August 12, 2014

Report on the CSTA Annual Conference

This past July 14-15, 326 attendees converged on St. Charles, Illinois, for the 2014 CSTA Annual Conference. This number continues the impressive growth of the conference, representing a roughly 20% increase from 2013. On Monday, 12 professional development workshops were offered, six in the morning and six in the afternoon, with a total attendance of 386. Tuesday was filled with 24 presentations across a variety of topics, including a new feature this year: 20-minute mini-sessions that focused on innovative classroom practices. Keynote addresses by Yasmin Kafai and Michael Kolling were thought provoking and inspiring.

Putting together the conference is the joint effort of a large community. The program committee (Dave Reed, Doug Peterson, Duncan Buell, Tammy Pirmann, Philip East, Patrice Gans, Kristen Fisher, Dan Wheadon, and Chris Stevenson) has the challenging task of selecting the agenda for the conference, with the help of a large corps of reviewers. Lissa Clayborn and Tiffany Nash organized and ran the event logistics, and onsite volunteers, led by the Chicago and Chicago Suburbs CSTA chapters, kept everything running smoothly.

If you were able to join us in St. Charles, we hope you had an outstanding experience. If not, you can still take advantage of much of the professional development. Many of the speakers' slides are already posted on the CSTA Web site and more will be posted soon. In addition, many of the sessions were videotaped, including the keynotes, and these will also be going up on the CSTA site in early September. If you are looking for an activity for an upcoming CSTA chapter meeting, showing a session video and basing discussion on it is a great option.

We are always looking for your feedback and ideas to make your CSTA Annual Conference even better. Feel free to post your thoughts here, or contact a member of the program committee directly if you prefer.

Dave Reed
2014 CSTA Annual Conference Program Chair
College Faculty Rep, CSTA Board of Directors

Posted by cstephenson at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2012

Membership Benefits

CSTA has recently produced a brand new Members Benefit brochure. If you have not received a copy, you can access it by clicking on the Membership Information tab on the CSTA website.

Or- if, like me, you are terribly busy as it is the beginning of the school year and you do not hardly have time to read this blog, let alone, all the text in the brochure, let me sum it all up for you!

What Are Your Member Benefits in a Nutshell?

1) Communications
a. The Voice: bimonthly, relevant and engaging articles and classroom ideas
b. The Advocate Blog: ~1-2 times per week- sharing of new ideas and current issues
c. CSTA Connector: quarterly- keeps institutional members connected to key CS Education strategies
d. The Globe: quarterly e-newsletter for international members- provides global perspective on CS education

2) Curriculum Resources
a. Web Repository: searchable database of peer reviewed lesson plans
b. CSTA K-12 Science Standards: core set of learning objectives for computer science curriculum

3) Policy Resources
Five different documents designed to help YOU advocate for Computer Science Education at the local, state, and national levels. These, as well as other items such as an advocacy tool kit, can be found under the Advocacy/Outreach tab on the main CSTA Website.

4) Professional Development
a. CS&IT: the annual conference focused on K-12 CS Education
b. Professional Development Videos: includes presentations and panels from various CSTA Events
c. CS Snipits Podcasts: provide a quick look at interesting CS education topics or people.

5) Career Resources
Simply too many to mention by name, but that is a good thing! Items vary in design from career brochures, classroom posters, lesson plans, research on the latest in CS education, and promotion of CS Education Week. All items are accessible online and links to specific resources can be found embedded in the membership brochure!

So What now? Simple. Access and use some of your member benefits today! Keep in mind, to access some of these resources you will need to set up your ACM Web Account. If you have not already done this, instructions are available in the Member Benefit Brochure! We hope that you will take full advantage of the resources available to you in the quest to see CS Education expanded throughout the globe!

Mindy Hart
At-Large Representative
Membership Committee Chairperson

Posted by cstephenson at 02:48 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2011

Share Those Great Resources

Whew! I can almost hear the collective sigh as the school year winds down and wraps up for teachers across the country and throughout the CSTA membership (except for our friends in the Southern Hemisphere, of course).

I remember well those end-of-the-year activities of final exams, calculating grades, and boxing up the top of my desk until next September. And during the entire process of sorting and filing I found myself saying, "Gee, that was a great activity," or "My, the students really got the concept quickly with this project. I have to remember to use that one again next year!"

I suspect you will have many of the same recollections as you clear your desk over the next couple weeks. But instead of keeping those great activities and super projects all to yourself, share with your CSTA peers by submitting them to the CSTA Source Web Repository of K-12 Computer Science Teaching and Learning Materials.

Don't worry! We're not looking for super-polished documents. Just clear instructions of activities that you know work. Maybe you have step-by-step lab instructions, maybe the details of a team project, maybe a review activity, or maybe an assessment tool. It could be a single lesson or an entire unit. We want them all!

And the process is easy! Just fill in the short informational form and submit the documents online at:

Submissions are reviewed by a volunteer committee to ensure that they are relevant and pedagogically and technically sound before they are included the repository.

So, instead of filing away those instructional gems until next fall, share them with all of us. It is the neighborly CSTA thing to do!

Pat Phillips
Editor, CSTA Voice

Posted by cstephenson at 10:17 PM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2011

Choosing Conference Sessions

The CS&IT Annual Conference is coming up and I am getting more excited all the time. As a computer science teacher, it's always been the best professional development I attend, as every session has something designed for teaching computing. This event is thought-provoking, useful, and always interesting.

In the last few years, the model of creating the program has completely changed, and with the help of Program Chair Duncan Buell, I wanted to crack open the lid and let you see some of the magic.

First, multiple reviewers read each submission and rated each on several criteria including quality and relevance to the CS&IT audience. Each reviewer was assigned a random selection of submissions, so each submission was read by different reviewers, with overlap to improve inter-rater reliability. This is how many conferences handle reviews.

Second Duncan went through the top 35 proposals, looking for anomalies, such as cases where all reviews were high but one which brought down the average, to verify that the numbers were reasonable. He also tried to notice if particular reviewers had been uniformly harsh or uniformly easy in an attempt to reduce the effect of "the luck of the draw" of which reviewers reviewed which proposals.

Then he started working to figure out which of the top submissions would be in the final program: "In my experience, the first 6 to 10 of 20 would be fairly obvious. The next five or so might be reasonably easy to pencil in, and then it gets tough."

The goal is to have a diverse set of offerings from a diverse set of presenters. For example, two of the top 35 proposals were about the new AP Principles course. Given that we only have 20 sessions, the choice was made to offer only the top-rated proposal about AP Principles rather than having two sessions about the new AP and miss out on a presentation about something else. Some proposers submitted multiple ideas, and often only one was chosen, particularly when what looked like the same submission came in as a one-hour and three-hour option.

Finally the committee organized the top sessions into the program, whittling it down further to make sure that each time slot has a diverse set of offerings likely to appeal to different attendee populations.

I think they've done a wonderful job and I hope you will agree. If you haven't signed up yet, hurry up and do so! I look forward to seeing you in New York this summer.

Michelle Hutton
CSTA President

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

April 24, 2011

Don't Miss Your Opportunity to Decide CSTA's Future

The 2011 CSTA election is drawing to a close. As you are hopefully aware, this year's election has been run entirely online, providing unprecedented convenience to voters and significant savings to the organization compared to the days of paper ballots.

All of the election info, including the board candidates statements and proposed bylaws changes, have been up on the CSTA Web site:

since early March.

