A quick clarification on the proposed bylaws change

2015 CSTA Board of Directors Election and Vote on Proposed By Laws Change

Clarifying a confusing proposed change in an essential area

Today is April 2, the start of the CSTA Board of Directors Election. I hope you have received your information about participating in the election. There are three vacant board positions, K–8 Representative, 9–12 Representative, and At-Large Representative. You may find further information about the candidates here. You may also read blog posts by the candidates in the CSTA Advocate Blog.

We have had some questions and comments about the proposed By Laws change to Article V, Section 4. There is some concern that CSTA is no longer going to work with standards, and that is absolutely not true. Below is the proposed change to the by Law and the existing language in the by law.


Article V: Election of Officers

Section 4: Committees

Proposed language (with proposed changes highlighted in italicized bold text):

There are several committees that are essential to the operations of the organization. These committees address the following categories—Teacher Certification, Curriculum, Executive, Equity, Funding Development, Governance, International, Membership, Nominations and Elections, Professional Development and Research—and are permanent standing committees of CSTA.

Existing language:

There are several committees that are essential to the operations of the organization. These committees—Certification & Standards, Curriculum, Executive, Equity, Funding Development, Governance, International, Membership, Nominations and Elections, Professional Development and Research—are permanent standing committees of CSTA.

One can easily see that the proposed name for the committee that is currently named “Certification & Standards” is “Teacher Certification.” The justification for making this change is given below.

Language is fluid, and specialized language in a particular field even more so. Ten years ago it made sense to call a committee concerned with the academic preparation of computer science teachers “Teacher Certification & Standards ,” in the intervening decade CSTA has worked on and published standards for K-12 students, thereby making the name of two committees confusing. By changing the wording of this section to indicate that there will be standing committees addressing each category, without dictating the name of the actual committee, we are granting flexibility to future boards with regards to communication.

CSTA will most assuredly continue to address both standards for teacher certification and educational standards for student learning. The CSTA Teacher Certification Committee will address the teaching standards for teacher certification. The CSTA Curriculum Committee will address the educational learning standards for students. Standards for teacher certification and educational standards for students are both critical to the growth and vitality of the computer science education community. CSTA will continue to address both.

Happy voting!

Deborah Seehorn
Chair, CSTA Board of Directors
On behalf of the Elections and Nominations Committee

Hello from the CSTA Communications Committee!

The primary goal of the CSTA Communications Committee is to ensure that members learn about the many, many opportunities, resources, news, and initiatives from CSTA.

We’ve been up to quite a bit lately:

  • Listserv moderators have been selected and are busy making sure you get the news promptly. If you are not familiar with the listserv, it is a place to ask questions about teaching CS, make connections, and support each other in our community. On the flip side, it is not for selling or pushing products or something that monetarily benefits you. Recommendations are fine if someone is asking “what book do you use,” “do you get this error using this….,” etc.  The listserv is about building a professional group of educators that can be resources for each other.  Each message to the listserv is checked and approved by a moderator before being distributed. So please join us and lend your expertise or ask your questions!  Sign up for the Listserv.
  • Various CSTA committees will be reporting on the Advocate blog to keep you in touch with plans and projects. Periodically, each committee will submit a blog article about committee activities, how the committee works for CSTA’s goals, and hopefully, answer any questions you may have. Check out all of the blog articles for great CS educator content.  So, is it recursion if we link to the blog here while you are already reading the Advocate blog?….hmmm…. :)
  • The CSTA Voice newsletter is another communication tool for keeping up with CSTA and CS education content selected especially for our members. We’re always on the look-out to identify interesting content and authors for the Voice. Let us know what you would like to learn about. Or better yet, offer to share your knowledge and skills by writing an article for the Voice. We’d love to hear about what you’re doing in your classroom, the news from your CSTA Chapter, or other content of interest to CS educators. Download past CSTA Voice newsletters
  • Our efforts to keep you in the know about CSTA are continuous. You are an important part of this process. To recommend an article for The Voice, contribute an Advocate blog post, or to provide general feedback, please contact us!

If you are reading this blog but still haven’t joined CSTA, what are you waiting for? Sign up today for an Individual membership or Institutional membership.

