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March 31, 2014

Senator Gillibrand Proposes New Legislation for CS


U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced today her education agenda to encourage more youths, especially women, to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and to encourage the development of computer science career education programs that meet the market needs of employers.

"New York is home to some of the greatest colleges and universities, a world-class workforce and innovative career opportunities," Senator Gillibrand said. "But if we're going to keep our competiveness in the global economy, and keep our skilled workforce in the region, we must prepare our students with the education they need for the jobs of the future. That starts with getting more talented students from diverse backgrounds into the STEM pipeline at a younger age, expanding engineering education, and developing programs that will introduce students to the many career opportunities in computer science. We are relying on our children today to be the innovators of tomorrow. It's our job to make sure they are prepared."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020 1 in every 2 STEM jobs will be in computing and there will be 1.4 million jobs in computer science and only 400,000 students with a computer science degree. Despite these opportunities, most states do not offer computer science courses as part of their core curriculum in math and science and have focused on offering technology literacy or computing application courses.

Gillibrand's proposed Computer Science Career Education Act, would establish a grant program to encourage the development of computer science career education programs that meet the market needs of employers and better integrate secondary and postsecondary education. Grants under this program would be awarded to a consortium between State or local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, non-profit organization, and employers in the computer science sector.

Chris Stephenson
CSTA Executive Director

Posted by cstephenson at 07:15 PM | Comments (1)

March 28, 2014

A Year Later: the Centrality of Teachers in Code.org

It has been a little over a year since Code.org released its viral video in the midst of a larger push for computer science education. The video used well-known celebrities to speak to the importance of computer science, but this initial video did not propose any solutions to make computing more accessible for students. I wondered and blogged about why teachers weren't more visible in this campaign to draw attention towards computing education (LINK).

What a difference a year makes.

This month at SIGCSE, Hadi Partovi delivered a powerful keynote in which he articulated Code.org's successful Hour of Code and their vision of district partnerships to increase access and diversity for computing. A common thread throughout his comments was the centrality of the role of teachers.

  • Teachers were credited for the unprecedented success of the "Hour of Code".
  • The importance of providing high-quality professional development experiences for teachers was highlighted. Hadi even carefully reframed a question about professional development that had initially used the language of "training teachers".
  • Code.org has created an educational team with vast K-12 teaching experience in diverse contexts to support curriculum development and professional development opportunities.
  • Code.org's explicit commitment to working with public schools provides curricular and instructional supports for classroom teaching in settings where students historically have had the fewest opportunities to pursue computing.

    In talking with K-12 teachers after this keynote, there was a huge buzz and a sense of empowerment for being recognized and affirmed for their important role in reforming computer science education. It was especially rewarding for teachers to be recognized while sitting alongside 1200+ fellow SIGCSE educators, most of who work in higher education and have little understanding about the nature of K-12 teaching.

    It was a great day to be a K-12 teacher at SIGCSE.

    Joanna Goode
    CSTA Teacher Education Representative

    Posted by cstephenson at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

    March 26, 2014

    CSTA Georgia-Alabama Reception at SIGCSE

    On March 7, 2014, after a long day at SIGCSE, the members of the Georgia and Alabama chapters of the CSTA got together for some collaboration and conversation.

    CSTA-Georgia Vice-President, Deepa Muralidhar, thought it would be a great idea for the neighboring chapters to get to know each other. With the financial support of Jeff Gray and the University of Alabama, as well as Barb Ericson and Georgia Tech, Deepa was able to plan an evening reception with light refreshments. Several people were kind enough to help Deepa with the planning and implementation of the reception including: CSTA Director of Development Lissa Clayborn, Jeff Baker and Carol Yarbrough of the CSTA-Alabama chapter, and Crystal Furman CSTA-Georgia.

    Approximately 30 members of the Georgia and Alabama chapters of the CSTA met and mingled with each other and members of the CSTA Board of Directors. Chris Stephenson, Executive Director, CSTA said a few words to get the reception started. As always, her words were inspirational and well received by the crowd. Chris' remarks were followed by a game of "Sort and Mingle", devised to help members get to know a little bit about each other. After that, it was time to enjoy great food and conversations with fellow CSTA members.

    A great time was had by all. It was a great opportunity for the Georgia and Alabama teachers to get to know each other and socialize. This was especially true for the members of the newly established CSTA-Alabama chapter. The Alabama chapter is just getting started and beginning to plan activities and future meetings. The reception was a great way for the Alabama teachers to learn what the Georgia teachers and CSTA National Board members are doing and get ideas for chapter activities.

