PDN and Columbia Model Schools

The PDN initiative connects Districts 4 and 6 schools with high-performing model schools (selected in part for strong ELA performance) that have distinguished themselves by leveraging technology as a transformative tool in the classroom. These schools have been selected by the Division of Information and Instructional Technology (DIIT) to serve as citywide models through a unique partnership with Columbia SIPA Model Technology Schools Case Study Project (NYC DOE/Columbia Project). Teams from PDN schools (the teams may consist of the school leader, lead ELA/ technology teachers/coaches, and students), will participate in guided intervisitations using the NETs-aligned Dimensions of a 21st Century School assessment tool designed by Teaching Matters Inc. (TMI) in collaboration with NYC principals and DIIT. The tool offers a framework that will allow team members to assess both the schools they are visiting and their own school as 21st century schools. This initial assessment will be followed by professional development and on-site support to create an action plan to move schools along the Dimensions of a 21st Century School continuum with a focus on ELA instruction. The program will also incorporate online collaboration and the sharing of resources focused on effective and innovative literacy strategies among educators through an online community.

Model Technology Schools


Empowered Leadership Fosters Technology Innovation

A key component of the New York City Department of Education’s Children First reforms is the empowerment of school principals. Because principals know more about the on-the-ground reality of their schools than anyone else, they have been given greater power over decisions relating to budgets, programs, and personnel. In exchange for this increased freedom in shaping their schools, principals are held to higher accountability standards.

Many principals have used their increased autonomy to develop innovative practices and programs. However, the tremendous amount of responsibility principals have on both the instructional and operational sides of their schools may limit the time they have to communicate with other principals throughout the City. As a result, best practices can easily get lost in the shuffle of day-to-day realities.

This is particularly true with regard to technology, which is a relatively new leadership arena for principals. For years, technology in the schools has been seen as an “extra.” However, it has become clear that technology is part of the foundation of a 21st-century model of teaching and learning: a blend of face-to-face and online teaching, communication, and collaboration between students, educators, school leaders, parents, and educational partners. This model may just be the next game-changer when it comes to improving student achievement—and improvement is necessary if we expect our children to thrive in the 21st-century global economy.


Profiles of Schools Studied

The eight schools chosen for this project—though they in no way comprise an exhaustive list—all reflect the standards outlined by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). These schools, which range from very small to very large, span four of the five boroughs and have diverse student bodies. They are all eligible for Title I funds and a high majority of their students receive free or reduced price lunch. The principals are exemplary leaders who ensure that technology is integrated into instruction and leveraged to differentiate learning. They have all managed to create cohesive communities in which technology is understood to be an inextricable part of the school fabric, and a foundation for their instructional visions.

Emergent Themes

To read a summary of the emergent themes from this diverse group of Model Technology Schools, read this project introduction.

The Model Schools