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January 31, 2011

Thinking About Summer Camps

Now that the new year has arrived, it is time to start looking forward to the summer and computer camps.

Last year, I ran my first computer camp for twenty-two middle school students. I ran a week-long camp, with a mix of HTML, Alice programming, and robotics. It was certainly a learning experience for me. As I look forward to the possibility of another camp this summer, I will be tweaking and modifying what I did last year. For anyone considering offering a camp, there are plenty of great resources online to help you. A great place to start is Georgia Tech's website at:

http://coweb.cc.gatech.edu/ice-gt/1091

One big decision I have to make for the upcoming year is whether to push for a girls-only camp this time around. Last year, when I approached my principal about offering a summer camp, he was delighted at the prospect. It was a win-win for the school; summer camps help to advertise our school in the community, summer camps encourage young people interested in STEM to learn more about it and our school in the process; summer camps offer employment for our high school students. However, when I really tried to advocate for a girls-only camp, he backed off his initial receptiveness to the idea. Since it was my first year offering a camp, I relinquished control and went with a co-ed camp.

While I consider the week a success, I do wonder how the eight girls who attended my camp would have performed if it had been a girls-only camp. I definitely witnessed apprehension and timidity on the girls' part in some situations with a group of rather noisy, rambunctious middle school boys. I tried to gear the week towards girls by using Alice and emphasizing storytelling. The robotics and HTML sessions had art components built in. I even used pink and purple in my flyers to attract girls. I do know the camp would have been a different experience had it been a girls-only camp. However, would it necessarily have been better for the girls, or just different? Is it worth the effort to fight for a girls-only camp this year or is it better to just ensure girls who attend get a good experience and learn something about computer science? Is there a benefit to the girls interacting with the boys?

I would be interested to hear what others think about the girls-only dilemma. There has been much research on the topic and people usually have strong opinions on it. What has been your experience with summer camps, both co-ed and single sex?

Karen Lang
CSTA Board of Directors

Posted by cstephenson at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2011

Does Everyone Need to Learn How to Program?

I suspect that beneath discussions of computing/computer science/computational thinking in K-12, there is an underlying fear that the computer scientists will come along and make everyone learn to program. So here's my perspective on that.

I disagree with those who say that everyone has to program. Their argument goes something like this (based on Douglas Rushkoff): we all use computers and there's a lot of old software out there, our new world and new economy are built on top of the old software, and if we can't understand the old software then we can't possibly take advantage of all that the new world offers and we are at the mercy of those who program because they hold all the power. Rushkoff sees it as a problem that when we got text we became readers, but not writers. I ask: what is wrong with that? We enjoy music but not all of us are musicians. Should we be? We drive cars but not all are automotive engineers. We take aspirin but not all are pharmacologists.

When we think about an informed citizenry, what do people really need to know? Does everyone have to know how to program in order to understand that technology can have built-in biases? Does everyone need to understand programming in order to be a critical user and consumer of technology? The most important thing is that people understand the capabilities of computers, both through analogy to human tasks and through application to problem solving across a range of fields. I would love to see every student aquire sufficient depth of knowledge that they can engage in fruitful discussion about both what we might want computers to do and the possibility of making computers do those things. But not everyone has to have the skills and knowledge necessary to actually make the computers perform accordingly.

Valerie Barr
CSTA Computational Think Task Force Chair

Posted by cstephenson at 01:06 PM | Comments (2)

January 24, 2011

Does "Fewer Failures" Translate to "Greater Success"?

I was watching the local (New jersey) news channel earlier this school year when something caught my attention: "The percentage of failing grades in a NJ school district fell by approximately 42.5%." Wow! Here's what I could find on the subject.

In an effort to improve student success rates, Mt. Olive School District in NJ eliminated the grade of "D". The required grade for passing was raised from 65 to 70. The new system went into effect in September 2010. Under this system, students who fail can re-take exams and assignments. When a child receives a failing grade, the parents are notified through email. The student then has three to four days to take a test again or repeat an assignment, replacing the original score with the new score, up to 70%. Students may not retake quarter, midterm, or final exams.

The superintendent of Mt Olive schools, Larrie Reynolds, stated that the percentage of failing grades fell by an average of 42.5 percent at the end of the 2010 first quarter grading period, compared to the same time period one year ago. "Failing grades" refer to those grades below 70%. In addition to fewer failing grades, there was also an increase in the number of students scoring A's and B's in the district's middle school.

