Category Archives: CS Policy

ASMSA CS+

Arkansas high school teachers and districts interested in learning to teach Computer Science are invited to join ASMSA’s Computer Science Plus program this summer and next school year. In short, ASMSA will be mentoring a cohort of teachers in the new Computer Science I and Computer Science II courses which are replacing Essentials of Computer Programming.

The program begins with a boot camp at ASMSA June 25 – 30 followed by year-long support using digital learning tools including Canvas LMS, Zoom Video Conferencing, and a ton of Google Forms. The cost is $500, which includes housing and meals on our campus during the boot camp, digital delivery of the curriculum, and a full year of support.

Sign up using this form, and we will be in contact with a formal agreement between your school and ours.

The Details

What’s CS I & II? These are a pair of one-semester courses that replace Essentials of Computer Programming next year. CS I and II are a framework that can be taught as CS with an emphasis in coding, CS with an emphasis in mobile application development, CS with an emphasis in security, CS with an emphasis in networking, or CS with an emphasis in robotics. ASMSA CS+ teaches CS with an Emphasis in Programming, courses 465010 and 465020.

What’s ASMSA CS+? CS+ is a year-long partnership between an Arkansas school district and ASMSA. The district identifies a teacher and a group of students interested in learning CS I & II. ASMSA provides professional development, curriculum, and year-long support as the on-site teacher learns to teach CS I & II. The students earn credit for the course which meets Act 1280 (digital learning) and Act 187 (HS coding) requirements for the district. ASMSA CS+ teaches CS with an Emphasis in Programming, courses 465010 and 465020.

What Happened to ECP? Arkansas has laid out plans for a comprehensive K through 12 Computer Science pathway. Students entering high school next fall will have greater exposure to CS concepts than ever before, and they should be ready for a more rigorous high school computer science experience. Many of the concepts from ECP are present in CS I & II, although they may be at an enhanced level of rigor. I have prepared a crosswalk between the two that you may find helpful.

Will there be apps? There will not be a substantial “app” component built into the course, although sites offering ASMSA CS+ will be eligible to participate in Apps for Good. We will grow coding skills in the Processing environment (designed for creating graphics and data visualization) before we transition to Java using a professional IDE to meet the data structures and algorithms objectives.

Is This Principles? No. ASMSA CS+ is a program specifically-designed to meet the Arkansas CS I & II learning objectives and to build in-state CS teaching capacity. It is not related to the Advanced Placement CS Principles course, which is not directly aligned with Arkansas CS I & II standards.

I encourage you to act quickly, as our next cohort is filling up faster than ever. If you have questions about the program, please contact Daniel Moix or Dave Slaymaker at ASMSA.

Animate Your Name!

Beginning next with the 2017-2018 school year, all districts in Arkansas will offer a “coding block” to students in grades 7 or 8.  Per the standards, this course must run a minimum of 5 weeks and include text-based coding and problem solving.

Codecademy, a company that hosts self-paced online lessons for several programming languages, recently released a very short JavaScript activity that teaches you how to animate your name.  This is perfect for standards A.2.B.1 and A.2.B.2!

There’s sufficient scaffolding in the activity that teachers with minimal experience should easily be able to support students completing the exercise.  There is nothing to install, either.  As it runs completely in the browser, it should run just fine on Chromebooks.

I felt their coverage of conditionals was a tad disconnected from the activity, so would encourage you to teach it with this modification:  Have students create a final product that draws short names with squares and long names with bubbles.

New Year, New Courses

The high school computer science landscape is changing next year in Arkansas.  Whereas there was previously a fragmented patchwork of courses and codes (some earning elective credit, others earning mathematics credit, and a subset counting toward CTE programs) the new courses and standards mesh sensibly together.

Previous courses, codes and credits

All previous courses and codes such as CTE Programming 1 and 2 are no longer valid beginning next year.

The new standards are available on the ADE Computer Science Standards page, but helpful details including the new course codes are available in the ADE Computer Science Fact Sheet.

Any of the previous introductory programming courses — Essentials of Computer Programming, Programming 1, Computer Science & Mathematics — should be replaced with the new Computer Science 1 & Computer Science 2 courses.

K-8 CS Standards Crosswalk

Beginning next year schools in Arkansas will incorporate the K-8 Computer Science Embedded Standards (K-4, 5-8) into everyday classroom instruction.  To help with this, the Arch Ford Education Service Cooperative has brought together classroom teachers, library media specialists, and computer science content specialists to explore the connections between the new standards and existing ELA, Mathematics, and Science standards.

The results of these workshops are available right now, and new additions are on the way.  Questions about the standards and alignments can be answered by any of the ADE Computer Science Specialists.

 

Computer Science Leadership Summit October 8

The second annual Arkansas Computer Science Leadership Summit will take place on Thursday, October 8, 2015 from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts (ASMSA),

The theme is “Building and Sustaining Computer Science — Powering Minds, Businesses, and Communities.” If you are interested in finding engaging ways to improve computer science and information technology education in Arkansas, please plan to attend. Governor Asa Hutchinson promotes improving computer science education as one of the cornerstones of STEM education which will foster learning and will be a catalyst for Arkansas economy.  It is imperative that we join together to form business-education partnerships that will stimulate computer science learning and economic development.

