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TIIP II Project Abstracts

Here you will find the project abstracts and descriptions for the second cohort of the TIIP program.


Camino Nuevo Charter Academy

The New American Story: Preserving the History of our Community through Storytelling

Our project seeks to unlock the unrecorded history of the Latino Community of the greater MacArthur Park area via student and community storytelling.  While our students’ standardized test scores indicate that they are performing “at grade level”, we are concerned with their lack of confidence, value and command over their writing.  They have trouble making the connection between their personal experience and academic lives.  As a matter of social equity, we see it is our job to change this and find new means of enriching our instructional repertoire. We will develop our writing pedagogy by attending writing institutes and inviting mentors to our school to better understand how craft and language are used to tell stories in a variety of genres and media. We will then create units of study that teach our students the crafts and media outlets they need to share the stories they see around them in MacArthur Park.  We will teach them to cherish and preserve these pieces of expression as part of a growing and celebrated community identity. Funds will be used to create the Pueblo Nuevo Folk Life Center, a recording suite and growing library that documents and saves student work as well as the stories of members of the community, as they will also be invited to share.  This project will provide students the writing skills, recording tools, and pride they need to speak for themselves as individuals and as members of an under-served and under-represented fraction of American society.

Claremont High School

Engaging All Freshmen in a 21st Century Laboratory Curriculum

With over 600 freshman, 7 teachers, and 11 sections of freshman Biology taught in a given year, there are massive discrepancies in the laboratory curriculum being offered in each course by each teacher.  But, the time and opportunity to create the needed consistency is severely lacking. Additionally, current laboratory offerings are weak and textbook driven.  This project will include a professional development partnership with Vernier Software and Technology to provide the training, pedagogy, and lesson development to use our currently underutilized digital data collection equipment to revitalize our freshman Biology laboratory curriculum into a modern, relevant, and engaging experience.  We will learn how to engage all freshman biology students in a rich, hands-on, 21st century laboratory curriculum by focusing on four main areas—the use of probeware, opportunities for reflection, common assessment, and logistics, sustainability, and management. The project plan will be implemented in three, blended phases: Vernier partnership and Moodle professional development, laboratory curriculum and assessment creation, and mentoring and sustaining the curriculum. The outcomes of the project include an entirely new technology-based laboratory curriculum, an interactive course website for all biology teachers and students, and increases in student achievement as shown by CST scores, D/F letter grades, and student enrollment in advanced classes.

Craig Williams Elementary School, Washington Elementary, and Mayfair Middle/High School

Seeing Math

The Seeing Math initiative is a two-year project designed to improve teachers’ abilities to develop students’ conceptual understanding of mathematics and give students the skills to solve problems using a variety of strategies. Participants will learn a hands-on approach to teaching mathematics in grades 2-Algebra I. The first year will be devoted to training and practicing the methods learned. In addition, team members will observe each other, implement the strategies, and participate in peer coaching several times throughout the year.  The second year of the project is dedicated to becoming teacher experts.   Participants will take part in professional coaching at least twice during the year, and present the methods learned during staff development days to the teachers at their school sites and throughout the district.

Farmdale Elementary School

To Inquiry and Beyond: Exploring the Inquiry Process as an International Baccalaureate Candidate School

The aim of this grant is to improve the quality of the teaching at Farmdale Elementary School by developing a deeper understanding of the inquiry process. The grant writing team will focus on a variety of professional development opportunities that will augment our knowledge of teaching through the pedagogical lense of International Baccalaureate (IB).  After attending trainings on IB and technology, the grant writers will present the information during professional development time.  The purpose of our grant is to foster a trainer of trainers model in order to create a system of sustainability at our school site beyond the scope of this project.  Through a yearly Professional Reading Group, with some Skype sessions from the author, we hope to create a cohort of teachers who will implement strategies presented in the reading and discuss their outcomes.  With this on-going reflection and dialogue about inquiry we will be empowered with a greater understanding of the process and therefore teach in a manner that increases critical thinking among our students.  Ultimately we hope to foster a habit of self-initiative within our students to want to learn and inquire deeply about themselves and the world around them.  Through the implementation of this proposal, we will be able to nurture a different style of teaching that will increase student success and more aptly prepare our pupils for the jobs of the future.


