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December 17, 2007

More CSTA Podcsts

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.

Because visiting with successful CS teachers is one of the most motivational and inspiring things I do, I jump at the chance to do so at every opportunity. In this series of CS Snipits, you get to listen in on my visits with teachers from across the country. These teachers teach a variety of CS topic and have great ideas to share. I invite you to feel the excitement and to test drive some of the proven strategies and activities you will learn about in these podcasts.

MyraDeister: SupportGroupActivities
Myra Deister and several other CS teachers in CA have found a way to combat the isolation that many CS teachers face as the only or one of very few CS teachers in his or her school. In our discussion she told me about the Southern California Java Education Support Group and described an on-line Java learning tool for students found at javabat.com that she plans to use as homework practice for a variety of programming concepts.

MyraDeister: Recruitment
Over the last four years Myra has more than doubled the number of students in her CS courses. Her strategies of personalized attention and effective introductory programming lessons have not just increased enrollments, but have kept classrooms full because students stay. Myra worked with other teachers to promote her CS courses and she uses Alice as a highly motivational first step for students.

Myra Deister, a member of the CSTA Board, is a CS teacher in Fullerton California

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 04:48 PM | Comments (0)

Gaming Conference Open to High School Teachers

The last two winters Microsoft and Microsoft Research have partnered to host a conference on game development in computer science education. This year, for the first time, Microsoft's Alfred Thompson reports that he has been given leave to create a special high school computer science track for the conference and to encourage high school teachers to attend.

Between the academic papers and the support through attendance and participation of commercial game development and game tool creating companies, the Microsoft Academic Days on Game Development in Computer Science Education conference has become one of the much anticipated conferences of the year.

In the past, the conference has been attended by only a small number of high school teachers. This new track, however, should make it much more accessible and interesting for teachers. Thompson says he is still working on the track but already there are some great things lined up that will make this a valuable experience.

The current list of confirmed GDCSE 08 general session and tech talk speakers includes people from the Alice project at Carnegie Mellon, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, and Bungie (the people who create Halo). A large number of university faculty will also be talking about how they use game development to teach computer science concepts. Beyond that the networking possibilities are amazing. Here is a chance to discuss how game development can be used to teach and attract students in computer science with some of the best in the field.

Please look at this page (http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=7977046 ) for information on the conference and contact Alfred (Alfred.Thompson@microsoft.com) if you have any questions.

BTW High school teachers can get a 50% reduction in the cost of the conference. Oh, and did I mention that the conference is on a cruise ship leaving from Florida?

This year's conference is co-sponsored by ACM/SIGCSE and Electronic Arts.

Chris Stephenson
CSTA Executive Director

Posted by cstephenson at 03:14 PM | Comments (2)

December 15, 2007

Proclaim Computer Science Day

Did you know that you can have your city's Mayor proclaim a day to celebrate computer science education?

This is exactly what CSTA Board member Brian Scarbeau did! And the city of Orlando, FL Mayor Buddy Dyer proudly proclaimed December 7th as Computer Science Education Celebration Day.

Brian picked December 7th in honor of the birthday of Grace Murray Hopper, in this way celebrating both the contribution of computer science education to the modern world and the contribution of women to computer science.

According to Brian, it is very easy to have a day proclaimed. You simply go to:


and scroll down to Download a Proclamation link and print that out and send it to your Mayor at least two months before the event to give them time to sign it and send it back to you.

Chris Stephenson
CSTA Executive Director

Posted by cstephenson at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2007

How Do We Make AP CS Better?

CSTA has been invited by the College Board to take part in a review of the Advanced Placement Computer Science curriculum and we would like your guidance on how it might be improved.

In order to keep all of its subject area curricula current, the College Board conducts regular reviews of all of its AP curricula. To do this, it forms a committee of experts from various educational levels within each academic discipline to examine the curriculum carefully and put forward any recommendations for change.

Of course, the process is not a simple one. There is the issue of ensuring the curriculum is sufficiently rigorous as to justify the awarding of college-level credit to students who successfully pass the exam. There is also the concern with ensuring that the exam answers can be fairly and consistently assessed.

There are also much deeper questions to be answered. Does the curriculum cover the appropriate content? Is it well-focused, consistent, and rigorous? Does it provide a balanced view of the discipline? Does it encourage good students to view the discipline in a positive but realistic way?

These are some of the questions that we need to consider very carefully as a community.

At this point, a rant against the AP CS curriculum is really not very helpful. What we need are your practical suggestions for making it better. We cannot promise that we can make it so, but we believe that good things will happen when we bring the collected wisdom of our CSTA community to this task.

So tell us what you think! How can the AP CS curriculum be improved?

Chris Stephenson
CSTA Executive Director

Posted by cstephenson at 03:42 PM | Comments (3)