Information, media and technology competencies are critical 21st century skills. Additional 21st century skills focus upon self-direction, adaptability, creativity, leadership, accountability and success in core subjects. NYSSTL-DLS 2.0 focuses on 21st century skills which are needed to be successful in today’s global society. The New York State Student Technology Leaders (NYSSTL) are students who work side-by-side with teachers and their peers to bring technology and 21st century skills alive in the classroom. The collaboration leads to students’ demonstration of technology literacy through the completion of two projects, demonstrating creativity, self-direction, and accountability. The Digital Learning Specialists (DLSs) are classroom teachers who serve as coaches to their building colleagues assisting in the integration of technology and 21st skills to foster improved and powerful student learning experiences. Coaching by teachers, as well as by students, is a powerful professional development tool, leading to implementation of technology and 21st century skills in 95 school buildings throughout New York State.
The Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery (HFM) BOCES is now in its second year of implementing the NYSSTL and DLS models in collaboration with Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex (WSWHE) BOCES and the Generation YES Corporation. This EETT funded project has succeeded in its goal of creating NYSSTL clubs in 24 middle schools. Digital Learning Specialists (DLS) offer embedded as well as regional staff development to teachers in the HFM BOCES.
This proposal expands on the success and research base of the NYSSTL and DLS models. The grant proposes to: (1) Increase the number of middle schools implementing the NYSSTL model and expand into high schools; (2) Work with BOCES throughout New York, and expand the NYSSTL model to hundreds of New York public and private schools in Year 3, through the development and dissemination of a NYSSTL Toolkit; (3) Enhance the DLS concept to include year-long residencies for teachers. DLSs will work with selected residents to develop technology integrated, 21st century skills focused lessons which will be peer-reviewed and published.
NYSSTL clubs integrate the national TechYES and GenYES models of student-centered technology support, affording students opportunities to apply 21st century skills. TechYES is a program that certifies every participating middle school student as technology literate upon completion of two self- and peer-reviewed technology projects, while GenYES is a means to provide technology support to teachers by student leaders. Teachers submit a request through a TAP (Technology Assistance Project) and students assist those teachers with their requests. In order to ensure successful grant implementation, this proposal will be spearheaded by a technology integration and 21st century skills expert – a Technology Coach.
The format of the current NYSSTL and DLS models naturally encourages the development of leadership skills in students and teachers. As a component of this grant, we propose to investigate the development of civic engagement and leadership capacity in students and teachers in partnership with a researcher at Harvard University. The NYSSTL and Digital Learning Specialist models will ensure all middle school students are technology literate, provide leadership opportunities for middle and high school students, and afford teachers quality professional development focused on technology integration and 21st century skills.