Posted by CSTA Conference Committee on May 13, 2022

Photo of Chicago skyline reflected on Lake Michigan. 
Text: CSTA 2022 9-12 Session Recommendations.
Here are some suggestions from the 9th to 12th Grade Committee.

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CSTA 2022 features over 200 sessions, and you don’t want to miss it! We know that navigating that much content can be overwhelming, so the 9th to 12th Grade Committee has highlighted specific sessions that they think you’ll love!

Instructional Strategy Refresh

Presented by Leslie Brommer, Jason Slabdosky, Catherine Tabor, Joshua Childs, and Carol Fletcher 
July 16, from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Engage with these mini sessions: 
  • Integrating CS and History: National History Day Websites Rubber Ducky
  • You’re the One to Make Debugging Fun! 
  • Our Girls Want Computer Science Too: Teacher Strategies for Improving CS Experiences for Girls

Innovative Strategies for Reaching Every Learner

Presented by Seneca Hart, John Alesch, and Andy Bayer 
July 14, from 1-2 p.m. 
Engage with these mini sessions: 
  • Using Student-Created Examples to Foster Understanding and Inclusion in CS 
  • Creating Open-Source Opportunities for CS Students  
  • Ready Player One: Gamify Self-Paced Learning

Breaking the Four Walls: Planning Events Outside of the Classroom

Presented by Carlen Blackstone, Chris Turnbull, Deborah Ivie, Andrea Schmutz, and Pamela Van Wagoner 
July 15, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. 
Engage with these mini sessions: 
  • Igniting Enthusiasm for Computer Science through Student Hackathons 
  • 10 Steps to Hosting an App Design and Prototype Camp 
  • Teaching CS Concepts through ACSL Competitions

AI and Ethics: Discussing Ethical Challenges in K-12 Classrooms

Presented by Joi Anderson
July 15, from 9-10 a.m.
As artificial intelligence impacts more and more elements of society, it has become ever more important to include computer ethics in computer science curricula. Effective ethics instruction requires teaching students how to navigate their own moral decision-making and how to predict the potential consequences of their work. This session explores key ethical implications of technologies that use artificial intelligence and shares effective strategies for teaching ethics in high school CS classes.

Teaching Technical AI Concepts without Math or Programming

Presented by Sarah Judd 
July 15, from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
This session shares an AI4ALL Open Learning lesson that introduces AI concepts to students without requiring a high-level background in other subjects. AI4ALL Open Learning creates curriculum and resources for high school classroom teachers (of all subjects) who are interested in teaching AI and expanding access to AI education. The Open Learning program is free, approachable, teacher community-focused, and inclusive to groups historically excluded from AI fields.  While all the AI4ALL curricula discuss the relationship of inputs to what AI creates, we also wanted students to see what happens under the hood to process those inputs. We did not want to limit that experience only to students with the math and programming backgrounds required to understand most traditional AI courses. To this end, we developed lessons on how specific AI technology work that do not require any previous experience to understand. These lessons walk students through AI concepts aurally, visually, experimentally, and with unplugged activities to reinforce the concepts for all learners. Each “How It Works” lesson lasts approximately two hours and can be motivated by one of our other lessons on AI implementation. At the end of each, students teach what they know to a specific audience. In this session, the curriculum developer will walk attendees through an abbreviated version of lesson “How Neural Networks Work” and quickly describe the rest of the lessons in the series.

Snapping in Class: Image Processing in Python

Presented by Misha Kutzman 
July 17, from 10:30-11:30 p.m. 
This session shares a project-based unit that teaches students the image processing techniques used by their favorite social media platforms. High school students love connecting with one another through Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and other social media. Instead of pestering students to put away their phones and pay attention in computer science class, we designed a project-based unit in Python to help them understand how images are processed.  In this unit, students created their own image filters, text, time stamps, sticker and emoji overlays, and facial recognition for adding dog ears and beards. The students followed the agile development process, with each group selecting a different task to complete during a two-week sprint cycle. In addition to coding image filters using the Python Imaging Library and OpenCV, student tasks included investigating and selecting an appropriate IDE (integrated development environment), designing a user interface, system integration, unit testing, and compilation into an executable. At the end of the unit, students had created a powerful, full-to-use software package, and they were thrilled with their accomplishment. We are delighted to share the details of how to implement this project in your middle or high school computer science classes.

Engaging Counselors, Teachers, and Administrators to Broaden Participation in Computing

Presented by Ruth Kyle and Thomas Kyle 
July 15, from 1-2 p.m. 
In this presentation, attendees will learn how to develop effective partnerships with counselors, administrators, and fellow teachers to assist in recruitment for CS classes. While it’s easy to think that the students for whom a CS class is designed will naturally find the class and enroll in it, this isn’t always the case. There are many reasons why potentially interested students, particularly girls and students of color, might not enroll in a CS class. CS instructors can actively recruit students on their own, of course. But developing an effective partnership with a school counselor and administrator can help increase interest and participation well beyond an individual teacher’s reach. Counselors are integral parts of the registration process, while administrators understand certification and scheduling. Both can be a CS teacher’s greatest champions! Simply offering a course will not create equity or promote the goal of CS for All. A plan and focused effort is required, and partnerships between teachers and counselors are an essential part of that plan.

