NEF awarded $36,075 in funds to 18 grant recipients during a special ceremony held at the Northborough Free Library on Sept. 15, 2017.
Superintendent of Schools Christine Johnson attended the ceremony, along with representatives from each school and the Northborough Free Library.
NEF Grant Committee Chair, Susan Ogar recognized the significance of the continued support of corporate sponsors, members of the community and schools, and the organization’s many volunteers who help make the fundraising events successful. A special thanks was given to outgoing NEF President, Marile Borden, for her hard work and dedication over the past 3 years. Marile was instrumental in the growth and exposure of NEF. During her time as President, she spearheaded the Chromebook Campaign in 2016 which raised over $51,000 for the purchase of more than 200 new Chromebooks to be used in classrooms at all Northborough Public Schools.
Fundraisers in 2015-16 included the Applefest Gala, Golden Apple Appreciation Awards, Trivia Night, the 1st Annual Gala Jr., and Mother/Daughter Princess Tea Party.
Proceeds from these events enabled NEF to fully or partially approve funding for the following grants:
Across Amazing America (Zeh Elementary School): This grant will provide the funds to have an outside artist paint a fun whimsical mural of a U.S. map on one of the hallway walls of the Zeh School and to purchase a set of state books to be used for associated research. The map will be the culminating product of our 4th grade students’ U.S. regions research. This map will be designed by Zeh school students and will include state facts such as the capital, physical features, natural resources, unique features etc. The map mural will be used by every grade level to meet each grade level’s geography concepts and skills.
Mindfulness Moments (Zeh Elementary School): This grant is for a school-wide program with The Center for Mindfulness, a part of the Division of Preventative and Behavioral Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The Center is an innovative leader in mind-body medicine and mindfulness-based treatment for stress reduction and the improvement of health, resilience and well-being.
University of Massachusetts Medical School staff will be providing the Zeh School a three tiered training program. First, they will introduce teachers to mindfulness. Then they will bring teachers and students together to learn and practice various mindfulness tools. And finally, they will introduce parents to mindfulness practice and how it supports the classroom.
Adventures of the Mind…regulate, breath and stay focused! (Zeh Elementary School): This grant is designed to help foster the mind and body of young children, through the use of self-regulating tools and equipment for self-regulation and emotional control. Giving students the opportunity to learn healthy, self-regulation strategies is an integral part of early childhood development. Fine and gross motor materials can offer children strategies to become more independent in controlling their emotions and impulses by helping them manage their own sensory needs and be better available to access the curriculum.
Successful Seating (Zeh Elementary School): No matter their age, our children have growing, active bodies and are faced with a variety of academic and social challenges on a daily basis. Once their bodies are engaged, the mind is free to focus on the tasks at hand. This grant will provide flexible seating options, empowering children to take an active role in their learning. They will have the opportunity to take risks, try out new seating options and ultimately, determine preferences that bring out their personal best as a learner!
“Science on the Go” Bags (Peaslee Elementary School): Students love science and hands-on learning! However, when they leave school, many children do not have the resources needed to explore beyond the school day. “Science on the Go” Bags are backpacks, loaded with science materials, books and other items for children and their families to explore the world of science outside of the classroom. The program will get children unplugged, outside, and engaged in the world around them. The backpacks and their contents promote curiosity as children can work at their own pace, explore their own interests and simultaneously discover new ones.
Fit to Learn (Lincoln Street Elementary School): Fit to Learn will help Lincoln Street School teachers incorporate more physical activity throughout the day—in the classroom, during recess, and beyond.
Fit to Learn will use elements from SPARK abc’s, a researched-based program that uses energizers to get students moving in the classroom, as well as academically-integrated physical activities that support learning standards in the areas of Literacy and Language Arts; STEM, Social Studies and Nutrition Education. Teachers will learn strategies and activities that invigorate their classroom and recess routines and help students focus and behave better during class.
The Big Picture of Small Things (Lincoln Street Elementary School): The wonders of the microscopic world are amazing! All of the elementary grades have a life science unit in STEM, and the microscope is a wonderful way to both excite and amaze future biologists. However, giving children access to microscopes can be problematic. The number of quality microscopes are few and the ability for younger children to use the eyepiece is difficult. The Solo 8 version of the HoverCam document camera is a remarkable adapter that solves these problems. It allows the microscope image to be projected using a document camera and displayed on the interactive whiteboard. Lincoln Street School students in all grades will now be able to explore microscopic animals and plants and discover how important they are to any ecosystem.
Thinking Socially: Building Empathy and Cultivating Problem Solvers (Lincoln Street Elementary School): Thinking Socially: Building Empathy and Cultivating Problem Solvers is designed to promote social thinking and empathy within the Lincoln Street School community. Students will develop a working definition of empathy and articulate examples of compassionate responses to situations and will demonstrate empathy in their daily interactions with peers and adults. In addition, a collection of topic-specific books will be used in the classrooms and the LSS library for teachers to use as read-alouds over the course of the year. This collection will offer students high quality literature that exemplifies the topics addressed in the Social Thinking lessons, with a specific focus on empathy and problem solving. The two school psychologists at LSS are committed to supporting classroom teachers and specialists as they work to develop their repertoire of strategies designed to promote social thinking and empathy.