Washington M.S. and Southeast Middle School

Developing the Holistic 21st Century Student: Raising Motivation, Collaboration Skills and Academic Achievement through Project-Based Learning

The current education system places a heavy emphasis on high academic performance, as measured through standardized testing. Although high academic proficiency is expected, this over-emphasis neglects the critical need to holistically develop students into self-driven, socially-adept individuals that will flourish in the 21st century workforce. This study will develop science instructional units using the Project-Based Learning (PBL) instructional model to prepare students and equip our teaching repertoire to meet 21st century expectations. The focus student population will have 3 prevailing characteristics: low motivation towards education, low collaboration skills, and low academic performance. The project plan is comprised of 4 Professional Growth Cycles. Each cycle includes the following phases: Observation, Reflection, Planning, Implementation and Reflection again. During the observation phase, we will collaborate with PBL experts at two summer institutes. In addition, network with and observe model PBL classroom instructors at 4 model PBL learning institutions throughout California. Afterwards, we will reflect on our learning, plan our own PBL instructional unit, implement it and reflect on our practice before the beginning of the next cycle. After our fourth and final cycle, we expect focus students’ baseline level of motivation, collaboration skills and academic achievement to rise. The PBL resources collected and the PBL instructional units created will be shared in an online digital library. This project will serve as a catalyst for the transformation of our professional learning communities and our students to pursue further opportunities to excel in the 21st century environment. 


John Muir High School

Improving At-Risk Populations’ Science Literacy Skills with an Emphasis on Using Research-Proven Strategic Methods for Increased Teacher Effectiveness and Retention in the Science Classroom

Project-based learning not only involves the student in the classroom setting, it covers a wide range of skills that our students will need to acquire in order to become successful professionals and citizens of the 21st Century. Our team of teachers will become mentors for our students who will develop the intrigue and passion for the sciences. Our goal is to make our students want to wonder about how our intricate and complex world can be understood via theories, laws and hypothesis in science. Our project consists of receiving training from two sites: 1). Oak Crest Institute of Science in Pasadena, CA; and the 2) UCLA Science Project Center. Our proposed activities during the grant funded years will be the following: our team of teachers will attend the Amgen Kit training at John Muir High School in Pasadena, California. Where we will receive training on how to use the Bruce Wallace Amgen Biotechnology Kit. We will then pilot the use of the Amgen Kit throughout the 2011-12 school year. English and Math teachers will be invited to attend the Amgen Kit training in order to foster cross-curricular development. Subsequently, during the Summer of 2012; our team will receive training on Project Based Learning modules on Solar Fuel Cells and Energy with assistance from the Oak Crest Institute of Science through a partnership with the California Institute of Technology teachers Professional Development department. Once we receive our training we will then pilot the themes throughout the 2012-2013 school year. In addition, the UCLA Center X Science Project will be working with us for the 2011-2012 & 2012-2013 academic years; and summer of 2013 assisting us in designing and implementing teaching strategies that will help us identify, develop and promote science teaching that will make use of good science instruction available and accessible to our students. Through these collaborations we will be able to deepen our science department’s content and pedagogical knowledge in order to better meet the needs of our students and eventually share our developed modules with other professional learning communities of educators within Los Angeles County.

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo High School, Long Beach

Building Bridges, Crossing Barriers

In this project our small learning community, CAL-J (Cabrillo Academy of Law and Justice) will explore how a culturally relevant pedagogy lens can be applied to our curriculum in order to engage more students in the learning process. This, tied to a student directed inquiry project in our community, will help link the learning in the classroom to the real world and give our students the necessary skills and attitudes as they become active participants in our democratic society.


Lanai Road Elementary School

Building Connections: A Developmental Approach to Kindergarten Uniting Social Skills, Critical Thinking and Academics

The Lanai kindergarten team will create and implement a developmental curriculum for all Lanai kinder students, incorporating techniques to help students master social skills, executive functioning skills, and encourage critical thinking. Recognizing that today’s students are captivated by technology, we will introduce interactive whiteboards into two classrooms and develop lesson plans that engage young students in group learning. All kinder teachers will receive whiteboard training, and through team teaching, all kinder students will participate in group activities featuring the white boards. Advanced thinking maps training, “Write From the Beginning,” focuses on critical thinking skills, and we will develop a prototype six week “Thinking Maps” course for parent volunteers to use in each kinder classroom. Participation in a Cognitively Guided Instruction course will allow us to adapt the kinder math curriculum to integrate critical thinking concepts. Additional training from MonArt and Orff Schulwerk and materials from Imagination Playground will reintroduce music, dance, art and play into the kinder curriculum. Finally, an educational book club and periodic planning sessions for our teacher team will allow us to explore different theories and ways to incorporate new concepts into our practice. By project’s end, we will have developed projects and activities that promote student-driven learning and group activities that encourage students to practice impulse control, planning ahead, and similar skills. It is our hope that the use of music, play, art, and technology will allow students to “make connections” between mastery of academics, social skills and critical thinking, and thus set the stage for a lifelong love of learning.

