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  1. Quinn Burke
  2. https://digitalpromise.org/our-team/quinn-burke/
  3. Senior Research Scientist
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Digital Promise
  1. Emi Iwatani
  2. Senior Learning Sciences Researcher
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Digital Promise
  1. Aileen Owens
  2. Executive Director
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. ThroughlinesEdu
  1. Traci Tackett
  2. Director of Digital Literacy
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Bit Source

Tough as Nails, Nimble Fingers: Developing a K-8 Coding Pathway for Kentucky ...

NSF Awards: 1923314

2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6, Grades 6-8

This video reports on the first year-and-a-half of a three-year NSF-funded Research Practitioner Partnership (RPP) to develop a K-8 pipeline for computer science (CS) and computational thinking (CT) education within two rural school districts in Eastern Kentucky : Pikeville Independent School District and Floyd County Schools.  Economically devastated by the departure of the coal industry, these communities are committed to developing high-quality computing curricula for all students, beginning in their earliest years.  The presentation has two components.  First,  it reports on the genesis and development of the RPP itself.  It focuses on the RPP’s origin in leveraging the districts’ existing relationship with Pennsylvania’s South Fayette School District, which has developed one of the nation’s leading programs for teacher professional development (PD) in K-12 computing.    The second component of the presentation focuses on the development of a series of summer workshops for Kentucky Appalachia K-8 instructors to learn the basics of CS and CT and how to integrate these skills and concepts into existing K-8 coursework.  Of course, the RPP faced new challenges with COVID-19—most notably, the need to offer these summer workshops remotely, and adjusting the objectives and research questions accordingly.  Through focus groups with the PD instructional team and survey responses from the KY teacher workshop participants, the poster will report on the pedagogical implications of offering teacher PD exclusively online and what the ramifications have been for Pikeville and Floyd County children with the return to school in the Fall of 2020.

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Discussion from the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase (25 posts)
  • Icon for: Quinn Burke

    Quinn Burke

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 10, 2021 | 04:26 p.m.

    Hi STEM Video Showcase Attendees -- thanks for visiting our video homepage!  My name is Quinn Burke, and I am PI on this project.  We are very proud of our work to date on the "Tough as Nails, Nimble Fingers" project in rural East KY. 

    Please let us know what questions you may have about our work and please let us also know if you, yourself, are doing similar work with rural communities --we would love to connect!

     

  • Icon for: Renee Fall

    Renee Fall

    Researcher
    May 10, 2021 | 06:50 p.m.

    Hi Quinn and team: 

    So wonderful to hear of the success of your PD offered via distance during the pandemic. Given the geography of your partners, what are the major pros and cons you see of continuing to do PD and project work remotely vs. some in-person gatherings?  The quilt is a great metaphor, as well. Thanks for sharing your work.

     
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    Emi Iwatani
  • Icon for: Traci Tackett

    Traci Tackett

    Co-Presenter
    Director of Digital Literacy
    May 11, 2021 | 10:11 a.m.

    Hi Renee,
    Thanks for viewing our video and commenting.  As the On Site Director for our grant I can see both pros and cons of remote PD.  The biggest pro is that even during a pandemic we were able to offer high level courses to the teachers through the use of Google Classroom and Zoom.  Our teachers would attend a session with their instructor each morning where they learned a concept and were given an assignment or challenge.  They had time to work on their own to complete the work and then came back together later in the day.  This prevented participants from sitting behind a screen all day and kept the workshop hands on. (Material kits were delivered to the teachers prior to the Institute.) One of the hardest parts of the virtual format was troubleshooting in the sessions that required teachers to write code.  The App Inventor course was more difficult than it would have been in person since the instructor couldn't look at the participants device or code and it was more time consuming to assess.  However, each of our participants had positive feedback and all said they planned to implement what they learned into their classrooms.  Feel free to ask any other questions you might have!

  • Icon for: Catherine McCulloch

    Catherine McCulloch

    Facilitator
    Senior Project Director
    May 11, 2021 | 06:19 a.m.

