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I just saw this question about SIGCSE for college professors, and it made me curious about whether it is a good organization for high school teachers. I am currently a member of my local CSTA, which I find to be of some value. Are there additional benefits from SIGCSE that could help me in my classroom practice?

(Note: I would love to hear from current or past members of the organization, but please avoid ad copy and the like. This is not intended as a promotional question.)

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Yes! (with some qualifications.)

Benefits (most apply to conference attendance):

  • connections with other teachers to share ideas and experience
  • research results on CS teaching practices/methods
  • TIME away from class to reflect and plan
  • broader perspective on new/existing computing curricula
    • (especially honest feedback on others' experience with CS material/curricula)
  • perspective on what is out there for your students in computing careers and in college
  • information-dense listserv (you hear about sites like this one)

However, most of the sessions/listserv posts are still geared toward research on college classes, so you have to be picky about sessions at the conference. There is a K-12 track for sessions, which makes things easier.

There are more K-12 sessions every year, and more K-12 educators attending as well. This year my district (Chicago Public Schools) had 20 people attend, and there were a good number of other (mostly high school) teachers from other districts. Two of this year's keynotes (Gail Chapman and Mitch Resnick) were people whose main impact has been in the K-12 space, and next year's theme is CS for All, so they really recognize the importance of what is happening in high school and earlier grades.

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  • $\begingroup$ I appreciate the perspective of an actual HS teacher here. Thanks for the thorough answer, and welcome to Computer Science Educators! $\endgroup$
    – Ben I.
    Jun 30 '17 at 16:28
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I've known many HS teachers who have joined and become valued members. I think it is most useful for those contemplating further graduate study and seeking contacts and research ideas and such. Some have gone on to earn doctorates.

However, for your stated goal, you will find that the members there, while not focused on secondary education, will have a lot to contribute to your programming and general CS classes.

SIGCSE folk are especially interested in APCS. The curriculum gets developed by many of these people, as do supporting materials (case studies), and many, many of them are AP graders.

CSTA, of course, is more directly focused on your needs. But SIGCSE can help you learn early of educational trends before they become embodied in curricula. You can even participate in the development.

For example, Greenfoot, an interesting Java environment for beginners, as well as BlueJ (more advanced), were developed by a team led by members (Michael Kölling and his team). He does tutorials, etc. at the SIGCSE and ITICSE conferences.

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I started teaching CS in higher ed and knew of ACM. CSTA was not really around when I joined SIGCSE. I think that both are great for K-12 CS teachers. I am not directly in the classroom today, but I am more involved in policy I consider both organizations critical for that work. For example, many states are now implementing CS standards. The amazing continuity between K-12 CS educators and the collegiate level is apparent in discussions is both groups. The SIGCSE listserve, gives me daily information. The CSTA newsletter gives me less frequent and newsworthy articles. It is very easy to use both resources to show that the effort to support CS education in K-12 is of use, as the standards are in line with the content and pedagogy in higher ed.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi, Paula. Thanks for sharing your experiences, and welcome to Computer Science Educators! I hope we hear more from you in the future :) $\endgroup$
    – Ben I.
    Jun 30 '17 at 1:32

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