« December 2013 | Main | February 2014 »

January 29, 2014

CSTA 2014 Administration Impact Award Nominations Open

The Computer Science Teachers' Association, in partnership with Code.org, has established an award to recognize an administrator who has made an outstanding contribution in K-12 computer science. The purpose of this award is to identify and promote administrators who have made a significant impact to improve access to and the quality of computer science education.

Any public or private school administrator who is a CSTA member in good standing may be nominated for the CSTA Administrator Impact Award. Both the nominated administrator and the nominee must be able to attend (at CSTA's expense) the 2014 CSTA Annual Conference scheduled for July 14th and 15th in St. Charles, Illinois. The winner and the person who submitted the nomination will be encouraged, although not required, to present at a dedicated session at the conference.

The Award
The Computer Science Teachers Association will award the winner and the nominating educator an all expense paid trip to the 2014 CSTA Annual Conference to be held in St. Charles, Illinois. The winner will be recognized during an awards ceremony at the conference and will be featured in an article in the CSTA Voice.

Application Deadline
The application must be submitted online no later than March 3, 2014. See below for the Application Process.

Notification of Winners
The winning nominator and awardee will be contacted by April 11, 2014. The winner will be posted on the CSTA website by April 18, 2014. The winner will be announced to all CSTA members via email by May 1, 2014.

Application Process
To complete the online application, go to


You will need to enter the following information:

  • Nominator Information (name, school name, school city and state, email address, phone number)
  • Nominee Information (name, title, school district, email, phone number)
  • Description of how the person nominated has influenced or improved K-12 computer science education
  • Description of the scope and impact this person has had on the school, district, state, or national level
  • Description of the special qualities the person nominated demonstrates as an educator and leader.

    Evaluation Criteria:
    Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of how the administrator influenced or improved K-12 computer science education. The scope and the impact of the nominee's contribution may extend to school, district, state and/or national levels. The nominee should possess outstanding educator and leadership qualities as documented by the nominator. Significant impact of the contribution should be broad enough to be replicated by other school districts and must be sustainable over time. Leadership qualities may be demonstrated through a variety ways including innovative approaches to local or national computer science challenges, mentoring of teachers, and visionary thinking.

    Recommendations for Preparing the Application

  • The online application must be completed in its entirety in one sitting. It cannot be saved and/or continued at a later time
  • Keep the narratives simple, unformatted, and concise
  • Descriptions may be completed in a word processor then copied and pasted on the application; however, formatting may not be copied.

    To complete an online application for the CSTA Administrator Award, please go to:


    Contact Chris Stephenson at c.stephenson@csta-hq.org

    Chris Stephenson
    CSTA Executive Director

    Posted by cstephenson at 06:01 PM | Comments (0)

    January 27, 2014

    A Special Message for All Procrastinators

    Just as many of you do, I like to listen to National Public Radio (NPR). And I fully understand the need for fundraising from the public a few times a year. Our local NPR station seems to always have a special promotion near the end of the pledge drive "for all the procrastinators out there." So, this blog post is for all you procrastinators out there!

    February 1 (Saturday!) is the deadline to submit Nomination Applications for the open CSTA Board of Directors positions. CSTA can always use committed and dedicated members to serve on the Board of Directors. So, if you happen to be one of those procrastinators who really would like to serve on the CSTA Board of Directors, please take a minute to complete your Nomination Application.
    Nominations are open for the following CSTA Director positions.

  • 9-12 Representative (1 position): A 9-12 classroom teacher who is currently teaching computer science at the high school level
  • At-Large Representative (1 position): An educator with responsibilities for K-12 CS education
  • International Representative (1 position): An international (outside the United States) classroom teacher who is currently teaching or promoting computer science at the pre-collegiate level
  • School District Representative (1 position): An administrator whose focus is technology or curriculum across multiple schools
  • Teacher Education Representative (1 position): A college- or university-level faculty member who has primary responsibility for the instruction of pre-service and/or in-service teachers of computer science and/or computing disciplines
  • University Faculty Representative (1 position: A faculty member from a university computing department offering graduate degrees in computer science
  • To submit a nomination:
    1. Download the 2014 CSTA Nominations Form from the CSTA website at: http://csta.acm.org/About/sub/CSTAGovernance.html

    2. Complete the Nominations Form.
    The form includes the following information:

  • Position for which you are applying
  • Your Name
  • Address
  • School or Employer
  • Current Title/Role
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Personal Statement that explains your motivation and why you are a strong candidate (limited to 130 words).
  • Answer the following questions:
    a. What experiences and/or interests in K-12 computer science/information technology education qualify you to serve as a leader for the organization?
    b. What previous experience do you have with CSTA?
    c. What leadership skills do you have that would enrich the Board and the organization?
    d. What do you think are the most important issues for K-12 computer science education?