All of the links provided above can be found on the main page of CSTA.  Please visit http://csta.acm.org/ to view all the other resources and information available to you.

The Communications Committee

Stephanie Hoeppner, Pat Phillips, Myra Deister, Sheena Vaidyanathan

Q&A: Running for the CSTA Board

The deadline for applying to run for the CSTA Board of Directors is rapidly approaching (Feb. 1).  In case you were on the fence about applying for the board, here are answers to five of the most common questions that potential candidates ask:

Q: How much work is involved in being a Board member? 
A: You have probably seen the phrase “the CSTA Board is a working board” in several places.  What this means is that members of the Board are expected to help carry out the business of the organization – not just advise or supervise.  This includes two face-to-face board meetings, one held in conjunction with the CSTA Annual Conference and another held in the late fall.  While these meetings are packed and productive, most of the Board’s business is conducted throughout the year by committees, with individuals working from home and coordinating via phone conferences. The time commitment can vary by task, e.g., the work conducted by the Elections & Nominations Committee is concentrated around setting up and running the annual elections, and is light during other times of the year. On average, I would guess that the workload averages out to 2-4 hours per week.

Q: Are Board members expected to cover their own travel expenses to meetings?
A: No, expenses for travel are reimbursed (within reason) following CSTA’s travel policy guidelines.  This includes travel, hotel, and meals at Board meetings.  It also includes expenses related to attending the CSTA Annual Conference, since Board members are expected to attend this event and help out by proctoring sessions and assisting with registration.  A copy of the travel policy is provided to all newly elected Board members.

Q: Why are there different positions on the Board, such as 9-12 Representative and At-Large Representative? 
A: The mission of CSTA is a broad one, promoting K-12 CS education and supporting the interests and professional development of our 18,000+ members.  It is essential that the Board have a diversity of perspectives and experiences to address the issues and challenges that arise in the organization’s business.  Each position has requirements to ensure that key perspectives are represented on the Board.  For example, the 9-12 Representative is required to be a “9–12 classroom teacher who is currently teaching computer science at the high school level.”  Once on the Board, all members are equal in status and welcome to contribute to all initiatives.

Q: If I apply for a position, does that automatically mean I will be on the ballot?
A: Unfortunately, no.  According to the CSTA bylaws, the election ballot will list at most two candidates for each open Board position.  If more than two qualified candidates submit applications, the Elections & Nominations Committee is charged with selecting the two most outstanding candidates to be placed on the ballot.  Committee members independently rank the candidates using a rubric that considers factors such as leadership skills and experience, understanding of core issues in CS education, and alignment of goals to CSTA’s mission.  While this model does sometimes mean that highly qualified candidates do not make the ballot, it does allow for us to keep the ballot size manageable while still providing detailed statements from each candidate.

Q: Why should I consider running for the CSTA Board?
A: Serving on the CSTA Board of Directors is an extremely rewarding opportunity to give back to the teaching community.  Board members help to set the vision for the organization and work to promote CS education on a global scale.  Their work supports and provides professional development for CSTA’s more than 18,000 members.  In addition, working closely with other amazing educators is rewarding in itself.

Download the 2015 CSTA Nominations Form at http://csta.acm.org/About/sub/AboutFiles/2015Election.html.

Dave Reed
Chair-elect, CSTA Board of Directors

Inspired Students

Don’t you just love it when passionate people find a project and just make it happen? Isn’t it even better when the people are students passionate about CS?

I recently learned about a CS competition being organized by a group of students from around the U.S. and spearheaded by Arun Dunna, a HS junior from Atlanta, Georgia. The competition, sCTF, will be an online, week-long “capture the flag competition” for middle and high school students. The project is inspired by competitions such as PicoCTF, HSCTF, and EasyCTF.

Problems will involve a variety of programming skills and concepts including cryptography, reverse engineering, and general algorithmic problems. The team competition will take place quarterly beginning March 1, 2015.

There isn’t a lot on the website just yet, but more is promised—including prizes for the winners.

I wish them the best of luck in their venture…perhaps some of your students will participate and report back about the experience. Or better yet, maybe some of your students will see this as an inspiration to follow their passions.

