March 25, 2013

What' Not to Love About NYC Pilot Program

In February, I had the pleasure of attending Mayor Michael Bloomberg's announcement of the new Software Engineering Pilot Program for New York City schools. This program will begin in September, 2013, in 20 middle and high schools. It is a very interesting program in many ways, designed for students in grades 6 through 12. In the first year alone the curriculum topics include programming, embedded electronics, web design, e-textiles, robotics, and mobile programming. There are plans for elective courses in digital fabrication, 3-D printing, and animation.

What's not to love about this new program? Well, a few things.

First, the professional development does not yet exist for the teachers who will deliver the new curriculum. But somehow things are supposed to be in place by this summer.

Second, participating schools will have to apply for NY State Education Department approval, they don't start out with that approval. If they get approval, then graduating students will get a Career and Technical Education endorsement. While that endorsement can be very important for students, my reading of this is that the program is not considered an academic computer science track.

Third, this program does nothing to address two key issues that face the vast majority of states. Like many states, New York does not allow Computer Science to count as a math or science requirement for high school graduation. In addition, New York does not have any endorsement or certification for Computer Science teachers.

To be clear, I think it is wonderful that New York City is launching this new program, and I look forward to seeing how it works out. But I hope New York City will take advantage of the opportunity to provide significant leadership for the rest of the state, potentially pressuring the state Department of Education to make changes in how CS “counts”. I'd love to see elements of this program count toward students' math or science requirements, and align with either the Exploring Computer Science or CS Principles curricula. For now I'll just have to wait and see.

Valerie Barr
Candidate for College Faculty Representative

Posted by cstephenson at 06:29 PM | Comments (1)

March 22, 2013

Why am I Running for the CSTA Board?

Who am I and why am I running for the CSTA Board? I am someone who is deeply committed to computer science education. As an educator, as a software professional, and as someone who sees himself as a computer science education activist, I have been involved in the field of computer science my whole adult life. The field has been good to me and I want to give back. One way I believe I can give back is by working to support CS education and CS educators as a member of the CSTA board.

Roughly 18 years ago, following roughly 18 years working as a software professional, I entered the teaching profession. Over a 9 year period I taught computer science and computer usage to students from kindergarten through high school. Most of that time I taught high school computer science including the APCS course. During that time I was able to meet many wonderful teachers at professional development events and conferences around the country. In part that experience lead me to a 9 year sojourn back in industry where my job was to help CS educators with curriculum, some occasional hardware, some training and most of all a lot of free professional software. During this time I was able to meet with even more outstanding teachers, administrators and industry leaders in all parts of the country. This was an awesome learning experience for me. I have tried to share what I have learned with others as much as I can. I think we all need to share in order for the field of CS education to flourish.

These days I am back in the classroom trying to fill high school students heads with knowledge of and excitement for computer science. It is also time for me to get even more involved with CSTA. I have been involved in the CSTA Conference since the early years of the CS & IT Symposium as an attendee, as a speaker and a member of the program committee. I have attended and spoken at CSTA chapter meetings in several states as well. Today I feel that I can and should be even more active in the governance of the organization I respect very much.

With previous experience on education related boards (a school board, district budget committee) advisory board memberships for universities and career technical high schools and membership on working groups like the ACM/IEEE CS 2013 Curriculum task force, I bring significant experience to the CSTA Board; a working board if ever there was one. As an At large member of the Board it will be my responsibility to represent a broad cross-section of the CSTA membership. I feel as though it is a role for which I have been preparing for over the last several years. I hope you'll support me with your vote.

Alfred Thompson
At-Large Candidate for the CSTA Board

Posted by cstephenson at 03:10 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2011

Candidate: Gail Chapman

Last weekend I had the privilege to spend time with a young Latina woman, Jessica, who is currently a junior in high school, enrolled in the CS 1 course at her school, actively engaging in the college search and application process and considering a major in computer science. Presented with this opportunity I couldn't resist taking the time to find out more about what motivates her and what the key points were along the path to where she is now.

Listening to her story started me thinking about my own convoluted journey from high school Latin scholar and potential biology major to co-author of Exploring Computer Science and fierce advocate for equity and access to quality computer science education in K-12. Jessica's story was filled with forks in the road and potential "roads not taken". At each of those forks was a teacher/mentor who made a difference; some by what they said (or didn't say), some in more profound ways.

My story was also filled with those forks that included: High School Mathematics Teacher reconstituted to AP CS Teacher when the course was first introduced; Assessment Specialist for the AP CS exam and curriculum at ETS through 2 language changes (ah, yes, the language wars.); Coordinating professional development workshops and working with AP consultants at the College Board; and Director of Leadership and Professional Development at CSTA. And yes, for me there was also always a teacher/mentor who made a difference. Many of those people are current members of CSTA. In every case both for Jessica and for me came a sense of empowerment.

As educators we have opportunities to have a profound effect on future generations and also a great responsibility. Hundreds of seemingly small decisions and statements are made every day that can change the course for one student, a classroom, or a nation. The latest Taulbee survey shows an increase in the number of students in computer science and the number of computer science degrees granted. I hope that this seemingly good news doesn't stop the focus on K-12 computer science and in particular the focus on the need to broaden participation in computing. Broadening participation does not end with increasing numbers. As long as women and students of color continue to be underrepresented, we have much more work to be done. It is our shared responsibility.

