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Learning Technology Grant Program Overview: Buffalo Public Schools

Award Years: 2021-2024

Student Produced Archive of Responsive Resources and Cultural Curriculum (SPARRCC)

Program Overview

The past several years changed all our lives dramatically. The most obvious shift, moving education to first a distance learning model, and then to a blended scenario, has created a heavy reliance on digital educational materials. The struggle to keep students engaged in their education has uncovered a need for student-driven, hands-on, experiences utilizing technology. Further, while Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) has been deeply engaged in developing and implementing an Emancipation Curriculum, the work has been challenging due to a scarcity of high-quality, culturally and linguistically responsive digital resources. 

The BPS LTG program is titled “Student Produced Archive of Responsive Resources and Cultural Curriculum” (SPARRCC), a STEAM skills development program comprised of students in grades 7-12. Students will  self-select, with recruiting focused on students from traditionally underrepresented communities. Students will engage in hands-on field experiences that directly support the NYS Computer Science and Digital Fluency Learning Standards, particularly the Impacts of Computing and Digital Literacy.

Students will use a variety of techniques and technologies to create a culturally and linguistically responsive virtual library of field trip experiences, capturing and digitizing the experiences of small groups of students. This student-created collection will include teacher-developed companions aligned to Science, Art, Social Studies, English Language Arts, and Career and Technical Education standards. Students will be challenged to apply 21st Century Skills, including creativity, cross-cultural collaborations, critical thinking, and problem-solving throughout the project.

The field experiences will incorporate local and national institutions and historical sites that focus on the history and culture of historically marginalized communities of color. The resulting library of student-developed virtual field experiences and standards-aligned lessons and resources will be available for implementation in grades K-12 within the Buffalo Public Schools and throughout New York State.

Target Audience

SPARRCC will provide an opportunity to provide STEAM Enrichment activities. Students will be immersed in technology and technology skills as they learn to create videos during field trips. These videos will create virtual field trips to be used as teaching tools that will coincide with the NYS social studies curricula for grades 7-12.

The program will take place at 12 schools and include approximately 120 students from grades 7-12. Two teachers from each school will support the program, for a total of 24 teachers. Students will be deployed in groups of approximately 10 students to each culturally relevant site, where they will capture, document, and develop culturally relevant artifacts and videography. Students will be rotated in and out of this role throughout the year.

Program Demographics

Approximately 82% of the student body of the selected schools are identified as a race or ethnicity other than White.

District Demographics

Buffalo Public Schools is a high need district serving students of color predominately:

  • Black or African American (45%)
  • White (19%)
  • Hispanic or Latino (20%)
  • Multiracial (4%)
  • Other (12%)
  • English Language Learners (16%)
  • Students with Disabilities (23%)
  • Economically Disadvantaged (83%)

Special education rates for Latinx students are higher than any other subgroup, with a rate of 29.5%, as compared to a District rate of 22.5%. Latinx students also have the lowest attendance rate at 85.2%.

Data points for these subgroups point to a stark contrast with district overall data. With the district’s four-year June 2020 Graduation rate at 76.4%, Black students have a rate of 75.8%, Latinx students realize a rate of 65.8%, and multilingual learners have a rate of 56.7%. Data points for special education, suspension, and attendance also reinforce the urgent need for CLRI-aligned STEAM education initiatives that focus on the legacies, histories, contributions, and uplift of communities of color.

Goals and Objectives

The goal of this program is to provide technical learning opportunities that highlight the history and culture of African American, Latinx, Native American, and New American communities. It is designed to support students that are from traditionally underrepresented communities in the STEAM field.

Participants will create culturally and linguistically responsive virtual libraries of field trip experiences. As students produce and create virtual field experiences, they will develop the following skills: critical thinking, cross-cultural collaborations, creativity, and problem solving. Participants in this program will incorporate local, regional, and national institutions, historical sites, and cultural events that focus on the history and culture of historically marginalized communities of color.

  Participants will produce the following items:

  • Portfolio/Notebook – Students will maintain a portfolio/notebook to document their research on the local, regional, and national histories of their selected sites
  • Documentation of Artifacts – Students will collect virtual artifacts of their learning as they explore virtual field trips
  • Videography and Photography – Students will learn how to create and edit digital photos and videos to document learning
  • Final Project Presentation – Students will present their final virtual field trip to students and teachers

Contact Information