Winners of Faces of Computing Contest

The Faces of Computing Video Contest was a big success.  We had over 100 entries from 20 states and 6 countries.  The idea behind the Faces of Computing Contest, both the previous poster contest and the video contest, is to represent a greaer variety of people doing computing and to dispel myths about what computing is and who can do it.  Too often in industry and in people’s minds, the “faces of computing” are white and male. The posters and videos submitted by these students show that all kinds of people enjoy computing.

The videos showcase students not only with different ethnic backgrounds represented, but also students with a wide variety of other interests in addition to Computer Science, It’s clear that CS appeals to many kinds of kids.  In the videos, there are artists and athletes, writers and math geeks, and budding computer scientists.  The students show that Computer Science really is for everyone and can be useful in a variety of fields.

The winners were hard to choose, as there were so many great entries!  I loved getting to see what other schools do in Computer Science class and hearing students talk about their CS work and their other interests.  Below are the winners’ videos.  They are really great promotions for CS.  I highly recommend showing them to your classes, to your administrators, whomever you think needs a little nudge to see CS in a different light.

Winner, High School Division

Massachusetts Academy of Math & Science
Teacher: Angela Taricco
Students: Josephine Bowen, Sarah Duquette, Jackie Forson, Ana Khovanskaya, Eva Moynihan, Amol Punjabi, Sashrika Saini, Christopher Thorne, Ryan Vereque

Winner, Middle School Division

Teacher: Idrus Tamam
Students: Uluwiyah Jatim

Winner, Elementary School Division

Hale Kula Elementary School
Teacher: Megan Cummings
Students: Kaylee Smith, Markus Langhammer-Kenan, Kaleah Shabazz, Haylee Barlow, Natalie Chastain

Fan Letter to Computer Science Teachers: You are the Coding Heroes

Posted on behalf of Elizabeth Vandenburg, GEMS Public Outreach Director and Founder of GEMS-Nova Labs Girl Makers. 

As we prepare for next week’s Computer Science Education Week as well as the “Hour of Code” initiative, Girls Excelling in Math & Science (GEMS) thanks YOU, the computer science teachers who are walking the walk every day, teaching and motivating students to pursue computer science. GEMS particularly thanks you for creating inclusive girl-friendly computer science classrooms.

Like Computer Science Teachers Association, GEMS is a NCWIT K-12 Alliance member, using and seeing results from research-based strategies to reach an important goal for gender equity in tech,  “50/50 by 2020.”

I’ve heard hundreds of great stories about what teachers do to support girls and tech. One teacher, Laura Reasoner Jones, who -founded GEMS, ran a STEM after school club in Northern Virginia for 20 years. She plastered her walls with posters of female role models. One day, a 4th grader named Maria, who ate her lunch every day with Jones, turned to the “Expect the Best From a Girl and That’s What You’ll Get” poster behind her and asked, “Do you really believe that?” When Jones replied an empathic yes, Maria stood taller. “I could tell she felt differently about herself, “ said Jones.

sphero photo

So here’s a GEMS challenge for your CSEdWeek/Hour of Code event: Tweet a photo of your girls participating during the week of December 8-14 and tag with @GirlsExcelling // #CSEdWeek. Photo ideas include girls (and boys!) holding up posters of female role models, pictures of girls’ actual STEM work, or girls participating in an Hour of Code/CSEdWeek activity. Please remember to obtain consent from your students’ legal guardian(s) prior to posting pictures.

Should you require a poster for this challenge, or just to stimulate thinking in your classroom, Code.org offers two promotional posters featuring women. Everyone who participates will be entered into a drawing for a Sphero 10 pack for your classroom!

Next week’s activities are important for the growth of computer science education, but make no mistake, your daily work is where the change happens.

Inviting all “CS in K-8” Enthusiasts

So much has changed in the last five years since I started teaching programming to 6th graders in my district. At that time, it was considered outright strange for a public school district anywhere. Today, some large school districts like Chicago have added computer science (CS) to their curriculum, and entire countries are adding a required computer science class in the K-12 curriculum.

