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Learning Technology Grant Winner: Senator James H. Donovan Middle School

Award Years: 2015-2018

Proposal Abstract

The Utica City School District’s Learning Technology Plan designed for 7th and 8th grade students from Donovan Middle School and Notre Dame Junior High School is built on a vision for classroom transformation that will ensure successful college and career experiences for our students as they move on to high school and progress through a world that increasingly requires work with computers and on the Internet.

The plan itself has two essential components: equipment and professional development. After researching dependable, easy to use, familiar hardware systems, we have decided to order Dell Chromebooks--38 for Donovan Middle School and 8 for Notre Dame Junior High School. The hardware purchase will be supported by Google Apps for Education which includes Google Classroom and Google Docs. These applications are comprehensive, ad-free, collaborative, student-friendly, secure, and without cost. The learning process for both teachers and their students will be based on a familiar, safe system.

The ultimate goal for this plan is to bring our technologically impoverished student population closer to what they must understand and do in order to be ready for high school, college and careers. To successfully bring that goal to students, we will first need to teach their teachers and librarians. Each year six participants from Donovan Middle School and two from Notre Dame Junior High School will be trained. An Instructional Integration Specialist from the Mohawk Regional Information Center will conduct the preliminary phase of professional development. It will be structured as workshop sessions during which participants will study both the hardware and the supporting software. That initial training will prepare participants to introduce Chromebooks to students both in their classrooms and in the library. This will be the start of classroom transformations that will impact students.

In transformed classrooms and libraries, students will learn to use Chromebooks as tools to explore digital texts and other media. Students will be taught to evaluate the validity of Internet sources and will learn to search for meaningful, reliable resources to support their thinking. Using technology, they will produce and publish independent and collaborative projects, presentations, and writings. Their familiarity will improve their ability to perform competently on assessments presented in digital formats.

Once participants are using technology with their students, teachers and librarians will collaborate during ongoing, after-school professional development as they create lessons that will attend to subject specific Common Core Learning Standards, the multiple CCLS that specifically address technology relating to Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking, the Board of Regents USNY Statewide Learning Technology Plan, and the eleven performance indicators that address technology in the NYS Teaching Standards. The MORIC Instructional Integration Specialist will examine the lessons for attention to these standards. A peer review process is also in place so that participants will visit others’ classrooms to learn and make suggestions for improvement. This structure values NYS Professional Learning Standards for high quality professional development by sustaining continuous development and examining practice.

A Teacher Coordinator will distribute technology surveys, schedule trainings, arrange class visitations and after-school work sessions, and will gather evidence and student data to present to district administrators to use for the project’s evaluation.