    Quinn and team, it’s wonderful to hear about your work building rural pipelines that provide opportunities to replace work and careers lost to industry changes. I was interested in your engagement of administrators, which you acknowledged is an important component of developing buy-in, supporting the teachers, and sustaining the intervention. How have you been able to pivot your approach to working with them during the pandemic?

     
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    Emi Iwatani
  • Icon for: Traci Tackett

    Traci Tackett

    Co-Presenter
    Director of Digital Literacy
    May 11, 2021 | 10:28 a.m.

    Hi Catherine,

         I'm Traci, the On Site Director for the TAN grant.  Gaining administrator support has been a critical point in our implementation process.  We started by meeting with each district's school and district level administrators in their own schools to explain the grant and begin building relationships, not just email communication.  This laid the foundation for our work.  We also took administrators and teacher leaders to Pittsburgh, so they could see South Fayette and view the pathway they have built and start visualizing what that might look like in their district/school.  Each district then completed the CSforALL SCRIPT training where they formed a team which included a district and school administrator, CS teacher, Regular Ed teacher as well as other key stakeholders, such as counselor or media specialist.  This team analyzed the vision for their pathway and wrote a vision statement, completed an analysis of their current CS program using the SCRIPT rubric and then set both long and short term goals.  These foundational structures let administrators see and be involved in the vision building, planning and implementation process. We now meet with the administrative team monthly to communicate, plan and stay connected in the work going forward. They have teacher leaders that they too meet with monthly to keep communication flowing.  We truly believe that the initial work spent in building relationships with the administrative team was a critical piece in the successes we have had and what kept us moving steadily along during the rocky days of the pandemic.  Feel free to ask any other questions!

  • Icon for: Jaime Gutierrez

    Jaime Gutierrez

    Facilitator
    Research Associate II
    May 11, 2021 | 10:24 a.m.

    Hi Quinn and team, this sounds like a wonderful project and similar to a project I'm currently on. It's great to hear, that despite all of the challenges of 2020 the team was able to quickly pivot and move everything to remote. You had a number of slides with teacher work samples, I'm curious what kind of collaborative tools you used during the PDs and what tools teachers found most engaging and useful? It would also be interesting to hear a bit about how this played out in classrooms, whether virtual or hybrid? Specifically, your summary points out that the PDs help teachers think about "how to integrate these skills and concepts into existing K-8 coursework", what content areas and when are teachers integrating what they're learning?

    Thanks for sharing!

     
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    Pati Ruiz
    Emi Iwatani
  • Icon for: Quinn Burke

    Quinn Burke

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 11, 2021 | 11:34 a.m.

    Hi Jaime -

    Thanks for your kind words and interest in the project! 

    Linked here is last year's summer PD offerings, organized by grade level. 

    You'll see some of the usual suspects such as Scratch, AppInventor, and HummingBird Robotics, plus some newer areas (for the middle school level) such as Data Science. 

    Integration has been a challenge, esp. with the ongoing remote learning in both districts.  Some of the physical tools (e.g., Sphero & Hummingbirds) simply weren't all tenable to integrate as we originally conceived.  But others such as Scratch certainly were.  As far as this element of integration on grades 3-8, our priority this past academic year was for KY teachers to (a) develop & share individual lesson plan concepts integrating CT, (b) align these lessons to KY CS/ tech standards, and (c) submit sample student work for potential CT endorsement using Digital promise's micro-credential platform in computational thinking.  These three elements required peer coaching (can explain more here, if you'd like), but also a collective focus on specific competencies (e.g., using algorithms, working with data, etc.-- by looking at these competencies, KY teachers were more able to unpack CT as a series of interrelated concepts and find out where these may overlap with their own current academic disciplines/ instruction.  For example, a music teacher who was originally only aware of algorithms as a concept began to understand them specifically in terms of alternating musical sequences and had his kids create and remix "looped compositions" in Scratch.

     

    Hope this helps some -- btw, would also like to learn more about your current work and your own overlap with our efforts!  

  • May 11, 2021 | 10:43 a.m.

