$70,000 in funding for five projects
By Kathryn Schiliro
Teachers have received near $70,000 to date in mini-grant funds for innovative practices and projects in their classrooms.
Applied for by teams of teachers early this year, decisions on the grants were recently unveiled.
The largest total received – $33,000 – will go to the Laying the Foundation Project, a research project focusing on applying the Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs at lower grade levels to “bridge the gap” from middle to high school, Assistant Superintendent Debra White said.
The Field Trips with Friends project, which partners second graders with PreK special education students for literacy opportunities, received more than $12,000.
Second grade students accompany PreK students on field trips and, upon their return, use the information they learned to write a presentation. The project integrates technology too as students are given iPads to work with on their presentations, Assistant Superintendent Sarah Burbach said. Field trips to date include a local pumpkin patch and the Humane Society of Morgan County.
Another grant, for a total of $10,268, will help to familiarize the parents of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students with English though the Rosetta Stone program. Additionally, as part of this grant, the ESOL students, more familiar than their parents with English as they’re in school each day learning the language, will work with their teachers in teaching the parents.
STEM will be furthered at Morgan County Primary School with a more than $9,000 grant to expand the school’s already existing Lego Club to include robotics and elements of software design, an effort to teach children about design conceptualization and processes.
A PreK technology project will use $5,000 to put iPads in the hands of PreK special education students. According to Burbach, iPads are not only a better size than computers for these smaller students, but the apps are fine-tuned and well-made so as to stimulate the child. Especially in the case of non-verbal students, there are apps that help the child communicate and can, through the child’s input, speak for the child.
Moreover, for continuity’s sake, parents can download the apps to their own electronic devices to use in entertaining and educating their children when they’re not in school.
As the “primary purpose for charters…is to encourage innovative practice,” according to information from the system administration, the system has the ability to waive state rules, policies, procedures, etc. in favor of innovation. Additionally, the system receives an annual charter system allotment, the total of which is contingent on the legislature.
It’s these funds that are used to fund these mini-grants in the name of innovation.
Printed in the November 22, 2012 edition