Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Day One–#CSTA2021

Today was the first day of the Computer Science Teachers Association conference. All online of course. It was a pretty cool day. I got myself set up with a two monitor system, headphones, and a notepad for notes. Being on the conference committee I had some specific commitments. The two monitors made that easier. I spend the first hour working the help desk so I missed some of the opening keynote and welcomes. It felt good to be able to help out that.

My first session of the day was AI and Machine Learning with with Daniel Schneider , a Curriculum developer. His Slides are at One expects a high level of production quality from Code.Org and this program seem to have that. The curriculum can be used several ways as a stand alone or modules can be used in a larger course. If you are looking to teach about artificial intelligence and machine learning this is a great place to look for materials. AI/ML Curriculum

Next you was Secret Coders Teach Computational Thinking with Dr. Rachelle Haroldson and Dave Ballard Slides at They started with an introduction to as 6book set of books for younger students called Secret Coders. Now K-5 is not my usual thing but I have a grandson who just finished kindergarten who is already interested in computers so … After introducing the books they presented some good exercises to go along with the stories. Some were offline like the one at Fun-with-Coding.pdf which I can totally see adapting for older students as well. And some were online interactive. Overall, I thought it was a pretty good program for younger students.

The mid-day keynote was from Tim Bell, the man behind CS Unplugged, You know its going to be a good talk when the presenter starts by playing a huge  pipe organ. Dr. Bell is a great presenter. He had a lot of good things to say. For example, "We write programs for people to use. There may be a few people that need that memo."  The big learning for me though was him saying  that Combining unplugged activities with coding activity works better than unplugged along. Having students do an unplugged activity should be followed with some actual coding activity. Makes me think a lot about how I use unplugged activities.

Next up for me was  a session on the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) CS Academy curriculum  Link to presentation slides. CMU has several courses of different lengths and for different levels of complexity. Course are Python based and have been developed and well tested in actual classrooms. The demos show some great production values with a lot of thought given to teacher tools.Courses start at the middle school level and into high school. Some of the modules will fit nicely into the coding parts of Advanced Computer Science Principles. And its all FREE!

Last session of the day for me was Coding with Scratch Junior in the PreK–2 Years. Looking for ideas for my grandson again. This session provide a slide deck of resources and a Slide deck. Scratch Jr is an Android tablet app that look crazy easy for students in PreK to grade 2. I think my grandson will like it. There are many ways it can be used cross-curriculum as well. Pretty cool stuff.

There were a bunch of sessions I would have liked to attend but one can only be in one place at a time. Thank goodness that all sessions were recorded and I will be able to watch them come August.

Tomorrow I will be back in the Help Desk at 10:30 Eastern US time. I’m looking forward to a bunch of great sessions after that.

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