The Learning Technology Grant Year 2 (2019-2020)
Professional Development Series
Year 2 of the LTG began with professional development for teachers and administrators on a pilot partnership between Lego and BrainPOP. Teachers and administrators from the nine LTG schools were invited to participate in this Fall and early Winter professional development series. The participants learned how to use these the Lego We Do 2.0 kits with BrainPOP to provide classroom connections to Science, Technology, Social Studies, and Social Emotional Learning through hands-on learning. The lessons were integrated into classrooms across the district and within the partner schools. The nine schools included in the grant are the YPS schools of Martin Luther King Jr. Academy, Eugenio de Hostos, School 22 and Family School 32; St. Peter’s and St. Anthony’s from the Archdiocese; and independent schools including Stein Yeshiva, Andalusia School, Andrus Orchard School.
In January 2020, a full day professional development for LTG teachers and administrators was facilitated by Yonkers Public Schools and Lego for teachers and administrators. Participants received training from Lego facilitators using the Lego We Do 2.0 kits and programs to develop STEM activities to support classroom learning. Teachers worked together to develop robots, engage in competition, and develop plans for implementation into their classrooms. The LTG program during Year 2 benefitted students both during the school day and those students who signed up for the after-school programs, greatly expanding the number of students – and teachers – implementing Science, Engineering, and other content areas through technology and an inquiry-based learning structure
After School Programs and Second Annual FIRST Lego Competition
The after-school Lego Robotics programs were facilitated at seven sites, with students and teachers from St. Anthony’s School and St. Peter’s School joining with Yonkers Public School teachers at Eugenio de Hostos School and Family School 32. Facilitators from Computer Adventures worked with teachers and students for 90-minutes at each site, weekly from January through mid-March 2020 in preparation for the second annual FIRST Lego League competition scheduled for April. High school students from each of the eight high schools in the district mentored the elementary students at each of the four Yonkers Public School sites. The high school students were from Riverside High School’s P-Tech program, Lincoln High School, Yonkers Middle High School, Palisade Preparatory School, Gorton High School, Roosevelt Early College High School, Saunders Trade and Technical High School and Yonkers Montessori Academy. The competition, scheduled for early April, was to be held at Yonkers Middle High School.
Transition to Full Remote Learning
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and school closures in March, the competition scheduled for April was cancelled. During this time, schools in Westchester, including Yonkers Public Schools and its community partner schools, switched from in-person to fully remote instruction. This changed the focus of our LTG to providing full remote instruction to students. Funding from the LTG provided additional computers for use in the classrooms and enabled teacher professional development and student enrichment programs to be delivered using the Yonkers Public Schools Distance Learning website. This new website was developed in response to the immediate and sudden shift to full distance learning in this district of 27,000 students.
As the Yonkers Public Schools shifted to full-distance learning, district-wide professional development for all teachers, administrators and staff occurred between April and June on Microsoft Teams. The goal was to develop further proficiency among the educators to increase consistency of instructional techniques across the district. Microsoft Teams training had been piloted within the district through professional development offered thanks to the LTG Year 1 funds. During the time of remote instruction, more than 50 professional development sessions for faculty, administrators and staff were conducted through the end of the school year to move towards fully adopting Microsoft Teams as the primary method of hybrid and full remote learning to students at home for the 2020-2021 school year.
The Summer Engineering Academy as a Learning Lab for STEM instruction for Year 3
A Summer Engineering Academy was developed and implemented in July 2020 with several goals in mind. First to continue to provide STEM-based enrichment to students who would be entering the third through fifth grades in the fall; second to provide a lab experience where teachers could try
Over 300 students signed up for the Engineering Academy that was staffed by nine teachers, some of whom were already participants in the LTG program. For the summer program, students who needed computers were provided with district-devices which had Minecraft Education preloaded, as did the teachers. The students learned how to use this program as well as Microsoft Teams and Webex, collaborate together virtually, and learn engineering and design principles. Computer Adventures provided training on using Minecraft Education to teachers and administrators and assisted during the daily virtual classes. Webex was purchased through the LTG to allow for teachers to communicate with students and families and it also provided the means for professional development. It is anticipated that this will allow for a virtual means of instruction during the school year. Minecraft Education is part of the Microsoft Suite of applications within the district, however it had not been used for instruction previously. In addition, teachers and students were trained in using Microsoft Teams, where instruction occurred each day.
This technology rich program was highly successful, based upon student and teacher surveys, the consistent attendance rate throughout the program, and the culminating projects in which students created their “Eighth Wonder of the World” and explained the engineering and design principles they used. These collaborative projects in which students worked virtually with each other, the teachers, and the Computer Adventures facilitators were showcased on the Yonkers Public Schools Distance Learning site and several of the projects have been selected to showcase on the Learning Technology Grant Year 2 site, as the technology was instrumental in piloting this program. Due to the ongoing pandemic and curtailment of after-school programs and the movement to hybrid and full remote learning, this engineering program will be part of the Year 3 LTG. For more information, contact Dawn Bartz, Yonkers Public Schools Executive Director of Social Studies, Science, Instructional Technology, and Distance Learning at firstname.lastname@example.org