To achieve the goal of more students succeeding, middle school staff created a "Whatever It Takes" committee to care for targeted, struggling students. High school teachers met with students at lunch time and after school to help re-teach missing concepts.

Students who continue to fail are given the opportunity to attend an after school tutoring program, known as "Sunset Academy." Launched in November 2010, the Sunset Academy, housed at both the middle and high school, is described as a program that is "sufficient to provide full credit recovery for failed first or second quarter identified courses." The successful completion of the Sunset coursework entitles a student to recover credit for a failing grade. The curriculum in the Sunset Academy is intended to mirror the curriculum offered during the student's failed quarter and is intended to strengthen student skills so that the student is adequately prepared for the subsequent courses. Sunset teachers "assist students with homework, upcoming tests, quizzes, projects, and assignments and work related to the specific courses in which students are presently enrolled." When time permits, Sunset teachers re-teach failed assignments, tests, and quizzes. Sunset Academy courses take place after the conclusion of the school day for two hours, two days per week for approximately seven weeks. Sunset Academy's standard for success is 80 percent. Students must complete in-class work assignments with at least 80% mastery before they are allowed to move on to another project. As a result, successful completion of the Sunset Academy program will entitle students to substitute their Sunset Academy grade of 80 percent for their first quarter failed grade for English or Math.

The Sunset Academy program is paid for through tuition ($150 per student per class). Fees are necessary to pay the expenses to run the program (i.e. teacher salaries). The fee entitles the student to 30 hours of instruction which can be used to recover a lost quarterly credit needed for graduation.

Note: Mount Olive, an above-average school in a middle-class New Jersey community.

Some questions came to my mind, so I posed them to Debbie Carter, a teacher of math and computer science at Mt. Olive High School:

Q: How many times can a student retake a quiz/test/assignment? This seems to imply that the classroom teacher is responsible for creating multiple versions of every quiz, test, and assignment.
A: A student is allowed one retake/resubmission. Many of us already create two versions of each test or quiz, to thwart copying, so we give a student the other version of a test for the retake. However, I now delay giving back any quizzes or assignments with passing grades until after the deadline for retakes, to reduce copying or attempts to memorize answers.

Q: Was there input from the teachers when designing this system?
A: No. It was designed fairly quickly just before school started ā€“ but some details have been tweaked as a result of teacher input. For example, the initial policy said that the retake score would always replace the original, which discouraged some students because of the risk factor. The policy was amended so that only a higher score will replace the original. However, some students retake tests without making the effort to get help to understand what they missed, which wastes their time and that of their teachers.

Q: It seems that any failing grade can be replaced by an 80% when the student attends the tuition paid Sunset Academy.
A: Students are supposed to have to achieve 80% mastery on work in Sunset Academy (which often consists of their current assignments in the same class, rather than last quarter's work) in order to get the 80% grade, but guidelines haven't been set for how that work will be assessed.
(Two math teachers are currently working with students from five different math courses.) Students will NOT be required to retake the quarterly assessment for the term that they failed.

Q: Is this Sunset Academy for Math and English only or does it apply to all subjects? Where does Computer Science fit? If it is not included, not fair. If it is included, who teaches it? There are so few CS teachers in any one district.
A: Sunset Academy is currently available only for English and Math (most critical for graduation). I believe there are plans to include Science and Social Studies next year. I can't foresee it being offered for any electives, due to reduced demand and the supply of teachers.

Debbie added, "I really like the philosophy behind this policy. I often said that a student who barely passed wasn't prepared for the next math course, and we did them a disservice by suggesting that they were. I had previously had several students who played the system just enough to get that 65% passing average (and a few who misjudged the amount of required effort and fell short). We now require more of students, and many of them are rising to the challenge. We still have some kinks to work out of the system. We're all pleased when students make the effort to re-learn what they missed the first time, but teachers are spending a good bit of extra time (during lunch or prep) to manage the retakes."

I am pretty sure that Mt. Olive is not the only school district that has eliminated the "D" grade. What advantages and disadvantages do you see with this system? What are your thoughts?

