School of Education Awarded Thinkfinity Grants

School of Education research projects on both our New York City and Pleasantville campuses were recently awarded Thinkfinity grants in January 2013. Both projects will expand upon use of the TeachLive avatar technology.

In New York City, Kelley Lassman, PhD, and Sharon Medow, MS, MSEd, were awarded $14, 875 to develop learning modules for alternative certification teachers around skills for classroom management and behavior. The modules will be an ideal tool for New York City Teaching Fellows to use in the eight-week summer study period prior to entering New York City classrooms in the fall for on-the-job training.

“We thought ‘how can we use technology to move [Fellows’] skills forward faster?’,” Dr. Lassman says of the project’s core purpose.

Dr. Lassman and Professor Medow will partner with Dr. Angel Lopez at the University of Central Florida, who works closely with the development team for the TeachLive avatars technology, to create 4-10 modules for Teaching Fellows. Pace University works with science Fellows at the middle and high school level, as well as Fellows working toward Childhood Education and Special Education certification to serve in New York City’s District 75.

Faculty and staff in Pleasantville were awarded $10,000 for a proposed “TeachLive Mobile Laboratory Expansion.” Led by Joan Walker, PhD and Frank Deluca, EdD, the Pleasantville team will use the TeachLive technology with K-12 teachers in the high-need Ossining and Peekskill school districts. School of Education staff working on this project include Fran Wills, PhD, Coordinator of Professional Development; Marjorie Holderman, Clincical Supervisor; and Pat Parrilla, Director of the Teacher Opportunity Corps.

This project is unique in that it brings the simulation technology on-site to teachers and examines teachers' ability to  transfer the use of evidence-based strategies from the virtual lab to the regular classroom setting and how their use of those strategies relates to student learning and engagement.

Ossining teacher Robert Rendo uses the TeachLive avatar technology in a January meeting of the Pleasantville Thinkfinity project.

"The project is an important example of collaboration between higher education and K-12 schools. More importantly, it offers an affirmative counterpoint to New York State's high-stakes teacher evaluation system,” Dr. Walker shared. “If teachers are to master the practices identified in that system, they need opportunities to practice and rehearse those skills in an environment without risk to the teacher or students in the classroom."

In the Ossining district, the project involves a cohort of Nationally Board Certified teachers. This group of master teachers is focusing on building a robust understanding of the teacher practices identified in the NYS teacher evaluation system and developing their use of questioning techniques identified in Domain 3 of the Danielson Teacher Evaluation Framework. By enhancing their own personal professional development through use of the lab and discussion, teachers in this district are developing their capacity to in turn, serve as peer coaches for colleagues who will also be evaluated by the new teacher evaluation system.