    Quinn, Traci, Aileen, and Team,

    I am so proud to be a part of this program! The collaboration has truly been rewarding. I look forward to another successful Institute this year as we build off of what we learned last summer and create even more opportunities for our students to learn computational thinking and build a pathway for success!  Thank you for sharing this for all to see!

    Shad Wachter

     
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    Pati Ruiz
    Emi Iwatani
  • Icon for: Quinn Burke

    Quinn Burke

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 11, 2021 | 11:37 a.m.

    Shad - Great to get your message!  Your work with KY teachers in the fundamentals of Scratch as well as hands-on work with Sphero has been a huge part of the PD-- excited to connect again this Spring and Summer for Round #2!

  • May 11, 2021 | 12:42 p.m.

    Hi Quinn and team! Is there any way you think the coding pathway for KY is unique, relative to pathways for suburban or urban districts you might have worked with? If so, in what ways is it unique and why?

     
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    Pati Ruiz
    Emi Iwatani
  • Icon for: Traci Tackett

    Traci Tackett

    Co-Presenter
    Director of Digital Literacy
    May 11, 2021 | 01:46 p.m.

    Hi Kevin,

         I'm Traci, the On Site Director for the TAN grant.  One aspect that makes our project unique is that each district went through the CSforALL SCRIPT process.  The first part of the training is to identify the values that make such a pathway important for your district.  These values include: Personal Agency/Joy and Fulfillment, Economic & Workforce Development, Competencies & Literacies, School Reform & Improvement, Equity & Social Justice, Citizenship & Civic Engagement, as well as Technological, Social &Scientific Innovation.  Our participating districts identified the top 3-4 values that were most important for their students and wrote vision statements based on these core needs.  This guided their work in setting long and short term goals that are evaluated quarterly.  One common value between our districts was the need for Economic & Workforce Development Opportunities since the decline of the coal industry has greatly impacted our communities.  As a result, the administrators and school leadership teams met with local workforce development groups to open up a discussion that led to some positive relationships.  One district has started a School of Innovation for HS students that offers pathways such as: CS, Pre-Engineering, Heavy Machinery, Law and Criminal Justice, Agriculture and Health Sciences.  It's amazing how the SCRIPT process brought various stakeholders together to plan what is best for kids and the future of work in east Kentucky. The SCRIPT process can be used with any district and will assist the teams in developing pathways that are unique to both rural and urban systems.  We are also very mindful of the cultural capital that the region offers.  The districts are creating their own pathways that are unique to their students and teachers and mindful of their individual resources.  Quinn may have more to add, but I hope this helps in some way.  We would love to hear any tips or suggestions you might have for us!

     
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    Pati Ruiz
  • May 11, 2021 | 01:58 p.m.

    Thanks Traci! So in what way could you say a CS pathway in particular for an east Kentucky district could be unique? Does the CS pathway reflect specific aspects of the economic and workforce opportunities in the area?

     
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    Pati Ruiz
    Emi Iwatani
  • Icon for: Traci Tackett

    Traci Tackett

    Co-Presenter
    Director of Digital Literacy
    May 11, 2021 | 09:02 p.m.

    Hi Kevin,

    In addition to Aileen's explanation of their pathway model, our teachers are allowing students to identify and work toward solving real world problems through their CT/CS projects.  For example, one group of students worked with a local donut shop to make donut cutters in the shapes of letters or numbers.  They worked with 3D design software and their 3D printer to get the designs just right.  The owner was happy to communicate his needs with the students and they were passionate about getting the prototypes as accurate as possible.  We have also seen the excitement for students as they work on entrepreneurial projects.  The CT/CS skills allow students to imagine themselves starting businesses that can improve the economy and provide needed goods or services for their community.  By introducing students to CT/CS in Primary grades and building upon those skills each year, they will be ready to take higher level CS courses in HS.  I am the Director of Digital Literacy for Bit Source, a software development company who trained former coal workers to code.  These guys are now software developers who have shown that tech jobs can happen in Appalachia.  While the structure of the South Fayette pathway could be replicated in any rural or urban area, we are working hard to design lessons that address the individual goals of our districts.  