    We hope to continue to find opportunities for the neighboring chapters to get together and collaborate. We encourage other closely located chapters to do the same. The evening proved true to the theme: Collaboration opens new avenues.

    Carol Yarbrough
    Vice-President, CSTA-Alabama

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

    March 24, 2014

    More on Social Networking for CS Educators

    Last month Patrice Gans had a great post Creating a Professional Learning Network here on the CSTA blog about creating a professional learning network using Twitter. I thought it might be worthwhile to add some suggestions of my own.

    You may wonder how this works in practice and I ran into a great example recently. Mike Zamansky, a CS teacher and CSTA member from New York City (on Twitter @zamansky), tweeted a link to a blog post he wrote about a lesson in sorting he had taught. Carolyn Petite, a CS teacher from Ohio (on Twitter @cfhsPetite) replied to his tweet with two resources that she used. A follow up reply from Mike included two more resources. So in a short period of time two teachers had shared five different teaching resources with their followers and each other. I eventually captured these resources and some others I knew about on my blog post Resources For Teaching Sorts.

    As you can see this sharing occurs across multiple channels though. Tweeter is great for sharing resource links and short discussions. Blogs are great for longer discussions and more in-depth information. (I have a list of computer science educators who blog BTW.) But that is not all.

    If blogging and Twitter are not your style there are also email lists and even Facebook. The CSTA has a Facebook group where some great discussions take place on a regular basis. CSTA also runs an email discussion list for members. You can join the conversation there at http://listserv.acm.org/scripts/wa-ACMLPX.exe?SUBED1=csta-members&A=1.

    These are friendly venues for asking questions, answering questions, sharing news and ideas and building relationships with one's peers. Everyone's ideas have value and are worth sharing. Especially yours!

    Jump in the water is fine!

    Alfred Thompson
    At-large Member, CSTA

    Posted by cstephenson at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

    March 22, 2014

    CSTA Teacher Leader Testifies in Illinois


    CSTA is now advocating for improvements to computer science education in many states and members of the CSTA Computer Science Advocacy and Leadership Team (CSALT) such as Steve Svetlik of Illinois have been instrumental in these efforts, working with legislators and testifying on key legislation.

    This week, Steve and IL representative Ken Dunklin testified before the IL House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on House Bill 3695. If it passes, this legislation will allow students to count an Advanced Placement computer science course as one of the three mathematics credits required for a high school diploma. Attendees at the event report that Steve was an excellent speaker and the committee members were clearly impressed with his knowledge.

    Not only did the committee unanimously approve the proposed legislation, but all of the committee members asked to be added as co-sponsors!

    After his time before the Committee, Steve walked around the building, talking with additional legislators and getting them to sign up as sponsors as well.

    Other CSTA members in IL also played a role in CSTA's advocacy efforts. Jessica Handy, Government Affairs Director for Stand for Children Illinois, reported that 33 witness slips were filed in support of this legislation.

    HB 3695 will now go forward to the House and is expected to be called to the floor within the next couple of weeks.

    Congratulations to Steve and thanks to Rep. Dunkin, Amy of Code.org, and Jessica of Stand for Children and to all of the CSTA members who made this accomplishment possible.

    Chris Stephenson
    CSTA Executive Director

    Posted by cstephenson at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)

    March 21, 2014

    CSTA Launches Job Board

    In the last year CSTA has received an increasing number of requests from schools and organizations looking to find computer science teachers to fill new jobs. At the same time, we've also been receiving requests from teachers who are looking for new job opportunities. To meet the needs of both of these members, CSTA has launched a new job board!

    The CSTA Career and Job Center is the perfect place for job seekers and employers in K–12 computer science education to find each other.

    Job Seekers
    The CSTA Career and Job Center will help you find your next great career opportunity in our searchable database of computer science education jobs. Search computer science education jobs in academia and corporate including: computer science teacher, technical coordinator/administrator, curriculum developer, K-12 computer science education outreach coordinator, and others. Post your resume, and take advantage of free career tools for job searchers. These services are provided FREE to CSTA individual educator members.

    Get started today by creating a company profile, posting your available jobs, searching resumes, and begin your search for an exemplary educator. Employers can choose from the following cost options:

  • 30-Day Online Job Posting ($190)
  • Enhanced 30-Day Online posting ($250)
  • Premium 30-Day Online posting ($310)
  • To access the CSTA Job Board, visit:


    or click the Job Board button from the CSTA homepage.

