Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mini Grants Support Classroom Innovation at All Levels

Each year since 2014, the Warrior Run Education Foundation (WREF) has asked classroom teachers for mini grant proposals.  These grants are intended to fund innovative projects or approaches to delivering curriculum, including professional development, which are supported by research and intended to increase student engagement and learning.

Jean Hormell, Chair of the WREF, says, "our goal is to encourage dreaming by teachers and to find the funds to provide those exciting innovations that our regular district budget cannot cover.  The grants give students new experiences.  Our education foundation supports teachers through mini grants because teachers know their students best, and can evaluate what enhancement will best benefit them.  [Teachers] now have the opportunity to take their students to higher levels with new strategies or equipment."

This year's recipients were:

Rickelle Davis, 1st grade
Rickelle received a grant for Osmo, a learning tool that works with iPads to "merge the power of physical play with the digital advantages of real time feedback."  Osmo helps students learn words, numbers, math, non-verbal communication, spatial reasoning, coordination, ESL, STEM, coding, and so much more.  Rickelle will utilize this incredible innovation with her first graders in the fall as part of independent and collaborative learning stations, which will encourage engagement and excitement.

Middle School Library
The middle school library received a grant for 3D printers to add to their maker space.  Due to its process, 3D printing supporting personalized and project based learning.  From idea to reality, completing the steps allows students to organize and put their plans into action.  Advanced students may use CAD programs to create plans.  Early exposure will increase interest in students, which could lead to more advanced study and career paths.  3D printing combines STEM with art, creating STEAM in the classroom.

High School Library
The high school library received a grant for an updated lounge space.  The library is used in so many ways every day, from studying to socializing and everything in between.  Students like to spread out, and enjoy doing so in a comfortable way.  Currently, the library hosts one lounge area, which is definitely the most popular spot.  There are often more students than chairs, and students drag over uncomfortable chairs or even sit on the floor to make sure they're included in the conversation.  A new lounge area will give students a place to communicate and collaborate in a comfortable way.  The high school library now has an opportunity to support students and their learning, simply by giving them a more comfortable place to sit.

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