Purpose of the Scaling and Dissemination of Promising T-STEM Education Practices Grant

A leadership coach described the Scaling and Dissemination Grant as a grant intended to “blow out” successful practices in schools. Through the Scaling and Dissemination Grant, partnering schools and campuses were awarded funds to enhance existing programs and disseminate best practices to other campuses and districts to push the boundaries of the best STEM practices by sharing with others.

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 Requirements

With an emphasis on Mission-driven Leadership; School Culture; Teacher Selection, Development and Retention; and Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment—four of the six Blueprint standards—this grant required that applicants promote dissemination of promising STEM practices, create and share a collaborative STEM-friendly culture within and among partner schools, assess programs and practices within and outside of the T-STEM network and advance explicit intra-district or inter-district strategic alliances tied to increasing STEM participation and interest.

 Results and Impact

Funds for this grant were used to train teachers, document and share best practices, purchase equipment and supplies and provide transportation. Impacts at specific campuses include the following:

  • In a partnership between their middle school and high school, Canutillo purchased virtual reality goggles and implemented Google Expedition in their summer bridge program.
  • Brooks Academy and Brooks Collegiate Academy expanded their summer bridge programs, incorporating coding, engineering and 3D design and printing. Additionally, they reorganized the programs for a stronger emphasis on women in STEM careers.
  • Young Women’s Leadership Academy at Arnold and Grand Prairie Collegiate Institute worked together to provide training in project-based learning (PBL) to their lead teachers. An ongoing partnership will provide opportunities for teachers to support one another in implementation and share with other teachers in their schools.
  • Staff from UT Tyler Innovation Academies developed a guide and workshop to share their coaching and Professional Learning Communities model, which is designed to increase rigor through data analysis. Staff from UT Tyler traveled to Mineola, where they implemented their workshop to train teacher leaders.

Total funding was $132,000 across eight grants, impacting eight campuses.
 

 Impact Story

Through the Scaling and Disseminating Grant, Julia Ramirez at Ball Prep increased opportunities for students to engage in test preparation courses for college entrance exams. The academy already used the Edgenuity program to prepare students for the TSIA; however, Ramirez knew that her students needed more. In response to parents in the parent-teacher organization who shared their struggles with paying for ACT and SAT preparation courses, which can cost $500– $750, Ramirez applied for the grant in hopes of providing test preparation for free. With the funds awarded, Ramirez hired a local Princeton Review ACT/SAT instructor to train not only students but also teachers. Two teachers were allowed to participate along with the students in each of the courses offered over the summer. These courses included three 1-day PSAT prep courses, two week-long SAT courses and two week-long ACT courses. Not only will the teachers who were trained through the grant initiative be able to teach the courses moving forward, but Ball Prep used additional grant funding to transfer the training courses to Canvas, their learning management system, where students can now access free 4-hour training courses for SAT and ACT language and math tests.

Ramirez stated that the grant money not only supported students in test prep but also raised awareness about testing for teachers, students and parents. Teachers—including teachers outside of English language arts and math—are now more familiar with the types of questions students will need to answer, as well as the necessary skills students will need to have to successfully navigate the tests. With this knowledge, they are better able to incorporate these skills and types of questions into the content they teach, familiarizing students even before formal test-preparation classes. Students are more aware of the control they have as they navigate the tests and understand that they are able to prepare to successfully complete them. Finally, parents—of high school students as well as middle and elementary school students—became more aware of the supports available to their children as Ball Prep used their academy website and the school and district websites to market their summer test prep programs.

 Implementation Tips

Through solicitation of applications and implementation of grants, Educate Texas has identified a number of tips most likely to make this type of grant successful. Because the Scaling and Dissemination Grant often involved multiple schools working together, Educate Texas recommends the following:

  • Proactively support a collaborative culture among schools by providing explicit structure and supports for schools working together.
  • Define expectations for disseminating information so that each school knows what they are responsible for sharing.

