Smart Start Grant

Lead Contact:

Renee Allen
631-595-6844
rallen@wsboces.org

Award Amount:

$500,000 per year for five (5) years

Overview:

The Computer Science For All Western Suffolk or CSFAWS ¬†consists of a consortium of nine (9) Suffolk County school districts with a combined enrollment of over 23,000 K-8 students in 48 schools, in collaboration with Western Suffolk BOCES and Mouse. Western Suffolk BOCES will utilize their website for the required web pages. The focus area for the project is computer science, and it will use a Cohort model. The program is Large Scale, and the consortium will train 500 teachers and impact well over 18,000 students over the course of the five (5) year grant. The target populations for the CSFAWS include media specialists who work in the participating districts’ schools with students in grades K-8, as well as classroom teachers in the same grades. Administrators will be invited to the SCRIPTS training, outlined further in the narrative, that is a framework to guide teams of district administrators, school leaders, and educators through a series of collaborative visioning, self-assessment and goal-setting exercises to create or expand a computer science education implementation plan for their students. They will similarly be informed of the Summer Institute training and will participate as their interests and schedules allow. The student focus of the CSFAWS will be on students for whom English is a new language, students referred to as Multilingual Learners (MLLs) or sometimes English Language Learners (ELLs), while also mindful that all project-related changes in the targeted population will also benefit all students.

Mouse, a nationally active educational training organization with a focus on computer science training for K-12 school staff, will provide training in a Summer Institute. One hundred (100) teachers and media specialists annually, who are participating on a voluntary basis, will be trained over 5 days, grouped according to their grade band, which will be grouped as follows, consistent with the practices of the consortium members: K.-2, 3-5, and 6-8. The goal of his training will be to increase the content knowledge of participating school staff in the area of computer science and digital fluency, introduce grade-relevant material in these specific topic areas, and integrate the CSDF standards with this training. Training will cover content, pedagogy, and the CSDF standards and utilize curriculum developed and provided by Mouse for NY City school staff over the past several years, as well as other districts across the US.

Following the initial Summer Institute training, the teachers will have substantially increased their knowledge of Computer Science and the CSDF standards. During the school year, the goal of the project is for Mouse to continue to support the trained teachers through monthly meetings at the BOCES, serving as the Professional Learning Community, and also through electronic means, while they are implementing the curriculum. Beginning in September, a smaller group of teachers, including 1 teacher per grade band per district, will also meet six times to revise/modify the curriculum for their specific use within the consortium s districts, targeting specific ways to enhance the participation and growth of MLL students, in concert with trainers from Mouse who have completed revisions previously. Mouse trainers will also provide training support for a smaller number of teachers in each district, with one full day of support for trained teachers within each district each year. The support days will include the Mouse trainer co-teaching/observing/coaching with the trained teacher or school staff on site in the district for the selected staff. The discussions and reviews of these experiences will be shared among the cohort at their PLC meetings.

The districts of the CSFAWS are all located in Suffolk County, with districts ranging from highly urban city districts to suburban districts with some rural areas. Their NYS Needs to Resource Capacity levels range from low needs to high needs, which is a strength of the coalition as the diversity of the experience of the members will provide a wide range of ideas, input, and experience for all members. Amityville UFSD is a high needs urban district, for which this proposal requests two (2) bonus  points, with Elwood UFSD, Huntington UFSD, and South Huntington UFSD experiencing average needs for school districts across the state. Huntington UFSD and South Huntington UFSD are both cities, and are considered an urban environment, with Elwood UFSD considered suburban. Smithtown CSD, Cold Spring Harbor CSD, Harborfields CSD, and Kings Park CSD are districts considered to have low needs and could be considered suburban.

The demographics of the districts vary widely, with Smithtown, Cold Spring Harbor and Kings Park having the least diverse population demographically, with 83% White (Smithtown) and both Cold Spring Harbor and Kings Park with 87% of their student population in 2018 White. Amityville is highly diverse, with 52% Hispanic, 40% Black, and 4% white. Other districts with high populations of Hispanic students are Huntington, with 50%; and South Huntington, with 43%. The percentage of MLL students also varies, with each district having at least 1% of their students MLLs. The three districts with the highest percentage of MLL students are Amityville with 22%, Huntington with 21%, and South Huntington with 17%. The remaining districts each have 5% or less of their students as MLLs. Three consortium schools are designated by NYS as Local Assistance Plan (LAP) schools, including two in Amityville and one in South Huntington.

