2016 CSTA Board Election — One More Day to Cast Your Vote!

The 2016 election for five open positions on the CSTA Board of Directors runs through March 22. If you were a CSTA member as of February 16, you should have received an email from ElectionBuddy.com with a personalized link to the online ballot. If you didn’t receive the email, contact customerservice@csteachers.org.

The CSTA Board of Directors consists of eleven voting representatives, elected by the more than 22,000 CSTA members worldwide. The candidates for the 2016 elections are:

  • 9-12 Representative: Stacey Kizer, Chinma Uche
  • At-Large Representative: Myra Deister, Michelle Lagos
  • International Representative: Miles Berry, Michael Jones
  • State Department Representative: Anthony Owen, Doug Paulson
  • University Faculty Representative: Darcy G. Benoit, Fred G. Martin

Full details about the election, including statements by the candidates, can be found online at http://www.csteachers.org/page/boardelections.

Dave Reed
Chair, CSTA Board of Directors

A History of the New Math (and lessons for CS Ed)

Spines of New Math paperbacks from the 1960s (courtesy wikimedia.org)

Spines of New Math paperbacks from the 1960s (courtesy wikimedia.org)

Many of us remember the New Math from personal experience. I do from elementary school in the 1970s in West Hurley, NY.

I loved it. I learned that the decimal system is arbitrary and numbers could be expressed in any base. That was fascinating.

Of course, I was the kid who learned his times tables for fun.

The New Math emphasized understanding the rule-systems that underlie numbers. In elementary school, it constructed the very concept of number with set theory rather than by rote counting.

There wasn’t a focus on students being able to do arithmetic computations. This upset people, and by the 1970s, the New Math was under attack.

The “back to basics” movement re-established an emphasis on computations in the 1980s.

As described by Christopher J. Phillips in his book The New Math: A Political History (The University of Chicago Press, 2015), it’s not a coincidence that this is the same decade in which the country elected Ronald Reagan as president.

Phillips cogently makes the case that the rise and fall of the New Math movement traces our cultural mores and larger political beliefs about who should be making decisions in our society.

Going back two thousand years, Phillips shows how the argument about how mathematics should be taught has been a proxy for a conversation about how people should be taught to think.

For the developers of the New Math, their approach would help American citizens be critical and creative thinkers—what was required to counter the Cold War threat of a dominant Soviet Union.

Indeed, the federal funding that was leveraged in the 1950s to build the New Math movement was appropriated as literally a matter of national defense. This was followed by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the 1960s, which continued the federal government’s role in fostering national education curricula.

The consensus that the federal government should be deciding what’s taught in our nation’s schools frayed with the cultural changes in the 1960s and collapsed with the horrors of Vietnam in the 1970s.

As we work towards making computer science a first-class citizen in the pantheon of school teaching and learning, what lessons can we draw from the rise and fall of the New Math?

Computer science is a liberal art—not just a vocational skill. It’s true that becoming accomplished as a software developer is a path to a good career, including good pay. And it’s true that there is a social justice dimension to broadening participation in computing—everyone should discover whether they love computing and then have access to these career paths.

But the reason to institutionalize computer science in K-12 is deeper than that. It’s because computing is beautiful and powerful—like all forms of knowing and doing.

We must go beyond the zero-sum game. One of our big challenges is creating time for teaching and learning computing. We don’t want to create winners (computer science) and losers (other areas of study).

It seems clear that infusion approaches—integrating computing into other subjects—will be an important part of the future.

It’s a team effort. One of the big take-aways from Phillips’ book was the reach of the School Mathematics Study Group—the organization that was created to develop and support the New Math. Curriculum writers from all over the country were involved in creating the reference texts; these individuals then served in leadership roles in the adoptions in their home states.

Most importantly, now we live in a time where everyone’s involved in curriculum decisions, particularly parents.

We need everyone together to make this happen.

P.S. I highly recommend Christopher Phillips’ book. His writing is clean and compelling, and the story is engaging and compact. He also published an essay-length version of his thesis in the New York Times on December 3, 2015.

Better Know a Committee – 2016 edition

The CSTA Board of Directors is a working board. Board members work closely with the Executive Director to articulate the vision for the organization, plan initiatives and activities, and help carry out the organization’s business. Much of this work is done through standing committees and task forces. Following a tradition begun last year, the chairs of the various CSTA committees and task forces will be posting brief reports in the Advocate. Keep an eye out for these reports in the coming weeks to stay informed about current CSTA activities.

