NORWALK EDUCATION FOUNDATION GRANTS FOR CLASSROOM EXCELLENCE Projects funded Winter 2007 CLASSROOM EXCELLENCE GRANTS Fish Barcode Project – Brien McMahon High School (Jeffrey Brentson) The Fish Barcode Project is a pilot with the Biotechnology class at Brien McMahon based upon an international initiative to “barcode” all living things. The Barcode of Life program is asking people around the world to help obtain DNA sequencing from as many species as possible. Currently, only collegiate and professional scientists have been involved. This project allows high school students to participate in the global research, conducted at Guelph University in Canada, a leading researcher in the sequencing of fishes and the BOL project. The Fish Barcode Project incorporates novel scientific practices in the classroom, creating a procedure & protocol to obtain fish DNA sequences. Biotech students have learned about DNA, from its structure to how it can be manipulated and sequenced. The ultimate goal of this project is to bring biotechnology practices to as many students in the school as possible. West Rocks Middle School Rock Climbers – West Rocks Middle School (Victor Baptista, Jonathan Gibson, and Elizabeth Thana) The WRMS Rock Climbers is an incentive program aimed at reducing the rate of recidivism by reducing the number of in-school and out of school suspensions among at-risk students, ultimately increasing the amount of time in the classroom. The goal of this program is to encourage students to make better choices which will improve their behavior and therefore lessen the total number of suspensions annually. The after school component includes time with the teachers effectively monitoring their weekly progress, receiving academic support and homework help. Additionally, students participate in a variety of enrichment, social and self-esteem activities as well as community service. NEF granted funds for the creation of a video library to support the WRMS Rock Climbers after school program curriculum. The library is a collection of educational videos that target students’ various needs, such as study skills, drug education, career education, character education, cyber safety. Incredible Edibles – Brookside Elementary School (Tracey Sutton) Incredible Edibles project will expand on the current use of Hope Garden to enhance the science curriculum to teach children agriculture connection to their lives. Where does the food at the grocery store come from? Who makes a living growing food for the world? Children learn about planting, eating what they grow and develop a sense of caring for living things. The goal is to allot a portion of the garden to each grade level for them to grow edible plants, spices, or vegetables. Incredible Edibles encompasses the areas of science, health, writing, reading, math, and social skills in a fun hands on way. DDR Let’s Reduce Generation Obesity – West Rocks Middle School (Pamela Fusaro) Incorporating the use of Dance, Dance, Revolution video game into the girls' Physical Education curriculum is an innovative approach to teaching the importance of a healthy life style, cooperation and respect through the latest craze to hit the United States. Exercising can be fun! DDR is an engaging way for students to develop healthy habits by doing something they can all relate to while having fun. DDR is for children of all shapes and sizes, athletic ability, learning styles and social levels. The project is designed to increase fitness levels, social interactions, self esteem and reduce stress. Implementing DDR into the Physical Education curriculum will expand fitness-related activities beyond the traditional team sports taught at the middle school level. DDR in school can: • increase sensory motor learning, blood flow to the brain, physical coordination, social development • enhance thinking skills, creativity and attention as well as weight loss • reduce anxiety and foster positive attitudes toward school • produce academic improvement in students • improve concentration and memory TEACHERS LEAD THE WAY - NEW Replication of previous grant projects by funding new projects from different schools & teachers SCHOOL GARDENS: Cranbury Outdoor Classroom – Cranbury Elementary School Brookside’s Hope Garden) SCHOOL GARDENS: Our Backyard – Jefferson Elementary School POPULAR CULTURE IN THE CLASSROOM: No Scientific Misconception Is Safe - Brien McMahon High School Projects funded Spring 2006 The Shape of Me - Brien McMahon High School (Louise Flax, Pamela Thompson and Bob Kocienda) Photography classes, Peace Project students and the Contained Classroom Special Education class will work together, writing and taking photographs. What makes "The Shape of Me" unique is the collaboration among a contained classroom teacher, a mainstream education teacher and the Peace Project coordinator. All students will gain photographic skills, improving behavior, self esteem, and academics. All students will learn about tolerance and diversity. ArtsBridge-informed digital photography activities will enrich and focus the subjects of math, writing, social studies, science, reading. Students will journal and write (life experiences, reflections on photographic work, reactions to working