The Wellesley Education Foundation has issued its spring grants ($74K worth) to Wellesley Public Schools. Overall, WEF has provided some $215,000 in funding this school year. Here’s the rundown of the spring grants:
Graphic Novels – A Proven Way to Engage All Readers and Writers
WEF funding will open new avenues to reading and better engage struggling fifth grade readers and writers at Schofield and Upham Elementary Schools. Grant monies will fund the purchase of graphic books from numerous genres (non-fiction, biography, historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy) for five classrooms. These books will be used as teaching tools at multiple times during the school year in conjunction with the fifth grade curriculum. The grant will also fund a visit from a graphic novelist, Jarrett Krosocza, who will lead several student workshops.
Research and Pleasure Reading Support for New Social Studies Curriculum
WEF grant will enable the elementary school libraries to update their holdings in line with the new Social Studies curriculum and the new Common Core research requirements. New text purchases are needed for new topics of study as well as to develop a strong emphasis on reading informational texts for both assignments and for pleasure. All seven elementary schools will benefit from this grant.
Elementary School Awards
Developing a Growth Mindset at Fiske School
WEF funds will help Fiske teachers and administrators educate their students to value learning, invest effort, and improve academic performance by incorporating growth mindset classroom practices. This philosophy incorporates the belief that people can develop their brain, abilities, and talents, thus translating to greater student enthusiasm, hard work, and persistence. Grant money will allow for the purchase of a Mindset Works Educator Kit which will be implemented in professional development workshops and online community discussions.
Leveled Literacy Intervention Grades 3-5 at Sprague School
This grant will allow teachers to provide a more intensive, strategic and researched-based intervention program to better meet the needs of individual students who need support to reach grade level competency. This intervention will provide a secondary level of instruction during the school day for struggling readers and writers in grades 3 through 5. The Leveled Literacy Intervention kit includes lesson plans, leveled texts, and test prep materials. The same Leveled Intervention program is currently being used in Kindergarten and second grade with much success.
Piano for Fiske Elementary School
WEF funds will enhance Fiske School’s music program which is an integral part of the elementary school culture. Proceeds of this grant will be used to purchase a new acoustic piano to replace an existing piano in poor condition. Improving this centerpiece of the music program will benefit all Fiske students and teachers as music embodies a collaborative environment for all programs of study.
Middle School Awards
iPads for 21st Century Learning
WEF grant will provide one classroom set of iPads for 8th grade English and Communications Lab classes. This technology will allow the use of software technology to be more consistent, efficient, and innovative in the classroom curriculum. Programs that complement use by English classes include: Back Channel, which facilitates whole class discussions; VoiceThread, which encapsulates images, video, documents and presentations; Edmodo, which improves teacher feedback; KidBlog, which helps support individual journals; and numerous sources which provide access to online historical primary sources. This pilot will be instrumental in helping to gain key experience with one-to-one technology prior to the rollout of the Wellesley 1:1 Technology Initiative at the Middle School
iPads for 8th Grade Science Lab
WEF funding will provide a classroom set of iPads for 8th grade Physical Science. Individual student access to this technology will help them develop an evidence-based understanding of atomic matter. Students will benefit from web-based software programs which promote improved organization, document sharing capabilities, incorporation of photo and video, and more frequent and timely feedback from their teacher. Within the Science Department at the Middle School, the introduction of this pilot will be crucial for advancing the rollout of the Wellesley 1:1 Technology Initiative in future years.
Shakespeare at Wellesley: Stories, Stage, and Society
WEF funds will help to improve and expand the English Department’s study of Shakespeare in each of the grade levels at WMS. Promoting collaboration within the English Department, this grant will allow three teachers to attend a new course, “Word Plays: Shakespeare, Drama, Life”, offered by the Teachers as Scholars Summer Institute. Whereas Shakespeare is currently taught now in 7th grade as a core unit, the goal will be to further expose students in 6th and 8th grades to the language and works of this influential playwright.
High School Awards
Dynamite Display of Creativity
WEF grant will enable student artwork to be displayed throughout WHS by utilizing the special channel hanging system originally installed on the building’s walls. Funds were granted to purchase the necessary hardware and display cases to expand this space for hanging artwork onto all floors of the building. Student artists will have more opportunities to share their creative talents within the WHS community.
Advanced Hydraulic Press Tools & Equipment
Building upon a prior WEF grant that funded the purchase of a hydraulic press for jewelry/metals classes, this grant will enable art students to more creatively expand the range of projects in jewelry/metal sculpture. Funds will be used to purchase additional tools for the existing press that will allow for the creation of boxes, lockets, and containment forms of art. These more advanced techniques will open new doors for current students and will allow expansion in these popular jewelry classes.
Smart Document Camera for Chinese Language Classes
WEF funding will enable WHS Chinese teachers to share visual images of student work in conjunction with existing Smartboard technology to transform the classroom into a more dynamic learning environment. The purchase of a document camera will allow demonstrations, textbook images and student work to be shared visually. Enrollment in Wellesley High’s Chinese language classes, ranging from 9th to 12th grade, is growing rapidly.
High Speed Print Dryer for Photography Classes
WEF grant proceeds will enhance the efficiency of darkroom photography production by improving organization, flow, quality, and productivity. Funds will be used to purchase a high-speed print dryer to replace the current multi-shelf baker’s rack. This new equipment will dry prints in thirty seconds and is standard in most professional darkrooms. Approximately 200 students are enrolled in darkroom photography or Photo Club at the high school each year.
Developing Student Skills in Anxiety Management
WEF funding approval will allow the WHS psychologist to explore new methods of reducing student anxiety. The benefit for students would be improved focus and attention in class and systematically, this could reduce the number of referrals for counseling. Funds will provide for the purchase of a new type of hand-held device and accompanying Desktop program (Emwave) which teaches anxiety management through the use of biofeedback. There are an increasing number of WHS students who are exhibiting symptoms of anxiety. Some of these students are supported by school psychologists and social workers who provide individual counseling and others are supported by guidance counselors and external specialists. This program would be piloted with a small number of students in order to determine its effectiveness.