Teacher Activity

Implementing Professional Development for Teachers Throughout the Year

October 21, 2019
Constellations Fellow

Instead of delivering traditional one-and-done professional development (PD) workshops in the summer, the Constellations Center for Equity in Computing (Constellations) is deploying a model that focuses on two workshops per semester. Our team believes that this model will be more effective because it gives the teachers access to year-round support. This year-round support allows them to address challenges as they happen, allowing the teachers to become more effective and build efficacy as the year progresses.

Last month, Constellations held the first of four PD workshops for computer science (CS) teachers from Atlanta Public Schools (APS).

The anticipated outcomes of these workshops include:

  • Building content knowledge with teachers who are new/novices to computing

  • Increasing access to CS in underserved communities

  • Fostering of community within APS and eventually connecting to the larger state/national CS teacher community

Unplugged and Physical Computing Activities

During the workshop teachers participated in five lessons; four utilized unplugged activities, while one lesson was a physical computing lesson that used hummingbird kits. 

These lessons are easy to do and help drive home core concepts that are used frequently in CS.

  • 20 Questions - Eliciting yes or no solutions to simplify a search

  • Binary vs Decimal - How binary is used to represent information digitally

  • Routing and Deadlocks- To understand routing, redundancy, and latency 

  • Flowcharting - To understand the foundation of creating algorithms and understand the difference between a sequence, selection, and iteration using flowcharts

  • Traffic Light Simulation - Applying algorithms to code Hummingbird Kits (physical computing using Scratch)

Modeling Planning Session via Coaching

Outside of the computing concept lessons, we also wanted to continue to build our relationships with the teachers. To do this, we role-played a typical coaching session between a Constellations fellow and a teacher. In addition to modeling how meaningful planning sessions can be conducted between a fellow and teacher, our ultimate goal is for teachers to begin taking lead in the classroom. We believe these coaching sessions help build teacher efficacy which is a crucial component of expanding computer science education.

teacher workshop

Online Teacher Community – Building a Constellations Community 

Finally, we introduced teachers to the idea of building a small online community with APS computer science teachers. Within this new online community, teachers are able to share their successes and ideas for classroom implementation, as well as assist peers with questions or concerns as they traverse through advanced placement (AP) computer science content. We believe that establishing this online community will also help remove the barriers of isolation that many teachers experience. 

With one down and three to go, we can’t wait for the next workshop to get here.