The Learning Technology Grant Year 3 (2020-21)
The Learning Technology Grant Year 3 (2020-2021)
During the beginning of the third year of the Learning Technology Grant, many students remained in remote learning so having access to computers that were purchased during Years 2 and 3 was essential to continue the program. Some schools within the partnership opened to all students or remained remote or in hybrid mode. Regardless of the learning environment, this third and final year of the LTG was modified to incorporate a new instructional technology program that would allow students to participate in any learning environment, all they needed was the hardware and an Internet connection.
Professional learning opportunities continued virtually all year with training sessions being offered every Wednesday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., open to all schools. Training sessions targeted for LTG teachers and administrators continued after school hours and focused on learning a new digital program, CoderZ, that allowed students, teachers and administrators to participate in diverse learning environments. The program, produced by Lego, provided a very similar experience to the Lego We Do 2.0 products. Along with the professional learning on CoderZ, each participating LTG school was provided with student licenses for the year, allowing for teachers and students to continue to use the program and even to expand it to their other learners during and after the school day. Additional professional development sessions conducted virtually included training on Microsoft’s Minecraft Education and the Microsoft Suite of Applications. Introduced to the LTG schools and educators around New York was the Nearpod digital platform that provided an interactive experience for students and captured data on student engagement and assessments.
Addressing Equity and Inclusion
The City of Yonkers is one of the most diverse in New York and our students come from many different areas of the world, ethnic and racial groups, and diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. Although the fourth largest city in New York State, funding within the public and nonpublic schools in Yonkers does meet the need of providing one-to-one devices for students. However, the Learning Technology Grant allowed for a tremendous increase in supplies for Year 3 which purchased technology so that students could continue to participate in the Engineering Initiative. Chromebooks were purchased, which greatly supplemented the supply.
With a greater capacity, students were able to download digital programs, code, and be part of digital learning environments. The new computers are faster and lighter than others in the schools and their arrival excited the students and faculty. This additional technology helped to level up both our public and nonpublic school partners so that our city’s students could engage in enriching learning experiences, much as their suburban counterparts had been doing. It also allowed the Yonkers Engineering initiative to continue without the loss of the program.
Through providing site licenses to CoderZ to students and teachers in the program, students could participate no matter which learning environment they were in or their socioeconomic status. Students were able to engage in STEM learning and activities outside of the school day or week. In addition, students retained access to the program for the whole year which allowed for them to access different parts of this comprehensive digital learning program and engage in independent or team STEM activities. This virtual program increased student collaboration not only from within each school’s learning environment (remote, hybrid, and in person learners) but between schools in the city.
As part of the CoderZ program for fifth graders this year, all students developed a showcase piece and demonstrated their learning. The recordings were shared within the sessions, allowing for student feedback and reflection. Students provided demonstrations of what they created as a culminating product, explained and demonstrated virtually how they created them and how they applied academic content skills, and shared what they learned and what they liked best about the program. Common responses include: “creating,” “working with other students,” “learning something new.”