    3. Submit the completed Nominations Form and your current résumé of experience to the Elections Committee by emailing it to:


    The documents may be submitted in Microsoft Word or PDF format; PDF is preferred.

    Nominations deadline: February 1, 2014

    For more information please contact nominations@csta.acm.org.

    The Call for Nominations is available on the CSTA website.

    Deborah Seehorn
    CSTA Nominations and Elections Committee Chair

    Posted by cstephenson at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)

    January 21, 2014

    Aligning Our Program with the CSTA Standards

    Increasing the availability of Computer Science offerings for all students, especially those who are members of underrepresented groups, is going to require an "all hands on deck" approach. Ensuring all students are exposed to the highest-quality curriculum and experiences can be realized if we commit to aligning our programs to the CSTA Computer Science Standards.

    When Gary Beach founded TECH CORPS almost 20 years ago, he had a belief that technology professionals could be a tremendous resource to schools if they could be effectively connected. In 1995, TECH CORPS was launched to be that connector, and since that time more than 10,000 technology professionals in the U.S. have shared their time and talents assisting schools with technology-related projects.

    Early TECH CORPS projects focused on hardware, from wiring schools to setting up computer labs, but fast forward to today and a majority of our TECH CORPS projects and programs now focus on providing students with access to the technology competencies they need to be successful in the classroom today and workforce tomorrow.

    As technical innovation plays an increasingly critical role in virtually every sector of the US economy, young people entering the marketplace without the necessary technical skills will not only be unemployable, they will be irrelevant in our global economy. TECH CORPS is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for students by providing high-quality, experiential learning opportunities in the areas of computer science and information technology.

    It is that dedication that led to the creation of Techie Club. Techie Club includes 40+ hours of hands-on, interactive activities for 3rd through 6th grade students. The lessons focus on a variety of computing topics, promote 21st century skills and provide students with an awareness of technology and STEM-related careers. Over the course of a school year, teams of TECH CORPS volunteers deliver the lessons to groups of up to 20 elementary school students.

    When CSTA released the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards in 2011, our staff was interested to see how our Techie Club lessons aligned. After a couple of very productive working sessions with the CSTA team we started mapping our curriculum to the standards using the curriculum crosswalk template. I am extremely proud to say that not only did our lessons meet the CS Standards for the Level I 3-6 grade band but some also aligned with the Level II 6-9 grade band as well.

    CSTA encourages districts and states to demonstrate that their curricula align to the learning standards detailed in the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards. I encourage all informal education organizations creating materials or delivering programs to support K-12 Computer Science education do the same.

    Lisa M. Chambers
    National Executive Director

    Posted by cstephenson at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

    January 17, 2014

    Learning Form a Former Student

    Each year during CS Ed Week I invite alumni to return to my school to talk about their education and careers with the junior class. I open it up to any alumni who feels that Computer Science and computational thinking is a large part of what they do on a daily basis. I believe it is important to bring people in who aren't necessarily in the software field, but who use computational thinking skills in their work and who realize the value of those skills in what they do.

    One of the visitors this year is a young woman who I taught several years ago and who is now a neurobiology doctoral student at MIT. She conveyed the important message that her computing skills are what have enabled her to be an immediate contributor to the labs she works in. As a Ph.D. student, she rotates through labs monthly so there is a small window to make herself helpful and to make herself known. She said that the majority of people with whom she interacts do not have computer science skills and are reluctant to try to develop them to solve a problem. She has quickly become a go-to person because she knows how to code and she is not afraid to try to figure out a new language or piece of software to get the job done. She attributes that to her background in Computer Science, even though she does not consider herself a programmer.

    Although she is in the biology field, she talked about how important it is for a scientist today to have the ability to work with and manipulate data. What I found particularly interesting was that she herself never understood the importance of Computer Science to her education and work until now. It was good feedback for me as a teacher to hear that what she learned in high school and in college held no real relevance to her. She was a good student and did well in my course. However, she said the assignments at the time seemed disconnected and if she had been asked to build something to accomplish a real-world task that held meaning to her personally, it would have had a bigger impact on her.

