Education

SIGCSE 2019 - the keynotes

It's that time of the year to write a series of blog posts about SIGCSE. I thought I'd start with one on the keynotes. There were four keynote speakers. Marie desJardins, Gloria Townsend, Mark Guzdial, and Blair Taylor. I wasn't at the first timer's lunch where Townsend spoke so I won't talk at all about that keynote. I'm also not going to summarize the talks. Andy Ko wrote up a terrific summary of his SIGCSE experience and did a much better job giving overviews to the keynotes than I ever could so I'll just refer you to Andy's blog post.
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Thoughts On Code And Beyond - Computational Thinking

The theme of this year's To Code and Beyond was Computational Thinking. Mark Guzdial gave the keynote. While the talk isn't currently online, check out this talk that Mark gave last March. It's not the same but the second halves are and well worth a look. In the first half, Mark talked about other types of "thinking." Scientific thinking, engineering thinking and even historical thinking. All had a good amount of overlap with both each other and with computational thinking even as we haven't yet settled on what computational thinking actually is.
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Is There a First Grade Machine Learning Achievement Gap?

Today was the fifth "To Code and Beyond" - a one day conference hosted at Cornell Technion and once again Diane Levitt put together a great show. The theme was Computational Thinking and the day consisted of a variety of talks, panels, and activities. I plan on writing about one panel in particular but for today I wanted to address something that came up as a question. One attendee asked a panel about the achievement gap - the fact that when the CS movement got started in NY some of the more innovative and interesting work was being done with some of our most vulnerable students.
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Happy New Year 2019

I've never been much of a New Years person. I get up really early and so don't usually stay up late and more to the point, as any teacher knows, the year really goes from September through June with that really long much needed weekend that you regular folks call July and August tacked on to separate years. This whole January first thing is really more of a half time break or perhaps an intermission.
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Sloan awards for excellence in teaching science and mathematics

I spent yesterday evening at the Cooper Union in their Great Hall, a place famous for Abraham Lincoln's speech that some say propelled him to the presidency. I was there in the audience watching as the Sloan Foundation and the Fund for the City of New York awarded seven public school teachers with an ward for "Excellence in the Teaching of Science and Mathematics." I was their to see my friend Dave Deutsch, a long time public school physics teacher receive the honor.
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Email Policy

I saw this tweet the day along with the ensuing thread: Seriously, who emails a professor with words like "u" and "plz hlp"? Am I allowed to put language in my syllabus that penalizes students for obnoxious, intentional misspellings? Maybe: -1% to your course grade multiplied by the edit distance of the word with its correction? — Austin Cory Bart (@AustinCorgiBart) November 30, 2018 I wanted to reply but as usual, I decided to reply in a blog post so that it doesn't get lost in the Twitterverse.
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PD in NYC

I spent this past Saturday morning up at the Microsoft building in Times Square. What was I doing there? Aankit Patel invited me to check out the professional development that he and his team organized for the teachers involved in the assorted CSforAllNYC programs that his office runs. Wow. Lots of great things going on. I was only able to stay for a couple of hours but I spent some time in two rooms run by TEALS, a room of BJC teachers, a group working with p5.
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When the students know more than the teacher

We've heard it many times with computer science - "the kids know more than the teacher." On the one hand, the truth is that this isn't so much the case. Kids might use computers all the time but they don't necessarily know much about them or about computer science (link 1, link 2). Then you have students who think they know all about CS but really don't. They might have picked up a bit of coding somewhere but more often than not, the knowledge is pretty superficial.
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Talking about CS teacher certification at CSTA 2018

As I mentioned in my last post, this coming weekend is the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) conference. I've been a member of CSTA since the beginning but this will be only the second time I've made it to the annual conference. The CSTA conference might be the largest conference specifically for k12 computer science teachers and that makes it different from conferences like SIGCSE which is for CS education and education research at all levels or ISTE which seems to be more of an Ed Tech conference.
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Giving control of NYC's specialized schools to a political appointee

Yesterday I shared my thoughts on Bill de Blasio's plans to "fix" the selection criteria for New York City's specialized high schools. If you haven't read the post, you can find it here. I was going to get back to CS and CS Ed related blogging today but there's more to the story. In spite of what BdB stated, it's not enough for him to switch to another measure - the middle school state exam along with some modifiers.
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