The registration cost to attend is $50 which includes lunch and conference material, but will be waived for presenters.  Register now using the link below.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ynypQg6HAKB146mTX6dgYNcZIgQRtjj6geQpaHoOcNs/viewform

This meeting is sponsored and organized by the Arkansas STEM Coalition, Computer Science Teachers Association Arkansas, the Arkansas Academy of Computing, and several businesses and other Computer Science supporters.

The agenda includes sessions on what and how to offer computer science courses in your school district, the role business partnerships play in the computer science initiative, cyber-security, developing the computer science pipeline through higher education, and a report from the Computer Science Task Force.

Parking is free.  Contact Dr. Suzanne Mitchell at 501-690-1518 or via email director@arkansasstemcoalition.com if you have any questions about the Computer Science Leadership Summit at ASMSA in Hot Springs on October 8th.  In addition, feel free to email Mr. Carl Frank, President of the Arkansas Computer Science Teachers Association, at frankc@asmsa.org  or call 501-860-0141.

Arkansas CS Update at HSTI

Anthony Owen, Arkansas’s new Computer Science Coordinator at the Arkansas Department of Education presented a very informative session at the Hot Springs Technology Institute this week.

If you haven’t seen it, check out the Arkansas K-12 Computer Science information site.

ADECS

Anthony’s slides from the presentation are available on that site, and you should bookmark the Frequently Asked Questions document.

High School Computer Science in Arkansas

This post was originally published on the Computer Science Teachers Association Advocate blog on March 31, 2015.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson made good on his campaign promise to “offer coding in every high school” by signing Arkansas House Bill 1183 into law.  It’s an exciting time for the growing community of CS educators in the state as we scramble to help make the governor’s vision a reality.  The Arkansas chapter of CSTA has been an integral part of the achievements thus far, but we have much more to do in the coming months.

The law requires the over 270 public and charter high schools in the state to offer a high-quality Computer Science course which meets standards established by the Arkansas Department of Education.  The law also charges the state’s online high school, Virtual Arkansas, with offering CS courses to all districts in the state at no charge.  Finally, it establishes a 15-member task force to research, review, and recommend curriculum standards and to make recommendations to meet anticipated CS and technology workforce needs.  The CSTA Arkansas president holds one of those seats.

Governor Hutchinson’s ambitious goal is to have students across the state learning Computer Science in all schools by August, 2015.  To make this vision a reality, several efforts are already underway.  Curriculum Frameworks for Computer Science and Mathematics, an introductory computer programming course designed to count as a fourth-year mathematics credit, were developed in late 2014.  Frameworks for Essentials of Computer Programming were completed in early 2015.  Both courses draw heavily from the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards, and members of CSTA Arkansas were on the respective committees.  Virtual Arkansas is in the process of implementing both of these courses as well as AP Computer Science A in their online learning environment.

There are also professional development initiatives planned to meet the demand for CS teachers.  First, CSTA Arkansas is working with colleges and universities around the state to offer summer workshops for teachers licensed in other content areas who are interested in learning to teach CS.  The chapter also submitted a CS4HS grant application to request funding from Google to help build our community of practice.  The state’s second Computer Science Education Summit, to be held in October, will feature a track of sessions to support novice CS teachers.  Other ongoing initiatives are also building out the community, including the roll-out of a three-year program of study in Mobile Application Development beginning with tools like App Inventor and GameSalad but transitioning to XCode, Eclipse, and Android Studio.  Training for this program will also happen this summer for 8-10 new teachers.

Arkansas has no teacher licensure system in place for Computer Science educators.  Early efforts proposed by the Arkansas Department of Education would have required Computer Science teachers be No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Highly-Qualified Teachers (HQT) in Mathematics.  As it stands, any licensed educator may teach CS courses, but fourth-year math credit will only being granted to those students taught by NCLB HQT in math.  Arkansas is partnering with Education Testing Service (ETS), which is currently developing a multi-state Praxis exam for Computer Science.  We believe this exam will be required for CS licensure in the future.

It’s an exciting time to be a Computer Science educator in Arkansas, but we have a long road ahead of us.  The role of CSTA Arkansas will be to inform the standards as they are developed and revised, identify and prepare new CS teachers, support existing teachers and CS programs, and inform the new CS Education Task Force.

Daniel Moix has taught Computer Science since 2003 at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences & Arts; College of the Ouachitas; and Bryant High School. He is CSTA Arkansas Vice-President, a member of the CSTA Computer Science Advocacy Leadership Team (CSALT), a member of the Councils of Chief State School Officers’ Computer Science Advisory Group, and beginning in June 2015, Daniel will begin work as Arkansas’s first K-12 Computer Science Education Specialist.