Mrs. Norgaard’s 3rd graders were determined to find ways to increase their physical activity during the school day. After her students wrote a persuasive essay to the principal suggesting improvements that could be made at school, Mrs. Norgaard, a marathon runner herself, took the lesson one step further by challenging her students to virtually “walk” across the United States. With collaborative funding from the SCEF Educator Innovation Fund and the Sequoia Healthcare District, Mrs. Norgaard purchased Fitbits for each of her students to help track and motivate them to take a virtual journey together.
Ms. Core wanted her 7th and 8th grade P.E. students to learn about and monitor their actual activity movement time during class. Thanks to a SCEF Educator Innovation Fund grant, she was able to purchase pedometers for her students, which they used to measure their MVPA (moderate to vigorous physical activity) during class.
Did you know that many children are “musical learners?” Research has shown that children are more likely to pick up complex ideas and improve reading fluency when learning is set to music. Four teachers at Heather Elementary put this research into practice with a Charlie Brown-themed unit that combined language arts lessons with the performing arts. Thanks to collaborative funding from the SCEF Educator Innovation Fund and the Heather PTA, the teachers were able to hire a professional choreographer and a musical director through the Artist in Residence Program who brought the language arts lessons to life via song and dance. The unit culminated in a live performance that included public speaking, singing and dancing in front of an audience.
Brittan Acres 3rd grade teachers Kelly Earlywine and Jennifer Heinschel launched a new Project-Based Learning unit designed to teach students about animal adaptations and how animals can be beneficial or detrimental to their ecosystems. Students were tasked with creating an animal that would be perfectly adapted and uniquely beneficial to its environment. Mrs. Earlywine and Mrs. Heinschel also wanted students to demonstrate their learning in an innovative way, so with funding from the SCEF Educator Innovation Fund they purchased a classroom set of Bloxels, a hands-on platform for kids to build, collaborate, and in this case, present their ecosystem stories through video game creation.
Arroyo 4th grade teacher Heidi Geiges wanted make coding come alive for her students. With funding from the SCEF Educator Innovation Fund, she purchased 13 Dash robots and 3 Dots, which are hands-on, programmable robots used to teach students coding and robotics skills. Students worked in pairs using mini ipads (also purchased with the grant money) to program their Dash robots with the Blockly app, a visual drag and drop coding tool, as well as the Wonder app.
Central 6th grade science teacher Carlie Peck knew that the idea of infrared radiation, which cannot be seen by human eyes and is instead felt as heat, like sunlight, would be a difficult concept for students to grasp. In order to demonstrate the principles of energy, she wanted her students to investigate heat transfer with several hands-on labs using infrared thermometers and a thermal imaging camera — specialized instruments she was able to purchase with funding from the SCEF Educator Innovation Fund.
Life depends on the little things we take for granted. The third graders at Arundel learned this lesson when they studied the importance of pollinators such as bees and butterflies and their impact on larger issues like food supply through Project-based Learning (PBL). To enhance the unit, the third grade teachers launched a PBL project that asked students to look at the school habitat and investigate the plants and animals that could survive on campus. When students determined that the large, dry dirt area stretching in front of the third grade classrooms was not an attractive habitat for wildlife, they took action to turn it into a native plant garden that would both beautify the space and attract the pollinators they studied. Collaborative funding from the SCEF Educator Innovation Fund and the Arundel PTA helped bring the garden to life.
Ms. Higginbotham, a first grade teacher at Arundel, used funding from the SCEF Educator Innovation Grant to take her outer space unit to the next level: to the moon to be exact. Thanks to SCEF, Ms. Higginbotham was able to invest in a webcam and a subscription to Nepris, a company that virtually connects classrooms with math and science professionals for interactive discussions. She then transformed her classroom into a Makerspace and tasked her students with creating a moon colony. Students worked in small groups to build different parts of the colony, including: living space, a recreation area, space for plants and food, a laboratory, and vehicles.