On April 4, more than 8,300 email ballots were distributed to CSTA members, with a personalized link to the ElectionBuddy election site for each voter. On April 25, reminder emails will be sent out to all members who have not yet voted, with the election ending one week later on May 2.

If you have not yet voted in the election, please take a few moments to do so before May 2. As this organization continues to grow, having the right people on the board and the right set of bylaws is essential. This is your opportunity to help decide the future of your CSTA.

The CSTA Board of Directors

Posted by cstephenson at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2011

What Do You Want and How Can We Help?

Recently, I was forwarded an email from one of our CSTA members asking for some help finding curriculum resources for teaching computer science in the classroom. It was refreshing and satisfying to be able to answer this teacher's email. Hopefully there will be some information in that email that will be of use to this teacher.

As the chairperson for the membership committee, I wish I received more emails of this type. What is it that our members want from CSTA? What curriculum resources are there that you need help identifying? I understand that we all would like more money for our programs, but there are great free resources that many of us use and are able to pass on to others.

Every two years, CSTA conducts a survey of its members to determine the importance of our current benefits, but sometimes just a person asking for help can be a better way of determining needs than a survey.

I encourage our members to use this blog as a way to ask for help.

What kind of resources are you looking for?

How can CSTA help you out?

Let us know!

Dave Burkhart
CSTA Membership Chairperson

Posted by cstephenson at 12:41 PM | Comments (3)

January 05, 2011


At the end of the year, it is customary to reflect upon what has been accomplished during the year. Since it is near that time I thought it might be a good time to reflect upon some of the things that CSTA as an organization has accomplished.

CSTA chapters are growing and continue to support CSTA members locally. Chapters are meeting regularly and planning meetings that are pertinent to their members. The CSTA Leadership Cohort has been instrumental in developing strong chapters. The number of chapters has increased this year as well as membership in CSTA.

In July, CS & IT, CSTA's annual conference, showed a strong attendance even in the face of tough economic times. With assistance from Google, Microsoft Research and Anita Borg Institute, teachers had many excellent workshops to choose from. In fact, many teachers asked for the symposium to be extended to two days. The planning for next year's event is well under way and it will be a three-day conference. If you have expertise to share, I encourage you to submit a proposal. Submittal information is on the CSTA website at:

CS Education Week, which is celebrated during the first full week in December, was very successful. The Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine and CSTA created 5 short videos that could be used during morning announcements or in individual classrooms to highlight the many opportunities computer science provides. CSTA also made available an audio announcement that could be used for schools that do not have video capabilities. One additional resource was a sports poster that CSTA made available to its membership which was also designed to draw attention to computer science.

I have only touched on a few of the accomplishments of our organization. None of this could have been successful without the leadership of our executive director, Chris Stephenson, and the many others that have devoted their time to each of these activities. This is the time to say thank you to all of those who have contributed to this organization and its accomplishments. But there is still more to do. We need to continue to work toward advocacy for computer science. For ideas about what you can do, read Shemeka Shufford's recent blog posted on December 22.

Myra Deister
CSTA Board Member

Posted by cstephenson at 01:24 PM | Comments (1)

July 16, 2010

More Attendee Reflections on CS&IT

By Hélène Martin

This blog piece is posted with the permission of Hélène Martin who posted it it first on her blog

Yesterday was a long day well spent at Google headquarters for the Computer Science Teachers Association's annual Computer Science & Information Technology Symposium. It was a fairly modest gathering. I think there were about 200 of us (soon to be 10,000) but a lot of great folks came out and there were fantastic conversations inside and outside of sessions.

Spaf on Soup to Nuts

Gene Spafford, of security fame, kicked things off with a keynote covering interesting puzzles to get students thinking out of the box as well as ideas on how to inspire students by showing them what can be done with computer science. Examples included training soldiers with Segway-based robots and discovering security holes that make power plants vulnerable to cyber attacks. Overall, it was an interesting, engaging talk. There was a lot I recognized from Ed Lazowska's talks and materials I already use which I found comforting in some way.

Code as a Metaphor for Computational Thinking

I then went to Owen Astrachan's Code as a Metaphor for Computational Thinking session. As he opened, he said he'd let us decide whether the talk was actually about computational thinking because he wasn't sure. Interesting to hear him say that. I have a hard time with the "computational thinking" label because I haven't seen a satisfying explanation of what it is. The talk was centered on three examples that involved reasoning about existing computational artifacts, writing some related code and then analyzing that code. At one point, he said something to the effect of "if you don't write code in class, students won't know how to do it." I appreciated that and do believe that there's something very powerful about seeing a (relative) expert go through the process of writing a program, making mistakes, verifying it, using tools like IDEs appropriately, etc. I'm very suspicious of instructors who talk about code without demonstrating how to write anything.

The first example he discussed involved online gambling. He started by mentioning that it's a good place to talk about the legal code as it relates to computing. Its also a good opportunity to show some interesting code for labeling hands. He showed us a flawed example of an "isPair" function that returned true even when the hand should really be considered a triple or better. We talked through different ways of resolving this issue and lots of good design ideas came out. My only concern would be that poker tends to be a high-income, white, nerdy male sport…using this example would require careful thought on how to present it without alienating anyone. I don't really know poker and my first reaction was "yawn" though I warmed up to it once we got to the code. There really are interesting things that come up, here. One audience member suggested that the problem could be fixed by always calling the hand-testing functions in order of highest-scoring to lowest-scoring. True, but Michael Kolling of Greenfoot fame rightly pointed out that functions should work regardless of the context in which they're called. This is a good type of conversation to have with and between students. Students can then implement all the hand-scoring functions and compare their runs to expected probabilities, using those to evaluate whether their implementations are correct. That's an idea I really like.

Owen's second example involved Tin Eye, a search engine that lets you upload a picture and find instances of it regardless of size, compression, format, etc. It's interesting to speculate on how it works and to try to discover the limits of its tolerance. For example, Owen suggests that we ask students to use steganography functions to hide an unrelated image into a target image then see whether Tin Eye still recognizes the target. What if more of the target image were replaced? What if part of the image were cropped? One could do something similar with Shazam, a tool for recognizing songs. I like the "let's figure this out" feel of this example.

Finally, he discussed an example from the "code of life," finding repeated DNA substrings. This is an interesting algorithmic problem that can be discussed free from code and eventually be written as an exercise. The discovery for me was that Duke has a small set of problems with test sequences available here. I don't know what computational thinking is, but what Owen discussed were definitely examples of it.

Pre-AP Recruiting

The next session I attended, "How does your geek garden grow? Identifying and cultivating the geeks of tomorrow (AP CS Feeder Course)" left a sour taste in my mouth. The speaker argued that we need to be better at communicating with math teachers and counselors to tell them that we are in fact looking for the bored, disinterested students at the social fringe who never do their homework. The reason for this is that they may make great 'geeks,' which is the type of person the tech industry wants to hire. Maybe my thinking is clouded by the luxury of having lots of motivated, social students who want to take my courses but I really do want to target the leaders, the social butterflies, the high-achievers as much as possible. Of course, I want my courses to be inclusive of all, but I feel that targeting unmotivated students at the social fringes is a pretty desperate move and not one I think will do a lot for the image or success of K-12 Computer Science. The speaker's suggestion for getting those unmotivated students is to tell them that they'll make video games, that there will be no homework and that they'll pass if they play along.

This makes me uncomfortable but the speaker did report that this tactic has resulted in students finding something that they're good at and continuing on to be successful in her AP class. That, I think, is a real victory and something to be celebrated so I'm a little torn. It's possible that faced with low enrollment and a lack of strong students I would do the same thing.