    One might question whether maturity and finding her true calling allowed her to finally make the connection, but as a teacher, it makes me think that I need to try to come up with projects that can make a personal connection for students. This young woman had a great message for my students, and a great message for me too.

    Karen Lang
    CSTA 9-12 Representative

    Posted by cstephenson at 12:57 PM | Comments (1)

    January 14, 2014

    Run For the CSTA Board of Directors

    Are you an educator or adminstrator with skills and drive? Have you considered putting those skills and drive to work for your CSTA? There are six vacancies on the CSTA Board of Directors and one of them may be just right for you.

    The vacancies for 2014 are:

  • 9-12 Representative,
  • International Representative,
  • School District Representative,
  • Teacher Education Representative,
  • University Faculty Representative, and
  • At-Large Representative.

    More information can be found at:


    including descriptions of these positions and the Nomination Application form.

    The deadline for nominations is February 1, however, so don't wait!

    Dave Reed
    Creighton University
    College Faculty Representative

    Posted by cstephenson at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)

    January 13, 2014

    So What Now?

    The Hour of Code was a great success and you may have had more interest than ever before in computer science, but what do you do with all that momentum? How do you help students and other teachers keep interest in computer science and even coding? I'm so glad you asked.

    Have you looked at the resources section of the CSTA a website? Have you scanned the CSTA Advocate blog to see what different people are doing in different parts of the world? Have you looked on the CSTA to website to see who the CSALT leaders (computer science advocacy leadership team) are in your state so you can use them as a resource? Have you looked to your local CSTA chapter to see what kind of resources they're creating or outreach and workshops they are providing? Have you looked at the Computer Science EdWeek site?

    The Hour of Code has helped generate national and even international interest in computer science. It is our job now to get down into the trenches and make sure that the new interest witnessed in December makes a real difference in our schools. That is the real challenge we face now.

    Fortunately, many CSTA members have been doing work in the schools and on the "front lines". There is help and there are resources available for anyone who is now looking to continue the work. Use the CSTA website to find someone near you doing similar work and reach out. We need each other to keep moving forward. I do not want the fantastic things that happened in December to just become stories. I want them to inspire us to make real, sustained change in our classrooms, schools, districts, and states.

    Stephanie Hoeppner
    CSTA 9-12 Representative

    Posted by cstephenson at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

    January 10, 2014

    Apply Now For Computer Science Principles Summit

    CSTA invites teachers and administrators to apply to attend a special summit aimed at broadening understanding and creating capacity for the wide-scale adoption and on-going support of the Computer Science Principles course.

    This summit (to be held in conjunction with the CSTA 2014 annual conference in St. Charles, IL) will explore the pathways to CS Principles for the entire community (middle school and high school) and provide teachers and administrators with a context and strategies for implementing CS Principles in their high schools.

    This summit, featuring presentations, flash talks, and working groups, is open to teachers interested in teaching the new AP Computer Science Principles Course and administrators at all levels (Principals, District Superintendents) interested in bringing the new AP Computer Science Principles Course to their districts.

    Funding may be available for accommodation and travel. Attendance is limited to 50 participants and applications will close February 1, 2014.

    The summit will take place:

    Location: Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, IL
    Dates: July 16, 2014
    Registration Deadline: February 1, 2014

    Online applications are now open.

    For more information, see:


    or contact Chris Stephenson at c.stephenson@csta-hq.org

    Chris Stephenson
    Executive Director
    Computer Science Teachers Association

    Posted by cstephenson at 03:44 PM | Comments (1)

    January 07, 2014

    CSTA2014 Conference - Looking Great!

    I was in the Chicago area this past weekend as part of the Conference Committee. While I can't tell you everything you may want to know about our summer conference, I can say that it looks like it will be the best program we've ever had!

    So many great proposals make it easy to put together a conference program that is varied and relevant, but hard to winnow them down to the number of concurrent sessions we can run. I am confident every CSTA member will be able to find several sessions they don't want to miss on this year's agenda!

    Pheasant Run Resort was under snow when I got there and decorated for the holidays, however, I could see that the resort has much to offer your family if you choose to bring them to the conference with you. Three pools, a golf course, a spa, and an indoor version of Bourbon Street are just the beginning. A full theater and comedy club as well as five different restaurants ranging from the award winning Harvest, serving gourmet cuisine with regional ingredients, to the fun Jambalaya for Cajun fare. The golf course is large and very close (it made a beautiful snow scene) and they have a Pro Shop in the Lounge. While we were there, the resort had many activities aimed at children, so I'm sure yours will find something fun to do while you are in the conference! I hope to see you there.

