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Grants fill in Santa's gaps

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iPads, e-readers included in $20K of tech gear headed to Oldham classroooms

By Glypie Grider

The season of gift giving is not yet over for Oldham County public schools.
E-books, iPads, web cameras, flip videos and even kinesthetic brains are examples of the latest technology soon to land in students’ hands thanks to 22 grants received by district teachers.
The Oldham County Educational Foundation, a non-profit organization which solicits support from businesses and community members for Oldham’s public schools, recently announced its decision to award $19,849.16 to 22 teachers, up from $16,807.70 to 16 teachers in 2009.
The Pyramid Award, up to $1,000 per proposal, is granted to teachers to develop innovative projects by introducing new instructional methods designed to increase student learning.
OFEC leaders will hold receptions for each teacher at their respective schools beginning Jan. 5 for Melissa Durham and Pam Mann of Goshen Elementary. The Goshen duo will introduce digital recorders and video cameras to third and fourth grade students to study their families’ histories and create a movie incorporating their research and interviews.
Receptions conclude on Feb. 8 when Centerfield Elementary’s Megan Cheek and Emily Neff are recognized for their proposal, “Project Independence,” which provides iPads for special education students.
The 22 winning proposals cover a range of content — arts, sciences, math, reading and social studies — using a variety of resources and educational materials — from standard reading books to guest lecturers and performers to the latest technological gadgets.
According to the various proposals, some students are expected to produce movies, while others will web conference with native language speakers of the language they are studying. Christopher Rieger and Rachel Salyer’s science classes at South Oldham High will be expected to perform organic and inorganic chemical analyses using newly purchased probes and sensors.
“We believe the Pyramid Awards Program is an integral part of achieving [our] mission by encouraging teachers to think outside the box when planning student learning experiences and by providing teachers monetary resources which are not available through the regular district budget,” said Gayle Johnson, OCEF treasurer.
Individual 2010 Pyramid Awards can be applied during the 2011 spring, fall or both semesters.
Applications were due late October and were reviewed for nearly three weeks, Johnson said. An executive committee determined whether proposals met the minimum standards of innovation and engagement and then recommended its findings to the OCEF Board for final approval and funding.
A record 37 teachers submitted grant applications in 2010.
The Pyramid Award Program began in 1995. OCEF has awarded nearly $190,000 to 363 teachers to date.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
Buckner Elementary
Sarah Witt of Buckner Elementary School won a Pyramid Award for her proposal called “Flipping Out for Learning, Producing and Reflecting.” This award will be used to purchase five Flip video cameras for use in grades K-5.  Students will learn how to use this technology as it enhances their learning in many creative ways. They will produce commercials, book talks and mini plays based on books and articles they have read and will be able to evaluate and reflect on their work.
Centerfield Elementary
Megan Cheek and Emily Neff of Centerfield Elementary won a Pyramid Award for their proposal called “Project Independence.”  This award will provide iPads for special education students in grades K-5. The iPads will foster independence, peer interaction and academic achievement, through many applications that enable students to handle their own scheduling, communicating, class work, data recording, and many other uses.
Goshen Elementary
Melissa Durham and Pam Mann of Goshen Elementary School won a Pyramid Award for their proposal “Faces and Voices of the Classroom.”  The award will be used for digital recorders and video cameras to be used by 3rd and 4th grade students in their study of their families’ histories.  The culminating activity is to make a movie incorporating all their interviews and other research.  This will be an engaging, hands on study of personal history using a variety of resources and the latest technology.
Harmony Elementary
Karen Clark and Alison Hafner of Harmony Elementary School won a Pyramid Award for their proposal called “Books to Playaway.”  This award will be used to buy recorded books on a technology called Playaways which do not require cassettes or CDs.  All students need to do is plug in ear buds to listen to the audiobook. These will be used in the special education resource rooms for students in grades 2-5. They will provide easy and attractive access to a variety of literature genres and authors regardless of the student’s reading level or ability and will help strengthen both reading and listening comprehension.
Jane Ann Kaiser of Harmony Elementary won a Pyramid Award for her proposal “123 Meets ABC:  A Mathematical Literacy Project.”  This award will be used to purchase math books and manipulatives for students in grades K-5.  The students will learn to apply mathematical concepts  and skills to daily life through reading and writing high interest math stories and through enjoyable hands on activities.
Barbara Taylor of Harmony Elementary School won a Pyramid Award for her proposal called “Phonological Processing Skills:  A Classroom Based Learning Program.” The award will be used to purchase a computer program for use by all students in grades K-1 as well as children identified with a speech-language impairment. The goal is to improve auditory awareness and processing in an engaging and interactive format with integrated data collection on each student’s progress.
La Grange Elementary
Terri Griffin of La Grange Elementary School won a Pyramid Award for her proposal “Taking Student Engagement to the Next Level.”  The award will pay for 24 NXT Response Cards for a class of 4th graders.  These are the latest interactive student response technology used as instruction and assessment tools for math and science which improve learning by motivating student engagement and providing immediate feedback to teacher and students.
Dayna Moore and Kelley A. Johnstone of La Grange Elementary School won a Pyramid Award for their proposal called “A Classroom That Communicates.”  The award will be used to buy digital cameras, memory cards and photo printers for use in 3rd and 4th grade classrooms.  The students will use this equipment to create class websites, student blogs, and class newsletters, learning how to communicate in the most technologically up to date and creative ways.
Liberty Elementary
Nicole Robison of Liberty Elementary School won a Pyramid Award for her proposal “Literacy in the 21st Century.”  The award will be used to purchase 6 Kindle wireless reading devices and Kindle e-books for use in grades 1-5.  Some of the advantages of the Kindle are the built in dictionary and the text to speech feature.  These and other built in tools help to support readers at any reading level to improve their vocabulary, comprehension and fluency.
MIDDLE SCHOOLS
East Oldham Middle
Candy Thomas and Cheryl McCall of East Oldham Middle School won a Pyramid Award for their proposal “Time Traveling Through the Pages:  Supporting Content Literacy with Trade Books.”  The award will be used for 9 sets of books to be used by 6th graders to improve literacy and develop content knowledge in social studies, specifically Culture and Societies, Geography, and Historical Perspective.  Books such as these flesh out the facts and bring history to life, motivating students to analyze and understand their world.
Meredith Grace and Vanessa Lierley of East Oldham Middle School won a Pyramid Award for their proposal called “Bringing Civil War Drama into the History Classroom.”  This award will be used to pay for a guest to perform a historical monologue as Henry Clay to the 8th grade students and for some props and costumes for the students to perform their own historical monologues.  Students will have a greater understanding of the conflict and compromise surrounding the Civil War as they research their roles and recreate history.