A common theme in the talk was "let students do what they want to do so you don't lose them." The course she described seemed like everything but the kitchen sink and heavy on the tools (Visual Basic, Java, Scratch, Alice, Gamemaker) my head was spinning just thinking about it! Where I tend to opt for structured play and predictability, she really opens things up for students to experiment. It's a matter of philosophy and I wish I could go see how things play out in her classroom.

One thing I really appreciated from this talk was getting some good reminders about where teenagers are in their development while they're taking our courses. They're identity-building and striving to find areas they're successful in so we can have a very powerful effect by providing them with experiences that reinforce their sense of self.

Emmanuel Schanzer's talk on Functional Videogame Programmingwas the day's discovery and I'm glad Michelle Hutton encouraged me to see it. Emmanuel's project, Bootstrap , is a full curriculum for using Scheme to bolster algebra learning. I think I'm going to ruminate on this one and write about it later.

Digitizing The World

The last session I attended was by two teachers from CSTA's board of directors, current president Michelle Hutton and past president Robb Cutler. They presented extensions on a cool CS Unplugged activity on image representation. Michelle's middle school girls "digitized" color images using graph paper and a color key. They discussed different algorithms for choosing the color to put in one square and changing the grid size allowed them to discuss tradeoffs between storage space and fidelity. I like it. Then, they extended the exercise further by using points to digitally represent 3D objects. Robb wrote a tool to interpret simple formatted text files and display the objects or scenes so they can be interacted with. Michelle had her students represent Lego shapes and their classroom. In a blog post about the exercise, she recounted one student's inability to believe in her own success (spacial orientation exercises are generally more difficult for we ladies).

I liked their idea of giving "programming-like experiences." I'll have to see whether there's a way I can adapt the activity or something like it for my high schoolers. I was also very impressed that Robb was modifying the tool and the text file's syntax as the girls requested features. Their requests ranged from function-like syntax (reusable blocks) to naming the tool after them. Participating in this "client" way must definitely have given the girls a sense of the power of programming and I'd like to see whether I can replicate that experience somehow.

Megan Smith of

Our closing keynote was by Megan Smith, in charge of She discussed .org initiatives including Flu Trends, RechargeIT, Clean Energy 2030, and PowerMeter and tied those nicely to generating excitement in our students about computer science. She's an excellent speaker and closed the day well. Valerie Barr, an inspirational instructor who has revamped the CS1 courses at Union College, mentioned that Google is hurting computer science by calling its employees "engineers." The same point was made to Marissa Mayer when she gave the keynote talk at SIGCSE in 2008. Megan had a good response but I now read that she's not a computer scientist at all but a mechanical engineer! The problem may be partly on the computer science side as we still haven't defined our field very well. Engineering brings to mind creativity, construction, collaboration and even I'm not sure what CS should make me think of.

Overall, a positive, inspirational day leaving me with lots of food for thought and wishing I could have spent more time with so many people I admire and enjoy speaking with.

Hélène Martin
CS&IT Attendee

Posted by cstephenson at 05:13 PM | Comments (2)

July 14, 2010

2010 CSIT Symposium

By Doug Peterson

This is a reposting of a blog piece written by Doug Peterson on his blog

Yesterday, I had the honour of attending the 2010 CSIT Symposium in Sunnyvale, CA. This symposium is hosted by the CSTA (Computer Science Teachers Association) which is sponsored by Google, Microsoft Research, and the Anita Borg Institute. This is one of the events that Computer Science and Information Technology teachers need to attend. Circle it and put it on your calendar. It's an experience like no other. Often Computer Science teachers are the lonely runner in their schools so it's so invigorating to be in a room with 200 others with a similar passion for a subject discipline.

The event travels from region to region in the United States and I have been a member of the organizing committee and presented sessions from at least 2002. The memory does fail over the years but the internet and the archival process makes sure that you can always dig back to relive things. That sure bailed us out as we were trying to put things in historical perspective yesterday. We all agreed that there was one year when we offered two Symposia but were really pressed to remember when or where!

This year's event was held at the Google Headquarters in Mountain View which added a whole new level of attraction to Computer Science teachers. Excited at the prospect, we were shuttled from the hotel to the event. This was one of those things that you didn't know what to expect but I didn't expect this. I expected Silicon or at least a Valley or something. But, no, our approach took us to a very heavily forested area with very understated signs in front of the buildings. Even as I got out of the shuttle, I was wondering if we were even in the right place.

But, we were, and the very friendly folks wearing Google golf shirts escorted us to the second floor meeting room for the opening session (and breakfast). Unlike many businesses, the meeting room wasn't separate from the rest of the place. We weaved our way through couches and meeting rooms and cubicles and offices or people already working hard at whatever they were doing. You knew right away that you were in the absolute middle of everything. On the drive over, I had a discussion with a college teacher from Los Angeles who taught media and had his camera and iPhone at the ready to grab some footage for his class. I had my very best camera tucked away in my computer bag to get some evidence of my own. Both of us immediately had the sense that we'd better seek permission first and expectedly were told not to record anything in the building. That's only fair as throughout the building there were white boards with code brainstormed on them at the various informal meeting places. Of course, you could only guess as to what the content was. Perhaps it was all red herrings for interlopers?

The participants of the day were treated like royalty. At every turn, there was a Google staff member there to answer questions or guide you to where you needed to be next . This really isn't a convention centre; it's a place of work and we were just using space that was available for the day. We were truly in the heart of everything.

Armed with a coffee, the day started with a presentation about "Soup and Nuts" from Eugene Spafford. I think it's cool when your keynote is referenced by everyone by his nickname! His session dealt with thinking outside of conventional thought and really pushing your mind. Once our minds had been limbered up, we dug into some of the serious issues of the day like privacy and security. I had thought that a serious talk like that would be a downer and it might be in some other camps. For us, it was an inspiration and an affirmation of the importance of Computer Science as a discipline.

My first concurrent session was a tough choice. I wanted to know more about XNA game programming and Computer Science contests but Dana Nguyen from Google was doing a presentation on the whole concept of Google Applications for Education. I've been following this with interest and we're at Google so you can't miss the opportunity to hear about the project first hand. Her presentation was vibrant and took us into many areas of the applications that I'd known about but really hadn't experienced first hand. Of real interest was the free use of Postini within the suite of applications. I found her treatment of the myths of Google Apps particularly helpful.

Then, it was my turn to present. Where's my room? Hah! There was no room. It was a formal presentation area right on a main thoroughfare through the buildings. As I unzipped my computer bag, there was a young lady from Google there to set it up for me. Power cords are permanently stationed at the podium as well as the Mac to VGA dongle. I realized that this country boy was in the big city. I had gone and purchased my own dongle and was prepared to do things by myself. Geez! The presentation area was spectacular with a couple of overhead mounted data projects for the audience and a ceiling mounted flat screen for the presenter to see. The only little glitch was in the transition to the video. My sleeping computer with Prezi ready to go didn't play well with the settings on the data projector but that wasn't a show stopper. It was just a moment and we were good to go. Audience was about 50-60 permanently there but it was weird to have Google employees walking through the pathways with their laptops and just drop in to watch. Those that couldn't find a seat just sat on a couch across the pathway. All in all, they added about another 20 bodies by the time that I was through my presentation "Web that Works".

