Teacher Claudene McCoy: Computer science education bridges the equity gap

“This is about bridging the achievement gap. This is about bridging the equity gap – getting more students involved in computer science. Claudene McCoy 

Claudene McCoyCode.org’s Professional Learning Program is an intensive, year-long learning experience for middle and high school educators interested in teaching Code.org’s Discoveries (middle school) or Principles (high school) courses.

Battelle’s Ohio STEM Learning Network is the Code.org Professional Learning Partner for Ohio. Every year, we train over 100 teachers on free computer science resources. Participants explore Computer Science curriculum and tools, experiment with specific teaching strategies, and join a local community of teachers using this curriculum.

Applications for next year’s cohort are open now, so we’re checking in with current participants to learn how they’re bringing Computer Science to their school. Learn more and apply here.

Claudene McCoy is a 25-year veteran teacher in the Cleveland Heights/University Heights schools. She was a middle school technology teacher for 13 years, and she joined the Code.org Ohio TeacherCON cohort last summer to prepare to teach AP Computer Science Principles. Read about her experience below!

Application and program details
Read our detailed post for program deadlines, cost and schedule

Why is this class important for your students? 

This is about bridging the achievement gap. This is about bridging the equity gap – getting more students involved in computer science. It’s important for every student to have an opportunity to come into computer science and learn not just what to do, but the how behind it. That could take them to photography or other things in technology. It’s about getting more students involved in it and showing them –  you can do this!

I think, more students will be interested in it if they see – hey, it’s not as hard as I thought! It’s not just for this type of student, but it’s for everyone. That’s why I think it’s important.

Why did join the Code.org cohort? What were you hoping to get out of it? 

I’m getting everything I was hoping. I was hoping to get a better understanding of exactly what I’m going to be teaching.

I really needed to learn. I really wanted to jump into the curriculum. So, I came, and that’s what this has been. This has been amazing… The AP piece was a big thing for me. I’ve never taught AP before, and now here’s a computer science course that’s AP.

What has been the most rewarding part of your class?

It’s rewarding to see that they’re doing it! Watching them actually go in and create… it’s like – wow! They’re doing it! And, to see that they’re starting to understand that everything fits together for the AP exam.

What is your biggest challenge in your Computer Science class?

So, my challenges have nothing to do with the actual curriculum, because, let me just put on record – Code.org for life! It’s amazing – the curriculum is amazing!

The most challenging part has not been anything having to do with the curriculum. The most challenging part is when they have to work together in groups, attendance, and being tardy.

What would you say to an administrator who is on the fence about offering this course?

The class is an opportunity for students who otherwise would not take AP courses to take AP courses, and it’s also an opportunity for students to broaden their horizons. Because we are in the 21st century, you cannot get around Computer Science. So, it introduces students to some of the concepts so they can decide where they want to go or what they want to be. It shows them that it’s not just all programming; Computer Science is enmeshed in our everyday life.

It also gives teachers a chance to come out of their comfort zone and learn along with the students. It’s a great opportunity for AP and an opportunity to broaden your AP horizons to give more students an opportunity to get in on some AP courses.

What could you say to convince a teacher to apply to the next cohort?

For the teachers who are on the fence – definitely go to one of the summer trainings.

If you go to the weeklong summer training, it will definitely equip you with what you need. Although it doesn’t cover everything – because I think that’s impossible – I think it gives you the perfect gateway. And it shows you that you can actually do it because they actually have you doing a lesson – and you have to collaborate. The same things that you want your students to do in some of the curriculum for Code.org - you have to do.

It gives you the same tools that you’re trying to give to your students – and it lets you know that you can do this. I had never taught Computer Science before. I’m a tech teacher; I had taught software programs, we created websites, we did some great things. But I’ve never really done any coding before. And here I am. I’m doing it!


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