     
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    Pati Ruiz
  • Icon for: Aileen Owens

    Aileen Owens

    Co-Presenter
    Executive Director
    May 11, 2021 | 04:12 p.m.

    Hi Kevin,

    My name is Aileen Owens from Pittsburgh, PA. I've been directing professional development on CS pathways for the last 5 years to rural and urban schools underserved school districts. Our outreach has connected us with the fantastic research teams from Digital Promise and Kentucky. You've asked if the coding pathway for KY is unique, relative to pathways for suburban or urban districts. This model is built for all students and all districts, rural and urban. Last year on a PAsmart Grant we brought together 7 underserved rural and urban schools in the Pittsburgh region to build the beginning of a CS Pathway. At the end of the school year each school had developed their own vertically aligned pathway. Our research findings led by University of Pittsburgh showed: 

    • Girls self-confidence and how they define occupational identity in CS/STEAM increased based on the collaborative computational thinking (problem solving) they were engaged in;
    • Through the intervention, students of color became more interested in STEM due to the creative and collaborative nature of CS/STEAM as developed through this model;
    • An unintentional outcome was that globally boys do not do as well in collaborative settings but through the PAsmart grant intervention the boys scores improved for collaborative problem solving.

    The model allows teachers to learn creative confidence in carefully built professional development opportunities, implement lessons in culturally relevant ways, and learn to work as a team across grade levels to ensure that students have multiple ways of learning CS/STEAM activities across the curriculum. You will find examples of lesson plans, videos and information at this site: https://www.sfsdcspathway.org/. This is the framework we used in KY.

    Wishing you the best,

    Aileen

     

     
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    Pati Ruiz
  • Icon for: Lance Bush

    Lance Bush

    President & CEO
    May 12, 2021 | 11:19 a.m.

    Traci, Quinn and team - 

    So great to see this effort pulling together schools from two different states and non-profits to really help make a difference.  We are familiar with your area as there is a Challenger Learning Center in Hazard County (relatively close to you).  I'd be interested to see if there are any good possible collaborations between your work and the online work we are doing as well there if even just to share lessons learned.  

    Lance

     
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  • Icon for: Traci Tackett

    Traci Tackett

    Co-Presenter
    Director of Digital Literacy
    May 12, 2021 | 11:31 a.m.

    Hi Lance,

         I'm very familiar with The Challenger Learning Center in Hazard.  Tom Cravens and I work collaboratively in offering Remake Learning Days in east KY.  We also work together in offering support to an entrepreneurial education program in our region.  Thanks for suggesting closer collaboration between the Center and our grant.

  • Icon for: Lance Bush

    Lance Bush

    President & CEO
    May 12, 2021 | 04:10 p.m.

    Traci -  Tom Craven is such a community minded person who has helped so many students over the years.  I am not surprised the two of you already know each other and work together!  Hopefully I can see some of your joining programming when I next visit the area!

     
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    Emi Iwatani
  • Icon for: Channa Comer

    Channa Comer

    Facilitator
    STEM Educator
    May 12, 2021 | 06:12 p.m.

    Hello Quinn and team!

    Kudos for finding a silver lining by using the shift to virtual gatherings to bring geographically distant together for your institute. In addition to the 30-minute "booster" PD sessions, are there plans for ongoing coaching support for teachers who participated in the institute? What metrics are you using to measure the success of the program? How does your approach to computer science and computational thinking align with existing STEM and/or CS standards in the state?

    Thank you for the great work!

     
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  • Icon for: Emi Iwatani

    Emi Iwatani

    Co-Presenter
    Senior Learning Sciences Researcher
    May 12, 2021 | 08:29 p.m.

    Hi Channa!  Thanks for stopping by and for your great questions.  

    In addition to support from core project team members, district tech leads and resources like "boosters," we'll be relying on a cadre of STEAM/CT teacher-leaders from each district (several teachers from each of the 10 schools) to be able to provide peer support in lesson implementation.  By next fall most/all of these teacher-leaders will have visited South Fayette School District, attended/TA-ed the 2020 and 2021 KY summer institute, and have designed / implemented / led at least some CT activities in their class.  And as Quinn may have mentioned, to date, 8 among them have earned a micro-credential (during the pandemic, no less) that demonstrates their competency in teaching about data or algorithms in their classroom.  

