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Formative Years of Digital Literacy Integration

Our objective is to engage all K-4th grade students to Integrated Digital Literacy Learning Experiences.

Students may be able to use any type of new innovative technology, but it does not mean that they can use it effectively or as a tool of their learning. We have developed a system that creates digital literacy understanding in the early years of education that develops these understandings. Propel Schools Integration Framework is a comprehensive plan that increases digital literacy.


Information on this page is provided by the innovator and has not been evaluated by HundrED.

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March 2019
Generation Z or iGen is "wired" for technology. Through integration practices, student engagement and collaboration is at an all time high. Teachers have taken back their classrooms, and are no longer competing with misguided screen time.

About the innovation

Digital Literacy Integration

How do we create valuable 21st century learning experiences that do not exist in  a computer science class isolation and are scalable? 

In K-4 our primary objective is to expose all students to Integrated Learning Experiences (ILEs) in order to generate engagement and develop computer science transferable skills. Every year, all students will receive 30 hours of digital literacy instruction from their integration teachers during integration class. Integration educators and classroom educators will then co-plan using the content objectives and ongoing computer science skills learned in the integration class.  Once planned, these educators co-teach an integrated grade level project.  Not only are the students learning, but the regular ed classroom educators are as well.  They will use their learning of the skills in future planning and teaching. 

Every student in K-4 will be engaged in:

*30 hours  of dedicated skill based computer science instruction per year taught by Integration educators 

* Minimum of 2 integrated projects (using the Luma method of human-centered design) co-planned and co-taught by Integration educators and classroom educators

How do we create an innovative framework that keeps learners and educators engaged?

A K-12 framework was designed to reach all learners.  This link will show the requirements involved to achieve our goal: Propel Schools Framework

How do we provide authentic project based learning experiences that are impactful?

Through year long planning and ongoing revisions, a STEAM team of educators, principals, students and local partners collaborate to create a logic model. Factors that were considered were environment, resources, products, audience, and outcomes. The factors are essential in planning, engagement, and skill development.   

A few Items to consider: (Please visit complete Logic Model.)


Does this project provide equitable access to quality education, facilitate growth / achievement, prepare students for success, promote lifelong learning?

Product Example:  

Does this project include a mix of people, colleagues, partners, leadership, resources, tools, technology, materials / supplies that are not compartmentalized into silos?

Audience Example: 

Does this project help students develop grit / perseverance at school and in home environment? How will they transfer these skills to other contexts?

Outcome Example: 

Does the student display confidence in personal / individual voice, feel motivated to continue to explore own voice?