with each other), make pinhole cameras, participate in International Pin Hole Day, participate in Portrait sessions and Photo-Essays where students create a visual essay about an aspect of their life and students will send their work to Lulu.com where their photos and words are put into book form for the students to keep. There will also an art show in the new Brien McMahon High School art gallery and framed photographs will be on permanent display in classrooms. The hands on nature of the photographic activities and the emphasis on personal expression allows all the students to experience joy and accomplishment. H.O.T. Guitarists – Columbus Magnet School (Elba Llantin-Cruz and Patty Bogart) H.O.T. Guitarists will allow students to use higher order thinking skills (H.O.T.) through the process of learning basic guitar skills, reading notation and analyzing musical pieces. They will also compose and perform their own musical pieces with the option of adding lyrics. Mathematic, language, music and science standards will be addressed through the various activities of this project. Students will be able to understand and use fractions as they use rhythm and music notation to play a guitar, make connections between printed text and music notation by exploring chords and playing simple melodies, communicate ideas through musical improvisation, perform basic songs and song improvisations for All School Meetings, organize song structure using guitar chords and melodies, and evaluate guitar instruction, performances and compositions through attentive listening. Wheel Thrown Pottery – Norwalk High School (Patricia O’Connor) This project will introduce wheel thrown pottery making to Sculpture students so they can further develop their ceramic skills and interest in ceramics. Students ranging in age (9th- 12th grades) and ability (IEP students to AP) will be learning hand building techniques as well as watching more advanced students learn pottery making on a wheel. Students will create three wheel pieces, in three different cultural approaches; a cup, bowl, vase and/ or pitcher with supports and a lid. Inherent in these humble projects is the fundamentals of wheel thrown pottery making. Students will be challenged to learn more advanced glazing techniques in the style of each specific culture as well as a final project of their choice, employing all of the techniques in building and glazing previously learned. Students will learn art history and culture. Students will also be introduced to contemporary wheel thrown styles and techniques. Every Picture Tells a Story – Brookside Elementary School (Tracey Sutton) The school community will capture their work in the Hope Garden on film. This project will expand on the current use of Hope Garden to enhance the science curriculum, as a place to read, and as a community center. A new photography club will be open to students, teachers and parents to increase participation in the Hope Garden through art - photos, a photo journals, and power point presentations. The camera will be used to document the stages of growth a plant, butterfly or birds. The camera will be used to help the students tell a story or to convey feelings. Participants will increase their vocabulary and writing skills when writing about something they created. The photography club will present a piece at the school’s monthly spirit assemblies, which will enhance the students’ self- esteem and public speaking abilities. Making Technology as Close as the Blackboard – Academically Talented Middle Schools (all 4) (Julie Benson) This project is designed to bring the Internet directly into the classroom for all students to view easily, creating a more effective way to deliver key curriculum through websites that complement the academic program. Probability, logic and patterns, and a geometrically based unit on paper pool tables will allow student interaction and exposure to sites which show how to complete grids to solve logic problems and write predictions with corresponding conclusions while manipulating data. Making Technology as Close as the Blackboard demonstrates the true integration of technology in the classroom for maximum efficiency of teaching to elevate student achievement. Kindergarten Language Lab – Tracey Elementary School (Jackie Knapp and Midge Lopat) Kindergarten Language Lab is a collaborative co-teaching model in a kindergarten classroom integrating regular education, bilingual, and special education kindergarten students using ELLIS software, specifically for teaching bilingual children. Research has shown that knowledge of vocabulary words is directly linked to reading comprehension. Kindergarten Language Lab addresses this need. The literacy specialist, special education teacher and regular education teacher will be collaborating with the ESL, Bilingual, and Speech and Language Therapist to provide support for children with vocabulary needs. Within the language lab, children will rotate through a variety stations providing hands- on experiences with oral language, vocabulary, and other literacy skills. Computer technology will assist in transitioning bilingual students from Spanish to English. Bilingual volunteers from the upper grades will provide