‘Why Should Fifth Graders Learn to Program?’ is an article I wrote in 2011 to help answer the question of why we must introduce CS in the early years. Today, that question has been answered many times over and in response we are flooded with resources from a wide range of “coding in K-8” experts.

Most K-8 CS teachers are not dedicated CS teachers, but classroom teachers or technology specialists who are “CS in K-8” enthusiasts. They find time to integrate CS into the curriculum or carve out a special class to add to the busy school day. These teachers are now deluged with the many ways to do what they love to do – bring the excitement of CS to all their students. How can they wade through this flood of resources to find the one that fits their needs, the one that is right for their class, the one that reflects their unique teaching style, or the one with the research or pedagogy piece they want? Maybe they want a tool that offers a blended solution, or one that maximizes creativity?

With every new tool or resource that comes my way, I rush into an excited experimentation mode to see if I can use it. In my role as the district’s computer science integration specialist, I must do this research but not every teacher has the time. Often, even after my trying out the new tool, I am not ready to test it on my students. I really need is to just ask someone, Did it work in your class?

That is why I need a community of K-8 CS teachers where I can connect and ask these questions. What tool did you use for your second graders? How do you move from visual programming to text based coding and when? How did you convince your administration that the CS department should expand from its current size of one? What do you do with that kid who thinks they will never be able to code or the kid who thinks he should start with Java in third grade?. What are you doing to celebrate Computer Science education week?

I remember my excitement when I first found this CS teachers community at my first Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) conference. Since then, I have benefitted from connecting with these teachers by email or Twitter. I now carefully mark the conference on my calendar each year so I can meet more of these teachers in person. For those who have never attended, it is a must attend event for any CS teacher. Save the date – the next CSTA conference is July 13-14, 2015.

However, the conference is only once a year, and the questions and teacher community support is needed through the year. In addition to the CSTA local chapters, mailing lists, and Twitter, there is now an additional way to connect to this community at any time: a new Google+ community set up by CSTA for K-8 teachers.

As a K-8 teacher who has learned from this community and in my role as the new K-8 Rep for CSTA, I invite all “CS in K-8” enthusiasts to become a CSTA member as well as join the Google+ CSTA K-8 community. Introduce yourself, share a resource that worked for you, post a favorite student project, and ask those questions. You will be welcome. I hope to see you online!

Sheena Vaidyanathan
6th Grade Computer Science Teacher
Los Altos School District
CSTA Board Rep for K-8


Call for Nominations: Announcing CSTA Board of Directors Elections

Application Deadline: February 1, 2015 (midnight PST)

Term of Service: June 2015-2017

The following CSTA Director positions will be vacated on May 31, 2015. We encourage interested CSTA members to apply or to encourage other qualified members to submit an application. Late nominations will not be accepted.

The CSTA Board is a working Board. All Directors are required to attend two face-to-face Board meetings per year (including the combined Board Meeting and CSTA Conference on July 12-17, 2015) and are expected to contribute meaningfully by participating on at least two committees. Directors are required to participate in the following Board events in Grapevine, Texas:

  • July 12, 2015: New Board Member Orientation
  • July 13-14, 2015: CSTA Annual Conference
  • July 15, 2015 CSTA Committee Meetings
  • July 16-17, 2015: Full Board meeting


  • K-8 Representative (1 position): a classroom teacher who is currently teaching or promoting computer science at the pre-high school level.
  • 9-12 Representative (1 position): A 9-12 classroom teacher who is currently teaching computer science at the high school level.
  • At-Large Representative (1 position): An educator with responsibilities for K-12 CS education.

CSTA is dedicated to promoting diversity in K-12 computer science education as well as on its Board. We strongly encourage all qualified individuals to apply. The Nominations and Elections Committee of the CSTA Board will select the two best-qualified applicants in each position for inclusion on the ballot.

Nominations deadline: February 1, 2015.