Each one of the consortium members’ school district community shares many strengths. Each district has a Professional Develop1nent Plan with goals approved by their Boards of ∂∂“ý demonstrating a clear awareness, commitment, and support for the areas upon which this proposal is focused, e.g. a focus on student achievement across all student groups, a focus on staff development, a focus on providing support for teachers to understand and implement new educational standards, utilizing best educational and pedagogical practices, and focusing on data to drive district decisions and improvement initiatives. All districts are equally new at implementing the new Computer Science and Digital Fluency standards; aligning their new curricula and presenting it in interesting and engaging ways with the new standards will prove a challenge to every educational professional in these districts. Districts with 15% or more MLL students all have MLL students who as a group are proficient in the state assessments at rates that are far lower than other student groups in their district. Districts with MLL stUdents comprising very low percentages of their student population do not always have their results publicly available. These districts, however, do have differential achievement within their districts in this population group or others that will benefit from participation in this project.

Throughout New York, there is a movement against student testing that results in parents choosing to not have their child take the state assessments. The districts in this consortium are no different, and experience rates of “opting out” sufficiently high such that only a few schools have reached the required level of student testing. The effect of fewer students taking the tests means the tests are less representative of the student population, and of the particular group of students targeted by this project. Consortium districts will continue to work to overcoming this challenge, and then use the more representative student data to continue to drive district improvement.

Program Activities

Mouse’s ¬†K-8 curricula and professional development experiences were developed on the idea that the educator will act as the lead learner. As the lead learner, an educator’s role shifts from being the source of knowledge to being a leader in seeking knowledge. The lead learner’s mantra is: “I may not know the answer, but I know that together we can figure it out.” The philosophy of the lead learner is that you don’t have to be an expert on everything; you can start teaching computer science knowing what you already know and learn alongside your students. To be successful with this style of teaching and learning, the most important tenants are modeling and teaching how to learn. A total.of 100 unduplicated teachers and media specialists will be trained annually. Professional development and support will include the following structure each year over the five-year project period:

Grades K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 Teachers

  • 1 cohort annually of approximately 33 or 34 (to reach 100 teachers); 10 sessions of Computer Science Training and Support per cohort ; Training and support provided through 4 Summer Institute days, 6 follow up 2hour after school PLC sessions with support embedded, and 1 additional teacher mentoring/teacher observing visit per district per year; 6 sessions of curriculum modification support provided through 6 follow up 2 hour after school curriculum work sessions for subset of teachers as described above.

Table 3: Activities Conducted Each Year of the Project with Realistic and Attainable Timetable (2020-2025)

 

Activities

 

Specific Tasks

 

Participants

 

Milestones

 

Time Frame

Administration, Scheduling, and Alignment with REDC Notification of the award and recruitment period to partnering school districts; coordinate annual PD and support schedule; develop marketing materials for school district recruitment; work with Mouse to coordinate materials and other supplies needed for the PD Western Suffolk BOCES central office staff; Western Suffolk BOCES Dept. of Public ∂∂“ý Service; school administrators; REDC Annual calendar of professional development; recruitment materials developed Upon notification of award prior to Yl ¬†(March/April of each year thereafter); ongoing annual oversight and administration
Train

(approximately)

100 K-8 teachers, media specialists, and others in CS Integration with support

Recruit teachers, customize trainings and presentations for each group, train teachers, administer pre and post surveys 100 teachers in grades K-

2, 3-5, and 6-8 from the participating districts

100 teachers recruited and trained in computer science education, 15-20 lessons taught by teachers, analyzing post survey data for improvement August 2020 – June 2021; Years

1-5

Support  

Gauge teacher support needs from qualitative evidence during professional development, customize trainings for WS BOCES, deliver support to teachers

 