language models for their younger peers through read alouds and conversation. Parents will be offered a series of workshops by a trained bilingual teacher in the school to provide additional vocabulary development within the students’ homes. Parents and other community members will be encouraged at all times to volunteer in the language lab. Projects funded Autumn 2005 Intergenerational Images - Brien McMahon High School (Louise Flax and Bob Kocienda) High school students will explore the aging process by photographing and interviewing residents at The Marvin, a senior congregate affordable housing facility. This project will take students out of the high school and expose them to new ideas, inspiring them to think of themselves, not just as students, but as part of the community. The residents of The Marvin will be recognized as valuable members of the community. High school students are on the cusp of adulthood. This is an opportunity for them to learn about people at the culmination of adulthood—people who will be more interesting and more vital than the students expect. They will learn history from people who have lived it. This project will involve many months of interaction between students and seniors with several activities including participation in Worldwide Pinhole Day, field trips to the Marvin, individual visits, interviewing/photographing elderly relatives and neighbors, and creating PowerPoint presentations using a variety of photos and interviews. The culminating activities will be an exhibit in the Community Room at City Hall, an exhibit in the new Brien McMahon High School art gallery, and inclusion in the Brien McMahon High School art show. Framed photographs and scrapbooks will be on permanent display at The Marvin. Talking to "The Greatest Generation" - Brien McMahon High School (Robert Killackey and Dave Ellis) This project is designed for Brien McMahon Navy JROTC cadets and other student volunteers to capture the oral and video history of selected Connecticut veterans (“Greatest Generation”) past and present who have served their country and community. The students will develop an interview template and create videos that will capture the veteran’s experiences and the impact of their past contributions of service to their present day lives. These films will capture living history, create an opportunity for young students to engage more senior citizens in their community; and highlight the importance and lifelong impact of service in a democratic society. This project directly supports several objectives - promote patriotism, develop informed and responsible citizens who develop respect for constituted authority, develop a high degree of personal honor, self reliance, individual discipline, and leadership. Conservation Art Garden - Brookside Elementary School (Tracey Sutton) Science in Context is a new domain in the Norwalk Science curriculum. The Conservation Art Garden project will bring this idea home to the third grade students at Brookside by incorporating art, recycled, and non-recyclable materials to enhance our beautiful courtyard garden, created with the support of NEF. We have been able to enhance our science curriculum by using the garden to help illustrate key concepts. This project will take the next step to show the students the importance of conserving our natural resources by using recycled and non-recyclable materials to create art in the form of a sculpture and stepping stones. Different grade levels in the school currently use the environment to help enhance their science curriculum. Recycled and non-recyclable material turned into art and displayed among living things begins to stir the minds and imagination of our students into thinking that they can also bring this concept home to their own communities. Nutrition Education Across the Curriculum - Brookside Elementary School (Angela E. Vicenzi, Linda Walker, Fran Jagling, Marilyn Smith, Annette Bohrer, Jeanette Keefe, Keith Morey) Nutrition Education Across the Curriculum is a project where 5th Grade students will teach 2nd Grade students nutrition and health promotion. Through several stimulating and engaging activities, students will learn to identify healthy and unhealthy food choices, understand the nutrition facts on food labels, relate a good diet to their height and weight, and understand their role as food consumers. The students and their parents will become intelligent consumers of a balanced diet and enjoy the good health which results. This project involves several disciplines: math, science, health, reading and writing. NPR (Norwalk Podcasting Reports) - Norwalk High School (Douglas L. Gill) Norwalk Podcasting Reports is a project that will tap into the “podcasting” phenomenon. The term podcast is a combination of “iPod” and “broadcasting”. A podcast is an audio product can be stored on a hard drive or server, which is transmitted over the internet by downloading. Norwalk High School students will learn how to plan, record, and publish a podcast production in the classroom. Students in Air Force Junior ROTC and History will be trained to create podcasts, and then an increase in student training will spread to a wider population with both students and teachers