Resources:

  • http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/education/08grades.html?_r=1
  • http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/08/09/look-ma-no-ds-a-school-system-bans-ds-from-its-grading-scale-to-push-kids-to-work-harder/
  • http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=138621562840517
  • http://newjerseyhills.com/mt_olive_chronicle/news/article_879764a0-fd61-11df-9b51-001cc4c03286.html
  • Fran Trees
    CSTA Chapter Liaison

    Posted by cstephenson at 11:38 AM | Comments (1)

    January 20, 2011

    Chance to Provide Feedback on Federal CS Policies for K-12

    The federal government asks for advice about education fairly regularly. But it isn't often that it asks specifically what is needed to advance K-12 computer science education. So we were pleasantly surprised when one federal program asked some key questions about K-12 CS education. Members of our community have the opportunity to speak up about what they think is needed for a stronger K-12 CS education. Comments can be submitted at this site until January 31. If you miss this deadline you can send comments until February 28 to pcast2010comments@nitrd.gov.

    Prompted by a report from the President's top science advisors, The Networking and Information and Technology Research and Development Program (NITRD) asked three sets of big and open-ended questions:

    "The Presidents Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report calls for fundamental changes in K-12 STEM education in the United States, including the incorporation of computer science (CS) as an essential component.

    PCAST is the President's high-level body of science and technology advisors, and the report to which these questions refer was issued in mid-December about recommendations for improving the NITRD program. So, what is NITRD? In short PCAST notes it is, "... the primary mechanism by which the Federal government coordinates its unclassified networking and information technology (NIT) research and development (R&D) investments." A smallish part of this portfolio deals with investments and workforces issues and their obvious connection to the R&D enterprise."

    CSTA, as part of ACM's Education Policy Committee has been pushing NITRD and PCAST on the numerous policy issues that K-12 CS Education faces. In response, PCAST recommended in an earlier K-12 STEM education report that computer science should called out by policy makers as a critical part of the STEM agenda. This new report reaches the same conclusion and prods NITRD to take steps to ensure CS is an "essential component" in K-12. These questions represent the program’s first steps to meet this goal.

    This is a great opportunity for educators from the computing community that work on K-12 CS education issues, curriculum, instruction or generally anything in the subject. It isn't often that the community gets asked for advice on these issues. We should take advantage by filing comments on their questions.

    Cameron Wilson
    ACM Director of Public Policy

    Chris Stephenson
    CSTA Executive Director

    Posted by cstephenson at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

    January 16, 2011

    Happy New Year! Now What About the Summer?

    Now is the time for students (and teachers) to start thinking about their summer. I know the new year just began, but it's never to early to plan.

    For the last several years I've have the tremendous opportunity to spend a month in the summer as a Teacher Fellow for the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) campus. Their mission is to encourage students to continue their interest in STEM fields by working side-by-side with university faculty and researchers. Students live on-campus for four weeks. Think of it as camp that emphasizes technology, engineering, science and math.

    Each of the four sites (UCSD, UC Irvine, UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz) offers different clusters/topics of focus. What I love about COSMOS is that it does not limit itself to the disciplines traditionally thought for STEM. At UCSD, one of the eight clusters is about computer science. That's the cluster that I'm involved with.

    Computers in Everyday Life introduces students to computer science through three threads: programming, robotics and microcontrollers. Guest speakers are brought in during lecture times to discuss various CS concepts, in all their variations and applications. It truly bring computer science alive for students. One of the things that I think is great is that it is not just programming. It connects to students and their lives and shows them that CS is everywhere, everyday.

    I encourage all my students (not just my CS and robotics students) to participate in summer programs like COSMOS. It opens their minds, broadens their experience, builds friendships, shows them the careers and majors that are available, and encourages them that STEM and learning is fun and exciting! I've had students participate that say all that and more.

    For teachers, you get to bring back new ideas for your classroom. Even after being a COSMOS Teacher Fellow for four years, I keep finding new things and incorporating them into my classes. It is the best professional development I've participated in. Every year is different ā€“ new technologies, new insights, cutting edge research. I think that when you teach CS it is very important to stay on top of what is out there especially when we are trying to encourage them to major in it!

    Bottom line it's life changing for both the Teacher Fellow and the students.

    Slowly, I'm hearing of more summer programs like COSMOS (http://www.ucop.edu/cosmos/). It is a great and rejuvenating way to spend part of your summer. If you know of some, let us all know! I know applications for COSMOS will be open soon (for students and teachers) and Iā€™m sure more will be too!

    Shirley Miranda
    CSTA Board Member

    Posted by cstephenson at 10:07 PM | Comments (0)

    January 14, 2011

    What's Our "Brand"? Do We Need a New Promotional Plan?

    Almost every day I receive electronic newsletters with articles discussing STEM and robotics competitions, but I rarely see a mention of Computer Science. So, my business administration mentality has caused me to wonder, "Do we have an image problem in CS?" Why am I not reading about Computer Science on a daily basis? Do we need a new promotional plan? What is our CS "brand"?