    Chris Stephenson
    CSTA Executive Director

    Posted by cstephenson at 03:13 PM | Comments (0)

    March 19, 2014

    Rep. Elizabeth Esty Gets CS Amendment Passed

    Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) has successfully offered an important amendment to H.R. 4186 to expand a STEM teacher professional development grant under the National Science Foundation to include computer science teachers.

    Esty's amendment (one of two she put forward) is now part of H.R. 4186, which would renew parts of the "America COMPETES Act" to support investments in innovation through research and development and improve America's competitiveness. H.R. 4186 successfully passed the Research and Technology Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, on which Esty serves.

    According to Rep. Esty, this amendment will give teachers additional resources to help prepare students for the jobs of the 21st century. "We have so many teachers in Connecticut who are going above and beyond to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, and it's time we support them", says Esty.

    According to the Conference Board, demand for computing professionals is roughly four times higher than the average demand for all other occupations, with more than 575,000 jobs in computing open as of January 2014. In the meantime, thousands of computer science teachers across the country struggle to get the same types of support and investments as their math and science colleagues. Rep. Esty's work on this amendment is an important step in creating a more level praying field for computer science teachers by enabling them to access resources available to other STEM teachers.

    Chris Stephenson
    CSTA Executive Director

    Posted by cstephenson at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)

    March 17, 2014

    Beyond Hour of Code

    That was the title I chose for a recent workshop that Vicky Sedgwick (@VisionsByVicky) and I presented at the local Computing Using Educators (CUE) Conference in California. I had meet Vicky a few months earlier at another local CUE Conference where she was presenting a session about programming with elementary and junior high students. We chatted after the session about other platforms that students at the elementary level could use. That was prior to Hour of Code.

    We kept in touch over Twitter. I attended an Edcamp conference in another neighboring county which was held after the Hour of Code event. During Edcamps the participants suggest topics and other interested teachers attend either to learn more or to help inform the teachers. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were three sessions related to programming. The teachers were eager to get more information about teaching programming. I attended all three and was able to promote CSTA and help inform the teachers about teaching programming. I decided to apply to present at the local CUE conference about how coding could be used in other subject areas. Vicky had been considering the same topic. So we teamed up.

    Our session was scheduled as the last session of the day. I was concerned, but 15 educators attended our session. They were eager to learn and we had information to provide. The session was well received and I once again promoted CSTA.

    But that is not the only type of increase in interest that I have seen. In California, there has been legislation proposed to encourage computer science in elementary schools. I was able to consult with the Chief of Staff for the legislator that is authoring the legislation. Another piece of legislation that is making its way through the assembly is one that would allow districts to count computer science toward high school graduation. However, the computer science class must have the "C" designation for entrance to University of California/California State Universities. The computer science teachers will need to work as a team to get this new designation for their computer science classes.

    Last year I attempted to have one of my local assemblypersons pass a resolution to recognize "Computer Science Education Week." I was unsuccessful for 2013. However, I contacted local assembly people again and found one that was willing to propose the resolution. It is now making its way through the legislature for 2014.

    Do I feel the exposure of Computer Science through Hour of Code has increased the interest in computer science? I do. I want to keep this momentum going! I noticed on the Code.org website that there are six states, California included, that have legislation pending to make computer science count as math or science credit. I encourage you to visit the website and if you live in one of the states, click on the link and tell your representative that you support the legislation

    What changes have you noticed since Hour of Code?

    What have you been doing since Hour of Code to promote computer science? We need to keep to keep the momentum moving.

    What can you do?

    Myra Deister
    At-Large Representative

    Posted by cstephenson at 06:59 PM | Comments (1)

    March 13, 2014

    Why Would K-12 CS Teachers Want to Attend SIGCSE?

    These were my thoughts several years ago as I was headed to my first SIGCSE. It seemed on the surface a little intimidating when the majority of attendees and sessions dealt with college/university level computer science. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find that SIGCSE is the second best conferences I attend (the firs being the annual CSTA Conference)

    SIGCSE 2014 was the fifth time I have attended SIGCSE and there seemed to be more sessions and activities geared specifically toward K-12. I usually find, however that it is important to attend anything that piques your interest regardless of the intended audience.

    So here are my suggestions as you contemplate attending next year in Kansas City, Missouri.

    Look at all the workshops because many have high school (sometimes middle school as well) implications or are on different teaching tools that can be used in your classroom. Attending workshops are how I met many different people and gained experience with great tools for my classes. You spend three hours learning, collaborating, and sharing teaching practices. I highly recommend attending at least one your first year.