Reach All Learners without Sacrificing Rigor: Let’s Differentiate!

Presented by Jennifer Manly 
July 15, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. 
You’ve been there: In any given lesson, the majority of the class may be keeping pace, while a handful of students are bored and another handful are struggling. Every student has unique needs, but there isn’t enough time in the day to plan, assess, and provide high-quality feedback to help students learn. But imagine a classroom with structures in place to allow every student to progress through the content at their own pace, freeing up time for teachers to work with the students who need them the most and empowering students to take ownership of their own learning.  Differentiation doesn’t mean sacrificing mastery, and it doesn’t have to consume all of your extra time. Done right, differentiation of content, process, and product allows every learner to work toward mastery of the standards, while freeing up time for the educator in the room to do what they do best: teach.  In this session, attendees will explore methods to differentiate any lesson, with targeted strategies unique to the CS classroom. They will leave with tools to create a classroom environment where every student can access rigorous content.

Power On! A New Graphic Novel Written for and about Youth Studying CS

Presented by Jane Margolis and Jean Ryoo 
July 16, from 9-10 a.m. 
Computer science is power. The decisions made by computer scientists today-in the algorithms they design and the programs they create-are profoundly changing how we communicate, work, think, learn, and determine fact from fiction. While the world is becoming more aware of the ethical complexities of technology, as well as how technology intersects with systemic inequality and racism, educators and students are rarely seated at the table to engage with these issues. This session introduces attendees to Power On!, a new graphic novel (MIT Press, April 2022) that offers readers of all ages the insights they need to be able to engage with these issues directly.  Power On! translates decades of educational research about the inequalities in computing education into graphic novel form, bringing to life the reasons that youth deserve and need the knowledge to be critical creators with technology, not merely users who are manipulated by it. In this session, educators will be introduced to the graphic novel and a teacher discussion guide (developed with educators) that support conversation about current issues of ethics and social responsibility in computing, the connections between identity and computer science learning, issues of equity in computer science education and the field at large, and how youth can get involved to support positive social change through computer science education.

Learner-Led Coding Education: Creating Curriculum Maps with Students

Presented by Jon Stapleton 
July 16, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. 
Research-based best practices for CS education emphasize the following: Learners’ experiences with code should be relevant to their interests. Learners should engage with projects that catalyze curiosity, exploration, and creativity. Finally, teaching should be responsive to students’ interests, needs, prior knowledge, cultural backgrounds, and desires.  In this session, participants will explore how to facilitate responsive, creative, and relevant coding education experiences in their computer science classrooms through collaborative, learner-led curricular design. Participants will work together to create curriculum maps, which express the collective interests and desires of learners and teachers, and which serve as a foundation for student-led computer science learning experiences. Curriculum maps are tools that explore students’ goals and prior knowledge, provide scaffolds for students engaged in interest-driven learning, and reflect on students’ learning experiences individually and collectively over a sustained period of time. Through these curricular maps, participants will imagine how they might invite students to participate in co-creating computer science learning experiences that are fundamentally creative, responsive, and collaborative.

Cyber Sleuths: Building Cyber Skills to Solve Today’s Cyber Problems

Presented by Ronald Woerner and Dr. Lisa McKee 
July 16, from 9-10 a.m. 
This rapid-fire presentation showcases tools, applications, and websites used by professionals in the fields of IT, cybersecurity, and data privacy to solve common problems. Attendees will learn ways to detect sensitive, private information on the internet, map their own digital footprints, and experiment with tools such as Nmap, Microsoft Sysinternals and PowerToys, OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) and cyber-attack frameworks, browser add-ons like NoScript, and many more. The session demonstrates tricks and techniques to share with students as they build their critical technology and professional skills. It also provides a variety of websites, references, and resources to help technology educators do their jobs well and keep their cyber skills sharp. Come join us for Cyber Sleuths!

Critically Conscious Computing: Methods for Secondary Education

Presented by Jayne Everson and Amy Ko 
July 15, from 9-10 a.m. 
CS teaching often aims to be apolitical, maintaining a strict focus on technical skills. However, students’ lives and experiences are deeply informed by their values, identities, and politics, and computing is often at the center of these concerns (e.g., cyberbullying, surveillance, labor exploitation, etc.). In this breakout session, we will explain the need for critical CS pedagogy that examines the intersection between technical concepts in CS and sociopolitical concepts from the humanities and social sciences. We’ll share a free online book for secondary educators that offers a range of methods for teaching technical ideas in CS in sociopolitical terms. Attendees will break into small groups to take sketches of critically conscious unit plans and collaboratively develop concrete ideas for adapting these plans into lessons suitable for the participants’ own classrooms.