100 teachers from grades K-8 in support sessions that are tailored to their needs, with professional learning communities

and planning support

 

102 teachers supported through best practices; collaborative online learning space is developed

 

May 2020 – June

2020; Years 1-5

Evaluation, program, and fiscal reporting Implement the annual formative and summative program evaluation; complete project and fiscal reporting  

Evaluator, BOCES Project Coordinator, Mouse

 

Interim and final evaluation and project reports delivered and analyzed by the consortium; all reports submitted to NYSED by required dates

 

July 2021- August

2021; Years 1-5

Grades K-2 Professional Development Program:

The project’s ¬†professional development goals for grades K-2 are to train teachers to implement the Code.org CS Fundamentals Courses A-C and Scratch Junior with the NYC DOE’s Computer Science and Me curriculum and feel confident to teach all computer science concepts and practices included in this content. These computer science courses align to the NYS CS standards, including using content and pedagogy that are evidence-based to engage students that ¬∑are traditionally underrepresented in computer science. at an early age. This professional development sequence is ¬†covered during the Summer Institute training days, and the PLC training and support days in the proposal. One day per district is dedicated to working with teachers within their classrooms with a Mouse facilitator and will serve as implementation support.

The Collaborative Scratch Junior Project Guide is a series of up to 20 hours of instructional content that allows students to create animations, stories, and games with Scratch Junior, an app¬≠ based visual block programming language and tool created at Tufts University and MIT. Teachers will utilize the Collaborative Scratch Junior Project Guide to cultivate students’ computational thinking and creativity in grades l(-2. Finally, the l(-2 Computer Science and Me curriculum utilizes a series of unplugged (no computer) and plugged (with a computer) lessons to teach basic computer science skills with a focus on culturally responsive pedagogy over 10 lessons. Class time is spent reading the book “Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding” by Linda Liukas to bring literacy into the CS classroom along with associated activities from the Hello Ruby website to learn about algorithms, loops, programming, debugging, and abstraction using topics from students’ daily lives.

Professional development will begin in the Summer Institute with one day of CS Fundamentals content followed by 3 days of training on Scratch Junior content and pedagogy with the accompanying Computer Science and Me curriculum from the NYC DOE. By the end of the school year, teachers will have implemented 10-15lessons from the curriculum and be prepared to teach more content during the following year.

All activities in grades· K-2 are aligned to the NYS CS and Digital Fluency Standards with topics across all concept areas that are designed to broaden participation among underrepresented students using culturally relevant pedagogies. Specific resources for bilingual learners are integrated into the curriculum and Mouse will collaborate with Western Suffolk BOCES, the local RBERN, and consortium districts to custo1nize this training further for this region.

Grades 3-5 Professional Development Program:

The proposed program’s professional development goals for grades 3-5 are to train teachers to implement the Code.org CS Fundamentals Courses D-F and Scratch Creative Computing curricula and feel confident to teach all computer science concepts and practices included in this content. These computer science courses align to the NYS CS standards, including using content and pedagogy that are evidence based to engage students that are traditionally underrepresented in computer science at an early age. This professional development sequence is covered during the Summer Institute training days, and the PLC training and support days in the proposal. One day per district is dedicated to working with teachers within their classrooms with a Mouse facilitator and will serve as implementation support.

Professional development will begin in late August in the Summer Institute with one day of CS Fundamentals content and three days of Scratch Creative Computing content. The following sessions during the school year will take place with one 2hour day in each of six months of the year, and additional support as outlined above. By the end of the school year, teachers will have implemented 15-20 lessons from the curriculum and be prepared to teach a full or half year course the following year if their district determines that a course is part of their intended implementation plan. Some districts may elect to continue to integrate CS content into other courses in a cross-curricular manner, with CS content blended into core subject areas.

Throughout the PD sessions, teachers will learn classroom practices that lead to positive classroo1n culture and student learning in CS classrooms, including lead learner, pair programming, authentic choice, unplugged activities, bridging activities, and journaling. Teachers will also learn CS concepts such as algorithms, loops, conditionals, events, and functions, all of which align to the NYS CS standards. Teachers will practice working through student activities while using the evidence-based teacher-learner-observer (TLO) model that has demonstrated promise in improving teacher practice in professional development. During each training session, the proposed program intends to provide embedded support for teachers, such as flexible time for questions, time to plan classroom implementation, and collaboratively sharing best practices for instruction.