    In yesterday's ACTE Career Tech Update, the leading article was titled Computer Science Education Declining in K-12 Classrooms, Study Finds:

    Computerworld (1/11, Betts) reports: "Computer technology may drive the US economy, but computer science education is absent in most American K-12 classrooms, according to a report by the Association for Computing Machinery and the Computer Science Teachers Association." According to the study, "the number of secondary schools offering introductory computer science courses dropped 17% from 2005 to 2009, and the number offering Advanced Placement computer science courses dropped 35% in that time period." Co-author Mark Stehlik, an assistant dean at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science, said, "Some states and some schools are offering some really excellent courses. But overall, the picture is pretty bleak."

    How sad! And yet, I know all too well that our enrollment in Computer Science at the secondary level has been declining. I recall how intrigued I was when I took my first computing course (many, many years ago) and how that course held my interest and was much more engaging that my math courses. Why are today's students not intrigued with computing? What can we do to recruit more students into Computer Science? Those of us who work with Computer Science on a daily basis know the importance of students studying CS. President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan both know the importance of students studying CS. Business and Industry leaders know the importance of students studying CS. Maybe we do need a new promotional plan, a new image, a new brand.

    An article in the ACM Tech News in November highlighted a DARPA funded project designed to "spark" Computer Science Education:

    DARPA-Funded Project to Spark Computer Science Education
    eSchool News (11/04/10) Jenna Zwang

    The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently awarded TopCoder a contract to develop a virtual community featuring competitions and educational resources in order to boost computer science education and help middle and high school students improve their science, technology, engineering, and math skills. DARPA's Melanie Dumas says the virtual community is needed to help reverse the decline in the number of students pursuing computer science degrees, including a 70-percent reduction since 2001. "We've seen staggeringly disappointing results as far as the U.S. population is concerned, both in terms of participation and then, once they do participate, their actual performance," says TopCoder's Robert Hughes. TopCoder will construct a virtual community focused on computer science activities, including logic puzzles and games. "The intent isn't necessarily to improve the quality of education that's out there right now, but more to attract and then retain students in computer science," Hughes says. He hopes the project also will help get students interested in computer science jobs. "The lack of qualified technologists has really driven the prices [of hiring] to almost a prohibitive level, where new technology development is almost prohibitive because of the cost," Hughes says.

    Certainly, the proposed virtual community should interest (and maybe even intrigue) potential Computer Science students. Reaching those students at the middle school and high school level is a good strategy. Maybe if students can associate virtual communities with CS, they will study CS in droves.

    Another article in a December issue of the ACM Tech News was titled "Inspiring the Next Bill Gates". Now, that is a noble aspiration for a high school teacher! Interesting high school boys in debugging computer games is certainly a great hook to convince them to study CS.

    Live Online Briefing: Inspiring the Next Bill Gates
    National Science Foundation (12/03/10)

    The U.S. National Science Foundation will host a Webcast on Dec. 7 at 12 noon (EST) featuring Georgia Tech's Amy Bruckman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Leah Buechley, and ACM's Cameron Wilson, as part of the federally sponsored Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek), which takes place Dec. 5-11. The Webcast will include demonstrations and suggestions on how to improve K-12 computer science education. Georgia Tech students will help Bruckman describe GLITCH, a program that enlists high school boys to debug computer games in an effort to inspire them to pursue computer science. Meanwhile, Buechley will show how E-Textiles has encouraged young girls to learn computational skills. The U.S. Congress created CSEdWeek to highlight the importance of computer science education and the need to improve technology education at the K-12 level.

    Possibly students just don't realize what they can DO with Computer Science. CS is so varied, students probably do not realize the ubiquitous nature of the discipline (our brand again). We really need to work on that brand, that image, that promotional plan. We need to help our students see what the possibilities are with CS. Happily, another article in a December ACM Tech News noted the surge in enrollment in CS courses at the collegiate level:

    Schools See Surge in Computer Science Classes
    Poughkeepsie Journal (NY) (12/05/10) Sarah Bradshaw

    Many colleges saw significant growth in computer science enrollment this fall compared to three years ago, demonstrating the growing importance of technology education among young people. "I think the students are aware that they have it in their power to be the next Bill Gates if they come up with something really great," says Andrew Pletch, chairman of the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz's computer science department. SUNY New Paltz experienced a 53 percent increase in computer science majors since last spring. At Dutchess Community College, enrollment is up 43 percent in computer information management, 40 percent in computer certificate programs, 10 percent in computer science, and six percent in computer information systems. Many students think that information technology opens up employment opportunities, notes Dutchess' Frank Whittle. Professors also attribute the ability to specialize in specific areas of interest in computer science as a big factor in their programs' success. This fall Vassar College had 134 students sign up for at least one computer science class, and many of those students were taking additional classes, even though they are pursuing a different major, notes Vassar's Jeff Kosmacher.

