This past weekend, I attended the SIGCSE conference in Atlanta, near where I live. This was the first time I have had the opportunity to attend SIGCSE, and I am so glad that I did. This conference is a phenomenal way to collaborate with CS teachers at all levels. I learned so much this weekend.
My favorite session was the Introductory Programming Meets the Real World: Using Real Problems & Data in CS1 brought to us by the University of Washington. They are creating programming assignments that are centered around data. I can not think of a better way to interest students in computing than by making it applicable to real life! Isn't that what teachers say across all disciplines? Make the curriculum applicable to real life, and you will maintain student engagement? I'm in!! I believe this approach fits nicely into the CS Principles curriculum, and will allow for the application of many of the Big Ideas at the same time. It will allow students to see abstraction, data, programming, algorithms, impact, be creative, and also see how it is tied to the internet all in the same project. There materials can be found at tinyurl.com/dataprogramming!
This conference is a non-stop event. Teachers are learning all day and there are collaborative opportunities for working dinners before a plethora of workshops start up in the evening. I can not wait for SIGCSE 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri.