Issue 8: August 2018
Designing K-12 Computer Science Pathways Summit
On June 12, 2018 from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm the Computer Science for All (CS for ALL) team led an all-day workshop with charter, parochial, and K-12 district teams through a strategic planning process based on the School CSforAll Resource & Implementation Planning Tool (SCRIPT) (see example here) at ASU West.
This FREE SCRIPT workshop is designed to support school district teams in the design of K-12 computer science pathways, using a new tool in development called the SCRIPT to guide the process. Teams spent a productive day of visioning around CS for their local context. The day was spent in self-assessing and goal-setting in the areas of leadership and teacher capacity. Upcoming community calls will focus on curriculum/materials and building community around CS.
We also heard from Chris Busselle and Brendan Chan from the CS First team at Google. CS First is Google's free, introductory computer science program for grades 4-8 (ages 9-14). It is a project-based video curriculum that teaches students computer science fundamentals using the block-based coding language, Scratch. No computer science or coding experience is necessary for students or teachers! To learn more about CS First and Google's CS education efforts, here are some relevant resources:
- A new membership tier was introduced, CTSA+, which allows educators access to new pedagogical research, access to free and discounted teaching aids such as robotics or maker tools, access to a network of guest speakers and classroom experiences, and much more. Find out more information here.
- Microsoft announced a $2 million partnership to support CSTA, specifically to help launch new chapters and strengthen existing ones. You can read more about the partnership here.
- The 20th Anniversary CSTA Conference will take place in Phoenix next year. Stay tuned for more information about how you can become involved and how this national event can benefit our local computer science communities.
A Memoir: CSTA-AZ Teacher First-time Attendee at CSTA 2018 - by Daniel Schneider
I've only been teaching Computer Science for 3 years and only joined CSTA within the last year thanks to the outreach from CSforAZ. For someone still finding their footing as a computer science teacher and still so new to CSTA, I was both excited and nervous to attend the national CSTA Conference and experience sessions run by experienced CS teachers, learn about new pedagogical tools from exhibitors, and meet other computer science teachers across the nation and hear from their experiences. As I planned for the event, I found myself focusing on sessions that reinforced computer science pedagogy or were run by classroom teachers sharing their own resources that I could bring back to my classroom.
The highlight of the conference was definitely Derek Babb's session on the CyberSecurity curriculum he's built over 4 years of teaching Cybersecurity at the high school level. The curriculum is well-organized and vetted by an actual classroom teacher, and it's open-sourced under a Creative Common license. Another highlight was a session from Microsoft TEALS on Culturally Relevant Curriculum. The session focused on how how Culturally Relevant pedagogy is one of the four 'pillars' that TEALS uses in their professional development of volunteers and teachers, then shared several strategies they use in their own professional development and how they apply to a computer science classroom. So many of my past professional development experiences have focused on the what of my classroom - the standards, the curriculum, etc - so it was truly enriching and impactful to be in a session where I could focus on the how of my classroom. Lastly, the session on Nifty Classroom Assignments was jam-packed with lesson ideas and strategies that I could use with my students. Four teachers shared actual lessons and activities they use in their classroom and, even better, they took the time to organize their resources and share them for us to use in our rooms as well. I hope the session runs again next year to see even more resources and ideas I can bring back to my students.
In addition to attending sessions, the conference left plenty of time for teachers to meet and engage on their own. I really valued the time I was given to talk to other computer science teachers across the nation, connect on Twitter, and share ideas and resources. I definitely walked away from the conference with a greater sense of the computer science community that exists beyond my own isolating sphere at my school, and knowing how to reach out for ideas and help across the nation. The CSTA community definitely welcomes new voices and I'm excited by their efforts to expand their membership and create more local opportunities to connect and continue to build this community.
The energy of the conference was reinvigorating and the content of the conference was timely, applicable, and led to tangible resources and strategies I can bring back to my students. I'm looking forward to (hopefully) attend next year in Phoenix, and (hopefully) see more Arizona teachers there gathering resources and expanding their community.