Examples of tasks and activities include determining strategies to correct malfunctioning or bugged network systems, hardware, and software when using Scratch; creating and presenting multimedia computational artifacts that include images and audio using Scratch; and using unplugged computer science activities to understand topics like conditionals, algorithms, loops, and events in programming. Artifacts also include multimedia projects using Scratch and other available materials. Teachers will experience, then collaboratively plan lessons related to other content areas to practice integrating computer science into subject areas such as history, English, math, and science.

Throughout the curriculum, teachers will learn how to deliver creative projects that utilize student choice, which have been demonstrated to increase student engagement among underrepresented groups, including MLL students. Creative computing emphasizes the knowledge, practices, and fundamental literacies that empower young people to create meaningful and interactive computational media and become part of shaping the landscape of technological expression and innovation. All activities are aligned to the NYS Standards for Computer Science and Digital Fluency.

Required resources for this elementary PD initiative include printed guides of the Code.org CS Fundamentals and Scratch Creative Computing curricula. All curriculum, content, platforms, and other handouts and resources are available for free online through Code.org and Scratch, allowing districts to reproduce these guides as necessary and providing economic sustainability for implementation in subsequent years.

Mouse is the responsible party that will lead all training, while Western Suffolk BOCES will work with consortium districts to recruit teachers, communicate with districts and run operations for each of the trainings while hosting each of them at their learning center. Western Suffolk BOCES and their evaluator will also conduct evaluations with pre and post surveys that focus on how comfortable teachers feel using effective teaching and learning strategies related to the content, providing effective feedback to students, measuring student outcomes, and providing engaging learning time for students. Annual summative and ongoing formative evaluation with collected artifacts discussed below.

Grades 6-8 Professional Development Program:

The proposed program’s professional development goals for grades 6-8 are to train teachers to implement the Code.org CS Discoveries course and feel confident to teach all computer science concepts and practices included in the course. By training teachers with relevant computer science content that aligns to the NYS CS standards, this PD program will increase the number of teachers prepared to teach and deliver CS using research and evidence-based curriculum and instructional strategies and meet all other objectives of the grant. This professional development sequence is covered during the Summer Institute training days, and the PLC training and support days in the proposal. Specifically, professional development will begin in late August in the Summer Institute with one day of CS Fundamentals content and three days of CS Discoveries content. The following sessions during the school year will take place with one 2 V2 hour day in each of six months of the year, and additional support as outlined above. One day per district is dedicated to working with teachers within their classrooms with a Mouse facilitator and will serve as implementation support. Support is also embedded throughout the training, including time for collaborative planning and curriculum planning.

The support-specific PLC sessions will take place midyear after teachers have delivered some content lessons from CS Discoveries to be able to reflect on their implementation. By the end of the school year, teachers will have delivered at least 15-20 lessons from the curriculum, constituting a unit of work with their students, and they will be prepared to implement the CS Discoveries material as a half-year or full-year course for the following school year.

During professional development time, teachers will obtain the knowledge and skills from the CS Discoveries course, including the concepts of decomposition and abstraction, algorithms, programming, data and information, and networks. Practices include building an artifact using the design process, analyzing the social impacts of computing, and communicating clearly to others using CS concepts and terminology. This professional development and its accompanying resources are aligned to the New York State Computer Science and Digital Fluency Standards.

Examples of tasks and activities include problem solving using the design process, focusing on computer science’s effects on society, and communicating clearly using CS concepts and terminology. Activities from Unit 4 of CS Discoveries is dedicated solely to Problem Solving via the Design Process. By following the design process and working with structured group roles, educator groups will decompose a problem, identify an audience, investigate their needs, and develop a concept and paper wireframe for an app to serve that audience. With concept and wireframe in hand, educators will then develop an interactive prototype of their apps that they can use to test with actual users, taking feedback and practicing analysis and abstraction of that data to drive further development. These prototypes provide the opportunity for students to apply previous and upcoming knowledge of programming, algorithms, the internet, web design, game design, and animation, as they iterate and refine the app throughout the next two units.

