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June 22, 2014

What YOU Think of CSTA

Once a year we send out a survey link to members. We alternate between a survey that focuses on the landscape of Computer Science education (the National Computer Science High School Survey) and one that focuses on how CSTA is doing to meet the needs of our membership.

As the chair of the Membership Committee, I had the fun task of compiling the results of the membership survey into information for the organization. Along the way, I read every single comment that our respondents wrote. One of them asked if this information would ever be made public, if he would ever get to see how everyone else answered these questions. So here are the highlights:

Why did you join CSTA?
To belong to a community dedicated to excellence in K-12 Computer Science education and for access to resources and instructional materials (tied at 73%). Followed by access to cutting-edge research about current teaching practices and technologies at 70% and preferred access to vital professional development opportunities such as national symposia and workshops at 63%. Having a say in the development of critical policies concerning curriculum, standards, and certification came in last at 53%.

Of all the resources that CSTA provides, which are the most useful to you? And the ranking is...
1. CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards and resources
2. Careers in computing resources (posters, brochures)
3. CSTA Regional/Chapter Workshops
4. CSTA Research (National Computer Science High School Survey)
5. Advocacy information
6. White papers (New Imperatives, Equity, Certification)
7. CSTA Annual Conference

The CSTA Board has a lot of good ideas of resources that would be useful to our members. We asked you to tell us which of our proposed membership benefits was most important. Here are the results:
1. More computer science curriculum resources
2. Regional conferences and workshops
3. Teacher mentorship program
4. More information for administrators
5. More brochures for students and parents
6. More classroom posters

What do you think of the Website, the Voice, the Advocate Blog?
Almost all members use the CSTA website "once in a while" and rated it "good" in all categories. Most of the respondents read the Voice, in fact only 38 respondents said they never read it. Of the respondents who do read it, most rated it "good" in all categories. This blog, however, did not fare as well. Almost half the respondents have never read the blog and 86% have never posted a comment. The half that have read it, rated it "good" in all categories.

How do you use the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards, the Crosswalk documents, and our research?
It turns out that there is still a significant population that is not aware of these resources or does not use them because they do not know where to find them. Thirty-five percent of respondents do not use the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards, and 63% of them indicated that they either are not aware of them or do not know where to find them. Only 21% of respondents have used the Crosswalk documents. The respondents who have not used them indicated that the reason was because they were not aware of them (56%) or do not know where to find them (26%). The results were similar for the research papers.

But, overall, what you do think of CSTA?
Only 1% of the respondents indicated that CSTA does not provide value to them as a professional. The same 1% would not recommend membership in CSTA to a colleague. Has membership in CSTA facilitated connections with other computer science educators? 63% say Yes!

Tammy Pirmann
School District Representative, CSTA Board of Directors
Chair of the Membership Committee

Posted by cstephenson at 08:55 PM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2014

What are you doing this summer?

The school year is ending soon. For some it is over. AP CS teachers are happy the AP exam is over and many of them are looking forward to the AP CS reading. Others are shaking their heads at the very idea of people being happy to attend an event where they will spend hours on end grading student work. For the most part all teachers are thinking about their summer break. There will be some real rest and recreation for some. Second or third jobs for others. And many are looking forward to professional development.

For me this summer means two big professional development events – ISTE and the Annual CSTA Conference (www.cstaconference.org). I expect to learn a lot at each of those events. I love formal PD events. Over the years I have learned and grown from many of them. They’re wonderful. But they are not my end all and be all. Informal learning is also important and useful.

One of the wonderful things about teaching computer science is the plethora of new programming languages and development tools. OK it does make it hard to keep up at times and we cannot and should not just adopt new things for the sake of adopting new things. On the other hand we have many opportunities to learn new things and bring new interests to our students.

Have you got a coding project you've thought would be interesting to use as a demo or assign to students? Or perhaps some new way of doing things that might get students interested? Perhaps mobile phone development or touch computing or maybe using a Kinect for user interfaces? Or web development/programming? Think about using a new tool or programming language to take something on over the summer. Just like for students, working on projects is a great way to learn something new.  Just be sure to choose a project that will be fun, interesting or solve a real problem you have so that you have lots of motivation to work at it.

Whatever you do to relax, rest, and recover from the school year try and learn something new as well. You and your students will both be better for it.

Alfred Thompson
At-large member
CSTA Board

Posted by cstephenson at 09:10 PM | Comments (3)

June 11, 2014

CSTA Annual Conference Reminder

If you haven't yet registered for the CSTA Annual Conference, time is running short. The conference takes place in St. Charles, Illinois (west of Chicago) on July 14-15. The deadline for reduced-rate housing is June 13 and online conference registration ends June 26. The full agenda for the conference, including keynotes and presentations, can be found at http://cstaconference.org. Be sure to check out the slate of outstanding workshops that are available in two sessions on Monday:

Morning Workshops:
* A Programming Approach to the CS: Principles “Data” Task
* Computational Thinking: from Game Design to STEM in One Week
* Developing CS Materials for the Guided Inquiry Classroom
* Introduction to Programming with Greenfoot
* Learning with TurtleArt
* Media Computation in Python (This workshop is FULL.)

Afternoon Workshops:
* Alice and Friends: Introducing Programming to Students, 5
* ArduBlock: Simple Yet Powerful Graphical Programming for Arduino
* Artbotics with Lego Mindstorms
* Introduction to Programming the HTML5 Canvas
* Mobile Computer Science Principles
* New Labs for the Advanced Placement Computer Science A Course (This workshop is FULL.)

Workshops are outstanding and affordable professional development opportunities, and if you register for two, you get a discount ($100 for two, versus $60 for one). We look forward to seeing you in July!

Register at www.cstaconference.org.

Dave Reed
Program Chair, CSTA Annual Conference
College Faculty Rep, CSTA Board of Directors

Posted by cstephenson at 08:25 AM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2014

A Note from the Chair of CSTA's Board of Directors

The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Lissa Clayborn as Acting Executive Director of CSTA. Lissa is CSTA's Director of Development and has worked closely with Chris Stephenson on CSTA projects and programs during the past three years and has over 18 years in non-profit management. Many CSTA members have collaborated with Lissa on various aspects of CSTA, including local chapter management and advocacy. Lissa assumed her duties as Acting Executive Director on May 24, 2014, after Chris Stephenson's departure from CSTA to work at Google on May 23.

The CSTA Board of Directors, in collaboration with ACM leadership, has begun the process of searching for a new CSTA Executive Director. Next steps in the process include:

i. The CSTA Executive Committee will develop an updated job description for the CSTA Executive Director.
ii. The CSTA Executive Committee will organize a search committee for the position.
iii. The position and the updated job description will be publicized through the many networks with which CSTA is associated.
iv. The CSTA Board of Directors will have ongoing discussions throughout the process.

Deborah Seehorn
CSTA Board of Directors Chair

Posted by cstephenson at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)