    Apparently students realized that CS would in fact open up employment opportunities for them. Others liked being able to specialize in areas of specific interest to them. Maybe it is all of the above.

    Whatever works is what we need to do to interest students in studying CS. We can't start too early. Elementary students can be taught computing. Middle school and high school students must develop an interest in computing. I recently read an article in the ASCD SmartBrief that asked if playing a musical instrument improved cognitive ability. Well, we know that studying Computer Science improves cognitive ability. Maybe we need to emphasize that. Let's make that, along with so many other highlights, part of our image or brand and certainly include that in our promotional plan. We can have a brand every bit as successful as STEM.

    Deborah Seeehorn
    CSTA Board of Directors

    Posted by cstephenson at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)

    January 12, 2011

    A Joint Call for Research Why Computer Science Education is Important for K-12

    A joint blog post by Chris Stephenson of CSTA, Alfred Thompson of Microsoft, and Mark Guzdial of Georgia Tech

    As much as we believe and try to make the case that studying computer science is good for all students, there is a profound lack of research to actually support this contention. With the movement to data driven decision making in every area of education, our inability to advocate for more and better computer science education in K-12 is severely curtailed by our inability to support our own observations and claims.

    There are some things we do know which may help us make a more effective argument for K-12 computer science education, or at least make us better K-12 computer science educators.

    We know that even pre-teen students have serious misconceptions about what computer science is and that this fundamental lack of understanding makes it very difficult to engage and retain students. Research has shown us that many students believe that computer science is simply using applications well. In one study, after six weeks of learning Scratch, Alice, Pico Crickets, and similar tools, and with Mike Hewner (a PhD student in CS education at Georgia Tech) lecturing them on CS topics, students still came away with the belief (for example) that "Someone who does Photoshop really well is a great computer scientist." They probably think that programmers work in locked window-less rooms and never shower too!

    We know that *not* having a CS background can be a serious detriment in a wide variety of professions. In 2005, Mary Shaw, Chris Saffidi, and Brad Myers presented a research paper focusing on the gap between professionals who program as part of their jobs and the number of people actually trained to do this work. These researchers estimated that by 2012 there will be 3 million professional software developers and 13 million people who program as part of their jobs but aren't software developers. Brian Dorn's just-completed dissertation shows why this is a significant problem. In his study of graphics designers who are self-taught programmers, Dorn found that in order to understand code fragments, the designers do things like search for a variable name -- not knowing that that's completely arbitrary and not useful. One of Brian's subjects who was working in JavaScript, for example, stumbled onto a Java web page, and spent 30 minutes poring over language details that were irrelevant for his task

    We still don't know, however, whether learning computer science helps with anything else in the curriculum. . We have results showing that learning a visual language *does* transfer knowledge to textual programming later. Chris Hundhausen just did a careful HCI study showing that learners could get started more quickly with a visual programming language (like Scratch, Alice, or Kodu), and that parts of that knowledge did transfer to textual programming. That's a big deal, because it says that Scratch and Alice really are useful for learning CS that will be useful later in life.

    There are, however, no recent, scientifically-valid studies that show that students are able to transfer key concepts that they learn in computer science to other learning or that students who study computer science perform better on high-stakes testing in other subject areas (specifically math and science). The last major review of the research in this space (by David Palumbo in 1990) showed little evidence that programming impacted problem-solving in other domains. Neither are there recent studies (the most recent was Taylor and Mountfield in 1991) that determine whether students who study computer science in high school perform better in any area of post-secondary study including computer science. Sharon Carver's dissertation work in 1988 showed that one *could* teach Logo so that it improved how elementary students solved problems in other areas (e.g., debugging instructions on maps), but little research has followed up on that result.

    This lack of research-supported evidence is particularly troubling in light of the current discussions about the importance of "Computational Thinking". While there is strong support for CT in many parts of the community including the National Science Foundation, without a strong and agreed-upon definition and effective assessment measures for students at various learning levels, we don't have hard evidence there that CT is useful let alone necessary for every student.