Locke High School

21st Century Literacies for Students to Change the World

21st Century Literacies for Students to Change the World is a project that aims to support a team of English teachers at Locke High School to develop a 21st Century Literacies pedagogy that empowers youth to become agents of change in their communities through the development of standards-based units of study that advance students’ critical literacy, media literacy, and proficiency with the tools of technology. First, the team will receive extensive training from expert teachers, researchers, and organizations that know how to develop a 21st Century Literacies pedagogy that engages students as readers, writers, and co-creators of multi-media texts for the purpose of critically engaging with the world around them and creating change in their community. Then, through inquiry-based team meetings over the course of two years, teachers will present problems of practice, curriculum, and videos of teaching to analyze pedagogy from a 21st Century Literacies framework.  Through an inquiry-based approach to collaboration will explore how to develop and sustain this pedagogy.  In the second year, teachers will focus on developing two community exhibitions that allow students to demonstrate their learning of 21st Century Literacies and showcase projects and products developed in our various units of study.  These exhibitions will not only showcase student work, but will also be an authentic context for our newly developed 21st Century Literacies pedagogy to be assessed by the community and our colleagues.

Lorena Street Elementary School

Project ARTE (Art and Reading Teaching Experiences)

Project ARTE is based on the collaboration approach to learning.  We have designed a project that includes the community, students, teachers, and parents.  The goal of this project is to improve our teaching in the area of language arts, establish partnerships with our parents and our local community resources.  The teachers involved want to research art education as a means to improve language instruction and student achievement.  Team teachers will join forces with professional artist to study the strategies that engage students.  Our team will learn about creative ways to extend classroom learning and create a common knowledge base for our families.  This team seeks to enable active parent participation through the creation of campus-wide events.  It is our hope that through shared experiences, we provide a context for the use of academic language.

Manual Arts

Student Agency: Demonstrating Geo-Spatial Counter Narratives through Community Action Research

This two year project aims to engage youth in critical action research, examining and transforming their own communities through an innovative curriculum that combines the use of GIS mapping technologies, web 2.0 and film media, and a critical and participatory understanding of public policy.  Students will explore their personal and community identities through the lenses of race, gender, space, and culture. Students will utilize analytical frameworks to examine the political and socio-economic conditions that create and sustain systemic inequalities around issues identified in student inquiry.  Through partnerships with community organizations, students will be empowered to share the data they generated to inform the public discourse and open up new opportunities to build the relational power for youth and encourage transformational civic participation. The teacher team will engage in professional learning opportunities that inform critical pedagogical methodologies, allowing them to further share classroom practices that empower educators to incorporate critical inquiry, collaborative project based learning and praxis throughout any core social studies curriculum. 


Moffett Elementary School

Making Cross-Language and Cross-Cultural Connections through the Arts in a Dual Language Program

Making Cross-language and Cross-cultural connections in a Dual Language Program will develop a comprehensive continuum of standards-based language skills, integrated with the visual and performing arts that will include teaching and learning resources for a comprehensive biliteracy program.  This continuum will reflect a multicultural transformative pedagogy with an inquiry approach to learning through units of study, as well as a focused approach to skill transference supported by common formative assessments leading to district set performance benchmarks.  Team teachers will plan and develop curriculum as they engage in a cycle of inquiry process to analyze the effectiveness of practice and refine as needed.  Utilizing the new California Common Core Standards and Curriculum Content Guides (CDE January, 2011) our project’s academic, linguistic and cultural goals align to promote creativity, innovation and biliteracy.  Each of these content areas contain integrated knowledge and skills that have the power to expand the perceptual, intellectual, cultural, and spiritual dimensions of the human experience.  Our project will affirm biliteracy as students engage in communicating their perceptions, responses, and understanding of the world to themselves and to others. In addition, the integrated arts will become a venue for sharing practices studied through this grant with parents, community members, teachers and students not directly involved in the study.


