PLTW Launch Impacts Young Learners Even in Summer

Ericka Mabion is the K-8 iSpark CTE Coordinator for Kansas City Public Schools in Kansas City, Missouri.

At Kansas City Public Schools, PLTW is an integral part of each K-6 students’ day throughout the year. We have offered PLTW Launch since 2018 through our iSpark program (Innovative, Soft-skills, Proficiency, and Real-world Knowledge). PLTW Launch is implemented in a specials rotation during the year. Kindergarten through second grade experience PLTW Launch once a week and third through sixth grade twice a week.

Within our summer learning program, we continue to offer PLTW Launch as a special rotation, with all K-6 students experiencing it one day a week. As we developed our summer learning program this summer, we intentionally connected PLTW Launch and science. PLTW Launch supports our science needs, creating a fluid experience, as we have streamlined our curriculum maps to mirror the standards. We have developed a triad between the classroom teacher, the librarian/media specialists, and our iSpark (PLTW) teacher. Students will have equal opportunity for research, engaging in background and foundational knowledge and hands-on learning of the same standards.   

The summer learning program was developed with project-based learning (PBL) as the foundation and with community giving as the lens. All PBL projects are community service-based projects, allowing students to be engaged and empowered within the local community. We wanted to take advantage of the hands-on components we appreciated from PLTW Launch modules during the school year. It is important that our students have experiential learning, not just the conceptual learning opportunities.

At Kansas City Public Schools, we believe PLTW Launch is for everyone. As an urban district in the heart of Kansas City, we have various languages from our ELL (English as a Learned Language) population, and we have inclusive learning with our Special Education students. We differentiate and accommodate ALL learners and the strengths they bring to foster a successful learning experience in our PLTW Launch classes.   

PLTW’s embedded professional development in each module has empowered our summer learning program teachers to feel confident in the opportunities they are providing to students. Our teachers find the diversity in lessons to be well-rounded and robust providing authentic student engagement. Students are enjoying PLTW Launch this summer and that continues to invigorate our team!

Our greatest compliment is when students leave school and share with their families the learning taking place inside the classroom, and when they articulate the vocabulary & STEM connections. We continue to receive this feedback from our community, and it continues to drive home that we are making a significant impact on students’ learning this summer!

PLTW’s blog intends to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of each guest author.