you're not cool! Gonzales and Rice have launched the Math is Cool project to demonstrate how you can use mathematics, racing, and art to engage student interest in computing.

Richard Tapia of Rice University, recounts how his dreams of diversity in computing gave rise to the Tapia Conference. As a bridge-builder among ethnic groups, Richard has mentored dozens of students toward amazing successes in computing. His dedication to students is second to none.

To listen to these or any other CS Snipits, visit http://csta.acm.org/Resources/sub/Podcasts.html

Pat Phillips
Editor, CS Snipits

Posted by cstephenson at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)