    Secondly, check out the Friday and Saturday schedule as this is when the sessions geared toward K-12 normally are. If you are a K-12 teacher and are only attending these days, there is a discounted HS rate as well. If you attend the full conference, you often find gems you would not otherwise know about. One of the best things that happened my first SIGCSE is I attended a paper session on using robots within CS courses. It was from the college perspective; however, I learned about a new robot called a "finch" and how it was going to be a cost effective option for those wanting to use robots. At that point it was still in beta testing but I in turn mentioned this to a local business that runs a computer camp in the summer. They were able to make a connection and help beta test the finches and, as a result, I also was able to use them. From there I was able to buy some for my classroom. Could I have still found out about the finch at a later time? Sure, but I had the benefit of listening to the creator, hearing the plan, and following it from its inception.

    Another great example is that information regarding the CS Principles course from the concept to the piloting has been showcased at SIGCSE. These are just a few of many examples of the benefit of SIGCSE.

    Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, are the relationships you build. While I will admit that the CSTA Summer Conference is the best place to collaborate with other CS K-12 teachers, SIGCSE is a great place to collaborate with community colleges, universities, and even other organizations. I have met several professors from universities in Ohio and have been able to continue conversations with them as well as work with them on some summer projects. This is the conference is where K-16 computer science educators can learn from each other and make valuable connections that they normally would not make.

    Stephanie Hoeppner
    CSTA 9-12 Representative

    Posted by cstephenson at 05:24 PM | Comments (0)

    March 11, 2014

    Grant Proposal Time and the Unexpected Benefits of CSTA Chapters

    It is that time of year again. All across the country computer science faculty members are preparing to submit their grant proposals. This means that they are also sending requests to CSTA for involvement in their grants and for letters of support to accompany their grant proposals.

    CSTA receives so many requests for grant project involvement and letters of support that we had to set up a protocol to deal with them all. The protocol defines three different kinds of CSTA engagement:

  • Principal or Co-Principal Investigator
  • Paid Subcontractor and
  • Letter of support.

  • Each of these is defined and although each involves a different process for making the request, the CSTA Executive Committee uses the same criteria to evaluate every request. These are:

  • The overall quality of the project (as described)
  • The extent to which the project is consistent with CSTA's mission
  • The extent to which the project forwards CSTA's goals and objectives
  • The extent to which the project will benefit CSTA members
  • The extent to which the curriculum goals of the project reflect CSTA's curriculum priorities and documents
  • The extent to which the project may or may not be in conflict with proposals that CSTA is submitting to the same or similar grant programs or institutions
  • Institutional membership in CSTA
  • These may seem like a lot of requirements for a letter of support but this is the only way to make sure that CSTA recommends only those projects that are worthy of the support of our 16,000 members and that we use our resources, including our reputation, to support those institutions that, in turn, support CSTA and its members.

    It is perhaps not surprising that the most important factor in CSTA's involvement in national, regional, and local computer science education projects is the phenomenal success of the CSTA regional chapters program. Thanks especially to the work of CSTA Chapter Liaison, Fran Trees, there are now more than 53 CSTA chapters in the U.S. and Canada and more are added each month.

    Many of these chapters are playing a direct role in several very large grants from the National Science Foundation's CE21 grants program. They are serving not just as peer-to-peer professional learning communities, but as centers for innovation, professional development, and advocacy. The chapters are also hot-houses of CSTA's blossoming leadership programs and exemplars of mutually-supportive relationships between K-12 educators and post-secondary faculty.

    Over the years, it has become increasingly easier to understand why the chapters prove so attractive to faculty members looking for grant partners. The chapters provide a direct link to teachers and students. They are a place where the ingenuity of research can meet the realities of classroom practice. The CSTA chapters provide an invaluable meeting of the minds for computer science educators of all levels.

    Since their inception, the chapters have also been perceived as providing an invaluable link between K-12 computer science educators and post-secondary mentors. But this weekend at SIGCSE, I learned that CSTA's chapters are being viewed in a new and unexpected way. They are increasingly seen as an important resource for post-secondary faculty who are similarly in need of mentoring. As Dale Reed from the University of Illinois Chicago noted: "As computer science faculty in universities, we know a lot about computer science but many of us have had absolutely no training in teaching. Being part of a CSTA chapter gives us access to people who can help us learn to be better teachers". As is true in the best cases, the mentoring goes in both directions.

    If you would like to become more involved on a CSTA chapter, feel free to contact me at:


    and I will introduce you to a wonderful community of practice.

    Chris Stephenson
    CSTA Executive Director

    Posted by cstephenson at 07:48 PM | Comments (0)