    Tammy Pirmann
    District Representative
    Conference Committee Member

    Posted by cstephenson at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)

    January 03, 2014

    CSTA Wisconsin Team Takes on Certification

    Wisconsin is one of the few states to have a distinct license that is required for teachers of computer science courses in high schools. This license, created in the 1980s, helped Wisconsin develop a strong cadre of computer science teachers. However, over the past 20 years, as computer science was replaced by computer literacy in schools, the number of practicing computer science teachers in the state dwindled. Due to lack of demand, schools of education dropped their computer science licensing programs, leaving fewer and fewer qualified computer science teachers in high schools.

    Why is licensure so important? Teachers in Wisconsin cannot teach computer science without this certification. When schools of education dropped their licensure program in the early 2000s they made it impossible for schools to hire new teachers to teach computer science classes. The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has a "guidance rule" which says that any teacher can teach an introductory computer literacy course, as long as that course does not contain more than 25% programming content. CSTA-WI has asked DPI to use this rule to allow any licensed teacher to teach Exploring Computer Science, since this course is at an introductory level and has less than 25% programming. However, the current licensing rules require a Computer Science license in order to teach AP CS A and, most likely, AP CS Principles.

    With these problems in mind, the CSTA Wisconsin leadership reached out to members of the Wisconsin university CS community. We found individuals at Marquette University and UW-La Crosse who shared our desire to revive computer science education in Wisconsin and agreed to write a NSF CE-21 grant with us. We call our consortium PUMP-CS, which stands for Preparing the Upper Midwest for Principles of Computer Science.

    PUMP-CS reached out to the DPI and asked them to partner in our CE-21 proposal. This was an important move because, when the NSF awarded us the grant, we were then able to ask the DPI to step forward to make change.

    The DPI set up a meeting in December that included high-level DPI staff and the consultants responsible for Mathematics and Business and IT professional development. The DPI members in the group had already had internal discussions about the definition of computer science, why it is vitally important to teach it in grades K-12, and why a computer science license helps to promote quality instruction. In fact, they made copies of the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards and passed them out to everyone in the room!

    Our team, led by Dennis Brylow of Marquette University and Tom Gendreau of UW-LaCrosse, presented information to the group about a wide variety of topics, including a definition of computer science, the state of computer science education in Wisconsin, and the goals of our grant.

    The DPI team then explained that they wanted to help us update the Computer Science license requirements developed in the 1980s and put computer science at an equal level with other academic subjects. In other words, they wanted the new standards to define what teachers should know and be able to do and bring them into accordance with the NCATE teacher education standards developed by ISTE and CSTA.

    The current political environment is highly charged with regards to the adoption of any kind of standards, so the DPI asked us to be patient and to work internally while they assemble a group of expert computer science teachers and teacher educators, to create the student CS standards and the teacher CS standards that would form the basis of all of DPI's further decisions. CSTA-WI is meeting this request but we are also looking at alternative licensure pathways. Current legislation would allow our PUMP-CS consortium to create an alternative licensure pathway for our cohort participants that can either go through a traditional school of education (such as Marquette University or UW-La Crosse) or can be implemented by the Wisconsin CSTA! We are carefully looking at this option as a means to get more current teachers a CS license without an unwieldy amount of time and money.

    CSTA-WI members also found a provision in Wisconsin's licensing law that allows teachers with certain licenses to earn additional licenses in related areas by passing a content test. For instance, a teacher with a Chemistry license can earn a Physics license by passing a Pearson or Praxis test in Physics. This provision, however, was not being used for computer science because the Wisconsin DPI had not found a CS content test that they could use.

    CSTA-WI pointed out to the DPI that other states had tests in place and we began to discuss how Wisconsin could utilize this forgotten provision. Once Wisconsin adopts Teacher Standards for CS, the DPI can approve a current national exam, or pay to have one created that matches the standards that Wisconsin adopts. While politically unlikely at this time, it is also possible that the DPI could modify the provision in the licensing rules to allow teachers with other certifications, such as Business Education or Technical Education, to use the test as a path towards Computer Science licensure.

    The team that writes these standards has an important and far-reaching task, one that will affect computer science education in our state for years. CSTA-WI is using our member list to identify and recommend computer science content experts with extensive classroom experience. We are reaching out to these people and providing their names to the DPI in order to populate the committee with members who understand what it means to teach computer science.

    Andy Kuemmel
    CSTA-WI Chapter

    Posted by cstephenson at 06:06 PM | Comments (0)