If you would like to know more about a committee or task force, or possibly volunteer to help out, please feel free to contact us.

  • Communication & Publications: Stephanie Hoeppner (smhoeppner@gmail.com)
  • Curriculum: Deborah Seehorn (deborah.seehorn@outlook.com)
  • Equity: Alfred Thompson (act2@acthompson.net)
  • Funding Development:  Fred Martin (fredm@cs.uml.edu)
  • Governance: Myra Deister (mjdeister@fjuhsd.k12.ca.us)
  • International: Mina Theofilatou (theoth@otenet.gr)
  • Membership: Laura Blankenship (lblanken@gmail.com)
  • Nominations & Elections: Deborah Seehorn (deborah.seehorn@outlook.com)
  • Professional Development: Tammy Pirmann (tpirmann@gmail.com)
  • Research: Aman Yadav (ayadav@msu.edu)
  • Teacher Certification: Tammy Pirmann (tpirmann@gmail.com)
  • Assessment Task Force: Aman Yadav (ayadav@msu.edu)
  • Chapters Task Force: Fran Trees (fran@ftrees.com)
  • Computational Thinking Task Force: Irene Lee (lee@santafe.edu)
  • K-8 Task Force: Sheena Vaidyanathan (sheena@computersforcreativity.com)

Dave Reed
Chair, CSTA Board of Directors

Do You Have a Professional Learning Network (PLN)?

Before anyone can answer that question, a definition is needed. According to Brianna Crowley in her article, 3 Steps for Building a Professional Learning Network, at http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2014/12/31/3-steps-for-building-a-professional-learning.html , “A professional learning network is a vibrant, ever-changing group of connections to which teachers go to both share and learn. These groups reflect our values, passions, and areas of expertise.”

I started thinking about my PLN after Brandon Horn on the AP Computer Science Facebook page asked for suggestions for additional information and support for current and new AP Computer Science Teachers. He said he usually recommends the AP CS Community on the College Board site, the AP CS Summer Institute, the AP Computer Science Facebook group and the local CSTA chapter, if there is one. In a comment, I suggested the CSTA Listserv (I am one of the moderators).

This question, I feel is more important to those of us who are the “onlys” on our campus. What do I mean by the “onlys”? “Onlys” are the only computing teacher on campus. For those of you who are one of those, who do you turn to for advice?

For me it depends on the class I am seeking advice for. I teach 4 different computing classes: Visual Basic, Computer Science Principles, AP Computer Science A and Computer Science AB. For general advice, I will look to the CSTA Listserv. For example, in October, I was told that I needed to decide on new furniture for the lab and only had a few days. I turned to the CSTA Listserv and asked what furniture the members had purchased recently that fit their needs. I received several responses that helped me to quickly make some decisions.

In another situation when one of my students asked a java coding question that I did not readily have an answer, I turned to the AP Computer Science Facebook group and received responses very quickly. When I needed to write a Computer Science Principles Final Exam, I turned to the CSTA Listserv and several teachers responded with help. I appreciated it so much! I have asked questions on Twitter when I want to incorporate an ed tech tool into my computer science classes. Also, I always leave my local CSTA chapter meetings with some great ideas! All of these groups are my PLN.

Who is in your PLN? Please share so we can all grow ours.

Computational Thinking — What does it mean to you?

How do you integrate computational thinking (CT) concepts and strategies into your teaching? Have you heard your colleagues talk about it and wondered if they have accurate and useful understandings of how CT can be used across the curriculum? Are you curious about how other schools, or even other countries, are implementing CT strategies? Wondering where you can get more information?
Well, consider the March issue of the CSTA Voice as your CT 101 Primer! Take a look and then let us know what you’re thinking about the topic.

  • Take a step back to the conceptual foundations of CT with a review of the “roots of CT” with Irene Lee, Co-chair of the CSTA CT Task Force.
  • Discover how England is embedding CT into the national computing curriculum with John Woollard, leading member of Computing At School (CAS).
  • Compare the problem-framing strategies that help students connect math to everyday problems with MEAs (Model-Eliciting Activity) to CT strategies with Fred G. Martin, Co-chair of the CSTA CT Task Force.
  • Explore the list of CT resources gathered by Joe Kmoch, CS consultant and retired educator.