Throughout the curriculum, educators will decompose project and reflection prompts in order to analyze the impact of computer science on society, including how a thorough user-centered design process produces a better application, how their personal data is collected and used on the web, and how computers (via programmed circuit boards) collect input and return output in a variety of ways. Educators will practice abstraction in crafting their responses. Educators will communicate clearly with others using CS concepts and terminology via speaking and writing while collaborating during hands-on, inquiry-driven activities, participating in small and whole group discussions, and answering written prompts. These methods of communication are integral to every unit (Problem Solving: Computers and Logic, The Internet: Web Development, Programming: Interactive Games and Animations, Problem Solving: The Design Process, The Internet: Data and Society, and Programming: The Internet of Things).

Resources required for this 6-8 professional development sequence include time to modify the training sessions to meet the specific needs of Western Suffolk BOCES, then train the Mouse trainer on the new materials. One trainer from Mouse will lead each session of professional development and support, with one additional day of teacher support in each district. Annual summative and ongoing formative evaluation with collected artifacts discussed below.

As part of the proposed Computer Science For All Western Suffolk project, all cohorts will receive extensive support to ensure that they feel more confident in implementing computer science content, have a place to ask questions and form a teacher cotn1nunity, and build on the concepts and pedagogy established during professional development. Some of this type of support is inherently embedded within professional development days and regular Professional Learning Community days throughout the year. Additional teacher support will also be provided one day in the school year with a Mouse trainer spending one day with teachers in each district, providing mentoring/coaching and demonstrations with other project teachers in attendance. In addition, classroom resources and materials will be provided that promote hands-on learning opportunities for students, to support their respective curricula. Teachers will also be given information during PD time about joining local chapters of the Computer Science Teachers Association to join a national community of CS and digital literacy educators.

The professional development support throughout the school year will take place at Western Suffolk BOCES and teachers will be situated with their usual cohorts, but time will be dedicated to collaborative planning sessions and other teacher support. Curriculum planning/mapping will also occur at Western Suffolk BOCES, for a subset of the teachers, with one teacher per grade band per district attending. Mouse trainers will utilize research-based methodologies to encourage collaborative planning and curriculum planning, including feedback and reflection on teachers’ planning and time to practice, implement, and reflect on their implementation strategies. This time will also be used to address teacher concerns that are brought up in qualitative remarks during the course of professional development days, including any about content or pedagogy, to ensure that this time is used to share and reinforce best practices.

In-person support will be supplemented by two online collaborative spaces to accommodate teacher choice and district Authorized Use Policies, with a Google Group and a Facebook Educator Group. Mouse will create one Google Group per grade level curriculum team (one group each for K-2, 3-5 and 6-8 teachers) to allow for cohort-wide emails about content, questions between teachers, and general support questions to both Mouse experts and other teachers who are implementing the curriculum. The Mouse Educator Facebook Group is an existing teacher resource that is monitored by Mouse experts at all times for educators to ask questions, share student work when appropriate to model best practices, and for Mouse experts to provide announcements and tips about curriculum implementation. There are many research­ based examples of teacher communities on which these models are based, such as the CSTeachers.org educator community, which is similar to the Google Group discussion area, and the Exploring Computer Science Educator Facebook Group, which is similar to the Mouse Educator Facebook Group.

Examples of tasks and activities for this support session include content-focused, expert-led collaboration and growth-oriented self-reflection for teachers, which are identified by ∂∂“ý Resource Strategies (ERS) as best practices for collaborative planning. Required resources include a facilitator provided by Mouse for the support, which will be the same facilitator as for each cohort’s professional development sessions, and Mouse’s team of computer science experts to answer teacher questions in the Google Groups and Mouse Educator Facebook Group. The proposed planning session per cohort and online support will be included as a topic iri the evaluation by Western Suffolk BOCES to drive continuous improvement and gauge teachers’ confidence after participating.