SUMMARIES OF SELECT 2007 GRANT PROJECTS
Project: Heroes of the Past Making
Heroes of the Future
Theresa Davis * Crawford School * Crawford, Colo.
Theresa Davis dedicated her 2007 Arch Coal Foundation Innovative Teaching Grant to helping middle school students with reading disabilities improve their reading skills, while inspiring them to think about the qualities of a hero. Davis purchased biographies of famous people who had overcome difficulties and went on to make contributions to the world. Various quotes led to discussions about historical events and how a person’s character can lead them to make decisions that benefit others. Often, the students learned, difficult circumstances endured in youth can provide courage or strength later in life. The students shared their new knowledge by acting out scenes from Albert Einstein’s life and designing a display featuring relevant quotes and events from Theodore Roosevelt’s life. Younger students were invited to ask questions, which further stimulated interest. Reading about a historical figure will often resonate with a student. They become excited to find out more and begin making connections to their own lives, according to Davis, who continues to use the biographies in class.
Project: Fostering Personal Identity
Peter Halladay * Hotchkiss High School * Hotchkiss, Colo.
Art teacher Peter Halladay devoted his 2007 Arch Coal Foundation Innovative Teaching Grant to helping his students view the world through different eyes and getting to better know their community and themselves. Halladay purchased five digital cameras for his classroom and distributed them to students. This gave them an opportunity to learn how to operate the cameras and then work on assignments. One such project involved using the cameras to compare and contrast community development over the past 100 years. The students began their research at the local historical society, viewing various area scenes and buildings in old photographs. Then they took pictures showing the same scenes and structures today. A few students also worked on individual projects, with one combining personal images with text.
Project: Co2 Car Project
Eagle’s Nest Extension/Enrichment Program
David Kuta * Paonia Elementary * Paonia, Colo.
For a half-hour each day, Paonia Elementary students who are meeting or exceeding regular classroom expectations get an opportunity to learn new things in creative and fun ways, as part of the Eagle’s Nest Extension/Enrichment Program. David Kuta used his 2007 Arch Coal Foundation Innovative Teaching Grant to purchase materials for students to build and race cars powered by CO2 (carbon dioxide). Over the course of several months, fourth, fifth and sixth graders completed their cars step by step – creating concept sketches and prototypes, finalizing designs, building, painting and testing their cars – and finally racing them in a week-long event complete with trophies. All the students learned a great deal over the course of the project, according to Kuta, not only about designing and building the cars, but also about aerodynamics, force, drag, friction, mass and other scientific and mathematical concepts. The project was well-received by students and staff alike.
Project: Library to Supplement
Von W. Mitchell * Cedaredge High School * Cedaredge, Colo.
Von Mitchell created a classroom library in 2007 for use in conjunction with a wider initiative through which students engage in a classroom economy.* The business teacher’s goal was to nurture a love of reading among students and to help them make the connection between their lives and literature. As part of the economy project, students hold jobs and “pay rent” on their seating. The catch is, rent is more than their income. Students earn extra money by doing extra work, like reading books and writing book reports. Mitchell purchased a quantity of books with his Arch Coal Foundation Innovative Teaching Grant, including such titles as The Pearl, by John Steinbeck; To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee; The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane; and many more. Shortly after setting up the library, Mitchell was pleased to report success on the project. Not only were his own students reading the new books, students from other classes were doing so as well – and discussing what they’d read. At the time, more than 90 students had daily access to the library, with more to gain usage the following semester.
*Based on an idea by teacher/author Rafe Esquith
Project: Student-Made CD Stories
Janet Rogers * Crawford School * Crawford, Colo.
Janet Rogers devoted her 2007 Arch Coal Foundation Innovative Teaching Grant to increasing the motivation to write and improving reading fluency among her first-grade students. Rogers purchased 20 portable CD players with headphones, 100 CD-R discs and five packs of AA batteries and set to work. Each student wrote and illustrated a picture book using the writing process – developing settings, characters and story sequence. She and her students also analyzed the components of good reading used in commercially made audio books, such as expression, use of page-turning signals and the “about the author and illustrator” pages. Students read their stories many times to read fluently. With the help of two middle school students, each first-grader recorded the stories and created CDs. They then decorated the CD case and a carrying bag for the disc/book set. Completion of the project was celebrated with an authors’ party, at which students listened to their own stories and those of their classmates. Rogers was very pleased with the success of the program. Student motivation to read and write was very high, and she even noticed students evaluating each other’s work. Rogers’ students completed the CD stories the following year as well.
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