AND OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE…

  • VOTE! Read the statements from the 10 candidates running for the 5 open seats on the CSTA Board of Directors in the March Voice. The affairs and property of the Organization are managed, controlled, and directed by a Board of Directors elected by you. A huge amount of work through committees and task forces is also completed by these Board members.
  • REGISTER for the 2016 CSTA Conference. Read more about the plans for “Making Waves in San Diego” in the March Voice.

Pat Phillips, Editor
CSTA Voice

DRAFT 2016 CSTA K-12 CS Standards: We need your feedback!

No one can doubt that it is an exciting and busy time to be a K-12 computer science educator: an announcement from the White House about the new CS for All initiative, a new K-12 CS Framework under construction, an emphasis on cybersecurity education in the K-12 classroom, new curriculum products, new computer science standards in Arkansas, Florida, and Massachusetts (to name a few states), computer science for all New York City students, and professional development opportunities for CS educators. Scarcely a day goes by in the news/media without some mention of K-12 computer science education and what it should look like.

The CSTA K-12 CS Standards Revision Task Force members have been diligently working to revise the 2011 CSTA K-12 CS Standards to ensure they are current, valid, and the best they can be. The task force members very much appreciate all of you who took the time to provide us with input on the 2011 CSTA K-12 CS Standards during the public feedback period in September – October 2015. Your input, along with the draft K-12 CS Framework and practices, standards from other states and countries, and related national standards informed the task force members as they revised, deleted, and added to the 2011 CSTA K-12 CS Standards. You may view the standards development process on the CSTA Standards Webpage. The first DRAFT of the 2016 CSTA K-12 CS Standards is ready for public review and feedback. We need your assistance once again!

Please take a little time to review the revised standards and complete the 2016 CSTA K-12 CS Standards Feedback Form. This will provide the CSTA Standards Revision Task Force members with constructive feedback that will assist us as we seek to refine the standards and make them most useful for K-12 educators. You will have the opportunity to give us detailed feedback on individual standards in each of the grade levels (Level 1, Grades K-5; Level 2, Grades 6-8, Level 3A, Grades 9-10), Level 3B (Grades 11-12). You will also have the opportunity to provide feedback on all the standards for a grade level within a concept area. (The draft K-12 CS Framework Concepts are Computing Devices & Systems, Networks & Communication, Programs & Algorithms, Data & Information, and Impacts of Computing.)

Feedback for this initial review period will be accepted from February 16 through March 3, 2016. The task force members will analyze this feedback and refine the standards. CSTA is committed to an iterative process that allows multiple drafts and revisions before publication. We anticipate another review period sometime in the spring of 2016, as the project budget allows. Our goal is to release the revised standards at the 2016 CSTA Annual Conference.

We want your feedback. We need your assistance. Please thoughtfully complete the CSTA K-12 CS Standards Revision Feedback Form. This initial feedback on the standards will be accepted until March 3, 2016.

Thank you for your time, expertise, and enthusiasm in supporting K-12 CS education.

Deborah Seehorn
CSTA Board of Directors Past Chair
CSTA K-12 CS Standards Revision Task Force Co-Chair

Tammy Pirmann
CSTA Board of Directors District Representative
CSTA K-12 CS Standards Revision Task Force Co-Chair

Website Links

Computer Science for All https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/01/30/computer-science-all

K-12 CS Framework http://k12cs.org/

2016 CSTA K-12 CS Standards Revision Task Force http://www.csteachers.org/?StandardsTaskForce

CSTA K-12 CS Standards Revision Process http://www.csteachers.org/?StandardsProcess

2016 CSTA K-12 CS Standards Feedback Form http://www.csteachers.org/?SubmitYourFeedback

2016 CSTA Annual Conference http://csta.acm.org/ProfessionalDevelopment/sub/CSTAConference.html.

 

 

 

Three student videos that you do not want to miss!

Most of you have probably seen the results of our latest Faces of Computing video competition themed around Computing for the Common Good, and I’m sure you’ll agree that the winning entries delivered powerful messages. The High School division brought in some really outstanding projects and it was a tough decision for the committee to make. Despite the fact that they didn’t make the prize, these two videos are winning material and definitely deserve special mention.

