Center for Innovation - Funded Projects 2016-17

  • Designing, Creating and Coding with Sphero SPRK+
    Cristal Edwards - Fifth Grade Teacher, Heathcote School Nancy Pavia - Elementary Math Coordinator Chris Casal - Computer Teacher/Purveyor of Geekery

    The project will revolve around the Sphero SPRK+ robot and Lightning Lab app affording students an opportunity to experience the power of coding while developing and reinforcing a host of other skills and concepts. A progression of explorations and problem-based inquiry lessons and activities will culminate with interactive, student-driven projects. Students will share their projects with their peers at Heathcote School, across our district and across the global via video tutorials, tweets, blogs and an innovative “EdCamp” model of learning - students teaching students. 

    What Can You Do With a Degree in Mathematics?
    Joe Nista (SHS Math Teacher) Monica Palekar (SHS Math Teacher)

    We would like to use this grant to invite speakers who are working in the fields of finance, education (university professors) and computer science to communicate with ours students the value of a degree in mathematics. Our plan is to make these visits open to all students in the high school to attend. In addition to making a presentation, the speakers would work with teachers to review our curriculum and suggest more innovative ways to communicate content knowledge with our students. 

    What COULD We Do with Room 18?
    Marilyn Blackley, Edgewood, 4th Grade Teacher Matthew Fitzpatrick, Edgewood, K-5 Art Teacher Lisa Forte, Edgewood, K-5 Music Teacher Paul Tomizawa, Edgewood, K-5 Technology Teacher

    What Could we do with Room 18? It’s what we’re asking of Edgewood students and teachers. Take an empty classroom and contemplate the use of space. Remove the classic classroom structures and redesign the room to encourage contemporary thoughts on learning and teaching. Room 18, which was formerly used as a classroom, has become our laboratory for experimental thinking on instructional redesign. Our goal is to use this space to springboard ideas that seek to re-envision existing classrooms and prompt thinking on how space impacts teaching and learning. Room 18 is an environment that will provide flexible learning spaces and materials to help us develop collaborative and problem solving skills. It’s where, through the principles of Design Thinking, we can research and tackle problems, whether they are located globally or in our own classrooms. It’s where teachers and students can imagine the potential inside their own classrooms. Teachers are perpetually intrigued with reconfiguring their rooms, for the sake of igniting student activity, but the exercise of moving and removing pieces of furniture, often leaves teachers faced with the dread of eliminating the structures that support a longstanding curriculum. Our hope is that Room 18 becomes the antidote to that dread, providing a sandbox for redesigning classroom space and curriculum experiences, while better meeting the needs of today’s diverse learners. Our hope is that this space is where teachers and students will come to be inspired, using the tools and materials they will need to some day contemplate the question: “What COULD we do with our own classroom?” 

    Engineer in Residence
    Scarsdale High School Grades 9 - 12 Monica Palekar (Mathematics Teacher) Lisa Yokana (Architecture Teacher) Brian McDonald (STEAM Teacher)

    We would like to have Giancarlo work along side with us in enhancing the experience of students in the Math Applications, Architecture II, Introduction to Design and Fabrication and Introduction to Engineering courses. The courses mentioned above are comprised of hands-on experiences which require constant feedback and multiple iterations before completing a final product. We will be planning his schedule each week, debrief. He has a Mechanical Engineering degree from Lehigh and has extensive experience in creating. We think that having him in classes will help our students understand the value of hands-on work and learning by doing. His recent experience in Engineering school as well as his being an SHS graduate, will assist us in framing the electives for the STEAM sequence and their content in order to best prepare our students. In addition, as he will be assisting across disciplines, he will also help us to make more interdisciplinary connections and provide students with the natural practitioner skills that he has mastered in college. Here is a link to his portfolio:  

    Beyond Advisory: Reimagining time, organization, and wellness curriculum at the middle school to design and implement small group sessions to strengthen student-teacher relationships, and foster social, emotional and civic learning at the Middle School.
    Meghan Troy (SS Department Chair, Grade 7 SS), Meghan Lahey (Grade 7 SS), Will Maldarelli (Grade 8 SS)

    Last spring, after a small, break-out session on bullying led by Popham 7 teachers, a student approached her group leader in the hall and said, “I’m just so glad that you know what kind of mean stuff is being said. I know you can’t make it all go away, but I feel so much better knowing that you know.” Her statement echoes the ever-growing need and desire to build time into the schedule at the middle school for students to connect with their peers and teachers in a small-group setting, outside the regular curriculum. A comprehensive wellness program does not exist at the middle school. Kirke Olson in The Invisible Classroom: Relationships, Neuroscience, and Mindfulness at Work in School argues that although “pressures in our school(s) today may suggest otherwise, beginning with relationships and then moving to curriculum is the most efficient way to ensure students’ success.” Currently, students do not have the opportunity to meet in small groups with trained group leaders. Over the past several years, the need for a program to nurture these relationships has become increasing apparent. Small groups of teachers and counselors at the middle school have been carving time out within their own classes to develop these types of relationships and have started work with growth mindset and mindfulness with students. Popham 7 piloted a break-out model called STOP (Student Teacher Outreach Program) last year with great success. And the recent wellness survey at the high school, along with Chris Griffin’s presentation last spring, highlighted the stress and bullying increases at the high school level. But more is needed. The goal of this grant therefore is to reimagine the use of time and resources to best ensure that every student feels safe, connected to, and supported by, a faculty member and a small group of peers throughout their 3 years at SMS. With the support of the CFI, we will be able to to research and visit successful advisory programs, develop creative and flexible ideas for schedule adjustments, and design a program to fit the needs of our students and the resources of our staff.  

    Transforming the Design of Education
    Liz Gallo, Scarsdale Middle School, 6-8, technology Fallon Plunkett, Scarsdale High School, 9-12, social studies

    Following the design process we will conduct an ethnographic study to collect data on what SHS students are currently learning and doing to empathize and understand the current SHS experience. We are going to Shadow a Student, gather qualitative data from diverse groups of students and visit schools with alternative education models (see list below). This will happen in October - January 2017. We will synthesize this data to create our problem statement in early February in order to ideate solutions that will work within the Scarsdale culture. In February we will create a rough prototype to get feedback from a small group of students, teachers and administrators. In March we will reiterate based on feedback, repeating the cycle as needed; finalizing our prototype by May.