The Public Schools Foundation of Tippecanoe County awarded Seeds of Excellence grants to several TSC educators. The organization awarded nearly $12,000 to eight school projects.
Wea Ridge Elementary School teacher Michelle Mengler received almost $500 for her project “We Can be Biologists.” She says students will begin with an overview of animal body systems and use video, slide shows and diagrams to understand how animal systems are similar to human body systems. “Then we will begin the dissection portion of the unit by using student dissection kits to explore the mechanics of dissection, to get over the ‘squeamishness hurdle,’ and to be introduced to basic circulatory and digestive systems of earthworms,” explains Mengler. “Following the earthworm dissections, we will discover a more complex, invertebrate animal; crayfish. Students will find the exoskeleton, digestive tract, brain and primitive nervous system, gills, and musculature. Our final dissection experience will be frogs.”
The first grade team at Wea Ridge Elementary School received nearly $2,000 for “Coloring Our World Through Literacy.” Dinah Lamberson, Kayla Madlung, Lisa Merryman and Holly Richard plan to attend two Kristina Smekens writing workshops to become more skilled in teaching writing in the classroom. “We will utilize literacy to strengthen student-family relationships by sending home materials to read a specific book that focuses on one of the six traits of writing and create a writing piece to be shared with the class,” says Lamberson. “Through literacy and reading, we will strengthen our writing program.”
Music teacher Anthony Nicolia received $1,888 for “Orff in the Classroom.” Nicolia, who teaches at Mintonye and Woodland elementary schools, will use the funds to purchase a bass metallophone, rolling Orff cart and a pair of yarn mallets for the bass xylophone. “The Orff Approach is a curricular model of teaching music education in the general classroom,” says Nicolia. “Orff instruments can be incorporated into all musical pieces, activities, and games that are already taught in the musical classroom in a variety of styles and ensembles.”
First grade students at Klondike Elementary School will benefit from a $945 grant called “Math Collaboration Stations Celebration.” Stephanie Bosma will purchase whiteboards to be used on floors, walls and easels where each student has his or her own marker, eraser and manipulatives to aid in exploring mathematics. “There are endless possibilities for their use,” says Bosma. “They benefit every student, all at once, every day for years to come, with the added bonus of enhancing human relations and developing 21st century skills.”
Hershey teacher Kristin Strasser’s project “On the Road to Decode” received a $1,833 grant. “We will be purchasing decodable books for our first grade classes. With more evidence supporting the importance of decodable readers, there are a lot of choices when it comes to publishers and book length,” says Strasser. “We would like to add to our decodable library with exciting books that have detailed stories and illustrations. With the continued implementation of decodable readers, it will help to reinforce mastery of all first grade phonics standards, as well as develop confidence and excitement for beginning readers.”
Also at Hershey, an $850 grant called “Measuring Success” will enrich math instruction by giving students a more concrete and visual experience working with numbers. Teacher Madeena Coates says students will use manipulatives as an introduction, reinforcement and remediation of different math concepts.
The fifth grade team at Burnett Creek won a nearly $2,000 grant for “Transform Learning with Room Transformations.” Kimberly Deckard says their classrooms will bring learning alive for their students by transforming their classrooms into a variety of stations to provide highly engaging activities. She says the students will learn and review concepts throughout the year by participating in these creative activities.
At McCutcheon, science teacher Christina Schmidt received nearly $2,000 for “Using Our Natural Resources and Community Partners to Inspire the Next Generation of Ecologists.” Schmidt says students have access to the Little Vermillion River, but lack supplies to monitor water quality, study macroinvertebrates and learn about the ecosystem that is found along the river. The grant will allow her to expand the ecology unit and provide hands-on, real-world experience for students: “Our department has developed a curriculum that partners with the Hoosier Riverwatch to monitor this river. The money awarded will be used to provide opportunities to our students to truly experience what it is like to work as an ecologist and how our actions can directly affect the water quality and diversity of our local waterways. Our goals are to inspire students through these hands-on experiences to pursue more opportunities in the natural sciences and to gain experience working with community agencies.”