Round Two for Teachers
Earlier this month, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) computer science (CS) educators revisited the Constellations Center for Equity in Computing (Constellations) on Georgia Tech's campus for another round of professional development (PD) workshops. The first occurred in September of this year with the third and fourth scheduled for January and March 2020, respectively.
In these workshops, led by the Constellations Fellows team of Sababu Chaka Barashango, Terry Foster, and Yolanda Payne and under the leadership of Lien Diaz, educators experience unplugged and physical computing activities that are aligned with the College Board Advanced Placement Computer Science A (AP CS A) and Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles (AP CSP) course frameworks and can be readily implemented in their classrooms. One of the previously presented activities was the Floor Flow activity (based on the Human Diagram Tracing activity) which incorporated flow chart, algorithm, and sequential, selective, and repetitive control structure designs. Another showcased a traffic light simulation utilizing Hummingbird Kits and Scratch block programming. Some from the second PD workshop included:
· How Secure Is My Password? - Creating multiple and more secure passwords by using algorithms.
· Introducing Raspberry Pi – Using Raspberry Pi hardware, sensors, and Python programming in relationship to the Internet Of Things and as an option for the AP CSP Performance Task: Create – Applications From Ideas.
· Game Development with ClickTeam Fusion - Learning Object-Oriented Programming and game development via the ClickTeam Fusion 2.5 framework.
· Sorting Networks - Collaborating with others to compare and sort data and information via display cards and chalk-designed networks.
Constellations is targeting instructors of underserved students with these, and similar, experiences to grant wider access to and pique more interest in advanced CS concepts. In addition, the Constellations Fellows shared several resources, such as DonorsChoose and Girls Who Code, of which the teachers could take advantage to receive funding for their classrooms, clubs, or special projects. .
Attendees also received a special treat when computer science specialist, Bryan Cox, from the Georgia Department of Education kicked off the day with an exciting talk. He shared motivational moments, described the current CS landscape in Georgia, discussed information regarding the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators as well as took the time to answer pressing questions from the attendees.
Building a Community
One of the objectives of the workshop, besides continuing to increase teacher content knowledge and improve teacher efficacy, was to build teacher community. Not only did teachers begin to share ideas via the online platform, but I personally witnessed them creating stronger bonds with their colleagues. Many of the teachers discussed having their students collaborate with each other on special projects throughout the school year, which would be exciting to all of us at Constellations! We are anxious to see the harvest of these new relationships and are looking forward to bringing this dynamic group back to campus in January.
Two PD’s down. Two more to go.