    The district leads have also created a CT lesson capture tool that would support standards-aligned lesson-plan sharing.  Answering questions in the submission form may help teachers reflect more explicitly about CT competencies that are they would be promoting.  Using lessons from the lesson bank (from a near peer who can be contacted) might support teachers in their implementation as well.  We will see.  

    An important measure of success of the program is whether there are healthy beginnings of a durable pathway by the end of the project.  We'll look for evidence, e.g., that: standards-aligned integrative CT lessons were created, implemented, and placed into an initial curriculum map; progress was made towards each districts' CSforAll SCRIPT vision and goals; the summer institute will continue to occur after the project; teachers and leaders maintain intentions and have concrete plans to continue and grow in their practice.  

    Kentucky very recently revised their technology standards to be very similar to ISTE's, including a dimension of "computational thinker."  Their CS standards (although not required by all teachers) are fairly new as well.  We have consulted these standards to design the Summer Institute courses, boosters and lesson capture tool, hoping to support teachers in their efforts to align with them.  

    Thank you again for your questions.  

    Best,

    Emi (co-PI)

     
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    Pati Ruiz
  • May 13, 2021 | 01:01 p.m.

    Very interesting project! I saw that Aileen mentioned some research on how a similar project in Pittsburgh had positive impacts on students. I am wondering if you have plans for similar research on student outcomes in this project?

     
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    Emi Iwatani
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  • Icon for: Emi Iwatani

    Emi Iwatani

    Co-Presenter
    Senior Learning Sciences Researcher
    May 14, 2021 | 03:04 a.m.

    Hi Liz,

    Thanks for stopping by, and for your question!  In some classrooms, we hope to conduct some student surveys similar to what Aileen and Dr. Cassie Quigley (University of Pittsburgh) have been doing in their PA Smart project.  We'll be discussing this possibility with our partner districts, especially the survey sampling and topics, after the upcoming Summer Institute where teachers will have designed lessons for next school year.  At that point, we will have a better sense of what activities are likely to be implemented at which grade levels (& dosage), which would give us a better sense of which students to survey about what and why.  

  • May 14, 2021 | 11:09 a.m.

    A 3 minute video always makes the hard work seem so easy. Nice job.  I ma curious how the work of this project has affected teh scaling for Digital Promise nationally.

     
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    Pati Ruiz
  • Icon for: Quinn Burke

    Quinn Burke

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 14, 2021 | 02:50 p.m.

    Thanks Alan--and good to connect here!  At some point, it'll be good to get coffee and catch up in person.   

    So, yes, we have be working with three core districts (in IL, IA, & AL) on another Pathways project, and our efforts to develop clear and consistent work in Eastern KY extends directly from these efforts.... a significant difference with this project is the incorporation of CT micro-credentials in both districts and the prominent role of our on-site work partner, software company/ tech incubator BitSource.   

    I know everyone;'s busy but would love to connect more w/ you here at some point --we have developed a CT Pathways Toolkit for district-driven pathway development, and I wonder if the toolkit may overlap/ synch with other CS/ CT RPP efforts.  

  • Icon for: Toby Baker

    Toby Baker

    Researcher
    May 16, 2021 | 10:33 p.m.

    As a co-presenter with IC4, I love the collaboration with South Fayette in Pittsburgh. We at IC4 have also collaborated with Shad and A.J. and had students create and build musical instruments and build Arduinos. SF is a great Computer Science team!

     
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    Emi Iwatani
    Pati Ruiz
  • Icon for: Emi Iwatani

    Emi Iwatani

    Co-Presenter
    Senior Learning Sciences Researcher
    May 18, 2021 | 01:17 p.m.

    I completely agree with you about the SFSD team, Toby!  We've been so fortunate to have them as mentors and partners.  Congratulations on your huge successes with the IC4 project -- the excitement and engagement of the participants jumps out of the page through the video and lively comments.

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