Mr. Guy explains battleship to colleagues

Regular Professional Development Workshops Prove to Be a Worthwhile Addition to Constellations Programming

March 19, 2020
Communications Officer
Constellations Fellow

Throughout the school year, Constellations has hosted four professional development workshops for teachers that are a part of our Computing Equity Project. These workshops were opportunities to not only better equip our teachers with more resources and knowledge to teach advanced computing courses, but to also encourage community amongst teachers from across the district who are facing similar challenges.

We wrapped up our final workshop in early March, which has proven to be an even more crucial day given our current circumstances navigating the rampant spread of the novel coronavirus.

We are fortunate that each of our workshops were able to begin with a guest presentation from a leader in computing education. As a center, we have been utilizing CodeHS throughout the academic year, so we were fortunate to have Bianca Ramchandani, CodeHS customer success manager as our last guest speaker of the year.

Ramchandani showed our teachers more ways to use the platform to enhance the classroom experience before addressing the current state of computer science in Georgia and national curriculums.

A staple of our workshops are having our teachers participate in unplugged activities that they can take back to their classroom. To display the concept of minimal spanning trees, we introduced our teachers to Spheros – a programmable robot that is awesome at introducing many educational STEM concepts. Our team also gave a hands-on demonstrations with a variety of household objects to show how the concept of arrays could be presented to students.

Terry Foster explains Spheros and the task at hand to participating teachers.
Constellations fellow Terry Foster introduces Spheros and explains the task at hand to participating teachers.

Another goal of the professional development workshops is to continue building our teachers confidence in teaching CS. In our more recent workshops, we have selected two teachers to pick a resource, a concept, or something that they have found to be useful when teaching CS and present it to the other workshop attendees.

David Guy, a first-time teacher at Maynard Jackson High School, demonstrated the need for addressing by playing Battleship via Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy teacher, Dana Johnson, gave her colleagues an overview of a Java eBook which includes a grade book, unit overviews, practice AP CSA exam questions, and more. South Atlanta High School teacher Njemele Bush joined in on the fun and shared some physical computing resources that she received from DonorsChoose – a program that was presented in a previous workshop.

While our fellows offer teachers hands-on support throughout the week, we’ve found these workshops to be essential to the success of our program. By allowing teachers to spend multiple days receiving hands-on training throughout the year rather than a couple days of training in the summer, we are able to troubleshoot problems and encourage teachers in real-time. We are looking forward to continuing these workshops over the summer and throughout next year.

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