giving workshops on Podcasting. The goal of this project is to designate a central studio in Norwalk High School that can be used to support curriculum in several areas: History (historical blogs), Performing Arts (Music and theater), English (Spoken Word), World Languages (Practicing and role playing), Special Education (Audio testing), and more! True Life: Norwalk, CT ~ History In the Making - Norwalk High School (Amanda Fricke and Kyle Seaburg) Film documentaries will be created by students in two areas, Sociology and History. In Sociology, students will focus on the study of human behavior within the context of society, creating documentaries that explore the impact of social issues at both Norwalk High School as well as the greater Norwalk community. The “True Life: Norwalk, CT” project brings students into focus with one person or several people coping with a social issue. Students will conduct interviews throughout the semester, documenting either the subject’s progress in addressing the issue or lack of progress. “History in the Making” (United States History) involves students in developing, writing and producing their own documentaries around topics ranging from certain decades of U.S. History to biographies of individuals or events. Students share their achievements at a year-end film festival. Call To Circle: African Drum Construction and Culture - West Rocks Middle School (Greg Stan) Under the direction of a master drummer, students will make traditional hand crafted West African orchestral drums. The drums are to be used in the already ongoing practice of “Call to Circle,” in which all West Rocks Middle School students share music and positive recognition as a community. “Call to Circle” and the use of these drums connects students more strongly with their school, shared culture, and ongoing REACH Rubric of Responsibility, Effort, Attitude, Character, and High Expectations. West Rocks Middle School has a strong commitment to the “Call to Circle” practice and is involved in a broader community of call to circle schools through staff development with New Haven’s excellent Amistad Academy. Projects funded Autumn 2004 Entering the Twilight Zone: Rod Sterling in the English Classroom - Brien McMahon High School (Amy Dias) Original Twilight Zone Episodes will be incorporated with the current ninth grade English curriculum to supplement lessons in selected classic works of literature. The project allows for an array of challenges involving reading, writing, and oral communication. Students will demonstrate high levels of achievement through various assignments. Due to its literary nature, The Twilight Zone Episodes can be held to the same learning standards as other literary works. This project will allow students to develop an appreciation for literature in a form of media that they might not have recognized. The skills gained in analyzing The Twilight Zone stories will remain with the student throughout life. Students then have the potential to go from being passive viewers to informed analyzers of film media. One Step At A Time - Brien McMahon High School (Tory Sullivan, Jeffrey Brentson, Brian Dillon, Elaine Ganat, & Fred Petrini) The goal of this project is to increase the physical exercise, science and math skills of 9th through 12th graders by using personal pedometers, heart rate monitors, and body fat analyzers in and outside the classroom. Physical education students, teachers, selected staff, and volunteer parents (in various occupations and environments) wear pedometers and keep a diary of their activity levels. This project incorporates the disciplines of science, math, technology, exercise physiology, and physical activity skills while exploring ways to increase stepping and walking behaviors to be more physically fit. Developing Communication Competency in the Severely Impaired Through Technology – Fox Run Elementary School (Judith A. Sgaglione) Children with severe communication impairments will benefit from Assistive Technology to develop and increase communication skills. This project is integral to a long range plan which includes using specific software along with digital media to enhance communication skills of these students. This multi-sensory, hands-on approach has proven to be the most effective way to teach communication skills to this population. This project combines standard therapeutic practices with meaningful, realistic images using the latest software and digital photographs. Practice CD’s for Kids by Kids – West Rocks Middle School (Sara Vogel & Jeff Bellagamba) Students in Music & Computer electives will create practice CD’s for jazz ensemble students by inputting chord progressions into Band in a Box software. The software is then capable of producing accompaniments in hundreds of different musical styles. Practice CD’s in music currently being learned in the jazz ensembles will be created for students to take home, allowing them to practice their concert music and improvisation skills with full instrumental accompaniment. This project connects Music and Computer Elective students (non performing students) with jazz ensemble students (performing students), enhancing cooperation and respect among the student population. Projects