Gardner Pilot Academy/Final report
Report from Sugar Labs to Gould Charitable Foundation
Thanks to a grant from the Gould Foundation, Sugar Labs has been able to learn a great deal about Sugar-on-a-Stick deployments: what is needed to make them successful and scalable in Boston public elementary and middle schools such as the Gardner Pilot Academy (GPA).
Activities supported by the grant include:
- Intervention summer program for 2nd and 3rd graders where they used Sugar in a social studies curriculum. The children used Sugar to explore, be expressive with the material being learned, and push themselves academically. They created games, maps, and other artifacts throughout the course of the program. Lesson plans and videos were created that were shared with the broader Sugar learning community (See http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xaa1kj_creating-a-states-memorize-game-wit_tech ; http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xaa1fk_gpa-school-meets-conozo-uruguay_tech ; http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x9yrxj_continent-game_tech ; http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x9zy4v_where-is-the-gardner-schooly_tech ; http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x9xz9o_state-game_tech).
- Intervention in 4th grade where we worked with the math curriculum; much of the focus was on Logo programming to explore and practice curricula goals.
- Summer program at the Lila Fredrick Middle School in Boston that created lesson plans and videos; middle schoolers made instructional videos for consumption by elementary-school students (See http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xa71j3_to-square_creation).
- Collected, refurbished and installed donated computers in the GPA school.
- Worked with Sugar developers to improve Turtle Art, a Logo programming environment.
- Worked with Sugar developers to improve Labyrinth, a mind-mapping activity.
- Worked with Sugar developers to improve Memorize, a flash-card game.
- Worked with Sugar developers to give feedback on UI and Journal improvements.
- Worked with librarian at Boston public library to plan after school Sugar classes.
- Worked on planning with Mission Hill after school to plan for a potential partnership next fall, where students will receive donated computers.
The work done for the Grant also indirectly supported a number of other beneficial activities in the Sugar ecosystem:
- Supported a student project at Babson on Sugar (See http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/File:Sugar_Deployment_in_US_Schools_Report.pdf).
- Supported planning for an India deployment at Boston University.
- Supported creation of a BU Sugar Club and a partnership with a BU Education School professor.
- Supported and help to inform a Rochester Institute of Technology program that is created 4th-grade math activities for Sugar.
What we learned:
- Students in Boston schools, i.e., GPA and Lila Fredrick, are very engaged and learn when using Sugar.
- Middle school students are still a good target audience for Sugar.
- Second graders in urban public schools can use and learn from Turtle Art, a block-based Logo programing environment.
- Gained useful experience in obtaining and setting up used computers.
- Developed strategies for labeling sticks and setting up computers in the classroom.
- Developed strategies around time and class management that optimizing lesson plans around boot of machine.
- There are technical issues to be resolved before Sugar on a Stick is ready to go to scale in the public schools.
- Schools are hesitant to send computers home until booting is easier.
- Booting Macs is inconsistent and somewhat unpredictable, a technical issue that needs work.
- Lack of Flash support in Sugar-on-a-Stick distributions is an issue for some teachers/students (Gnash was not adequate for their needs).
- Sticks need to be easier to replicate, more stable, and boot faster.
- Work-study students are not a reliable source of talent, because not all students are eligible and universities, e.g., BU, run out of work-study money. We need to budget for students who are not work-study eligible.
- Support for Response to Intervention (RTI) is an important feature request for the Boston Public Schools.
- The GPA's extended-day program means there is less time for informal learning then at other schools where the after school program is less structured.
To date we have spent $2,581.11 of the $20,000 grant:
- Work-study students from BU and Harvard
- USB sticks, other misc computer goods, and copying
We intend to use the remainder of the funds to address the technical issues we have encountered and to plan another pilot in a Boston or Greater Boston Area school.