We ate lunch outside buffet style on picnic tables covered with some of the brightest white table cloths that I've ever seen. It was a gorgeous day with bright sun and just a perfect setting that could have lasted all afternoon but it was back for PD for me.

I attended Pat Phillips and Alfred Thompson's session on "Web Design and Development: A Key to a Growing Program" where Pat introduced us to Microsoft's Expression Studio software. It was interesting to see the group's reaction to the concept of free. Poor Pat explained over and over that Microsoft is making campus licenses available to qualifying schools. We did finally get to the nuts and bolts and got to see a bit of the software in action. This replacement for Frontpage packs a great deal of power into a single product. It's going to take some time to play around and master.

The final breakout was a real treat. Just a couple of days ago, Google had announced a new product called the App Inventor which is a visual programming environment for the Android operating system. It looks a great deal like Scratch but accesses the components of Android like the motion detector and camera. While I had signed up on the website to get access to the resource, "for this day only", if we sent a Gmail message we'd be upgraded immediately. You don't have to offer twice. I'm there and, with the rest of the group, we built a simple little Android application. What a cool concept for Computer Science. Imagine having a class set of phones that the students can program? No phones? Well, there's always the emulator!

The final session was an inspirational talk from Megan Smith that all educators, not just Computer Science teachers, needs to hear. It's a reminder that we live in a huge global community and we need to be aware of it all. Through the use of Google's data management and visualization tools, we can truly see the social issues. We also were introduced to the things that Google is doing to try and make things better world-wide. It was just wow. You couldn't help but sit there humbled and overwhelmed with all that was presented. For me, there were two issues that stood out. One was the time lapse imagery of the cutting of the rainforests. The second was a visualization of searches world-wide noting who is using Google services and who wasn't. Of particular focus was the mapping of where submerged cable exists and how entire countries are bypassed and, as such, the citizens deprived of the opportunity to be connected.

The day came to a close too quickly. There was so much there that this could easily have been a week long event. Some folks are going back for a tour of the entire Google campus this morning but my trip home precludes me from joining. It would have been a really nice way to cap the experience. In a really nice tribute move, CSTA President gave a special recognition to Lillian Israel and Chris Stephenson who are the driving forces to keep this event relevant and an important priority year after year.

Doug Peterson
CSTA Member

Posted by cstephenson at 07:21 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2010

CSTA Members Speak Out

By Dave Burkhart

Earlier this year, the CSTA membership was asked to complete a survey rating the membership benefits offered by CSTA. Over a thousand members completed the survey. Here are a few highlights from that survey:

* 92% of our members said they would recommend CSTA membership to their colleagues
* 84% s our members said their CSTA membership provides professional value
* 79% of the members surveyed feel that it is very important to belong to a group dedicated to excellence in K-12 Computer Science Education
* 91% of the members are pleased with the information offered to them in the Voice
* 86% of the members surveyed say that it is very important for CSTA to provide curriculum materials.
* 81% of the members who read the Advocate Blog are happy with the materials presented
* The CS&IT Symposium is the most visible professional development event for CSTA.

The one thing that really confuses us about the result, though, is the number of our members who are not aware of many of their member benefits. For example, 87% of our members were not aware that they could request copies of our brochures and posters!

When someone joins CSTA, they receive a brochure outlining all of their benefits. We also highlight new benefits on our website and Facebook page.

Can you think of ways that would help us make our CSTA members more aware of their member benefits?

Dave Burkhart
CSTA Membership Chair

Posted by cstephenson at 08:36 PM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2010

The 2010 CSTA Elections

By Steve Cooper

For the first time, CSTA used on-line voting for determining its representatives to the Board of Directors. I'd first like to start by congratulating the winners of the contested elections:

Duncan Buell: University Representative
Myra Deister: At-large Representative
Deborah Seehorn: State Department Representative

But the main point of this blog post is to discuss my experiences with the process of on-line voting.

The process used was to send the membership a SurveyMonkey URL where they could go to vote. The URL was "public" in that anyone could go to that URL to vote. The voting occurred over a specified period of time, and at the end of that time, the survey was closed. To vote, an individual was asked for their name and e-mail address. The ballot form contained a significant amount of information provided by each candidate and radio buttons which the voter could use to cast her or his vote for the candidate in each position.

At the end of the election, the list of voters was reviewed. The database of all of the ballots (stripped of voting information) was checked to identify duplicates by name, email address, and ip address. Each ballot was then individually checked again against the CSTA membership database (by both name and email address) to make sure that the ballot was cast by a member in good standing. For individuals who had voted more than once, their last (in terms of a time stamp) non-blank ballot was counted. Non-members' votes were discarded. (We did identify several cases where a member attempted to vote twice. And, there were several votes from non-members.) We then sent each member who voted an email asking them to let us know if they did not actually vote. A few members emailed us to indicate that they had not voted but when they were given the ip address and timestamp for their vote, they realized they were mistaken and that they had, in fact submitted the ballot. Only one member indicated that he/she had not cast a ballot and that ballot was removed.

There were a lot of positive aspects about the on-line elections. CSTA saved money by not needing to mail out position statements and ballots. We could ask the candidates to respond to several questions, and could make those responses available to the membership. It was also much easier to tally the votes.

In all, I believe that the voting process was fair. (I welcome criticism from those who believe the process we followed was not fair.) I was not 100% happy with the process, as a lot of work was required to check the ballots and contact all of the members who had voted to confirm that they did, in fact, vote. The filtering out of the invalid ballots turned out to be reasonably straightforward to accomplish, but a simpler solution would be desirable. Next year, we may try an alternate solution (ideally one that is free or nearly free). I welcome suggestions about alternative solutions to try. But do keep in mind that any solution must ensure the anonymity of votes. As elections chair, I do not want to know how any particular member voted.

Steve Cooper
Elections Chair

Posted by cstephenson at 11:43 AM | Comments (4)

April 19, 2010

Tennessee Moving Forward on CSTA Chapter

By Jill Pala

Tennessee is talking! Well, at least in a very small corner of Tennessee, Chattanooga to be precise, the community of Computer Science Educators is beginning to grow.

After the summer leadership cohort workshop in Chicago, I was excited to start working on the CSTA initiatives in my own state, but also a little overwhelmed. As a teacher at a private school, I was very much in my own bubble and had no idea what sort of CS programs were in place at other private schools or the Tennessee public schools. I decided to start small and make my first goal to identify teachers of Computer Science and other computing disciplines in my city and try to find enough people to start a local CSTA chapter. I figured I could deal with the state level later.

Then of course school started and any hopes of identifying and gathering these like minded individuals faded for a few months. Finally I found time to start calling around, and I was able to make contact with Dr. Joseph Kizza, the head of the Computer Science Department at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I hit the jackpot! Dr. Kizza was not only very willing to host our meetings and participate in our chapter, he also had contacts with other K-12 teachers in the area! We arranged a first meeting to discuss chapter formation in February, and we had a whopping 4 people show up. Not to be discouraged, we had a great discussion about the purpose of a CSTA Chapter and what it would take to start the chapter, and decided to schedule another meeting in March to try to get more people to join us. Before the next meeting I went to the web sites of a few more local schools and found the people listed as Computer teachers and sent emails inviting them to our meeting, too. Our next meeting had 6 people attend! And only 3 were the same as the first meeting! Whoo hoo! We have enough to start a chapter!

