Written by  Ria Galanos

As a computer science teacher, I know that the profession can feel a little isolating for teachers if they are the only CS teacher in their school.  Even if they are lucky enough to be at a school with more than one CS teacher, it is common that they are teaching different courses than their peers.

We are always looking for ways to engage our students and show them how computing is an integral part of almost all fields today.  Just when we think we have it figured out, a new language comes along or the next best way to teach beginners in computer science is discovered.  Finding good professional development in our field is tough, since it is usually language- or level-specific, which can limit the choices in your geographic area.  If your school will allow you to send teachers to conferences, then I recommend sending your CS teacher(s) to the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group in Computer Science Education’s (SIGCSE) Annual Conference to be held in Kansas City, Mo., from March 5-7, 2015.

There is always a little something for everyone involved in CS education: university level CS instructors, K-12 CS teachers, curriculum designers, outreach program coordinators, and teachers who run extracurricular programs in computing.

I’ve run through the workshop schedule as well as the list of paper sessions, special sessions, and birds-of-a-feather sessions and have made my schedule for the conference. I am particularly excited about this year’s offerings and know that taking a few days off of work will be well worth my time spent away from my students. I’m personally looking forward to:

  • Integrating Live Projects into Computing Curriculum
  • Supporting Creativity and User Interaction in CS1 Homework Assignments
  • Gender and Diversity
  • Computer Scientists at the Biology Lab Bench
  • A Data Programming CS1 Course
  • Computer Science Principles Curricula: On-the-ground, Adoptable, Adaptable, Approaches to Teaching
  • Illustrating the Interaction of Algorithms and Data Structures Using the Matching Problem
  • Flipped Classroom Strategies for CS Education
  • Automatically Generated Feedback For CS Student Work: Best Practices
  • AP CS A – Sharing Teaching Strategies And Curricular Ideas
  • Demo on EngageCS.edu
  • Expressions Of Abstraction: Self-explanation In Code Production
  • Engage your Students with the Power of Data
  • Exploring Computer Science Topics with Programmable Smartwatches
  • Bug Infestation! A Goal-Plan Analysis of CS2 Students’ Recursive Binary Search Tree Solutions
  • Technology We Can’t Live Without!
  • Nifty Assignments in CS1/CS2
  • Teaching Privacy
  • …and the Exhibits

More importantly, I’m looking forward to being around like-minded professionals to learn from, collaborate with, and to share experiences with about our trials and tribulations of teaching CS.  For those K-12 teachers who may not be able to take off three days of school, the conference committee is offering a special rate for both one-day and two-day only experiences. The conference organizers have tried to put sessions on Friday and Saturday which are of most interest to K-12 teachers. For more information about SIGCSE, the conference schedule, and conference fee information visit: http://sigcse2015.sigcse.org/.  The early bird registration deadline is coming up on February 1.

I look forward to this event each year like some people look forward to the Super Bowl.  Instead of preparing by purchasing the next best thing in TV technology, I’m planning on purchasing the optimal backpack that will hold my laptop, conference swag, textbook samples, and important handouts comfortably for the duration of the conference.

Hope to see fellow NCSSS teachers at SIGCSE 2015!

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