funded Spring 2004 Digital Documentaries & Music Composition (Garageband) - Briggs High School (Michael May and Ronnie Maher) Digital Documentaries is an extension of the school’s existing curricular and extra-curricular photography program. This project allows for the expansion of the photography program by allowing students to take cameras home with them in order to more completely document their lives and the life of the greater Norwalk community. Students will create photo essays both in print, Power Point and I-Movie, enhancing their presentations by incorporating Garageband, a software program which allows students to compose their own soundtracks. This project is designed to enhance students’ higher order thinking skills. Hope Garden - Brookside Elementary School (Tracey Sutton, Dorthy Brown and Mary Luf) Hope Garden is a collaborative effort across grade levels to create and maintain a school community garden and nature habitat. A variety of projects will partner several curriculum areas such as science, environment, art, writing and music to encourage creativity and originality. The students will still work in conjunction with the Norwalk Preservation Trust, The Norwalk Land Trust, The Norwalk Parks and Recreation, the D.E.P, the PTO, parents and the neighborhood community. Using Personal Pedometers to Become NorWALKERS – Brookside Elementary School (Angela Vicenzi, Dorothy Brown, Jackie Freeman, Jeanette Keefe, John Kopas, Jeri Magrath, Liza Montgomery, & Keith Morey) Through the use of personal pedometers, students in 4th and 5th grades will increase their knowledge in the curriculum areas of science, math and physical education. Several scientific and mathematic concepts will be incorporated into a physical education program designed to teach and practice a health-enhancing lifestyle. Hello Friend! – Brookside & Fox Run Elementary Schools (Phyllis Asher) English as a Second Other Language students, in both Fox Run and Brookside Elementary Schools, will be paired to work together in this culture rich student-centered project. The project will integrate oral and written Connecticut State Standards’ language skills, non-fiction and fiction materials, Internet research, and a PowerPoint presentation. A Laptop computer will be utilized at each school, where students from different grade levels will be paired in order to learn and share knowledge of each others’ cultures. World Music Drumming - Nathan Hale Middle School (Franklin Sylvester & Ed Wojtowicz) World Music Drumming will bring the excitement of world music and drumming to middle school students. Students will have the opportunity to learn about a variety of cultures and musical traditions from Latin America to Africa through performing on native instruments from these cultures. The program will involve singing, playing, improvising and stylistic elements from the various styles of music. World Music Drumming encourages them to be active performers and composers, all while incorporating curriculum and objectives from other subjects, such as geography, history, map reading and language. Student Operated Support (S.O.S.) - Norwalk High School (Mary Ellen Procaccini) Student Operated Support is part the Special Education curriculum at N.H.S. involving the School-to-Career Program community based work-sites. S.O.S allows students the opportunity to practice job-related skills to prepare them vocationally for life after graduation. S.O.S. also serves as a place for students to improve reading, writing, math and social skills. Poetry Matters – Tracey Elementary School (Carla Monteiro) A team of 4 teachers will conduct Poetry Matters, a student centered project using poetry across the disciplines (Reading, Writing, Science, Social Studies). Students from 3 classrooms in grades 2, 3 and 4 will create an anthology to publish and present in a theatrical production using research based information and the arts to increase their content understanding. Using Technology To Teach Young Students With Special Needs To Develop and Increase Reading And Language Skills – Tracey Elementary School (Einar Kinlock) This project combines the use of a computer, digital camera, and specialized software with students’ individual interests and needs to produce highly motivating learning materials. Pre-K Special Education students are actively involved in the learning of pre-reading and language skills by choosing and creating pictures and stories that are important and have high interest to them. Individual educational needs are easily customized and modified through the use of this project. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – Making Curriculum Come To Life – Wolfpit Elementary School (Elizabeth Granahan) This project will use digital and video technology in a highly active learning environment to enhance the kindergarten curriculum and the Norwalk Public Schools’ objectives. Instructional movies can be a powerful learning tool for students and teachers. Children will also use pictures they have helped to take for many different learning activities designed to enrich the curriculum areas of language arts, mathematics, social studies and technology.
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