Building Sustainable and Equitable Remote Learning Systems

Building Sustainable and Equitable Remote Learning Systems

By Rowel Salvador, Assistant Principal John Muir Middle School

John Muir MS Building During the initial school closure in March 2020, John Muir Middle School staff experienced a wide variety of challenges with remote learning, which led to a profound awareness of the need to have a clearly defined vision for creating a sustainable online learning environment anchored by effective Computer Science instruction.  A deep desire and commitment to pursue this vision and a series of successful efforts have demonstrated that John Muir Middle School is strategically and systematically ensuring that all students are granted ongoing learning opportunities to leverage digital resources and cultivate 21st Century skills. 

In May 2020, John Muir Middle School was selected to become a Practitioner School 5.0 for the 2020-2021 school year. Applying for PS5.0 was a natural next step, since the school had already developed in-house teams and practices to support its program’s growth. Its partnership with School2Home provides tools, resources, and ongoing training for integrating computing and broadband technology.  The Linked Learning Team, composed of seven dedicated teachers, focuses on project-based learning computer science integration for different content areas. Furthemore, all nine JMMS staff members who participated in LAUSD’s Future Ready Certification program focused their problem of practice on implementation of the ISTE Standards for Students. One outcome of these efforts is student participation in the annual Girl’s Build Competition, which uses STEM principles and 21st century skills to resolve issues in the neighborhood.

John Muir MSStudents Working TogetherThis year, John Muir Middle School has established Computer Science Elective Courses.  Two teachers were hired to teach five Career Technical Education courses in Coding and Information Technology and five Introduction to Physical Computing courses serving 250 students.  Two students from USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering provide in-class academic support for students using the curriculum three times per week. The Technology Team assists the instructors through collaborative discussions around the Computer Science Framework during department meetings once a week.

Aside from its developing CS education program, John Muir teachers have mobilized to ensure continued professional development in sound pedagogical practices and increasing instructional technology capacity. Three Technology Teacher Leaders have been identified to lead and reinforce the implementation of the ISTE Standards for students. At the same time, the John Muir Technology Team has been hard at work in building schoolwide staff capacity in instructional technology.  Every week, the team provides small group professional development sessions offered at various times throughout the day to strengthen implementation of distance learning instructional practices and effectively leveraging technology.  This sparked motivation in the teachers and weekly informal after school professional learning meetings led by Department Chairs soon developed.  Every John Muir teacher is now on its way to receive their Common Sense Educator Certification and John Muir Middle School was recognized as a Common Sense School for 2020-2022.  A 16 year veteran teacher proudly commented that he has received more professional development and support this year than all his 16 years in education combined.  Another teacher commented that he was excited about bringing back everything that he has learned into the physical classroom when schools reopen.  He thanks the teams for all the learnings and supports.  Many students have stated that they are really enjoying his class this year.

John Muir MS TweetMost recently, John Muir Middle School, along with the surrounding schools Augustus F. Hawkins High, Budlong Avenue Elementary, 61st Street Elementary, and 52nd Street Elementary Schools are fostering a culture of collaboration and sharing.  The schools are currently working with community partners like Hidden Genius to plan vertical articulation activities to connect through STEM and Computer Science.  The Hour of Code in December will bring the schools together virtually in coordinated events.

John Muir Middle School has demonstrated a commitment to designing systems to improve Computer Science teaching and learning in the south Los Angeles community. Through collaborative work with community partners, and guidance and support from ITI, its educators will continue working toward equitable instructional practices to engage all students in 21st century learning.