Reflections on the Learning Technology Grant program
Reflecting on the impact of the Learning Technology Grant for the Yonkers City Schools
The Learning Technology Grant has been a game-changer for the schools in the City of Yonkers. Over the past three years, the grant has fostered strong partnerships between the Yonkers Public Schools and the nonpublic schools within the borders of Yonkers and it has offered opportunities for our elementary students to immerse themselves in inquiry-based learning through STEM education. The partnerships between the schools have grown stronger each year of the grant from September of 2018 through June of 2021 and have resulted in incredible achievement gains for our students.
Thanks to the generous funding of the grant, we have been able to develop and deliver high quality professional development to teachers and administrators of our nine schools. Professional learning has included training by Lego, Computer Adventures, and BrainPOP on STEM principles, design and building. Teacher and administrator training has included lessons on how to integrate the humanities, digital citizenship, and historical literacy as well as social emotional learning into STEM learning. The professional learning opportunities were supplemented by both the BrainPOP and Nearpod platforms as well as through our own teachers’ ingenuity.
The pandemic closed all schools midway through Year 2 of the grant. We were able to shift to full remote learning, which continued for our schools during Year 3 of the LTG. We shifted to fully digital programs and continued student enrichment classes afterschool, while also providing our partner schools with opportunities for the student program during their school day. The flexibility of the program allowed our partnerships to continue and we found that students attended the sessions whether they were virtual or in person.
As we made the shift, we also were able to purchase Chromebooks for the schools to allow students to continue to learn and participate. New technology allowed for an expansion of the program so that teachers, administrators and students could participate from anywhere. The increase in new technology excited our students, who quickly adapted to using multiple digital platforms, including CoderZ, Minecraft Education, Nearpod, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams.
In this section, we have included some of the feedback from our teachers, students, and administrators. We have also surveyed our participating faculty and students and the feedback has been unanimous that the Learning Technology Grant in the City of Yonkers has increased STEM learning, has excited students (and teachers), and increased proficiencies and competencies in the STEM fields.
Dawn Bartz, Learning Technology Grant Manager, Yonkers Public Schools
Feedback from St. Anthony's School
Thank you so much for welcoming our Fifth-Grade students into the LTG virtual Robotics Program with the Yonkers Public Schools. As a new principal to the school, I was uncertain as to the reaction our students would have to the virtual Robotics program. Our students were thrilled every week to join in the computer-based activities. They recounted stories of their adventures and mishaps as they navigated the program and developed their skills. I am grateful for the wonderful experience they had and your welcoming presence, guidance and generosity in sharing materials and resources. I certainly hope that next year, we are able to build upon this year's success! St. Anthony's School definitely wants to be included again!