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Student and Family Support (SFS)

Playful Learning Institute, Preschool through 3rd Grade

See below for information on the following playful learning related resources:


The Department's (DESE) Early Learning Team has launched a Playful Learning Institute (PLI) pilot initiative. Please read below for more information regarding the PLI.

The Institute is designed for district and school administrators, PK–3 inclusive classroom educators, and Out-of-School Time (OST) program staff and administrators. Participants will gain tools and strategies to intentionally design and embed playful learning across the course of the day. The playful learning will support deep dives into content, create equitable access to learning for all children, and create many varied opportunities for authentic assessment, particularly during instructional blocks across the content areas.

The Department released a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) (through Fund Code 347) in early January 2023 and five school teams/districts representing 7 early childhood/elementary schools have been awarded the grant to participate in the pilot of the Institute. Each school team consists of district and school administrators as well as two educators from each grade (PK-3) from the selected schools. The Institute will consist of professional development (PD) for the school teams, some to take place asynchronously and some in-person. The in-person PD sessions will take place this spring (2023) on June 1st and 8th and will result in an action plan created by each team, to be implemented in the 2023-24 school year. The action plan will be focused on implementation of Boston's Focus Curriculum and/or implementation of the playful learning/instructional practices that are utilized in this integrated curriculum; teams will be able to decide which path they want to follow.

For the 2023-2024 school year, coaches will work with educators, preschool through 3rd grade, for 3–5 hours per month, as well as coach district/school leaders for 1–2 hours per month. This in-classroom/school coaching model will be aligned with and support implementation of the action plan created by the district/school team.

Additionally, the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago has been hired to evaluate the Playful Learning Institute pilot. The evaluation plan includes tools to (1) support improvements to the PLI; (2) understand the implementation experience; and (3) inform decisions about possible replication of the PLI and future DESE support for playful learning.

Playful Learning Resources

The Early Learning Team is partnering with the Boston Public Schools Early Childhood Department to develop the PLI. Many resources, guides, and other helpful documents will be shared throughout the planning and implementation phases of the PLI. Please check this section frequently for additional materials.

Boston's Focus Curriculum Playful Practices Overview:

Last Updated: March 28, 2023

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