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The vision of Project Tomorrow is to ensure that today’s students are well prepared to be tomorrow’s innovators, leaders and engaged citizens of the world.  We believe that by supporting the innovative uses of science, math and technology resources in our K-12 schools and communities, students will develop the critical thinking, problem solving and creativity skills needed to compete and thrive in the 21st century.

 

Building Elementary Teacher Readiness and Capacity for Computational Thinking within Core Curriculum (BETR-CT Project)

“This is not about wanting everyone to become a computer scientist.  Just like the ability to read, it’s about computational fluency for everyone and the ability to think and create.”  
Dr. Karen Brennan, Harvard School of Education 

 

Program Overview

The purpose of our BETR-CT Project is to

  • build computational thinking confidence, competency, and capacity within elementary school teachers
  • develop student skills and self-efficacy with computational thinking
  • improve student academic outcomes, and
  • validate a new computational thinking professional learning model that is replicable and sustainable across a variety of schools and communities. 

Key to our innovative approach is the implementation of a differentiated professional learning model for elementary teachers that recognizes and appreciates each individual teachers’ current readiness to integrate computational thinking concepts, practices, and principles across their core classroom curriculum.  Our model then builds upon that individualized readiness with a strategic and comprehensive set of professional learning experiences throughout the school year using an integrated approach to the use of computational thinking tools and resources within instruction. 

For the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school year, our focus with the BETR-CT Project is with 10 elementary public schools in New York City.  We are helping 80 elementary teachers at the 4th and 5th grade levels at our project school sites learn how to integrate Computational Thinking (CT) concepts and principles within their existing core curriculums.  Central to our model is meeting teachers where they are regarding CT.  Using a proprietary evaluation tool developed for this project, we identify each individual teacher’s readiness and current level of proficiency with CT to determine an individualized professional learning plan that directly supports the  unique growth and development needs of each teacher. Through this work, we aim to increase student knowledge and skills of CT to help support student learning and achievement across core curricular areas. It is also important for us to support learning for all types of learners (including ELL students, students with IEPs and students with lower levels of literacy) by increasing their knowledge and skills to articulate and apply computational thinking concepts and practices in one or more subject areas within their curriculum. 

Our model includes providing the following resources for the project teachers and schools: 

  • 1:1 coaching twice a month from an instructional coach to support teacher CT implementation and knowledge development
  • Access to our professional online learning community with expert articles and videos, discussion boards, instructional resources and more to support self-directed learning
  • School wide access to BrainPOP resources including full usage of their creative coding collection of easy to use, engaging coding projects for students
  • Twice a year workshops to share best practices

The BETR-CT Project implementation in New York City is financially supported by the Robin Hood Learning + Technology Fund.

“Thank you so much for this opportunity. I look forward to continue building my knowledge of CT and sharing it with my school community.” -4th Grade Teacher, New York City  

List of Participating Project Schools for the 2020-21 School Year

We’re honored to work alongside our ten New York City public schools to support their school learning goals to promote an equitable learning environment for all students and the CT growth and development of their teachers and students!

Staten Island
PS 19: The Curtis School
PS 68: The Port Richmond School for Visionary Learning

Brooklyn
PS 233: Langston Hughes School
PS 268: The Emma Lazarus School
PS 329: The Surfside School
PS 398: Walter Weaver School
PS 557: Brooklyn Gardens School

Queens
PS 131: Abigail Adams School
PS 330: Helen M. Marshall School

Manhattan
PS 15: The Roberto Clemente School
For additional information about the BETR-CT Project in New York City, please contact David Gomez at dgomez@tomorrow.org

Expansion Plans

It is our goal to replicate this program in selected schools and communities beyond New York City during the 2021-22 school year.  To learn more about these expansion plans and/or to nominate your school or community for this program, please contact Dr. Julie A. Evans at jevans@tomorrow.org or 949-609-4661.   

 

What is CT?

Computational Thinking is a problem-solving process that enables students to think, learn and create to solve problems. The four pillars at the heart of our work involving Computational Thinking are decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction and algorithm design. These pillars enable us to think logically about how to organize data and breakdown the steps to solving a problem, transfer our thinking processes to a wider variety of problems, analyze key components of complex problems and generate a list of steps used to solve a problem.