    We do know that we need to do a better job of convincing students that computer science is worth their interest and we might actually be making some progress on this front. For example, many teachers are working hard to help students see the connections between the current technologies that students are interested in (social networking, mobile applications, etc.) and the issues that they care about (the ways that medical agencies use computers to track and control epidemics or how relief agencies depend on computerized logistical systems to get the right sort of aid to the right places at the right time in an emergency). But once again, we have not established scientifically whether these connections motivate students who would not otherwise be interested in computer science.

    There are some things we do know and some we can even prove scientifically but the bottom line is that we need more research. We need research that is long-term, broad reaching, and scientifically valid. We need to know what our students are learning and why it matters to them. We need to know how to help them learn better. And we need to know how to do a better job of engaging, inspiring, and retaining them. It is time for computer science education to grow up and prove its value, just as all of the other core disciplines are now having to do.

    Chris Stephenson, CSTA
    Mark Guzdial, Georgia Tech
    Alfred Thompson, Microsoft

    Posted by cstephenson at 11:42 AM | Comments (3)

    January 10, 2011

    New Year, New You?

    Yep, it's that time of year. The time where we start to reflect on all the good from last year and all the things we want to accomplish in the new year. Typically in our work environment, this happens in August. But my challenge to you is to think of ONE new thing that you would like your students to try in the new year. Or better yet, have your students give suggestions of what those things could be!

    Is there a program that you think is nifty, but you have not had the time to check it out?

    How about letting a student tinker with it for extra credit?

    Is there a topic you do not quite have a good grasp on how to teach?

    Let a student find activities or lesson plans which display a used of the topic as an enrichment exercise.

    The possibilities are endless! By implementing just one new idea each semester, your teacher toolbox will be full of great ideas before you know it and you will be well on your way to the new you for the new year!

    Mindy Hart
    CSTA Board of Directors

    Posted by cstephenson at 12:30 PM | Comments (1)

    January 05, 2011

    Reflections

    At the end of the year, it is customary to reflect upon what has been accomplished during the year. Since it is near that time I thought it might be a good time to reflect upon some of the things that CSTA as an organization has accomplished.

    CSTA chapters are growing and continue to support CSTA members locally. Chapters are meeting regularly and planning meetings that are pertinent to their members. The CSTA Leadership Cohort has been instrumental in developing strong chapters. The number of chapters has increased this year as well as membership in CSTA.

    In July, CS & IT, CSTA's annual conference, showed a strong attendance even in the face of tough economic times. With assistance from Google, Microsoft Research and Anita Borg Institute, teachers had many excellent workshops to choose from. In fact, many teachers asked for the symposium to be extended to two days. The planning for next year's event is well under way and it will be a three-day conference. If you have expertise to share, I encourage you to submit a proposal. Submittal information is on the CSTA website at:

    http://csta.acm.org/ProfessionalDevelopment/sub/CSITSymposiaSite.html

    CS Education Week, which is celebrated during the first full week in December, was very successful. The Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine and CSTA created 5 short videos that could be used during morning announcements or in individual classrooms to highlight the many opportunities computer science provides. CSTA also made available an audio announcement that could be used for schools that do not have video capabilities. One additional resource was a sports poster that CSTA made available to its membership which was also designed to draw attention to computer science.

    I have only touched on a few of the accomplishments of our organization. None of this could have been successful without the leadership of our executive director, Chris Stephenson, and the many others that have devoted their time to each of these activities. This is the time to say thank you to all of those who have contributed to this organization and its accomplishments. But there is still more to do. We need to continue to work toward advocacy for computer science. For ideas about what you can do, read Shemeka Shufford's recent blog posted on December 22.

    Myra Deister
    CSTA Board Member

    Posted by cstephenson at 01:24 PM | Comments (1)

    January 03, 2011

    Algorithmic Thinking and Computational Linguistics

    The Algorithms and Linguistics page (http://www.education.rec.ri.cmu.edu/fire/naclo/) on The FIRE Project website is a site that introduces younger students to computer science and linguistics. Rather than focusing on programming, the website focuses on algorithmic thinking and problem-solving to engage students in computational thinking.

    The goal is create unplugged materials, or problems solvable with pencil and paper, where students can practice using computer science and linguistics concepts.

    Currently on the website there are algorithms and linguistics problems of varying difficulties so that a range of age groups can enjoy them.

    Chelsea Mafrica
    The Algorithms and Linguistics Team

    Posted by cstephenson at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)