Twelve projects receive grant money from Concord Trust for the Enhancement of Public Education
Next year, students at Rundlett Middle School will be able to open library books and hear a recorded review from one of their peers. Or, they can record their own review of their favorite book to share with classmates.
It’s “just another way that I’m trying to get students interested in reading for pleasure,” said Nancy Keane, the school’s librarian.
This is one of 12 projects across the district to receive grants from the Concord Trust for the Enhancement of Public Education last night. The grants, totaling about $19,600 for next school year, recognize educators who bring creative ideas to the classroom. This year’s winning projects, many of which incorporate technology, include a Kindle Book club for students who struggle with reading; monitoring and predicting plant growth using math and science knowledge; sharing algebra lessons through video; and exploring American immigration.
“We’re really looking for sort of innovative educational ideas that would make the learning experience more interesting for the students,” said Jen Eggers, a Concord Trust board member.
The Concord Trust for the Enhancement of Public Education was established in 1997 to fund projects that aren’t included in the district’s annual budget. People can donate to the fund in their own name or in honor of a teacher. Since its establishment, the fund has awarded more than $150,000.
Keane’s grant for $500 will go toward the purchase of two Livescribe SmartPens and special paper. Students and teachers can record audio summaries and reviews of books in the library, which will be embedded into the special paper. When the SmartPens touch the paper, the audio recording will play. Students are always asking Keane for recommendations about books and with this project, they will be able to hear what their friends have to say. Lots of students are already interested in recording summaries, said Keane.
“Kids want to hear what other kids read,” she said.
Another project awards $1,515 to Concord High School teachers Kristina Peare and Judy Batchelder to purchase five digital cameras for students to record math lessons. The project is called Math STARS, which stands for Students Teaching Algebra Reach Students. The goal is for a group of students to lead the efforts and become experts in recording the videos, Batchelder said. In the videos, the students will explain how to work through certain math problems on a piece of paper, blackboard, or other creative ways. Learning from each other could be an effective teaching tool for students.
“It will be kids speaking in their own language,” Batchelder said.
Another grant gives $1,333 to Christa McAuliffe third-grade teacher Casey Barnewall for a classroom set of LEGO Build to Express blocks. The kits contain about 30 scenarios
or problems for students to solve related to math, science and engineering concepts, then they must explain their work to each other and ask questions. It will improve communication skills, increase collaboration and put all students on a level playing field, Barnewall said.
“Struggling students and higher-level students are all on the same page, it’s kind of neat to watch them collaborate,” said Barnewall, who has seen struggling students succeed with similar LEGO projects.
The other projects include:
∎ The Abbott Downing Gardens project, run by first-grade teacher Trish-Marie Ziakas and art teacher Nate Shartar-Howe, which received $659. Each student will plant a bulb and regularly collect data and predict and record its growth.
∎ Growing Gardeners in Second Grade, another Abbott Downing project that received $1,385, requested by teachers Luanne Snow and Sissy Ellis. Students will research and write about plants and track their growth.
∎ Coming to America, a project by four Beaver Meadow teachers, which received $2,200 and focuses on immigration. The students will record CDs of patriotic songs and give them to immigrants at a naturalization ceremony.
∎ iSort on the iPads, a project by Broken Ground reading specialist Jane Dodson, which received $3,544. Her students will use iPad applications to sort words based on sound and to play word games to help with comprehension and reading.
∎ The Kindle Club, a project by Christa McAuliffe teachers Tracy Harte and Heather Drolet, which received $1,253 to create a reading club for struggling and reluctant readers using Kindle e-readers.
∎ Christa McAuliffe school nurse Stephanie Celestin received $1,242 for a Multi-Systems Health Fair, which will bring hands-on health lessons to students.
∎ Concord High School received $2,970.75 for Oral and Aural Proficiency with Reflection in the Spanish Classroom, which will feature iPad technology to help students better understand Spanish vocabulary and grammar. Kerry Chamberlin, Laura Prewitt and Wendy Saadaoui requested the grant money.
∎ The Academic Choice Initiative, a project by Broken Ground educators Dawn Morris and Susan Phillips, received $500. It brings a responsive classroom philosophy that gives students more engagement in the classroom.
∎ Rundlett Middle School received $2,500 for iPads and the use of Apple TV, a project submitted by teacher Linda O’Rourke that will act as a pilot program for the school. The use of the technology will allow students to more widely share their work and collaborate with each other.