Local teachers awarded classroom grants

Independent Development of Education in Augusta (IDEA) is Augusta’s community foundation devoted to enhancing the educational experience of Augusta’s children.

IDEA works to raise money to support USD 402 initiatives and to award classroom grants to teachers. IDEA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

The following USD 402 teachers received classroom grants recently:

Jenny Stoops, first grade teacher at Robinson Elementary, received a grant to purchase the Learning Carpet and will use it and accompanying tools to support students in both math and reading. In math, students can use the carpet, number cards, clock hands and pattern cards to help support their learning with place value, numbers 0-100, graphing, patterns, number sense, telling time, measurement, symmetry, addition, subtraction and skip counting. In reading, students can use “The Learning Carpet and letter cards to work on word families, rhyming and other word/language skills. These tools will help make learning more interactive and engaging for all students.

Diane Lowery, fifth grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary, will purchase six Geomate Jr. GPS devices for her students to get hands-on experience Geocaching. Using the hand held GPS devices, her students will explore Augusta looking for several hidden caches that have already been placed in the community. There are several caches which are within walking distance from the school. They will also place and maintain an actual cache on school grounds and on www.geocaching.com for other Geocaching enthusiasts to find. The GPS devices powerful tools in enhancing understanding of geography, using scientific inquiry, exploring a variety of math concepts, practicing problem solving with their peers, using language arts skills to communicate effectively, and getting some great physical activity while exploring outdoors. The devices will also be available for students to check out on the weekends to go exploring for even more caches with their parents so the entire family can participate in this educational hobby.

Kelli Malm, P.E./health teacher and Title I math teacher at Garfield Elementary, and Sarah Ingrim, at-risk para-educator, received a grant for Bal-A-Vis-X - Balance, Auditory, Visual, Exercise. BAVX incorporates balance boards as well as small sand bags and racquetballs. The IDEA grant will enable the purchase of more balance boards, bags and balls for the program. The balance boards are designed to help with the integration and timing of both sides of the brain so that students will be able to work on their focus and attention in the classroom. By improving focus and attention, students using BAVX will be able to improve their visual tracking of the written word and that will enable students to progress in their reading and work in mathematics.

Jennifer Cody, Garfield Elementary fourth grade teacher, received a grant for Apple TVs for the fourth grade classroom, which will enable interactive activities where the students can show their assignments or projects from their iPad.

Jean Shetlar and Carol Camac, AMS seventh grade English teachers, received a grant for a document camera is one of the easiest and quickest ways to integrate technology into the classroom. This one piece of classroom technology can be used to actively engage students in the learning process. Visual learners will benefit from the use of a classroom document camera by seeing small items, text, demonstrations in a much bigger way. Hands-on learners can also benefit from the use of a document camera by allowing them to be the ones placing objects or items under the document camera and explaining what they are showing. Another benefit of using a document camera is the decrease in copying expense. A classroom document camera can drastically reduce the amount of copying a teacher has to do. Instead of copying 30 quizzes for a class, place one copy of the quiz under a document camera and have students answer the questions on a sheet of paper.

Johnna Smith, Augusta Middle School sixth grade teacher, received a grant for Visual Storytelling Using Technology.

Students will become familiar with Manga (pronounced “mahn-gah”), a popular Japanese form of storytelling using cartoons. Manga is an important part of Japanese culture, and is a respected art and literature form not only in Japan, but in many parts of the world including the United States. Students learn to compare and contrast the Manga style to traditional Western style storytelling by studying how emotions, personalities and situations are portrayed. Students will then create their own characters in the Manga style. Once their characters are complete, students will assign a specific genre to their stories. Using a document camera known as an ELMO TT-12, students will then bring their stories to life. The ELMO TT-12 is an interactive device that will engage, inspire, and make learning fun for middle school students.

Cathy Shaffer, Garfield Elementary fourth grade teacher, received a grant for raised flower/garden beds to be used to help facilitate hands on learning opportunities for all the Garfield students. The students will be able to plant seeds, grow their own vegetables, plant some flowers, study decomposition, insects and do investigations with plants setting up different variables for the seeds. They will be able to investigate proper watering, sunlight and soil for planting different species of plants. The excitement of planting seeds and watching them grow into vegetables they could eat, is something many children have never done. These raised garden beds will be great for local neighborhood to watch grow. The new Common Core Science Standards, require hands on learning, and these garden beds will help in that.