Georgia Tech’s Constellations Center Trains Atlanta Public School Teachers for Georgia’s New Computer Science Course Requirements

APS teacher group photo
November 12, 2019
Communications Officer

To help Atlanta Public School system teachers prepare for a new requirement in Georgia schools to offer computer science courses within the next five years, the Constellations Center for Equity in Computing (Constellations) at Georgia Tech is expanding its programming to train and support educators.

As a result, six Atlanta Public School (APS) teachers spent Wednesday, Nov. 6 on Georgia Tech’s campus receiving hands-on training in teaching computer science from the center’s staff. All of the participating teachers are a part of Constellations’ Computing Equity Project – a program that is expanding computer science education to marginalized communities.

Yolanda Payne and teachers
Constellations fellow Yolanda Payne taught teachers about how to use Minecraft and Raspberry Pi in their classrooms to keep students of all levels challenged and excited. 

As a part of the program, teachers are mentored by Constellations fellows throughout the year as they teach advanced placement computer science courses. In addition to the regular mentorship, Constellations hosts day-long professional development workshops every semester for all of the teachers to come together, discuss their experiences, and learn new skills to bring back to the classroom.

Constellations fellows walked attendees through a variety of unplugged and programming activities that they could easily implement in their own classrooms. They also participated in a bit of fun with learning to program and fly drones through an obstacle course.

“For many teachers, it’s their first year teaching computer science, a subject they also probably don’t have much (if any) experience with. We believe that building community amongst these teachers is a key component of their success, and that’s a core goal of these workshops,” said Terry Foster, a Constellations Fellow.

unplugged activity
By experiencing unplugged activities themselves, the teachers are now able to better implement them into their curriculum and facilitate different activities in class. 

Attendees were also treated to a presentation and discussion with Bryan Cox, a computer science specialist with the Georgia Department of Education. Cox gave the teachers insight into the challenges that the department is facing in integrating computer science into the curriculum, especially in light of SB-108 – a Georgia law that requires all Georgia middle and high schools to offer computer science courses by 2024. Together, Cox and attendees also discussed pedagogy and how to build efficacy in other computer science teachers who are not supported by a community of teachers.

Bryan Cox and teachers
Georgia Department of Education computer science specialist Bryan Cox gave attendees a rundown on the departments strategy and efforts to increase computer science in schools across Georgia.

“These workshops have been really beneficial to me as a first time computer science teacher. Between the workshops and the mentorship that Terry gives me on a regular basis, I feel prepared and inspired to keep bringing new ideas to my classroom every day,” said David Guy, a math and computer science teacher at Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School.

Constellations will offer two more workshops next semester.