Thursday, July 15, 2021

Notes on Day Two of #CSTA2021

Today started, for me, with help desk duty. While I was there no one needed any help which I suppose says good thi8ngs about the HopIn platform CSTA is using. The other committee member on duty, the amazing Myra Deister, and I spend most of the time catching up. We’ve known each other through CSTA for a long time. It was just like a “hallway track” time for us. I’d love to see tools specifically for that sort of thing.

First session of the morning I was bad. Well, fidgety I guess. I hoped in and out of a number of sessions the whole time.

I started with Misconceptions as Learning Opportunities (slides here) and learned some good things about assessment. An area I frankly need to learn more about. I will be watching the whole session when the videos are available.
I next hopped in to Introduction to Micro:bit with MakeCode just to see what they were presenting. I did pick up a couple of links to related research that I  read later. ,,
Release notes:

BirdBrain Technologies dropped in to the session to say that they “ loved the micro:bit so much that [they] based the newest version of [their] products on it! US educators can try a free demo of [their]micro:bit based robots: at

I spend most of the rest of the time at Block-Based Machine Learning and AI with mBlock  “ mBlock is a powerful programming environment that combines the familiarity of Scratch with cutting-edge technologies like Google’s Teachable Machine and Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Services.” (Slides here) I should have started here and I will definitely be watching the full video when available. BTW,
If you are looking for resources about teaching AI check out

Next up was the keynote by Dr. Amy Ko. I have been familiar with her work from both social media and published papers so I was really looking forward to hearing her speak. Follow her on Twitter ( and read her blog posts ( Dr. Ko gave a great talk which showed all of the levels involved in where things can go wrong in encouraging students to take and continue in computer science. Talks like this are a reminded for me of the many forms of diversity that I have to be aware of and how I need to adapt to meet the needs of people who are not like me. Dr. Ko posts her talks on her web site. This one should be there soon if it is not there right away.

Updated: with links to Dr. Ko’s talk:

Video: Slides:

CSTA Keynote

After the keynote, I hopped into Teaching Exciting Computer Science Frontiers in High School for some ideas about advanced courses and students. The talk introduced me to NetsBlox which is a visual programming language and cloud-based environment that enables novice programmers to create networked programs such as multi-player games. Network programming, yeah! The system also connects to a variety of databases online. So a lot of possibilities for data science or cross curricula projects.  I need to look into this a lot more.

Next up was Selecting and Supporting a New CS Teacher. (Slides here) This mini-session was part of the administrator tack. Love that there is an administrator track BTW.  In any case, there was a lot of good information for administrators including some helpful links in the slide deck.

Teaching with YouTube with Oscar Velizin was next for me. Oscar Velizin has a YouTube channel with videos that mix math and CS. No surprise. One of the takeaways for me was the idea of providing access to the code that is demonstrated via GitHub or some other online system.  (Slide deck here) He had some good reasons for using PowerPoint compared to some other presentation tools.  Specifically the ability to screen capture, to rerecord individual slides, the built in Equation editor, and the ability to easy export videos.

Don’t tell anyone but I skipped the Birds of a Feature. Enough screen time and I wanted to be rested for the last keynote of the day.

The afternoon keynote as Zaretta Hammond who talked about Changing the Complexion of Computer Science Education. Yes, equity was a big focus at this year’s conference. I that that was wonderful. As we look at the events of the last few years we can see that a lot of work needs to be done to promote Computer Science for everyone.

A note of process. Yesterday I took notes in a text document. Today I took my notes in Open Live Writer which is my blogging tool. I filled things in during breaks between sessions. That made it easier for me. I like having my notes in blog form both to share with others and to return to for my own follow-up on sessions.

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