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UW-Green Bay Institute for Learning Partnership awards nearly $41,000 in grants

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UW-Green Bay’s Institute for Learning Partnership has awarded nearly $41,000 in Grants to Improve Teaching and Learning for the 2013-14 academic year.

The grants will support learning in six Northeastern Wisconsin school districts, funding a variety of initiatives that promote literacy, target the academic achievement gap, incorporate technology and more. The $40,954.24 in awards, ranging in amount from $1,450 to $7,500, were announced Friday, May 3. The recipients are as follows, listed along with an excerpt from their grant application:

Bowler Public School District, Bowler Elementary School teacher Stephanie Brown — Improving Science Scores and Interest through Einstein Kits ($1,678.84): “Hands-on learning is very important to students’ comprehension to concepts. As the sixth grade teacher at Bowler Elementary School, I struggle teaching science from 12-year-old textbooks, no science materials for hands-on learning and a budget that will not allow me to purchase hands-on science materials for the entire year. Children are born scientists because of their curiosity throughout their life. I want to channel that curiosity and give my students, especially females, economically disadvantaged, students with disabilities and minority students, the chance to get hands-on with science. My goal is to increase their interest and scores in science based on surveys by parents and students and pre and post assessments.”

Green Bay Area Public School District, Green Bay East High School teachers and staff Ruth Berken, Linda Bornbach, Brian Fisk, Rich Krieg, Julie Ollmann and Mark Strohschein — Green Bay East Composting Project ($3,000): “Green Bay East High teachers created a plan to introduce a composting component to the existing curriculum. There would be two phases. Phase I is vermicomposting within science and agriscience classrooms. Phase II involves the creation of static piles with the ultimate goal of reducing the amount of biodegradable material that is deposited in a landfill.”

Howard-Suamico Public School District, Bay View Middle School teacher Oksana Kobzar-Schweiner — Increasing Academic Vocabulary Among ELL Students ($1,450): “The main intent of this study is to decrease the academic gap between the ELL students and mainstream students at Bay View Middle School. The purpose of this action research is to examine whether providing wide variety of reading resources and vocabulary apps to middle school English language learners will improve students’ reading comprehension by increasing their vocabulary development. The goal of the project is to give students as much exposure and experience with new vocabulary words and provide a wide range of reading material and vocabulary apps available on Kindle Fire to motivate students to read both at home and in school.”

Laona Public School District, Robinson Elementary School teacher Stacey Flannery — Laptops for Laona Learners ($7,500): “Laptops for Laona Learners is working in collaboration with all regular education teachers and our special education department to enhance our students’ technology skills while also increasing their written language skills to be proficient or advanced. We believe larger screens and keyboards are easier for writing assignments that require students to be able to open and toggle through various programs and websites; along with assisting Special Ed learners who may have fine motor or visual perception deficits. Teachers will enhance their differentiated instruction, as well as meet accommodation and modification needs of students. With upcoming changes to standardized tests and the high demand for technological skills in our society, our mission is to provide students with opportunities to be successful.”

Laona Public School District, Robinson Elementary School teachers Sheryl Hendricks, Kathy Krawze and Kelly Crede — iPads for Differentiated Instruction-Part III ($7,500): “The iPads for Differentiated Instruction Part III will be an extension of our current research, which has included collaboration between K-3 regular and special education teachers and staff. Implementation of Part III of our project will be directed towards teachers having a classroom set of iPads so that differentiation can be incorporated into all lessons for all learners. Students will become more proficient users of technology as well as experiencing reading and math instruction through multiple learning styles. Teachers will be able to develop effective lessons that incorporate technology and allow for lessons to be tailored to meet each individual student’s needs. This extension will allow for continued collection of data to reflect upon the continued student growth from year to year.”

Manitowoc Public School District, McKinley Academy teacher Gina Wagner — Healthy Living Soul Sisters ($6,997.50): “Our Healthy Living Soul Sister project is aimed at closing the achievement gap through wellness. Research clearly indicates the impact that wellness has on academic performance and achievement. We work in a school with 60 at-risk teens that come from very challenging home situations. Many of our students participate in risky and unhealthy behaviors that affect their daily performance in school, including poor nutrition, poor sleeping habits, lack of physical activity, drugs and alcohol. Our project is focused on our female population. Our goal is to equip our female students with the knowledge, skills, and benefits of healthy lifestyles and relationships and instill a desire to maintain this way of living. Ultimately, we are hopeful in seeing improved academic performance due to the empowerment of healthy lifestyle choices.”

Wrightstown Community School District teacher Krista Samb — Content Area Literacy through Technology in Art Room ($6,977.90): “Interdisciplinary literacy, content area literacy, and the Common Core Standards are evident and will rapidly change the way that students learn and teachers teach in the WCSD. The rapidly changing technology-based global economy has our schools falling behind, and our students deserve better resources to close that gap. The acquisition of the technology cart can be used as a way to broaden students’ learning and their idea of what traditional art is through two-dimensional and three-dimensional exploration. The capability of the technology carts will also allow for student collaboration and engagement in more in-depth discussions, art critiques of projected images, the ability for students to show off their own work more effectively, and to promote teamwork and critical thinking skills with the use of the tablets. These opportunities help prepare students more effectively toward being college and career ready. Another important aspect of 21st century skills these carts will address is the students’ ability to engage in public speaking opportunities with their peers and the ability to share visual literacy knowledge with others. The added technology for all art classes will also aid students by developing a sense of independence for a variety of different learners and different learning styles.”

UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. Scott Ashmann — Integrating iPads into a Nature-Based 4K Program ($5,850): “The nature-based four-year-old kindergarten program at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary will begin in Fall 2013. Sponsored by the Green Bay Area Public School District, 16-20 students will be enrolled in a morning session with another 16-20 students in the afternoon. Students will spend the entire session outdoors (unless weather conditions are unsafe) under the direction of a licensed teacher and a naturalist. Nature-based programs are typically devoid of technology since it seems ironic to some educators that nature and technology be intertwined. However, we want to test that assumption, and we hypothesize that there are highly effective and efficient means to merge technology and nature in a way that can improve students’ vocabulary development, math skills, and enhance their sense of wonder.”

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