SUMMARIES OF SELECT 2009 GRANT PROJECTS
Project: Experiential Life Skills
Maureen Ayers * Hotchkiss K-8 * Hotchkiss, Colo.
In 2009, students who enrolled in Maureen Ayers’ special education courses got an opportunity to expand their life skills through cooking and sewing projects and through participating in the startup and operation of a small business venture. Assisted by Terrea Bear, Ayers devoted her 2009 Arch Coal Foundation Innovative Teaching Grant to goods needed for consumer shopping and cooking projects; sewing activities, including curtains for classroom plays; and soil, seeds, fertilizer and pots for launching a business. Students cleared out an abandoned greenhouse on school property, planting seeds and cuttings and then nurturing them into plants that made about $485 at three plant sales – funds put toward the ongoing business and other projects the next year. Students learned about teamwork, attention to tasks and skills necessary to plan and run a small enterprise, such as money management and budgeting, according to Ayers. They were graded on punctuality, resourcefulness, time on task and worker quality, as well as specific skill sets, such as safety, nutrition, plants and following instructions/procedures. Grades improved steadily as the course progressed, with pre- and post-testing showing a growth of 30 percent.
Project: Soap Box Derby Project
Dan Dunham * Delta Middle School * Delta, Colo.
Dan Dunham used a traditional project to help teach his technology students about the importance of teamwork and dedication to a goal. At the same time, students learned the uses and types of simple machines, and the principles of design, welding and framing that go into producing them. They also learned the laws of motion and physics behind safely putting a vehicle in motion and stopping it. Dunham purchased materials with his 2009 Arch Coal Foundation Innovative Teaching Grant for building six Soap Box Derby cars over a three-month period. The project began with research and design and Dunham building a prototype demonstrating how students might design the steering mechanisms, brakes and wheel-attachments. Parts for this portion of the project were primarily obtained prepackaged for safety reasons. When parts weren’t available – or even when a car was stolen – Dunham demonstrated recycling and reuse, picking up seatbelts at a salvage yard and helmets from the Salvation Army and thrift stores, including rebar and scrap metal for the brake system, according to Dunham. Overall, he reported that the project was a tremendous success, with students enjoying the hands-on opportunity to learn how to create safe, steerable and stoppable vehicles – and then race them.
Project: Touch My World
Joey Hancock * Lincoln Elementary * Delta, Colo.
With the help of Joey Hancock’s 2009 Arch Coal Foundation Innovative Teaching Grant, students with a wide range of disabilities now view an iPod® as an educational tool rather than just a portable music player. Hancock, who teaches severe/profound special education classes for students in kindergarten through grade five, purchased two iPods with his grant, as well as education-related applications. After having incorporated the iPods in his classroom for six months, Hancock noted measurable improvement in his students’ math skills. For instance, one began with the ability to add and subtract two-digit numbers and ended able to add and subtract money amounts to the thousands and knowing the purpose of the decimal point. Another began with the ability to add single digit numbers with 40-percent accuracy. Six months later, the student was adding double-digit numbers with regrouping. Yet another could count to 50 by ones, but with no skipping. Six months later, the student was counting by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s, 10’s and 100’s. Hancock also observed great gains in students’ visual-tracking and fine-motor skills. The new iPod Touch, with its camera and built-in microphone, could open the door to many more possibilities, says Hancock.
® iPod is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.
Project: Hero Club Cards
Jan Rogers * Crawford School * Crawford, Colo.
Thanks to Janet Rogers’ 2009 Arch Coal Foundation Innovative Teaching Grant, kindergarten through fourth-grade students got a chance to collect cards featuring some newly discovered heroes and eventually become card-featured “heroes,” too. To increase motivation for reading and excitement about the lives of exemplary individuals, Rogers created and purchased a set of 75 cards featuring 15 photos and biographical information on individuals such as Clara Barton, Charles Dickens, Wilbur Wright, Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman. To earn cards, students completed reading goals at home and at school. Each month, a community volunteer came to school dressed as a hero. For instance, Clara Barton showed up and told about her life as a nurse. She then gave a hand-washing lesson, at which time an adoring kindergartener looked up at “Clara” and said “I’ve got your card on my backpack.” Enthusiasm for the cards led to creation of a Hero Day, at which each student came to school dressed as one of the famous people they had studied, sharing reports about them with other classes and parents. Students who completed all nine months of reading at home received their own, personalized card, declaring them to be a “reading hero.” Rogers’ students again participated in the program during the 2010 school year.
Project: A World of Wonder
Jodi Simpson * Paonia Elementary * Paonia, Colo.
Jodi Simpson devoted her 2009 Arch Coal Foundation Innovative Teaching Grant to putting science tools, books and other resources into the hands of her first-grade students, motivating them to discover answers to their “burning/probing” questions for themselves. Simpson purchased supplies ranging from a microscope, binoculars, hand lenses and prepared slides to posters, an ant farm, frog specimen, recycling receptacles and more – all aimed at engaging her class in active, authentic, inquiry-based and hands-on learning. At the same time, she guided them beyond the textbook to apply the higher-level thinking skills that not only meet state standards, but also will enable her students to become the problem-solving inventors, doctors and scientists of the future. One of the most popular lessons involved building an electrical circuit. After the children understood the parts of the circuit and the difference between conductors and insulators, the magic began, according to Simpson. She walked through the room, listening to the students exclaiming things like, “Make sure you’re letting the clip end, the metal part, connect to conduct electricity,” “What do you think will happen if we try to light up two lights bulbs?” and “Hey guys, let’s combine our wires with the other group and make a really big circuit!”
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