Road to Success Academy (LACOE)

The Road to Success: A New Project-Based Learning School for Girls in Detention

This project seeks to develop expertise in project-based learning for the newly founded Road To Success Academy, a Los Angeles County Office of Education public school for incarcerated girls housed at two detention camps managed by the Los Angeles County Probation Department.  A new school and new curriculum was launched in September 2010, with an aim toward moving to project-based learning and unifying the entire site (with our partners from the Probation Department) to support student projects during and after school.  The launch has been very successful, with many educational and cultural shifts starting to take hold (along with peak student interest in thematic projects across the curriculum and dual classroom/Probation activities such as opening talking circles). However, faculty need greater expertise in the advisory role that is at the core of project-based learning.  In addition, faculty need a way to develop site-specific training curriculum (for faculty, staff and Probation Department partners) and that requires a significant amount of meeting and collaborative time.  The goal is that project-based learning will be deeply rooted at the site, a true partnership with Probation will emerge, faculty capacity to train on and learn more about project-based learning will be supported, and student success metrics will be positively impacted (including academic achievement, less violence or disruption at the site, positive transitions back to the community and success at creating and presenting their projects).

Roosevelt Elementary School (Lawndale)

Growing Teachers For Life

Our team recognizes the need at our school for higher student performance on the English Language Arts section of the California Standards Test and for teachers to renew, rejuvenate and realign their practice with purpose. Through our Teacher Initiated Inquiry Project, “Growing Readers for Life,” we will research and implement a more effective way to teach reading and thus foster strong readers who read with fluency, understand what they read, and think critically about texts. Our project will empower the teachers at Roosevelt Elementary School to further explore and teach Reading Workshop with increased fidelity, skill, and collaboration. Team members will receive training at the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project’s Summer Reading Institute. Staff developers from Growing Teachers, an educational consulting firm specializing in Reading and Writing Workshops, will work with the team throughout the project to provide on-going training. Growing Teachers will coach team members in the classroom to apply what we learn from the Summer Reading Institute. They will facilitate our inquiry into our teaching practice within the framework of Reading Workshop and provide professional development for the entire staff. We will also meet regularly as a team in order to reflect on our teaching, analyze student work and assessments, plan lessons, and provide support for each other in the area of Reading Workshop. Finally, we will extend the learning into our community by leading parent workshops and offering targeted professional development through staff-wide inquiry groups.

Roosevelt High School

Experienced-Based Learning Project: Community Activism Through Critical, Social Literacy

In developing our professional development and long-term project plan, our team wants to ensure that we address the academic needs of our students in a way that is genuine and has an exponential and long-lasting impact in our school and community. Our hope is that by preparing our teachers to develop interdisciplinary and project-based learning curricula, while applying a critical and social justice lens, technology and the arts, our students can become engaged, active learners who are aware of their environment. We do not think that awareness alone is sufficient, however. That is why we chose professional development workshops, as well as conferences and activities that provide our students with the tools to creatively address the issues in their community. Technology, the arts and academia are areas that we will address within our distinct disciplines. By developing critical literacy within the classroom, and with the aid of outside resources, we believe our students will have the skills, awareness and ability to create art and knowledge that is relevant and meaningful to their lives and identity. As educators, sustaining the development of critical pedagogy, life-long learners and agents of change is our ultimate goal.


Thomas A. Edison Middle School

English 2.0:  Integrating Technology to Increase the Relevance and Authenticity of English Language Arts


According to Prensky (2001), “the single biggest problem facing education today is that our Digital Immigrant instructors, who speak an outdated language (that of the pre-digital age), are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language.”  As English teachers, we are dedicated to teaching literacy, but not always prepared to teach students to navigate, create, and critically evaluate both traditional and new media.  While our students are sometimes reluctant learners when it comes to ELA content standards, as Digital Natives, they are enthusiastic learners when it comes to reading and writing with social media.  By largely omitting this literacy from our classrooms, we have missed opportunities to help students apply ELA skills and critical analysis to their consumption and creation of new media.  With this grant, we hope to sharpen our own understanding and use of social media and new trends in technology.  We will work within an action research framework:  We will learn from teachers and other educators, reflect on our learning, design learning opportunities for our students, assess our success, and start over again with the next project and ELA unit.  We will share this learning with our department, our school and the larger community by presenting at meetings and conferences, and creating an online presence to document our learning.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(15).


UCLA Community School

Assessing Mathematical Reasoning and Developing Structures for Differentiated Instruction

UCLA Community School teachers representing elementary and middle school will research and implement diagnostic assessments of students’ numeracy.  We will develop an instructional structure that will allow teachers to use assessment information to differentiate in math instruction while addressing grade-level standards in our multi-age classrooms.  We will present our findings to our colleagues for their use and for inclusion in our school wide student portfolio and individualized Learning Plan which is currently under development.