North Oldham Middle
Sarah Crisp, Becky Dant and Tammy Smith of North Oldham Middle School won a Pyramid Award for their proposal “Read Like a Scientist:  Supporting Content Literacy with Trade Books.”    The award will be used to purchase 57 books and a book cart.  The books will help 6th graders to improve literacy and develop content knowledge in a variety of scientific topics, as well as the larger concepts of Energy Transformations, Biological Change and Interdependence.  These books will also motivate students to read nonfiction and participate actively in science reading workshops.
Oldham County Middle
Jennifer A. Mason and Vicky Byrka of Oldham County Middle School won a Pyramid Award for their proposal “Read Like a Scientist:  Supporting Content Literacy with Trade Books.”  The award will be used to buy 11 sets of books to be used by 6th graders to improve literacy and develop deeper knowledge of scientific content.  Students will be actively acquiring knowledge on their own and through discussion with their fellow students, rather than as received knowledge from the teacher.
South Oldham Middle
Kristin Cantrell of South Oldham Middle School won a Pyramid Award for her proposal called “Digital Story Telling.”  The award will be used to purchase 7 digital cameras, tripods and memory sticks to be used by students in grades 6-8 to make movies, thus combining writing and narration with technology in a highly motivational learning process.
Jenn Crase and Laura Viergutz of South Oldham Middle School won a Pyramid Award for their proposal called “A Complete Circle:  Integrating Literacy into Algebra 1.”  The award will be used for a set of student books (Secrets, Lies, and Algebra) which apply algebra to real life, and teacher resources for 7th and 8th grade Algebra 1 classes. The students will use the study of this book to reinforce their knowledge of algebra  through reading, discussion, and creative writing projects about the algebra concepts contained in the book.
Winn Wheeler and Sara Taylor of South Oldham Middle School won a Pyramid Award for their proposal “Constructing Content Understanding with Science Trade Books.”  The award will be used to buy sets of books, periodicals and reference books having to do with science for the use of 7th graders. The students will improve their literacy and develop content knowledge with these resources which are much richer than a standard textbook, thus sparking the students’ curiosity and appreciation.
HIGH SCHOOLS
North Oldham High
Cathy Meine of North Oldham High School won a Pyramid Award for her proposal called “Painting Portraits and Figures.”  The award will provide students in grades 10-12 with art supplies and a visiting artist to learn how to do oil painting of people.  The students will learn how to paint “from life” with the help of an expert.
Oldham County High
Kip Hottman and Elizabeth Cooke of Oldham County High School won a Pyramid Award for their proposal called “Conversation through Skype in the World Language Classroom.”  This award will be used to purchase 4 webcams and 75-100 hours via Skype with teachers from the Los Monitos language learning center in Louisville, so that students in grades 9-12 can communicate via Skype with native speakers in the language they are learning. The goal is for students to apply what they have learned to real life face to face conversations.
Bobbi Templet of Oldham County High School won a Pyramid Award for her proposal “Digital Storytelling.”  The award will be used for cameras and a flat screen television. High school students will use the cameras to tell stories in a digital format that can then be presented to the high school community on the television mounted in the school front hall and on a class website.  Students will present their ideas and knowledge in a technologically sophisticated, as well as an individual, creative and meaningful way, to a wider audience.
South Oldham High
Colleen Davis of South Oldham High School won a Pyramid Award for her proposal “Seeing Psychology First Hand.”  The award will be used to purchase three sets of books, 4 kinesthetic brain models, and 10 sets of perception goggles which shift students vision 30 degrees. Students in the 11th and 12th grades will use these materials to study the parts of the brain, as well as sensation and perception. The goggles allow students to experience how their senses adapt and how the sides of the motor cortex control opposite sides of the body. They will also read the books and prepare a culminating project applying psychology to their lives.
Suzanne Raque of South Oldham High School won a Pyramid Award for her proposal called “Choice-Based Curriculum Literature-Circle Unit.”  The award will be used to buy a variety of high interest books for students in grades 11 and 12 to choose from in order to increase their desire to read  and improve their critical thinking skills. The 11th grade books cover the themes of courage, individualism and the American dream.  The 12th grade books involve multicultural and global perspectives.
Christopher Rieger and Rachel Salyer of South Oldham High School won a Pyramid Award for their proposal called “Technology Enhanced Chemical Laboratory.” Their award will be used to purchase  laboratory equipment (sensors and probes) allowing students in grades 10-12 to use quantitative scientific instruments for inorganic and organic chemical analyses. This equipment can be connected to scientific calculators to quickly record, display and analyze data. This will enable students to more deeply and accurately investigate and analyze hands on scientific questions and concepts.
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