How to submit your application

1. Download the 2015 CSTA Nominations Form at http://csta.acm.org/About/sub/AboutFiles/2015Election.html.

2. Complete the Nominations Form.

The form includes the following information:

  • Position for which you are applying
  • Your Name
  • Address
  • School or Employer
  • Current Title/Role
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Personal Statement that explains your motivation and why you are a strong candidate (limited to 130 words).
  • Answers to the following four questions (no more than 100 words each):
  • ​What experiences and/or interests in K-12 computer science/information technology education qualify you to serve as a leader for the organization?
  • What previous experience do you have with CSTA?
  • ​What leadership skills do you have that would enrich the Board and the organization?
  • What do you think are the most important issues for K-12 computer science education?

3. Submit the completed Nominations Form and your current résumé of experience to the Elections Committee by emailing them to nominations@csta.acm.org. The documents may be submitted in Microsoft Word or PDF format; PDF is preferred.

Each candidate’s personal statement and answers to the four questions will be posted on the CSTA website and included on the ballot. Statements will be truncated at the word-count limit if necessary. The candidate’s résumé will not be made public.

Ballot distribution: The election will take place online, beginning April 2, 2015. All CSTA members in good standing will be eligible to vote.

Voting deadline: The election will close May 4, 2015.

Election results: Results will be posted by May 15, 2015.

Please send election related questions to:

Deborah Seehorn, Nominations and Elections Committee Chair, nominations@csta.acm.org

Celebrate CS Ed Week, Celebrate You!

CS Ed Week is December 8-14th this year. Here are just a few ways as CSTA members you can get involved.

Faces of Computing Contest: You’ve still got time to submit a video entry for the Faces of Computing Contest. The deadline for submissions is November 20.

CS Ed Week CS Teachers Site: Check out this new resource for CS teachers. You’ll find examples of different events you can host, access to presentations, competitions, and more! Don’t forget to upload your events as well!

State Proclamations: For our members in the United States, don’t forget to ask your Governor to declare December 8-14th Computer Science Education Week.

Participate in Hour of Code: Short on time? There are lots of great activities to do with students and community members that only take one hour. Sign up and join in the Hour of Code.

Get Twitty With IT: Be sure to use the hashtag #CSEdWeek on Twitter to talk about your events, thoughts, and ideas. You can engage parents, community leaders, and even your students in why computer science education is a necessity in our world.

Engage Other CSTA Members: Start a conversation on the CSTA Membership listserv. Not yet a member of the listserv? Join here. You must be a CSTA member to join, but individual membership remains FREE, thanks to CSTA’s generous corporate sponsors: BirdBrain Technologies, the College Board, Google, Microsoft, Certiport, Oracle Academy, and Code.org.

Additional CS Ed Week Resources: Check out more CS Ed Week resources available to CSTA members on our CS Ed Week page. Download a poster, watch a video, or listen to an audio announcement that you can recreate in your own school.

CS Ed Week is really all about celebrating YOU, our CS educators, and all that you do to engage students in learning about computer science and the magic of the discipline. So go out and showcase your skills!

CS Ed Week

Karen Lang
CSEdWeek website committee

CS Education Week is just around the corner, December 8-14. This week is our opportunity to highlight, celebrate, and promote Computer Science education for students, schools, the community, and the country. Hour of Code was so successful during CSEdWeek last year, introducing millions of people to the joy of coding. And it promises to be just as successful this year.

In addition, many CS teachers are looking for other ways to celebrate CS Education in their school or organization. A team of teachers and community people joined forces to put together some great resources that can be found at www.csedweek.org/csteacher. You can also get to the Teacher Resource page from the main page, www.csedweek.org, and clicking on the big red button for Educator Resources. Ideas for events, classroom based activities, as well as other ways to involve parents, teachers, students, and the community are listed. The activities have links to full lesson plans at each grade level.

Perhaps the most exciting feature of the page is the ability to post your own event or activity. Share what you are doing to celebrate CSEdWeek with the rest of us! There is also a searchable event calendar where you can find out what others are doing across the country. You can search by grade level, type of event, or even geographically. There is an event map where you can see what is going on in your area. Check out the great resources and submit your own event.

Remember, even if you cannot participate on the actual week of December 8-14, you can still celebrate CS Education any week of the year. Let us know about it at www.csedweek.org!

Karen Lang
CSEdWeek website committee