« Exploring Collaborative Opportunities for Students | Main | Free Course Gives Rise to Interesting Questions »

Summer Professional Development

This summer I was able to attend three Computer Science conferences this summer which were CS4HS:


at two different locations and CS & IT:


CS4HS is offered at several different college and university campuses throughout the world and is sponsored by Google. CS & IT is the annual conference organized by CSTA that "provides professional development opportunities for high school and middle school computer science and information technology teachers". This year the sponsors were Microsoft Research, Google and Anita Borg Institute.

The first CS4HS I attended was on the Cal Berkeley campus and hosted by Dr. D. Garcia. To attend a CS4HS held in the state where I am teaching was definitely an advantage. The conference attendees educated me about websites that are only available for California teachers. One website was Calaxy which hosts a website of tools and free Moodle hosting. I had been using Moodle but my current host informed me that they would begin charging for the service so this was a website I definitely did investigate. Additionally, I entered into a discussion about recruiting and was given a suggestion about using my students to recruit students through their membership in ethnic clubs on my campus. I also learned about BYOB which is an extension of Scratch. I have been practicing with BYOB this summer to use with my students when school begins in a few weeks.

The second CS4HS I attended was on the Carnegie Mellon (CMU) campus and hosted by Tom Cortina. The participants were treated to: An introduction to AppInventor, a presentation from Eric Nyberg about Watson, a hands-on presentation about Finch Robots


introduction to CS Unplugged activities and a presentation about Raptor (a free flowchart interceptor):


I purchased a Finch Robot and plan to have my Data Structures students review Java with the Robot and I plan to use Raptor to have students verify their logic.

Finally, I traveled from CMU to New York for the CS & IT Symposium. The conference was held over three days. The first day, the attendees could choose at most two workshops, the second day the attendees could choose at most four sessions and the third day the scheduled included 3 speakers and entrance to the Imagine Cup.

In the morning I attend the workshop about BYOB. Dr. Dan Garcia and Josh Pauley presented a hands-on workshop about BYOB. If you haven't had an opportunity to try out BYOB, it is a free download from:


The site also has links to the slides from the conference and sample lessons.

The afternoon session I attended was trying out some labs using AppInventor presented by Hal Abelson, Betsy Dillard, Pauline Lake, Ralph Morelli, and Chinma Uche. You can download a copy of the slides from the presentation from the CSTA website.

The second day of the conference began with a keynote speech by Douglas Rushkoff the author of Programmed or Be Programmed: Ten Commandments for a Digital Age. He was a very dynamic speaker and gave us some ideas to think about regarding the web and how we are manipulated by it. The closing keynote speaker was Ken Perlin, Professor of Computer Science NYU Media Research Lab and Director, Games for Learning Institute. He was another dynamic speaker who discussed, among other things, using Kinect to communicate with a computer.

I also attended four great sessions during the day. You can review the slides of the sessions on the CSTA website as well as slides and videos from previous CS & IT Symposiums. In addition, Alfred Thompson:


and Doug Peterson:


discuss their experiences at CS & IT on their blogs. Additionally, I exchanged contact information with other CS teachers. I hope to collaborate with them on lesson planning during the school year.

Another source of PD for me is Twitter. Through Twitter, I discovered Socrative:


It is a "smart student response system" using web enabled devices. I plan to use it for "Checking for Understanding" and Exit Slips.

Finally, my next step then is how to incorporate what I have been exposed to this summer into my computer science curriculum. That is the best part of summer professional development, relating it all back to the students.

What PD have you participated in this summer?

Myra Deister
CSTA Board of Directors
At-Large Representative

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)