STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Staten Island students are learning how to code and design apps through a new public-private partnership between Apple and the New York City Department of Education (DOE), Borough President Vito Fossella recently announced.
The pilot training program was created with Staten Island District 31 Superintendent Dr. Marion Wilson and Mark F. Cannizzaro, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators.
“We wanted to find a way to use the resources available through private businesses such as Apple to offer students diverse opportunities in the world of technology. Coding and app design programs are becoming a main aspect of employment in today’s workforce,” said Fossella. “With the curriculums the company has provided, we can better introduce interested Staten Island students to work that will translate to real-life experiences in this field. The translation of this program results in possible solutions to issues Staten Islanders face throughout the community …”
The program helps prepare students for a technology-driven market found in both academic and career pathways.
It is primarily geared toward project-based learning in coding and app design that will examine the role of strategic, intentional Apple technology, which will drive deeper learning among students.
“Partnerships with private businesses can enrich our students’ lives and provide them with high-quality learning opportunities that will impact them for years to come,” said Cannizzaro.
The pilot began in January and is currently implemented in 10 schools throughout Staten Island. They are: PS 21, Port Richmond; PS 29, Castleton Corners; Totten Intermediate School (I.S. 34), Tottenville; PS 56, Rossville; PS 59, Concord; PS 60, Bulls Head; The Eagle Academy for Young Men, Stapleton; Tottenville High School, Huguenot; Ralph R. McKee Career and Technical Education High School, St. George; Staten Island Technical High School, New Dorp.
The coding curriculum provided by this partnership provides teachers with access to two different programs — “Swift Playgrounds” and “Develop in Swift.”
“Swift Playgrounds” is an app that teaches coding for kids through a world of interactive puzzles and playful characters geared to introduce coding language used by professional app developers. It is used for elementary and middle school students in the program.
“Develop in Swift” is a comprehensive coding offering intended for students in ninth grade and above.
The curriculum prepares students for college or a career in app development using the Swift programming language and is complemented with free online professional learning for educators. As students move from this app to more advanced concepts, they will explore designing and building a fully functioning app on their own, and can even earn Advanced Placement (AP) credit or an industry-recognized certification.
Wilson said the programming allows the borough to create a “generation of 21st-century learners.” And the curriculum, she explained, can adapt to all grades from 3-K to 12th grade.
“By exposing coding and project-based learning to students, we can incorporate skills needed for both college and career pathways at an early age,” said Wilson. “We are thrilled to support this partnership that brings real-life connections to students … I want to thank Borough President Fossella and Mark Cannizzaro for putting Staten Island’s students ahead of the curve in this digital age.”
The borough president visited PS 60 in Bulls Head last week to see how students are engaging in the program.
It has also opened up opportunities for teachers to introduce more complicated topics to their students, including financial literacy and civil rights issues.
“The biggest benefit of this program is the students’ impact on the community and helping them identify who their audience is for these projects,” said Donna Bonanno, principal of PS 60. “This partnership with Apple gives us the ability to teach our students ways to apply skills in a collaborative manner toward issues that they see in their own communities. I want to thank Superintendent Wilson, Borough President Fossella, and Mr. Cannizzaro for initiating this partnership and giving our students an education that amplifies what’s already being done in each school across the borough.”