Submitted by Dan Cogan-Drew, Director of Digital Learning, Achievement First Public Charter Schools
Note: The information in this profile represents SY2012-13 unless otherwise indicated.

School/organization overview

Name Achievement First Bridgeport Academy Elementary School
Type Charter School
Headquarters Bridgeport, Connecticut
First year of operation SY2010-11
Grades served K-2
Enrollment 285
% FRL 85% (SY2011-12)
% Black or Hispanic 98% (SY2011-12)
Per-pupil funding $9,300 (SY2011-12)

Blended-learning program

Name N/A
Focus General
Year launched SY2011-12
Outside investments/grants $150,000
Enrollment 125
Blended grades 2
Blended subjects Math, English Language Arts
Content ST Math, myON Reader, MimioSprout, Dreambox
SIS Infinite Campus
Independent LMS Education Elements
Independent gradebook None
Independent assessment  STEP, Terra Nova, F&P
Professional development Education Elements

Program model

Program model: Station Rotation

Model description
We have begun the model in our 2nd grade math and reading classes and will expand to grade 1 and K over time. Students in grade 2 math rotate on alternate days between ST Math and teacher-led cumulative review. They also work on Dreambox independently at home. In reading class the students rotate through centers that include myON Reader.

Program description

How much time do students spend on campus in this blended-learning program? How much of this time do students spend learning online or with educational software?
In math and reading class, our 2nd graders are rotating on alternate days for 20 minutes at a time. In addition to the use of the software as a component of classroom instruction, students also attend a technology lab class at a minimum once/week where they learn productivity skills (typing, Google docs, etc.). During typing instruction 2/3 of the class may be on ST Math or myON while 1/3 receives intensive teacher-led typing instruction. This rotation happens for 20 minutes, then the next 1/3 of the class receives instruction while the first 1/3 works in ST Math or myON.

Briefly describe the offline components of this blended-learning program.
Our K-2 math instruction uses the Investigations curriculum. So a typical 90 minute lesson looks like this: 15 min: teacher-led opening with whole class; 30 min: math workshop – during this time the students are working independently to complete an investigation; if they finish and can demonstrate achievement to the teacher’s satisfaction, they are released to work on ST Math if they choose; 10 min: closing with whole class; 30 min: teacher-led math meeting or ST Math (group assignments are predetermined and modified at teacher’s discretion during the lesson).

During the reading class, there are 3 other stations taking place. Two are guided reading centers in which teachers work at U-tables with students to read at their instructional level. The remaining center is Independent Reading on regular leveled books (we use F&P for leveling).

How does this blended-learning program fit into the rest of the students’ school day?
Blended learning takes place daily in math, reading, and at least once/week in the technology lab. Beginning over holiday break this winter we will have students working in Dreambox from home.

What are the teachers’ roles and responsibilities in both the online and offline components of this blended-learning program?
Teachers lead core instruction – guided reading groups or math meeting. Teachers meet with the technology teacher to review data and adjust assigned reading lists or ST Math scopes and sequences according to individual student need.

What other adults are involved in this blended-learning program (e.g., paraprofessionals, learning coaches, counselors) and what are their roles and responsibilities?
The technology teacher is pivotal to the success of the program. She has been involved in the planning and implementation since the beginning. She had significant input in the choice of software, the design and layout of the classroom, and co-leading PD for teachers. She is a former K teacher at the school who elected to convert to become the technology lead. She assists teachers in managing their Chromebooks and circulates during the rotations to help maintain a positive productive classroom culture and offer students guidance as necessary. During her lab instruction, she also focuses on helping students to develop resourcefulness and independence in solving their own problems using an “ask 3 before me” procedure.

Briefly describe the set-up of physical space for this blended-learning program.
In math class there is a cluster of 10 desks set apart from the rest of the class set up where students complete their independent work and then do their work in ST Math. The Chromebooks live on a lunch cart that is locked in a closet overnight. Student leaders distribute headphones and Chromebooks to their peers and are responsible for cleaning up when the class is finished. In the reading class, the Chromebooks and myON are used in another small cluster of desks that function as a center for the rotations. The Chromebooks live on a lunch cart there, as well. When not in use, the Chromebooks are on the cart and locked away, so the space is used for other things. The lab is a set of tables – 6 students to a table – and the Chromebooks are stored in a traditional locking laptop cart for safekeeping. The teacher sets them out before class and they are charged overnight.

How are students grouped within this blended-learning program?
In reading, the students move in leveled groups as determined by their teachers, who using ongoing F&P reading assessment data to re-level and re-group as needed. A single group may be assigned the same book list or allowed to choose their own. We are still developing best practices in this area. In math, the students are grouped generally into 2 groups: low and high. This allows the teacher to focus the cumulative review on a single level of students while the other level is in ST Math. The teacher flexibly regroups students on the fly during class depending upon the student’s demonstrated understanding during the lesson.

Do students have some element of control over the pacing of their learning? Are students tied to a semester-based course schedule or can they complete courses at any time? Briefly describe any requirements or benchmarks in place to ensure student progress.
Yes. In ST Math, students can work at their own pace. The software is mastery-based, not adaptive, but they can work ahead and more slowly depending upon their performance in the program. In reading, students are assigned appropriately leveled books by the software’s assessment of their reading level (using a lexile-based cloze reading passage assessment given initially as a diagnostic and then every 5 books to relevel their choices).Describe the academic results of the program, using quantitative data where possible.

Describe any other distinctive characteristics of this blended-learning program if they have not been captured above.
We use the EdElements HLMS student portal, which provides a single point of entry to Dreambox, ST Math, myON, and MimioSprout (for intervention and eventually for K-1, pending school leader approval). Combined with Chromebooks, we are able to get students into the software and working productively in well under a minute from time they sit down.

Describe the academic results of the program, using quantitative data where possible.
We have only been running the program for 3.5 months, so we don’t have any quantitative data yet to share. Anecdotally, the teachers are very happy with the program and the school leader is looking to expand it to additional grades in the coming months and years.

Describe any financial impact this blended-learning program has had on your cost of operations. Use numbers when possible.
There has not been a financial impact yet. Our primary motivation for piloting this model is to increase our ability to deliver rigorous instruction at differentiated levels in grade 2, which has traditionally been a challenge.

What have been the biggest obstacles in implementing this blended-learning program? What has needed adjustment along the way?
The greatest challenge continues to be the relationship of teacher-led instruction to software-led instruction and assessment. The software doesn’t always have the features that we wish it had, the data isn’t always reliable and actionable, and the trade-off of teacher-led instruction in a larger group vs. software-led instruction in a small one isn’t self-evident.


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