In total we have identified 9 teachers from 7 different institutions interested in beginning our CSTA chapter. We keep trying new days and times to see if we can find the most accommodating meeting time. Our next meeting is April 12, and we plan to elect chapter leadership and finalize the chapter paperwork. Best of all, it is so wonderful to finally get a chance to talk to local people about our struggles and triumphs that we all face in our own schools. We're really excited to get our Chattanooga CSTA chapter off the ground, and we can't wait to grow even more. In fact, this year at SIGCSE in Milwaukee, I met another Tennessee teacher, Laine Agee from Memphis, who is chomping at the bit to start advocating for CSTA at the state level. We're hoping that we can figure out a way to skype her in to our Chattanooga CSTA meetings, or even help her start identifying other teachers in her neck of the woods to start a Memphis CSTA chapter!

What strategies have you used to advocate for computer science education locally or at the state level?

Jill Pala
CSTA Leadership Cohort Member

Posted by cstephenson at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2010

CSTA Membership Survey Raffle Winners

By Dave Burkhart

Two CSTA members who completed the 2009-10 Membership Satisfaction Survey have been selected as the winners of our member survey raffle.

Deboarah Gilliam of Alma J. Brown school in Grambling, LA and Elaine Adams of Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School in Hollidaysburg, PA have each won a Flip video camera. In total more than 1400 CSTA members participated in the survey.

The survey, conducted every two years, is of great importance to CSTA because it not only gives us with a better idea of how well we are currently serving our members, but also provides key data that will be used to refine current projects and launch new member benefits over the next two years.

It will take us a while to crunch through all of the numbers, but the results of the survey will be reported in an upcoming issue of the CSTA Voice.

On behalf of CSTA, I would like to personally thank all of our members who took the time to participate in our survey and so provide us with their insight and suggestions.

Dave Burkhart
CSTA Membership Chair

Posted by cstephenson at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2009

Leadership Cohort Ohio Update

I decided to read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell as it was recommended to me by several people. That in turn let me to read his first book Tipping Point. This may seem a little unrelated to CS but bear with me.

Tipping Point addresses how epidemics get started from certain fashions to widely accepted thoughts. The idea is that there are these critical people that help "tip" things. They are people who are good salesmen or who are connected in many different circles of influence. Here is where I started thinking about the leadership cohort and what we are trying to do.

Someone referred to the leadership cohort as a grass roots movement in CS Education. I think this is a reasonable description and I started thinking about how to get to our tipping point. When does CS Education become a trend or a popular catch phrase in education?

Those of us in the leadership cohort were all trained in advocacy for different stakeholders, but everyone concerned about computer science education deals with some set of stakeholders every day. If I may stretch this a little further when we are presenting to stakeholders or deciding who to approach perhaps we need to also consider what type of person they are. Taking cues from the book we need connectors, mavens, and salesmen on our side. I think it might be as important to look at the type of person we are approaching as well as what type of stakeholder they are.

If we can find those people that can sell or influence what we are trying to promote and educate people on, we can have our tipping point. We need to find stakeholders who can get excited about computer science and then pass it on for us. I have found in my own experiences this past year that while I am working with different stakeholders it has been much more successful with people that have a passion like mine and who have some type of influence. It really has been more about the particular person than what level of stakeholder they are.

I think we are all headed in the same direction for that "one voice" for CS Education and I am just looking at ways to keep progressing. Sometimes outside sources such as the book Tipping Point can influence the way we go about things. I am not promoting that we all have to read the book but just that we need to think about different ways to approach our stakeholders and evaluate what they can do for us.

Hopefully we all find the right people to help us as we move forward!

Stephanie Hoeppner
CSTA Leadership Cohort Member (OH)

Posted by cstephenson at 05:32 PM | Comments (1)

September 15, 2009

Report from the AZ Leadership Cohort

I am fortunate that my fellow Arizona representative on the Leadership Cohort, Renee Ciezki, is a friend from the same school district. Although this has probably limited our vision a little, it has made it very easy to communicate. It also turns out that we share many common values about teaching and CS. So during our Cohort training we were able to quickly get on the same page and form a concrete set of goals that we wished to pursue. I would encourage cohorts to develop a strong partnership with one another as much as geography allows.

The natural starting point for us was getting the chapter established, so we made this a big priority. As I recall, about 8-10 people attended our informational meeting, and several others expressed a strong interest but could not attend. We immediately got started on the chapter creation process and we were officially recognized in early February. We had agreed to meet every other month at different venues in the Phoenix metro area to try to accommodate teachers in various parts of town. In April, several of us were in Tucson for an FBLA conference, so we held a meeting there to reach out to teachers in that part of the state.

This was all very exciting of course, and I think Renee and I both felt like we had accomplished a number of our goals. However, at the end of the (school) year when it was time to actually evaluate our state of affairs, we were a little surprised. It turns out that we hadn't actually looked at our "goals document" in many months! As the chapter came together and began to establish its own initiatives, Renee and I got caught up in those, and I guess in our minds those efforts became our goals for the year. There was never a moment when we consciously abandoned our Cohort goals, of course; I think our CSTA efforts in general just blurred together. The net effect of this is that we failed to make much headway on the Cohort goals we had set when we went through the training.

I don't think the Chapter work needs to be completely distinct from our goals as cohort members, but in our case the two happened to be very divergent. As cohort members, we had set goals relating to advocating the importance of CS education, while as a Chapter we wished to work on professional development opportunities. So it becomes a question of priorities. Time that we spend on chapter activities is time we don't have to spend on our advocacy goals.

The summary here is that there is enough work for everyone in the effort to expand and improve CS education. While we as cohort members need to continue to remind ourselves of the advocacy goals we have set and work toward them, there are many other activities that need attention. As cohort members reach out to the CSTA membership in each state, we encourage you to get involved. Everyone can make a contribution.

Tim McMichael
CSTA Leadership Cohort Member (AZ)

Posted by cstephenson at 04:13 PM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2009

What is CSTA?

The Computer Science Teachers Association has come a long way since its fledgling days after its founding in 2005.

The area I am most proud of is our membership. From the very beginning, CSTA has been about building community among computing teachers and the people who care about them. Our 7300+ members range from elementary school teachers through graduate school professors. Through the Leadership Cohort, local communities have started to form. Each chapter has members from the K-12 and university arenas.

One of CSTA's great strengths is its volunteers. Every single CSTA resource was created by a group of dedicated volunteers who gave their time and expertise to provide something of value for the community. The original steering committee who created the organization has evolved into a fully elected Board of Directors that encompasses representatives from all levels of education; all of whom give hours of their time each month to guide the organization. CSTA is also fortunate to have an Advisory Committee of experts from education, industry, and government who provide us with a broad perspective for all of our activities.

CSTA continues to host a number of key events that provide offer professional development for our community. The Computer Science & Information Technology Symposium has a ten-year track record. It has become the premier national professional development event for K-12 computer science and information technology teachers.

In an effort to provide more local access to professional development and community, CSTA also continues to work with in partnership with colleges and universities to provide workshops through the Teacher Enrichment in Computer Science program. We expect that this program will continue to expand as more local CSTA chapters are formed. Last year we have held two workshops (one at Google and one at SIGCSE) to help colleges and universities improve their outreach to K-12.

CSTA also continues to focus on providing key benefits to its members, including the CSTA Voice, copies of CSTA white papers, classroom posters, careers brochures, and curriculum resources just to name a few.

And because the needs and concerns of our field are greater than any one organization, CSTA is also building strong partnerships across the community, with groups such as ACM SIGCSE,the Anita Borg Institute, the National Center for Women in Information Technology, the College Board, and the National Science Foundation.