Camille Burke of Oak Knoll School in Summit, NJ held a brainstorming session with her class before they divided into groups to make their videos. The students then generated their own ideas and created a storyboard and script. Each group designated specific tasks to specific students (Director, Videographer, Actor, Film Editor etc.). In the process of making the video, her students learned how important technology really is and how big an impact it has on our lives: “Our storyline was inspired by our school and the huge part technology plays in the atmosphere. But it’s not just about learning or having fun; technology can be used to help others. Our school emphasizes the importance of service and we wanted to convey this message to others around the world.”

The end result is a fast-paced video that vibrantly demonstrates a multitude of ways in which computing has made a valuable difference in their lives.

On the other side of the US, Catherine Wyman from Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix Arizona says the theme of “computing for the common good” was a natural fit, as the school continually focuses on service. Her students were inspired by the “Draw my Life” videos on YouTube and learned how to create the whiteboard animation by trial and error: “after planning the pictures we had to engineer a tripod – using a biology textbook, rubber bands and tape! – to keep the camera steady while filming. Then it was edit, edit, edit till we got it right. It was a challenge, but also a lot of fun. We really enjoyed the opportunity to be creative”.

Watch the video and learn how computer-programmed ICDs have saved the lives of thousands of people.

Finally, I couldn’t help sharing this video with the Advocate readers: the winners of the Elementary division send a special message to CSTA members around the world!

Congratulations to all the teachers and students who sent in their entries, thank you for showing us how your communities use computing to make the world a better place… and keep up the amazing work!

Mina Theofilatou
CSTA International Representative
Kefalonia, Greece

The Teacher Certification Committee

The Certification Committee is primarily concerned with issues surrounding teacher certification for Computing teachers. Our most recent effort was the publication of the white paper, Bugs in the System: Computer Science Teacher Certification in the U.S. This was a substantial effort of members from almost every state! You can see the state map that resulted from this work, where each state has a color code based on whether or not that state has a certification for HS, for MS or no certifications at all. One of the criteria is Computer Science as a required course, but not one state had that in 2013.

On our CSTA website, you will find the Certification section at the bottom of the left side navigation. We currently have two links, one to the resources which include downloadable PDFs of our two white papers as well as information on a methods course for teacher prep programs. The second link is to an interactive map of the United States. Each state contains answers to three questions: Is Computer Science a required course? Is there a Middle School Computer Science teacher certification? and Is there a High School Computer Science teacher certification?  Soon, we will be adding a link to this page to allow our members to self-report changes to these questions for their state. Advocacy for Computer Science education is having an effect on this data, and we would like to keep this information current.

With the increasing importance of K-12 computer science, CS teacher certification is becoming even more critical. The committee welcomes news from any state that is working on CS teacher certification. The committee also welcomes any volunteers who would like to serve on the committee.

Who is on the Certification Committee?
Chair – Tammy Pirmann
Members – Deborah Seehorn, Aman Yadav, and Lissa Clayborn

 

2016: The Year of CS Education

A Prediction Comes True…

When asked for a New Year’s prediction a few weeks ago, I responded that 2016 would be the Year of Computer Science Education.  I did not anticipate just how accurate that prediction would turn out to be just 30 days later.  And it appears that we are just getting started, thanks to the incredible support and commitment of the White House and this Administration on behalf of CS education and CS teachers.

CS education is about students.  On January 12, as he began to speak to national priorities, President Barack Obama led with CS Education.  He said that, “In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by … offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one.”  As Executive Director for one of the first CS teacher member organizations, it was an exciting moment to hear the President lead off with a statement so aligned to our members’ profession.

CS education is about access.  On January 20, the White House announced the Champions of Change for Computer Science Education. I was thrilled to see recipients like Jane Margolis whose book, Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race and Computing, motivated me to pursue this position several months ago.  The recipients of the honor included a diverse and deserving collection of individuals working to improve access to computer science education.

CS education is about collaboration.  Then today, January 30, I was again both excited and awed, as the White House announced the Computer Science for All initiative (#CSForAll)—the President’s plan to give all students across the country the chance to learn computer science in school.  It is a plan with aggressive goals, bipartisan support, and multifaceted commitments from an amazing array of participants spanning federal and state agencies, corporations, non-profit organizations and academic institutions, school districts, and teachers.