If elected to the CSTA Board of Directors, I will work to ensure that equity is at the forefront of the decisions we make and continue to promote activities that empower teachers.

Gail Chapman
Candidate CSTA Board of Directors At-Large Representative

Posted by cstephenson at 12:52 PM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2011

Message from Dave Burkhart

Hello Everyone

As one of the candidates for the CSTA Board of Directors, I am writing to ask for your support in this election.

When someone is first elected to the CSTA Board of Directors, she or he might think that what we do is sit around and give our opinions, but my experience as a Director has taught me that this Board is different from those of organizations because it is a "working Board." This means that the Directors participate directly, not just in the policy making, but in managing projects and creating new resources intended to help us meet our mission and serve our members.

Serving as the Chair of the Membership Committee, I've come to realize not only how large our membership has become (more than 8300 members!) but how diverse. We have members from every level of education, from every kind of teaching situation, and from over 100 countries. So figuring out how to continually improve how we meet the needs of all of these members is a big job that requires hard work by both Board and staff members.

The Member Satisfaction Survey is one of the most concrete examples of how CSTA continually monitors the usefulness of our current projects, the needs of our members, and their suggestions for new resources and services. This survey (and your participation in it) allows us to ground our decisions and activities in real data. It also gives us a good idea of where to put future resources to provide more or improved member benefits.

As a candidate for the 9-12 Representative position, I promise that if I am elected, I will to continue to work to find new and better ways to serve your needs and to make sure that your voice continues to be a driving force for everything that CSTA does.

If you are a CSTA member, you should have received an email from ElectionBuddy that provides a link to the online election ballot. Please take the time to review the candidate materials:

and the information about the proposed changes to our by-laws:

And be sure to cast your vote before the election closes on May 1, 2011.

Thanks very much.

Dave Burkhart
Sheridan High School

Posted by cstephenson at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2011

Message from Patrice Gans

My name is Patrice Gans. I'm running for the position of K-8 Representative on the CSTA Board of Directors and would like to introduce myself and ask for your support.

I currently teach K-8 technology and computer science at the Fraser-Woods School in Newtown, CT. I am very interested in promoting computer science in K-12 education and believe we can achieve this by

  • increasing participation in CSTA from K-12 educators,
  • advocating for national educational standards which include computer science, and
  • creating a computer science curriculum which engages students in the elementary grades.

    I believe computer science, which is at the core of the development of new technologies, should be taught to all students. Teaching computer science is essential to the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills. Computers are an integral part of life in the 21st century, and our schools have an obligation to prepare our students for this future.

    As an elementary school technology teacher, it has become apparent to me that students develop their love for computers and their desire to explore their capabilities during their elementary school years.
    Traditionally, students are first exposed to computer science in high school AP computer science classes. However, I believe it is extremely important to grab students' attention long before their first AP course. Consequently, I believe that the age which students are taught critical computer skills is an important issue. Any venue which introduces younger students to basic programming concepts while, at the same time, igniting their curiosity and imagination would be an ideal addition to the elementary education curriculum.

    In regards to advocacy, we should push for legislation that requires computer skills in the K-12 curriculum. A bill had been proposed, The Computer Science Education Act (of 2010):

    but did not make it past committee. I believe a more united effort is needed for this to come to fruition.

    I have been working with my local CSTA chapter in Connecticut to advocate for computer science educational requirements. It would be an honor to have the opportunity to represent the K-8 community on a national level, and I'd greatly appreciate your vote during the CSTA board elections.

    Let's work together to make computer science a vibrant addition to our schools. Together we can be instruments for change for our students and society.

    Patrice Gans
    Technology Teacher
    The Fraser-Woods School

    Posted by cstephenson at 02:55 PM | Comments (1)

    April 01, 2011

    Candidate: Dr. Veronica McGowan

    Editor's Note: Candidates for the upcoming CSTA election have been invited to post brief blog statements so that members can have a chance to get to know them a bit better.

    Hello CSTA Members,

    I am running for the Collegiate Faculty Representative position on the CSTA Board and welcome correspondance with you. I am an assistant professor in the Computer and Business Information Systems Department at Delaware Valley College and highy invested in improving computer science education in American settings.

    I have taught computer science and have served as a grade level and special education teacher at various school districts in Southeastern Pennsylvania. I am certified in both Elementary Education and Special Education for grades K - 12. My industry experience was as a programmer for the Internal Revenue Service in Philadelphia. My primary academic focus is programming and Web design.

    I have recently graduated from Widener University's Doctoral Program in Academic Leadership. My dissertation addressed faculty perspectives on the effectiveness of the e-assessment tools of a content management system for improving selected student-based factors. My research interests include improving teaching and learning in computer science and mathematics classrooms, curriculum development, and educational technology strands such as course management systems, academic and institutional promotion and use of Webpages, and serving students in online settings.

    I also serve as the Post-Secondary Representative for the board of the Special Interest Group Computing Teachers of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and sit on the Editorial Review Board for the Journal of Computing Teachers and the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education.

    Thank you for reading my profile and have a pleasant conclusion to the spring semester,
    Veronica McGowan

    Posted by cstephenson at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)