Other tips include 

  • Create a mechanism or intervention for schools that are facing challenges in completing the grant, especially when grants are implemented during summer months when schedules are more flexible.
  • Create grant-related opportunities to share best practices.
  • Leverage the power of social media to reach parents and students for increased enrollment.

Artifacts

Innovation Academy Guidelines

Guidelines for the Academy Instructional Model including an overview of the model, classroom artifacts that demonstrate the model and information on the PBL planning and implementation Process and additional artifacts

The UTTIA District Model explains the research-based model for creating and sustaining a school culture that promotes collaboration, connectivity, and excellence for all students. It includes a bulleted summary for each of the topics in the model, providing the reader a quick view of a large body of content. To borrow a common analogy, it gives the reader the “big rocks” and the “medium rocks” of problem-based learning (PBL), PrBL (problem-based learning), and instructional coaching. Should the reader want more information, there are many books available that provide deep dives into the topics in the model. This provides a one-stop-shop for PBL, PrBL, and instructional coaching.

The primary instructional model being used at the UT Tyler Innovation Academy schools is project- or problem-based learning. Project- or problem-based learning is an inquiry-based instructional model where students learn content standards through their creation of a project or finding a solution to a problem.

Why is this resource useful?

Project- and problem-based learning provide students to learn their content while doing both of these job skills of the future. For most teachers, this kind of instruction isn’t an easy shift. Most current teachers learned using a much more traditional type of instruction. Depending on the age of the teacher, this was okay at the time for the future jobs of that time. In 2018, we have a problem with our workforce. The workers that colleges and high schools are producing must have the skills to do the work of today. Education must be responsive to the job market and PBL/PrBL are excellent ways to do that. Teachers need support no matter what kind of instructional strategy they use. Instructional coaching is a respectful way of helping teachers grow their practice so they can help students grow in their learning.

Writing Centers Consultant Training

Agenda for training consultants for writing centers

These resources use the word consultant for the students who are trained and who will be staffing the writing centers.

This document includes:

  • Agenda for two half-day consultant training (pg. 1-2)
  • Flyers for the Titan Literacy Camp used to recruit students to be tutors in the writing centers (pg. 3-4)
  • Script for calling parents and a letter to parents inviting their teens to be student leaders in the writing centers (pg. 4-6)

The following steps will get you started in creating your own writing centers.

1. Use data to determine the need for writing support.

2. Create a list of items to be purchased or located.

To create the center, you’ll need the following:

  • Tables and chairs, not desks
  • Computers and printer
  • Writing resources
  • Stipends for teachers to manage the center
  • Funds to train student leaders to be the writing consultants

3. Secure funding for the writing center.

Guiding Questions:

  • Does the district/campus currently have funds to create the center?
  • Does the district/campus have partners who might donate resources for the center?
  • Does the district have a fund that teachers/campuses can apply for project funds?
  • Are there local foundation that might fund it?
  • If the answer is “no” to the above, can the materials be gathered from existing resources with a plan to add resources as needed?

4. Create a plan for creating a student-run center.

Considerations:

  • Location – Since students may be alone in the center at times, the center should be located in a very visible location.
  • Decide when the center will be open. Before school? Lunches? Advisory? After school? Saturdays?
  • Determine the qualities/characteristics of the students who will man the center.
  • Decide what you want the student leaders to do tutoring on.

5. Putting the plan into action.

  • Plan a training retreat for the student leaders.
  • Recruit student leaders.
  • Set up the writing center.
  • Advertise to the students.

6. After six weeks, evaluate the effectiveness of the center and make changes as needed.

Writing Centers Resources

Bibliography of important writing texts and teacher resources

This is a large list of literacy resources including:

  • Information for the writing center tutors
  • Writing in science and engineering
  • Style manuals
  • Notetaking
  • Grammar handbooks and posters
  • Guide to notetaking
  • Furniture and office supplies to create the center

For campuses who wish to improve writing across the content areas, see pg. 2-3 for resources that support teaching writing.