Fun, Formative Feedback and Assessments to Improve Learning

Presented by Leslie Brommer and Sharon Jason 
July 16, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. 
Discover how to implement formative feedback and assessments such as Parsons problems, pair programming, code commenting, rubrics, code visualization, and more! Attendees at this session will walk away with an increased theoretical understanding of the importance of formative feedback and assessment, as well as classroom-ready activities that put these ideas into practice.  This session focuses on feedback as an essential instructional tool in computer science education. Parsons problems task students with rearranging a set of scrambled code fragments and are an excellent way to provide built-in formative feedback for students. Rubrics allow teachers to communicate specific feedback to students, giving them a clear idea of their strengths, areas of need, and paths to improvement. Pair programming brings students into the feedback cycle! Peers offer each other feedback and support on problems, and the immediacy of the feedback allows students to find and correct mistakes on their own. Formative assessments like multiple choice and fill in the blank can provide immediate feedback to students, including the rationale for correct and incorrect answers. Participants will explore these feedback tools and broaden their understanding of the tools they can use to check for student understanding.

The Grand Comics Database Journey: From Data Set to Classroom

Presented by Peter DeCraene and Eileen Jakeway Manchester 
July 15, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. 
The Library of Congress has many publicly accessible large data sets. Currently stored in a variety of formats, the data sets may be difficult for teachers to access and use in their classes. In this session, we will describe our process for providing better access to the Library of Congress’s Grand Comics Database and share suggestions for using a derivative data set in the classroom. Our process steps include selection of the data set from among the many available, as well as decisions about converting the data set from an SQL format to CSV. We’ll make classroom suggestions that include uses for the original SQL file, ways to analyze the CSV file, and visualizations to make the data more accessible.

Offline Coding with Board Games

Presented by Patrick Cullinane
July 15, from 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Get your students off the computer and start them thinking about coding through board games! This session identifies three potential board games to for educators to use in the CS classroom. We will share discussion points for students, the fun and learning of the board games, and how it all relates back to computer science. The games include Potato Pirates, which teaches logic, conditions, and variables; its sequel, Enter the Spudnet, which focuses on how the internet works; and, if time allows, Mechs vs. Minions, which requires planning ahead and programming moves in order to win. Participants will have the opportunity to play these games and see some lessons plans used in the classroom. As a group, we can then discuss ways for attendees to use these games in their particular classroom context and share other resources on this topic.

Fun with Ants and the Game of Life: Bringing Cellular Automata to Your Classroom

Presented by Steve Earth 
July 15, from 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Students love building something they can show off to their friends, and the topic of cellular automata never fails to deliver. While this concept is often left out of introductory CS classes, it reinforces many of the core fundamentals of CS, and there’s every reason to include it. This session will explain cellular automata and demonstrate the topic’s relevance to CS pedagogy.  The session will demonstrate lessons at all levels: A lesson for non-programmers lets students explore cellular automata on pre-made websites. Although no programming is involved, they still gain a feel for what an algorithm is as they categorize the end behavior of different colonies, including those of their own creation. They can also tinker with the rule set, thus learning the idea of parameters, as they enjoy the feeling of creating something new and unique.  For programmers, the lesson permits them to implement cellular automata themselves. This involves breaking the project into subgoals, designing a data structure for the cells (with or without classes and methods), displaying the graphics and (very simple) animation, coding the survival rules (which also entails deciding which parameters are fixed and which aren’t), and so on. Finally, a lesson for advanced and more experienced students delves into the vast theory behind cellular automata. This leads into discussion of Turing machines and noncomputable functions, as well as lesser known cellular automata, such as the Langton Ant.

Agile Escape Room, Version Two

Presented by Sean Glantz and Jared Amalong 
July 15, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. 
Covering simple agile strategies suitable for middle and high school classrooms, this interactive session guides participants through a collaborative escape room that incorporates agile strategies. After learning about the kanban pull system, participants will work in teams to solve a series of puzzles on a Trello board. The session will incorporate scrum roles and ceremonies, exploring how these tools can improve collaboration and accountability while providing students with meaningful leadership opportunities.  Building on the popular Agile Escape Room presentation from CSTA 2021, this iteration of the escape room emphasizes how team retrospectives can improve collaboration, communication, and agency. Incorporating many new and engaging CS-themed puzzles, this session provides many resources and activities for immediate classroom use, while also sharing avenues to continue growing on your own agile adventure.

Project-Based Learning in AP Computer Science Courses (CS A and CSP)

Presented by Leon Tynes 
July 16, from 1-2 p.m. 
This session is designed to help AP computer science teachers incorporate project-based learning (PBL) into their classes. Due to the strict scope and sequence of AP computer science classes, opportunities for project-based learning can elude many AP CS teachers. However, there are moments within this AP curriculum where student creativity and authentic coding can take place without burdening the teacher. Project-based learning deepens students’ understanding of computer science content as they work collaboratively on a real-world issue. Furthermore, this type of learning strengthens critical thinking, numeracy, and literacy, as students deepen their coding experience and document their progress and end results in digital portfolios. This session exhibits concrete project-based learning artifacts and unit examples for teachers of AP CS A and AP CSP.
While we’ve selected a few sessions to highlight, we encourage you to check out the full agenda on the website. You can filter by grade band as well as CSTA teacher and student standards. Be sure to check out our equity-focused sessions across all grade levels. Be sure to register for CSTA 2022 before July 10!