If you are a member, thank you for continuing to support us in all of these efforts. If you are not yet a member, come be part of this vibrant and dedicated community! You can join online at:

Michelle Hutton
CSTA President

Posted by cstephenson at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2009

The Path to Forming CSTA of Ohio

Fellowship and community are the central foundations for the Computer Science Teachers Association of Ohio. The 2008-2009 academic year has been one of building collegial networks. ''

Several informal meetings were held throughout the school year with the goal of forming a CSTA chapter in Ohio. The first phase occurred in October and November of 2008. We held two meetings in central Ohio. During these meetings we discussed the future of computer science, recruitment of students, curricular issues, forming partnership with local businesses in order to support the technology revolution, certification requirements, and shared exemplary projects. Fourteen teachers attended at least one of these meetings. And talk about a diverse group: a couple of teachers nearing retirement; one first year teacher, teachers from both public and private schools; a college professor, and one teacher from a high school career center.

A third informal meeting was held in late January. Interest was spreading as just two people had attended one of the previous meetings. Topics of conversation were brainstorming on funding for our programs and labs, student recruitment and retention, cool projects, and we discussed course content. To this point, we had had personal contact with at least 20 computer science/information technology teachers and professors. We felt we were progressing nicely toward our goal of forming an Ohio chapter of CSTA. This being said, we really did not know how many people to expect at our next scheduled event, which was at the eTech Ohio Educational Technology Conference.

Prior to the conference we had established contact with conference representatives and were granted approval to dedicate one of the three conference days for computer science projects and initiatives. Several CSTA members presented topics such as Scratch, robotics, CS Unplugged, and shared cool projects in an introductory graphical technology course. At the conclusion of the day we held another informal meeting in which we shared the current goals of CSTA, recruited new members, and discussed the need to reduce travel time for meetings. We decided to have regional hubs and meet via video conference.

The first video conference was held in March with two different sites, one in northern Ohio and the second in central Ohio. Our main objective was to initiate formal conversations to form at least one Ohio chapter. We decided that we would have one more meeting in May (after the AP test) to complete the chapter application process.

Our most recent meeting was held on Wednesday, May 13th, again utilizing regional hubs for video conferencing. Officers were elected via Survey Monkey. The application was completed and accepted this summer! CSTA of Ohio has been formed and will have the first official meeting in September.

One of the things we discovered was that Skype is great for use when 2 sites are involved, but if more than 2 sites are used the conference will be audio only. They are working on video streaming up to six for free, but it wasn't ready in May. If this still is not complete, we will probably try using Oovoo instead of Skype.

Angie Thorne
CSTA Leadership Cohort (Ohio)

Posted by cstephenson at 11:06 AM | Comments (1)

July 17, 2009

Second Leadership Cohort Workshop

We just finished up a trip to Chicago for the second Leadership Cohort workshop. Going back for the second time help us to solidify many of the ideas that we put into practice over the last year.

At this second CSTA Leadership Cohort Workshop, teachers from 31 states were kept very busy exchanging ideas and strategies for computer science (CS) education advocacy. We had the privilege of being a part of wonderful conversations taking place between diverse groups of people with different state issues. Discussions involved how to best advocate to teachers, district personnel, community, and professional groups all the way up to legislative members.

Probably the greatest outcome from the workshop is that there were teachers from K-12 addressing issues together in a positive, forward-thinking process. Teachers from the Midwest were working through solutions with those from the East coast as well as other regions. All of us came together with the larger issue of promoting CS education regardless of specific situations in local schools or states. While there will always be passionate differences in CS education, for three days everyone was focused in the same direction with a common goal: promote and grow CS education.

It is great to be a part of an organization that makes leaders of its members!

Your four faithful friends

Renee Ciezki,
John Harrison,
Stephanie Hoeppner,
Deepa Muralidhar

CSTA Senior Leadership Cohort Members

Posted by cstephenson at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2009

Wisconsin Leadership Cohort Update

Hello from Wisconsin, land of Harleys, cheese, breweries and great ethnic festivals!

As part of our work on the CSTA Leadership Cohort, Sarah Huibregtse and I have been busy with many advocacy activities.

On May 7 and 8 at the Wisconsin Mathematics Council Annual Meeting, we assembled a strand of nine sessions - sort of a mini CS/IT Symposium. The most popular were the GameMaker, Website Development, Visual BASIC and the FANG game engine programming using JavaWIDE (25-30 at each). We had a great discussion at the certification session, which included one of the two DPI leaders for the statewide committee. The Robotics workshop featured four “play” stations, each with a different kind of robot. The sessions on Boolean Logic and on ideas to broaden participation were also great.

About a dozen teachers attended a session that focused on forming a state-wide CSTA chapter. After much discussion, we decided to develop a website where we could post materials from sessions like those at this meeting plus other potentially useful materials. We also discussed asking our statewide teacher organization to put together a one- day strand (it's a 2-day conference) dealing with CS and IT. Our immediate goal, though, is to continue to build our teacher network throughout the state.

Sarah and I have also been involved in a number of activities where a small group of us have been meeting with mostly guidance counselors in various parts of the state, trying to generate enthusiasm for CS/IT courses in their schools.

We also organized our 5th and 6th iFairs(sm), career fairs which feature an exhibit area set up in a trade show atmosphere. Businesses and a few post-secondary institutions sell IT and Engineering careers to visiting middle and high school students by showing how exciting and invigorating they can be. Over these 6 fairs, we had about 2800 student visitors from Milwaukee Public Schools. We're already planning out 7th and 8th fairs during the next school year. The general website for iFairs(sm) is

As members of the CSTA Leadership Cohort, we have also been involved with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction in an attempt to establish a committee to deal with the original CS Endorsement certificate (from 1986) and to establish CS/IT standards for K-12. We continue to seek funding for this.

We also continue to involve groups of business leaders from Washington HS of IT, Milwaukee Public Schools Partnership, the Milwaukee Partnership Academy and PoweredUp in our attempts to expand the visibility of CS/IT in the schools throughout Wisconsin.

Finally through these groups and other contacts, we continue to involve a number of both two and four year post-secondary institutions in this quest.

Joe Kmoch
CSTA Leadership Cohort Member (WI)

Posted by cstephenson at 02:06 PM | Comments (2)

May 16, 2009

Update from the NCWIT Meeting

I just attended the May meeting of the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT). NCWIT is now 5 years old. The organization has two main goals: to increase the number of girls and women in computing and to make diversity in computing matter to individuals, organizations, and society.

The meeting had some wonderful talks. We heard from Vivian Lagesen who is researching why some countries, such as Malaysian, have a much higher percentage of women in computing than we do in western countries. She found several important differences.

1) The government ran a campaign to encourage women to enter computing fields.
2) The parents encourage the girls to enter computing fields.
3) The field is not considered to be a "male" field.

The researcher said that the women in Malaysia found it very hard to believe that computing is considered male in western cultures. They couldn't see why it would be perceived that way since you work indoors and sit. Roli Varma also told of research in India which shows that women there think of computing as a lucrative and female-friendly field. People who are in the field in India are considered to be smart and social.

Several speakers described projects that help the developing world. Bernadine Dias, the founder of TechBridgeWorld at CMU described the development of a low-cost digital device for blind kids to practice writing in Braille. It was very inspirational.