UCLA Lab School

Creating Collegial Relationships for Social Justice

Creating Collegial Relationships for Social Justice connects five teachers across grade levels through a structured and non-judgmental peer coaching process that creates spaces for collaboration, reflection, and dialogue about critical subject matter and pedagogy. The need for this project stems from a desire to expand our Safe School culture, inquiry based curriculum, and holistic practices to reflect our belief that young children are capable of and should be involved in confronting social justice issues. The key question that we will explore as a team is: How can peer coaching support us as we explore innovative ways to address concepts of social justice in our classroom communities?


University High School

F.R.E.S.H... (Fitness, Relaxation, Eating well, Stress relief, Health) from the Garden

In our experience, students are lacking in specific knowledge of healthy eating habits, where their food comes from, and general stress management.  The goal of our professional learning is to set up an after school program to engage students in projects, activities, and experiences that will improve their personal health, and the health of their communities.  Our professional development includes instruction in nutrition for preventative health, cooking and food preparation, school gardening, and yoga/stress management.


Vista del Valle Dual Language Academy

Preventing the Development of Long Term English Learners Through the Use of Bi-literacy, Project-Based Learning and Technology

Research is showing that English Learners’ difficulties are often caused by inappropriate instructional strategies.   As the Team Members of Vista del Valle Dual Language Academy, we have long known this tragic truth. Therefore, we will take this opportunity to explore and implement different instructional approaches such as Bi-literacy, Project-Based Learning and Technology at our newly elected Public School Choice school in the Los Angeles Unified School District.  We will pursue professional development opportunities in these three areas, with the intention of providing our English Learners access to quality instruction and curriculum.  In this way, they will be ready to civically participate in their twenty-first century world and not risk becoming Long Term English Learners.


Washington Primary Center

Developing Literacy:  A Roadmap for Teacher Learning

The focus in education is to not leave any child behind, but if teaching is really going to work in this country, teachers can’t be left behind. Because good teaching is central to giving every student the education they deserve, the team members want to embark on further developing their literacy knowledge by learning from experts in the field. With help from these experts, Developing Literacy: A Roadmap for Teacher Learning will allow the team members to learn approaches to improve reading and writing that tap into our intelligence, creativity, and collaborative skills. The key questions we want to explore are: (1) How can we create a consistent, predictable environment that will help students develop the daily habits of reading, writing, and working independently that will lead to a lifetime of literacy independence?  ((2) How can we engage all students in daily literacy assessment and instruction that meets their academic needs? and (3) Instead of solely relying on assessments and supplemental materials from textbook publishers, how do we go about creating effective literacy assessments that are aligned to the California content standards and classroom instruction?  During the course of the project, team members will attend key literacy trainings such as Daily 5, CAFÉ and the Writing Institute at the Teachers College at Columbia University, join ASCD and take online classes focused on analyzing student data and creating assessments, join a professional learning community, meet regularly throughout the year, and receive one-on-one and group coaching from a literacy expert to help develop and refine our teaching practices as we search for the answers to our problem of practice.


Windsor Hills Math, Science, and Aerospace Magnet

African-American Contributions to Aerospace

Windsor Hills Elementary will strengthen its mandate as a Math, Science and Aerospace Magnet with a team of 4 teachers building their own professional development in the area of Science/Aerospace with a focus on the African-American influence in the Aerospace industry.  They will share with the school population the information gained in an effort to close the achievement gap and build pride in this community.  A hands-on museum with student friendly curriculum to encourage students to pursue careers in Aerospace and Science will be developed.

Woodrow Wilson High School

Strengthening Core Instruction through Thematic Inquiry

Collegial inquiry provides the foundation for our proposal to attain three goals: 1) build capacity for effective collaboration, 2) deepen knowledge of thematic instruction, and 3) develop authentic technology experiences for students and teachers. These are worthy goals that our team and other educators across the nation are seeking to develop, add to, and lead. The activities within our plan promote self-directness, group development, and sustainability. The plan also includes modeling and guided practice for problem solving, inquiry, and planning. The largest portion of our proposal provides a strengthening of core instruction through inquiry-based and thematic development of curriculum. We will focus on quality instruction through increasing academic engaged time. We will create a handbook called Core Instruction through Thematic Inquiry with our units, samples of student work, and progress monitoring data including reflection on our practice using cognitive coaching strategies. We will also present our findings at our schools and create a LAUSD-based salary point course. We also plan to present at local, state, and national conferences to further share the outcomes of our learning.

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