Professional Learning
Kyte Learning /Microcredentials /Tutorials (Professional Learning) How do we embed support for teachers to sharpen their skills with digital literacy?Each Integration teacher is a Kyte Learning Administrator. This platform allows the integration teacher to monitor their lending libraries and empower educators to become masters at instructional technology tools. In addition to general trainings, that are offered as micro-credentials, educators are surveyed about their personal needs and technology in their classroom. From this data, integration teachers work with administrators in creating tutorials that are deployed through Google Classroom. Educators that have mastered a specific instructional technology are also encouraged to help in creating these tutorials. Propel also offers an edtech day of professional development where teachers are given an opportunity to attend and schedule a wide variety of instructional technology presentations at the beginning of each school year.Integration teachers and integration specialists provide hands-on trainings during these trainings. Members of the Google Edtech team, as well as, veteran educators offer sessions with solutions to specific tech goals. Each integration teacher is encouraged and offered an opportunity to attend our state-wide PETE&C conference, and are required to offer professional development upon returning from the conference. This is open to district-wide educators, and the upcoming integration teacher at Homestead has partnered with SWPAECT in sponsoring this event. This model allows opportunities for tech-minded educators to receive and offer Instructional Technology best practices.
K-4 Collaboration (21st Century Skills/Team Building)
How do we provide students opportunities to engage in collaboration and team building with 21st century skills?Throughout the integration model at Propel Schools, collaboration is encouraged. Strategic design of lessons is catered to encourage communication. For example, our integration teachers often have students working in teams of 2-3 with one device. Although, there are times where every student may be finishing a task in a 1:1 scenario, students are given sentence starters, verbal cues, and models on how to give each other feedback and direction in their coding and digital literacy assignments. Students are versed in cross platform communication. This includes collaboration through the Apple Classroom notes application and Google Classroom platforms. Integration teachers work with classroom teachers to facilitate work and cross-curicular collaboration where live documents allow for teamwork and feedback from teacher to teacher, teacher to student, student to teacher, and student to student.
K-4 Digital Sound Production
How can we teach students the fundamentals of digital music production?Students are introduced to several Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) in this unit. Students are encouraged to use cross platform methods, so that they can become familiar with a variety of workflows. Free programs or “freemium” options like soundationstudio.org are used, so that students can share and collaborate without expensive devices like iPads. However, students also learn how to program and record basic 4 track recording in garageband as well. Students have agency in creating and not just consuming digital loops. Students record acoustic and electric instruments to create digital loops that are used to create multitrack recordings in the Roli Noise application and that generated with Light Block M and Seaboard MIDI devices. Students understand that computer code can be manipulated by external MIDI peripherals and change parameters within an application or software. Students also begin working within professional-level software DAWs like Traktor Scratch Pro. With the classroom DJ cart, students are given an opportunity to make and record digital dj mixes, and learn to use key lock, beat sync, filters, delay, echo, song management, genre management, and other basic DJ mixing skills. These skills are taught by using MIDI DJ controllers as an example of an input device to control software. 
CS K-4 Engagement
How can we develop computer science skills at the elementary level?We provide deliberate vertically aligned methodologies, as a pathway for preparing students to enter the middle level years with confidence in computer science digital literacy. We do this with a multifaceted approach that exposes students to many physical and software-based coding platforms. Much like a developer, our students are versed in many forms of code programming. Students in K-1 are focussed in the basics of block and physical coding. Unit plans are assigned to emulate basic directional cues and encouraged to use the language that is important in communication. Students must show mastery in describing steps in a process and using computer science academic language. Students in grades 1-2 approach the same concepts, but dive deeper into the language. For example, when using programs like lightbot or Scratch jr., students can use language to explain loops, algorithms, sequences, and memory management. Students begin more advanced coding lessons with output devices such as Sphero.edu platform, Dash Dot, and Little Bit robotics in these grade levels. Software is used as a tool to teach concepts in basic animations, events, loops, and input/output relationships. Students in all grade levels use CodeSpark Academy at differing lengths of time in their unit plans to understand concepts that include boolean logic, loops, memory management, events, and sequences. Students in 3rd and 4th grade are pushed to use other platforms including code.org, Swift Playgrounds, and Scratch. The goal for 3rd and 4th grade is to be able to code on different devices including Android os, ios, and Chrome os. Students begin taking their skills in block code and translating them to text-based code. Plugins from third party apps that include Sphero and Dash Dot for Swift Playgrounds are utilized. Student also begin using external USB powered devices like Makey Makey to control the programs that they have created.All students are also encouraged to engage in and practice “unplugged” lessons, and create basic understanding of binary code as a result. It is a weighted decision to promote technology as a tool and not a necessity. 

Implementation steps

During the planning year, our STEAM Team included the superintendent, directors of arts, director of afterschool programming, director of instructional technology, and director of innovation.  We attended regional and national conferences to gather best practices.  During monthly meetings, we shared our findings and considered options.  With the help of local partners and educators, we created a logic model that helped us consider our audience, goals, partners, resources, and parent network.  From there, we created several models of our integration framework and solicited feedback from all stakeholders.   
Integration Educator

Propel Schools is committed to creating integrated learning opportunities. Our goal is to prepare students to solve real-world problems through project based units that connect all content areas. There is a primary focus on computational thinking and technology based skill application. Students will learn how to create, think critically, collaborate, and communicate their ideas.

This is an ideal educator for a digital technology integration position is:

Passionate about urban education and committed to social justice

A STEAM education innovator and developer

A believer/practitioner in STEAM education and the 4 C’s (creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration)

A creative and collaborative planner who enjoys vertical planning and unit development with all content educators

Up-to-date on current technology and computer science education

Professional Learning

Creating a plan for all educators in the first year will be helpful to success.  Suggestions include:

*Beginning of the year introduction and question/answer sessions that include all staff

*Regular educator and integration educator beginning of year planning that includes focussing on what how to implement effective project-based learning units using community and national partnerships.  How can we? is the driving question that ALWAYS begins a unit. 

*Work with the integration educator on professional learning needs and innovative planning.  The team never stops learning.  

*Hold sessions for all staff that can include EdTech Teacher and Code.org trainings.  They have been instrumental in helping our educators and students succeed.  



The curriculum coach and integration teacher meet monthly to review adjust co-planned units and computer science integration lessons.  Reviews include: CSTA short term and long term goals, content standards and goals, PBL framework (does it include a community partner?) and progress.  Principals join to keep abreast on all projects.  

Educators, students, and principals are surveyed to adjust goals yearly.  

Revisit, Review and Adjust
We improve our craft by involving our original STEAM team, integration educators, regular education educators, students, local organizations (such as Remake Learning and Carnegie Science Center, AIU3) parents, and principals.  Feedback can be in the form of focus groups and surveys.  

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