Joi Spencer talked about an intensive study into the differences between math education in the United States and other higher performing nations. One of the biggest differences was in how we teach math to students. In Japan for example the students are introduced to a new mathematical concept by leaning about a complex problem that they are asked to solve. The students spend many days thinking about the problem and trying to solve it in different ways. Then they might learn a new procedure for solving the problem. In the United States we first teach students the procedure for solving problems and have them practice but we rarely ask them to use it to solve a complex problem. Kids in the United States are also often taught that there is only one way to solve a problem. My own daughter, for example, gets mad at me when I try to show her more than one way to solve a math problem. She says, "the teacher wants us to do it this way."

NCWIT has also produced many high quality materials for teachers and parents. The Talking Points card, for example, provides suggestions and information for family members who want to talk to girls about computing. NCWIT also evaluates techniques for introducing girls to computing and have identified promising practices such as CS Unplugged, Scratch, Alice, and Media Computation. You might want to show your students some of the slides from some of the talks from this last meeting. You can download these resources and more from

Barb Ericson
CSTA Board Member
Co-chair, NCWIT K-12 Alliance

Posted by cstephenson at 02:08 PM | Comments (1)

April 30, 2009

Attracting Young Women and Minorities To Computing

As part of my work on the CSTA Leadership Cohort, a Southern New Jersey Shore Chapter of CSTA has been created. On Tuesday, March 26th Dr. David Klappholz from Stevens Institute of Technology spoke to our chapter at its monthly meeting regarding ways to attract young women and minorities to computing majors. His talk was titled The Real Projects for Real Clients Course ( RPRCC) Initiative: Attracting Young Women to Computing Majors: An ACM-W Project.

Dr. Klappholtz spoke to the group of high school teachers and college professors that were present about the overall low numbers of females in the computing fields and how the female point of view is necessary in the design and development of everything from consumer products to defense related systems. It is feared that the rate of production of software development will be far lower than necessary to fill job openings over the next five to fifteen years, especially given the baby boomer generation will be retiring soon.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a large increase in the need for B.S. and M.S. computing graduates in the next decade. The largest untapped pool of potential computing majors and, eventually, computing professionals, is science- and math-talented high school students, but only about 10% of entering undergraduate majors in computing majors are female. Despite the many initiatives aimed at attracting young women, the number of female computing majors keeps dropping.

Gender equity in computing has long been a national goal advanced by those concerned with fairness and by those who know that the female point of view improves the design and development of software systems. Unfortunately, though, the percentage of young women entering computing-related majors keeps falling, and the female dropout rate is higher than the very high male dropout rate

The intellectual underpinning of the RPRCC Initiative is a 35 year psychological Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) that followed 3,000 + MPYs from middle school into middle age. They focused on understanding the career and life paths of the MPYs. SMPY discovered that MPY females chose STEM fields involving organic things (fields involving people, helping people). Female MPYs have considerably higher verbal skills than MPY males, accounting for their preference for inter-personal interaction, rather than solo work. MPY males chose STEM fields involving inorganic things (fields involving machines, software development, computer hardware, physics, engineering, chemistry, abstractions).

The point of the initiative is to recruit young women into and to retain them in computing-related undergraduate majors. Only 30% of the typical software development project involves solo inorganic work (writing code). The majority of the remaining 70% has a highly organic, teamwork and interpersonal interaction based nature. Women are better at listening to what their client is saying and understanding what they want. This is especially true if the software's client/customer is a socially relevant agency (such as an adoption agency, a child-care agency, or a poverty agency).

The RPRCC Initiative is a based on courses in which students work in teams – initially on the 70% to produce real software for real clients. There are three aspects to the initative: The High School- Level (for recruitment), the Pre-Choice of Major (for recruitment), and the Post Choice of Major (for retention). For more information, contact Dr. David Klappholz at

Debbie Klipp
CSTA Leadership Cohort

Posted by cstephenson at 01:38 PM | Comments (2)

April 27, 2009

Organizing Internationally

CSTA's membership continues to grow, and as it does, we strive to find better ways to serve all of our members no matter where they happen to live.

At present, about 13% of CSTA's members live in countries other than the United States and as you might guess, the state of K-12 computer science education varies enormously from country to country as does the level to which CS teachers have organized themselves professionally. In some countries, there are already highly active organizations. Israel, for example, has a top-notch Computer Science Teachers Association which provides a wide variety of services for its members. In other countries, there are organizations which serve the needs of technology-using teachers, but which provide very little for computer science teachers. And in some countries of course, there is nothing at all.

Last week, I met with several members of the CSTA Board to discuss how we could best serve the needs of these international members. What we discovered is that the situation is even more complex than we thought. Not only do we have to ensure that whatever we do does not conflict with or undermine the efforts of local organizations and educators, we have to ensure that we protect CSTA from risk. For example, there is considerable fiscal liability associated with international chapters and, at this time, CSTA does not have the resources to manage this liability.

So we have decided for the present to put our efforts into building affiliate relationships with organizations that already exist in countries other than the U.S. and to providing expertise to interested members where no organization presently exists to meet the needs of K-12 computer science teachers. Our plan is to "package" the collective experiences and wisdom of those involved in setting up CSTA as an effective voice for CS teachers into a kit that teachers from other countries can use to set up computer science subject associations that will meet the needs of their teachers and students.

This is an ambitious project and it may take us a while to complete, but we believe that the potential for all parties is exciting.

Margot Phillipps
CSTA International Director

Posted by cstephenson at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)

January 05, 2009

Leadership Cohort Update

During the time since the first Leadership Cohort Workshop in July, members have been busy with advocacy efforts in their various states. Previous blog posts by individual members have reported on some of those activities. In this first of future monthly updates, I want to share some of the highlights from the Fall.

One of the key efforts that we have encouraged is the creation of local CSTA chapters. Local chapters provide a support network for computer science teachers to share their ideas, plan outreach efforts and professional development, and work with local colleges and universities. Leadership Cohort members have been instrumental in establishing new local chapters in the following areas: Arizona, Buffalo, Chicago, Southeastern Virginia, and Southern California.

In addition, some activities of particular note are:

* Texas: Local area Computer Science contests and CS related conventions are being used to build interest in chapters and recruit members.
* Maryland: Meetings with the Director of Curriculum for the state have led to conversations with a variety of stakeholders regarding recognition of computer science as a core discipline.
* Silicon Valley and Oakland, California: Meetings with superintendants and principals have raised awareness of the need for a more substantive computer science curriculum
* North Carolina: Meetings with the Department of Public Instruction are being used to discuss the state of computer science in the state.
* Wisconsin: A presentation to local businesses was used to raise awareness.
* Oregon: The Oregon chapter of CSTA hosted three Fall SuperQuest conferences. One was held in the Portland area and one in southern Oregon covering game design/contests and robotics. The third was in Salem covering Gridworld. (For more information visit
* Ohio: A computer science strand has been scheduled for the state educational technology conference.

These are just a few of the activities that are beginning to have impact.

Gail Chapman
Director: Leadership and Professional Development

Posted by cstephenson at 12:13 PM | Comments (1)

September 13, 2007

Introducing: Your Newest Members of the Board of Directors (Part I)

Education changes so quickly that it is often difficult to keep up with the our professional associations. So, in case you haven't had the chance to Google the newest members of the CSTA Board of Directors I decided to "virtually" sit down with the new Directors that I met in June, ask them some questions, and share these introductions with you.

Brian Scarbeau is our Board's newest 9-12 Teacher Representative. Brian is currently working at Lake Highland Preparatory School and brings not only computer science knowledge, but enthusiasm to the Board. Last year, Brian launched the "Grace Hopper Day" to be held at schools to help students and guidance counselors understand more about computer science.

