This year has proven to be a bit challenging when it comes to well…everything. Due to the COVID-19 shutdown, NEF events, like everything else, were put on hold. As the summer went on, we realized that the school year would look a lot different than in the past, and with the introduction of remote learning in the spring, it was likely the teachers and school administration would require new tools and programs that the school budget was not able to support. In August, NEF decided to run a grant cycle so that the district could apply for grants with the focus on remote learning. The grant cycle moved faster than is typical and NEF was not surprised to receive a good number of applications. Though there was limited funding this year, NEF was able to support quite a few of the grants which include the following:
ARHS Physics Lab Grant
Lorraine Zanini (for all Physics teachers at ARHS) – ARHS
This grant will provide every Physics student at ARHS a subscription to PIVOT, an interactive tool that will allow them to participate in labs virtually. Labs are an integral part of students’ learning in science, but remote learning and social distancing requirements have made it challenging for teachers to provide these types of meaningful experiences. This software program, which can be used both during in-person classes and remotely in conjunction with whole-class and breakout sessions on Zoom, will be a game-changer for teachers and students this year.
Melican SAR Science Kits
Jessica Eisenlord – Melican
This grant provides each Standalone Remote student at Melican (approximately 125 students) a science kit that will allow them to conduct experiments at home. Middle school is an important time in students’ development of the foundational skills and practices that they will use throughout their educational careers. This is also a critical time to encourage and foster their curiosity and interest in scientific exploration. By providing these kits, which include materials that are not typical household items (i.e. beakers, thermometers, magnifiers) it will allow all students to participate in labs that are fundamental to their science learning. These materials will be returned at the end of the year and will be a welcome addition to the lab supplies for all Melican science teachers.
Art Education FLEX Membership
Jennifer Hackenberg – Lincoln & Zeh
This grant provides the art teacher for Lincoln & Zeh a membership to FLEX Curriculum, a first-of-its kind bundled visual art program that is 100% digital and contains lesson plans, videos, artists bios and more that can easily be downloaded and shared with students either online or in-person. Visual art will be one of the most challenging areas to adapt to remote and socially-distanced learning. These materials have been created for just that purpose and will allow the teacher to focus on teaching, rather than creating every resource from scratch. The new and exciting art experiences and ideas in this program will bring enrichment not only to the students’ experience this year, but for years to come.
Remote Labs for 6th Grade Science
Jonathan Lanza & Annie Shaughnessy – Melican
This grant provides each 6th grader at Melican a science kit that will allow them to conduct experiments remotely. In 6th-grade science, students are introduced to the foundational skills and practices that will be applied throughout their middle school experience and beyond. These core skills are best taught through hands-on, student-driven investigations and experiments. By providing these kits it will allow all students to participate in at least three of the traditional 6th grade labs that address the Massachusetts State Frameworks and are integral to the curriculum.
Susan Dupre – Melican
This grant provides six personal robot “cameramen” plus six wireless microphone systems that can be used by any teacher at Melican. These systems will allow teachers to create more natural video presentations that may be shared synchronously or asynchronously. The tracking robotic cameraman allows the teacher to move about the room freely while the cell phone or ipad tracks the teacher’s movements. Teachers will be able to utilize the tools within the classroom such as hanging maps, anchor charts, and notes on the whiteboard. Lessons will be more natural. Adding the microphone allows for better quality sound and will enhance the video quality. The microphones may also be used in the classroom to project the teacher’s voice since it will be difficult to do so naturally through a mask and shield.
Remote Apps for World Languages
Hilary Novitski (for all World Language teachers at Melican) – Melican
This grant provides the World Languages teachers at Melican with several interactive educational app subscriptions that will allow them to create meaningful and engaging remote lessons for their students. These include: Gimkit, a specialized and entertaining form of vocabulary gamification that can be played as a group online in-person, remotely as a group, or given as an individual assignment; the premier version of Quizlet that can be used as an individual learning tool or as a group game (Quizlet live) and includes images which are an essential component for foreign language learning; Flangoo which provides differentiated listening and reading experiences for students to easily access in and out of the classroom in lieu of in classroom paperback readers; Kahoot premium which allows access to the full suite of question types, distance learning tools, and playing school-size games; and Rockalingua, an online learning platform that includes songs, videos, and interactive games in the target language.
Math & Science iPad Styluses
Elizabeth Dore (for all Math & Science teachers at ARHS) – ARHS
This grant provides a stylus of every math and science teacher at ARHS. In the Spring, teachers found that using a stylus, in conjunction with the Notability app on their iPads, allowed them to present clear notes, diagrams and equations for their students remotely. By providing a stylus for every teacher in these departments at ARHS, all students will benefit from high quality presentation of instruction in math and science.
Parlay: A Solution to Hosting Digital Socratic Seminars
Kristin Turner – ARHS
This grant provides one subscription to Parlay, an online tool that is used to enhance and promote discussion. It can be very challenging to organize and track Zoom discussions, but one ARHS teacher has discovered this program that allows students to get in line to speak or to challenge, nudge or question each other using their devices. This also allows teachers to keep track of who talks and the kinds of discussions they raise, as well as message students privately to encourage them to participate. With face-to-face time (both in-person and online) being so limited, this will allow the teacher to maximize the time they have by helping all students to be active in their class discussions.
Meaghan Reade (for all Lincoln teachers) – Lincoln Street School
This grant provides ten teachers 1000 points each to purchase “Boom Card” activities for their classes. Boom cards are interactive lessons that can be used on Zoom and they are paperless. They can also be used by students for independent work or for parents to help carry over skills learned in the classroom. The premade ones are in a fun, game format that are really engaging for students. They can be used in the regular education setting and also for remote speech and language therapy services.
SEL Remote Learning
Lisa Arpino – Lincoln
This grant provides a one-year subscription to Everyday Speech, a social-emotional learning platform. It provides teachers, psychologists, and speech therapists with video-modeling curriculums to nurture the fundamental strategies and skills that all students need to maximize potential towards a healthier, happier, and fulfilling future. This learning platform can be used in school or remotely, and it offers a nearly endless selection of topics, videos, lessons, and worksheets to be used by the School Psychologist and the Speech Language Therapist with students in grades K through 8.
Remote Technology Resources for EL Learners
Catherine Arcona & Loni Sotir – All Schools
This grant provides all of the elementary, middle and high school ELD teachers with requested programs that will be used to enhance remote instruction for English Language Learners. The use of Pear Deck Premium, Kahoot Premium, and English Grammar 101 will allow these teachers to provide fun, interactive and meaningful lessons that motivate students to be active learners. Students will participate in activities relating to reading, listening, speaking, and writing that offer opportunities to engage and feel safe to take risks in their learning.
To the Classroom & Beyond
Elizabeth Villaflor (for the 3rd grade team at Zeh) – Zeh
This grant provides learning kits for the Zeh school third grade hybrid students to use while learning remotely. The kits will include Math & ELA manipulatives that resemble materials used in the classroom including counting manipulatives for addition, subtraction, and multiplication, a whiteboard and markers for solving problems, and letter tiles for spelling instruction. These kits will assist both the teachers and students by providing needed hands-on learning tools as well as materials to make the transition between in school and at home learning flow more smoothly.
Remote Reading Bags
Elizabeth Matthews – Lincoln
This grant provides materials to help the Lincoln Reading Specialist create at-home reading bags for students receiving reading services. Included in these bags will be whiteboards, markers and letter tiles that will allow for productive and engaging remote sessions that more closely mirror in-person instruction.