Get Ready for a Wild Ride! (Proctor Elementary School): As the Next Generation Science Standards emerge in the classroom, we see a strong emphasis in three dimensional learning. Through this program, students will form design teams, research roller coasters using high interest books, use math to calculate coaster speed and create line plot graphs. They will then plan, design and build roller coasters using K’Nex kits. They will write persuasive writing pieces describing why their roller coaster is the best. Technology is utilized by using the green screen to create a backdrop for the roller coaster. This problem solving, critical thinking and cooperative learning project will provide an innovative and rich environment for real life application of skills. This grant will provide an innovative and creative way for our classroom engineers to explore building, technology and science in a real world context.
Responsive Classroom Workshops (Proctor Elementary School): The Fannie E. Proctor School strives to provide a school environment where social/emotional learning and community building are just as important as the academic learning that takes place each day. Research shows that students learn best when they feel a sense of connection and personal responsibility to others around them. Through this grant, the Proctor School will bring two, one-day Responsive Classroom trainings to the entire faculty. The first training will focus on providing teachers with the tools to use positive teacher language, participate in interactive modeling strategies for daily routines and procedures, and explore how the Responsive Classroom model can establish a calm, safe and orderly environment for learning. The second training will be provided to all staff members is Responsive Classroom: Responding to Misbehavior. The focus of this training is to provide staff members with a consistent structure for addressing misbehavior in a positive manner, while getting students back on track for learning.
Zen Zone (Proctor Elementary School): The creation of two ‘Zen Zones’ will allow students to access specific tools and strategies when they are unable to self-regulate in the classroom. The Zen Zones offer a quiet, soothing environment with specific tools that they could use to engage in calming or alerting activities. Students will receive instruction in how to use the tools and strategies in the Zen Zone by the school psychologist and/or behavior specialist.
Scientific Modeling and Design (Melican Middle School): 3doodlers are 3D printing pens which will allow students to take their ideas and sketches and turn them into 3 dimensional plastic objects. 7th graders at Melican Middle School will use the 3D pens to demonstrate their ability to model scientific concepts and to design prototypes for solutions to engineering problems. Students will be able to take their freehand drawings and actually see how their ideas translate into 3 dimensions. Students will be building (and sometimes redesigning and rebuilding) actual structures based on their design solutions- taking their ideas beyond the theoretical. The 3doodlers will allow Melican’s 7th graders to be engineers in the confines of their science classrooms.
Standing Desks for Middle School Students (Melican Middle School): Students in today’s middle school classrooms are learning at an accelerated rate, with large amounts of information being delivered while students are required to sit. Standing Desks provide an innovative, and alternative work space for students who learn better when they are allowed to stand. Having access to alternative work spaces in the form of Standing Desks will allow students to stand and move, while continuing to engage in the learning process, and will decrease distractions within the classroom.
Ukuleles in School, K-8 (Zeh, Peaslee, Proctor, Lincoln Street & Melican): While Northborough has a strong music curriculum that encompasses singing, reading music, improvisation, composition, and a variety of percussion and wind instruments, until now, students have had minimal access to string instrument instruction. The Ukuleles in School grant provides each school in Northborough with a classroom set of ukuleles to be used by all students, K-8. Comprehensive and developmentally appropriate units will be created to help students express themselves through singing and strumming.
Teaching AP Computer Science Principles with Mobile App Development (Algonquin Regional High): This grant will provide Android tablets to the Mobile AP Computer Science Principles Course at Algonquin. This course offers a multidisciplinary approach to teaching the underlying principles of computation. It will introduce students to the creative aspects of programming, abstractions, algorithms, large data sets, the Internet, cybersecurity concerns, and computing impacts. Students will work collaboratively to design and create socially useful Android Apps.
This course features a multidisciplinary approach to teaching the underlying principles of computation. The course will introduce students to the creative aspects of programming, and will give students the opportunity to use technology to address real-world problems and build innovative solutions.
Cracking the Curriculum: Utilizing Breakout EDU Gaming Platform in the Social Studies Classroom (Algonquin Regional High School): Breakout EDU is described as “an immersive learning games platform.” Essentially, this is an escape room experience designed for the classroom. Students will use teamwork and critical thinking to solve a series of Social Studies specific challenging “puzzles” within the teacher-designed game in order to open the locked box to reveal the overall solution. Breakout EDU games transfer the ownership of the learning from the teacher to the student. In addition to applying content knowledge, students will also need to employ critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration and communication skills. Most importantly, “a Breakout EDU game provides learners with many opportunities to fail forward. Every unsuccessful attempt to open a lock forces the player to try again.”
Northborough Children’s Book Awards (NCBA) (Northborough Free Library and Northborough Public Elementary School Libraries): The NCBA is a collaboration between teachers and librarians aimed at inspiring all 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students to read great literature that develops their individual literacy skills. In the fall, knowledgeable school and public librarians from Northborough gather together to deliberate and vote for at least 12 recently published book titles that serve as the nominees for the awards. Multiple paperback copies of these titles are purchased and divided between all of the Northborough elementary schools as well as the town’s public library. Beginning in February 2018, students who read at least 3 of the selected titles and in May, can vote for their favorite at either the public library or during their library classes in school. In June, votes are tallied and the winning author is notified.
Northborough Reads Together: Community Reading Day 2018 (Zeh, Peaslee, Proctor, Lincoln Street & Melican): Community Reading Day brings members of our community, including town and school district administrators and staff, local government and business representatives, and retirees to our schools, where they share the joy of children’s literature with students. Our children love to hear books read by these local “celebrities” as much as the readers enjoy interacting with our students. Teachers and librarians carefully select high-quality children’s literature for Community Reading Day. The books purchased are added to our school and classroom libraries, thus offering students the opportunity to revisit the selections as they wish.