Where are you from and what are you doing now in addition to being one of CSTA's newest Board members?

I am from The City Beautiful, Orlando, FL. I am a Microsoft MVP and I help teachers and professionals work with ASP.NET and XNA (both programming packages). I am also the user group leader for Dotnetnuke, which is an open source framework for creating Enterprise Web Applications.

It sounds like you have a lot of computing knowledge, what got you started in education?

I was a recreation leader for a summer job and wanted to work with kids.

Why computer science education?

I sold Apple IIe computers and the IBM PC and I've worked on all kinds of hardware. I enjoy computer science education because its challenging and fun to teach.

CSTA has a clearly defined mission statement as well as purpose listed on the front page of our website, for you personally which of the statements from CSTA's purpose has the most significance?

This statement:

Provide teachers with opportunities for high quality professional development.

CSTA has sponsored a symposium for professionals that is by far the best professional development opportunity for cs teachers. The CS&IT symposium has been an event held after the National Education Computing Conference each year. I have had opportunities to go to this event as a speaker and as a participant. I look forward to going every year.

Enough about the serious stuff, what do you like to do other than teach?

I love being with my family and like to golf.

Is there anything else you would like to mention to help the membership get to know you better?

I'm tall, dark, and handsome.

Clearly Brian will be an asset to the organization and our board of directors. If you are interested in his work with Grace Hopper Day you can check out his website at:

I invite you to leave a comment and ask him any questions you might have to get to know him better :) and watch for the next two installments in this series where I introduce other new Board members to you!

Leigh Ann Sudol
CSTA Communications Chair

Posted by cstephenson at 01:28 PM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2006

Taking TECS to the Next Step!

Two weeks ago I was in a conference call with an agenda that included discussing possible strategies for promoting CSTA's Teaching Engaement for Computer Science (TECS) workshops for teachers. During the meeting, we talked a bit about ACM's recent Job Migration study, and also about how and when to publish our upcoming CSTA white paper on strategies for successfully developing and implementing a high school computer science—the result of a fascinating panel discussion that took place last summer during the CS&IT Symposium.

Each of these topics is a single piece of one daunting puzzle. How do we redress our country's misperceptions about the nature of computer science in order to bring our students in line with their peers across the globe?

I left the meeting with a renewed sense of purpose. I was so inspired in fact, that before I set out to tackle the action items from the meeting, I sent a quick mass email to a long list of CSTA institutional members who have expressed an interest in volunteering their time to our projects. (Some of you may have received that email.) The message was an appeal to faculty to consider hosting a TECS workshop for the teachers in their region. In the email, I described the TECS program as a tangible, proven resource for high school teachers that relies on committed volunteer faculty for its survival.

The email must have struck a nerve, because in the two weeks since I sent it, I have been inundated with dozens of letters of interest from potential TECS workshop hosts! I'm so happily occupied answering the new hosts' questions and helping them organize workshops that I've been hard-pressed to find the time to actually publicize the workshop series (the intention of the original conference call)! Of course, this is the ideal situation, since positive word of mouth is what truly makes our programs grow and grow.

I am hoping that some of you reading this blog will be interested in joining our efforts. We want to give every high school computer science teacher an opportunity to attend a TECS workshop, and to do so, we need to organize a lot more workshops!

Let me quickly describe the program. TECS workshops provide one, two, and three-day workshops for high school computer science teachers as well as high school teachers from other subjects who are curious about learning, and/or teaching, computer science. The workshops are hosted by college and university CS faculty members, who volunteer their time and effort. The workshops cater to teachers within reasonable driving distance of the workshop sites.

Hosts build their workshop curricula from a broad and flexible list of modules that range from the relationship between math and computer science, to principles of computer organization, to an introduction to programming languages! Additionally, at every workshop, hosts address issues of equity and ethics in computing. As part of our program, all hosts agree to provide follow-up community building activities after each workshop, allowing teachers to solidify their relationships with one another.

TECS is grass roots community building for CS teachers, executed on the local level, resulting in a multi-tiered mentoring infrastructure of educators from secondary teacher to university instructor.

We are literally reinvigorating CS education in the US, one workshop at a time.

(If what you are reading sounds familiar, you may be have heard about JETT, our workshop series focused on preparing AP CS teachers to teach Java. Indeed, the TECS program works the same way, but with a different audience of educators. JETT, for the record, is still going strong!)

TECS exists because we believe that we in the importance of working together to support K-12 comptuer science education. Our program relies on your interest and involvement! If you would like to learn more about hosting or attending an upcoming TECS workshop, please feel free to call or email me! I would love to hear from you.

JETT and TECS Coordinator
212 626 0507

Posted by cstephenson at 06:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2005

Worth the Cost of Membership

CSTA has now just reached its first birthday and, looking back on the year, I am feeling very good about what our dedicated staff and volunteers have accomplished.

We began the year with a big to do list.
* Start new organization for computer science teachers
* Get members
* Do good stuff for members
* Reach out to K-12 teachers across the world
* Reach out to university folks to help ease communication and bride gaps
* Convince corporate sponsors that this organization is worth supporting
* Write a strategic plan
* Write grant proposals to ensure long-term viability

Because we really wanted to give our members a chance to get to know us, we instituted a one-year free charter membership for both individual (teacher) and organizational (school districts, universities, research organizations, corporations) members.

Here are some of the things that we promised our members that we delivered on.
* Provided a free copy of A Model Curriculum for K-12 Computer Science
* Provided a free "" email forwarding address
* Provided online training courses through the Sun Academic Alliance
* Provided access to the Career Resource Center
* Provided Table of Contents alerts for new material in the ACM Digital Library
* Provided online access to Crossroads magazine and the TechNews and CareerNews online IT digests

Here are the things we were not sure we could promise, but we did them anyway.
* Created the Voice, CSTA's quarterly newsletter to all our members
* Provided 60 workshops for AP teachers in partnership with The College Board and universities and colleges across the country
* Provided two of several planned virtual e-binders of research on key issues in K-12 computer science education (Equity, Teaching Strategies)
* Provided two full-day Computer Science and Information Technology Symposia for over 200 teachers
* Set up an Advisory Council of high level leaders in academia and industry to help guide us and keep us connected with the professional world around us
* Organized an international panel on K-12 computer science curricula in the US, Canada, Israel, Scotland, and South Africa for NECC
* Provided new support documents for the ACM Model Curriculum for K-12 Computer Science Education to help teachers effectively implement the curriculum
* Created a new position on our Board of Directors for someone who would advise us on how to reach out to computer science educators around the world and how to better support our international members

And here are just some of the things we are planning to do this coming year.
* Develop a national web repository of classroom learning resources and professional development materials
* Provide localized workshops for pre-AP teachers across the country
* Provide new resources to give students a better idea of the kinds of opportunities computer science provides and why it is important to take computer science in high schools
* Create an on-line repository of teacher-created learning materials focusing on cyber education
* Create a database of teacher certification requirements by state
* Produce more resource documents to help implement the model curriculum
* Present a even better Computer Science and Information Technology Symposium
* Continue to work with other organizations and with our corporate partners to support computer science education

In the next little while we will be asking our members whose charter membership has expired to renew their membership in our organization. To encourage them to do so, we are offering two years of membership for the price of one ($30).

We hope we have done enough to earn their continued support.

Posted by cstephenson at 08:19 PM | Comments (6)