CS education is about teachers.  It is clear that many more exciting announcements are to come.  On behalf of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and the teachers it represents, I thank the Administration for its “above and beyond support” for CS education and recognizing that providing access to quality CS education to all students requires developing and supporting CS teachers.  I am also appreciative to the Administration for creating mechanisms to enable CSTA to actively participate and engage in the events leading up to today’s announcement.   CSTA is excited to be involved and contributing to this collaborative effort.

…And CS Education is Just Getting Started.

CSTA recently developed a new 10-year vision, supported by the first of three strategic plans.  The themes of students, access, collaboration, and teachers underpin that framework.  For the next three years our primary efforts will focus on teacher professional development, programs related to our big IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access), and maturing our association practices.  These three priorities are supported by a set of five strategic levers and a range of specific measures and activities.

As part of CSTA’s commitment to #CSForALL, we will pursue and implement a new professional development (PD) model for CS Teachers that includes:

  • A developmental assessment with personalized roadmap to help teachers focus PD on skill development needs and programs that could address those needs.
  • Hybrid (online + in person) PD experiences to increase access to PD for teachers.
  • A digital portfolio or digital badging model to enable competency-based micro-credentialing.  This provides a means for teachers to demonstrate CS skills and track their progress toward a master-CS teacher status.

We are on track to pilot some of the above elements as early as this spring.

This year CSTA will establish a Diversity Educational Leadership Program (DELP).  DELP will provide PD to cohorts of teacher-leaders coming from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds in CS.  The goals of DELP are to improve access to leadership and development opportunities for underrepresented teacher segments, support a growing network of effective teacher-leaders and CS advocates in their classrooms and communities, and increase the visible pool of diverse candidates for leadership positions in CSTA and other K-12 CS organizations.

CSTA is also stepping up its own capabilities, such as going live with the “alpha” version of our new member management system this past week.  In addition to a new website that is mobile-friendly, and easier to navigate and update, we will have tools to enable more members to engage and volunteer in activities of the association.  There will be new tools to support chapters.  New tools to support advocacy or outreach among segments of members. There will be new ways for members to communicate with each other and new resources to help make #CSForAll a reality.

Later this spring CSTA will unveil new branding, as we evolve into CSTeachers.org – the member organization for K-12 computer science teachers. With 22,000 members across 130 countries, with 62 local member chapters, and as founding partners of other CS educational organizations, like Code.org, NCWIT, and TeachCS, we will continue to seek out and engage in opportunities to collaborate that include CS teachers and further enable access to quality computer science education for all students.

Getting Engaged in the Future of K-12 CS Education

These and many of our other planned initiatives, such as a series of PSAs and content to promote awareness and understanding of what CS is, link back to the themes and priorities identified by the White House as part of #CSForAll:  Students, Access, Collaboration, and Teachers. Getting there will require innovation, entrepreneurship, collaboration and support from a great variety of organizations and individuals.  CSTA greatly appreciates the work of this Administration which has elevated CS education and the needs of CS teachers to a national priority.  We look forward to the great works that will come out of the current #CSForAll commitments, and for those that will follow.

2016 is going to be a great year for K-12 CS Education.  Please keep following #CSForAll and #CSTA on Twitter for more developments or reach out to CSTA if you are a CS teacher or organization who would like to be involved in our evolution.

About CSTA:  The Computer Science Teacher’s Association (CSTA) is a member-based organization founded in 2004 by ACM, the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society.  CSTA’s mission is to empower, engage, and advocate for K-12 CS teachers worldwide.

Computer Science/Coding Education Graphic from SMU

Guest author: Shane Ryan; Community Manager, DataScience@SMU

DataScience@SMU, the online data science program offered by Southern Methodist University recently published a graphic detailing coding and computer science education in the United States and around the world. Despite the booming field and increasing job prospects for computer science professions, only 1 in 10 K-12 schools in the US have implemented coding education to their curriculum. In the graphic, DataScience@SMU highlights some of the obstacles to educating students in the US while showcasing other countries who have mandated computer science education as part of elementary or secondary curricula. Additionally, the piece details some of the challenges to teaching computer science while also touching upon the gender gap in the field.

Infographic can be viewed here.