Foundation Starts Handing Out Innovative Teaching Grants

2017 Innovative Teaching Grants

This spring the Lawrence Schools Foundation is rewarding 10 different sets of teachers with $20,249 worth of Innovative Teaching Grants. Each year teachers are encouraged to apply for these grants to enhance the educational experience of their students. Grants are awarded to teachers who implement innovative and unique programs or projects for their students that enrich learning, result in increased student achievement and engage students in critical thinking and problem solving.

A majority of the funding of this grant program comes from proceeds from the annual Foundation Follies. This year's Follies event is Friday, April 21.

Thank you to all the teachers who applied for this year's grants. Reminder to all teachers to apply next spring to provide these wonderful opportunities for your students.
Tuesday, April 18
Lisa Powell, Kennedy STEAM Carts
Kennedy Elementary
Lisa Powell

This project will build three STEAM carts for second through fifth-grade student. The purpose of this project is to give students ownership of their learning through unique experiences that inspire creativity to solve real-world challenges. Students will be able to actively participate in collaboration, communication, critical-thinking and creative problem solving activities that encourage them to apply knowledge to solve real world challenges. Providing students the opportunity to solve real world challenges is imperative as we develop our future workforce.

South Seventh Grade Teachers The Genius Project
South Middle School
Tara Zelvy, Kelly Hart, Beth Weishaar, Stephanie Coleman, Alex Crume and Cathy Hilliard

The purpose of this project is to promote student agency and personalize learning paths. Students develop an essential question completely from their own interest and take it through a research process. The question often seeks to solve current problems in their lives ranging from personal to community to global. This project can be as innovative as budget and student passion allows. Research shows that inquiry based learning develops reading, writing and math proficiencies.
Shari Flakus, South Middle School is a grant recipient Friday, April 14

Telephoto Zoom Lenses For DSLR Cameras
South Middle School
Shari Flakus, Erika Waller and Jennifer Scotten

The team will purchase 15 telephoto lenses, one for each of their DSLR cameras. This project will give students the opportunity to create photos with a telephoto lens, which allows for more creativity and options than a regular camera lens. The wildlife area between the school and Haskell Indian Nations University is an ideal place to shoot nature photos. In addition sports and action shots taken at South events would be of a higher quality and could be used by the newspaper and yearbook classes.

Wednesday, April 12
                                                                                  Cooking In The Classroom – LHS ED Program
Lawrence High's Innovative Teaching Grant recipients Lawrence High School
Maren Santelli, Mike Hymer and Jennifer Rapp

This program supports students in the ED program who have severe emotional and/or behavioral challenges. The purpose of the project is to teach and practice basic cooking skills. In many cases these students do not have the opportunity to participate in elective courses at the high school and through this program, students will be able to have the experience of cooking their own food, doing cooking demonstrations and sharing meals together. Students will learn to find, read and create a shopping list from a recipe, shop on a budget, earn opportunities to cook and create a cookbook.

All Elementary Schools Innovative Teaching Grant Breakout EDU Grant
All Elementary Schools
Tara Martin

Participants will be empowered with experiences in developing self-advocacy and cooperative skill sets. The Breakout program is an alternative to the traditional ‘stand and deliver’ instructional strategy. The teacher facilitates the experience so participants focus on strategies to arrive at the answers with the help of their self and peers. The goal is to develop teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking and trouble-shooting. This will be done through the creation of 28 Breakout EDU kits. The kits come with a collection of locks, hidden contraptions, timers, keys and other diversion hardware.

Christina Smith of Quail Run received her Innovative Teaching Grant Global Inventors
Quail Run
Christina Smith

This project combines STEAM education with global education in order to prepare students for an interconnected world. Students will gain a greater understanding of each other’s lives and cultures as they work with students from another country. They will collaborate to apply design thinking to real-world problems and as a result, have the power to challenge the world. Through this experience students will be inspired to think globally, work collaboratively and develop a passion for STEAM.

Rodney Hess of Quail Run received his Innovative Teaching Grant Big Blue Blocks Physical Education
Quail Run Elementary
Rodney Hess

In an effort to increase time students spend in creative and cooperative play, Big Blue Blocks will be purchased. The blocks allow kids to have fun, collaborate, problem solve, exercise, boost their confidence and inspire their creativity. The unstructured nature of building and playing with the blocks will allow kids to direct their own learning. Research shows that kids who play are happier, healthier, more social and smarter.

Free State teachers with their Innovative Teaching Grant Building Proficiency Brick By Brick
Free State High School
Karen Gipson and Amanda Williams

Using the LEGO storytelling kit can provide students with narrative experiences and empower them to create stories in a natural way. These kits will help students enhance their speaking, listening, reading, writing and comprehension skills as they engage in oral storytelling and creative writing through hands-on language activities designed to build proficiency brick by brick. The sets benefit all language students by providing multiple opportunities to engage in teamwork, communication and collaboration.
Tuesday, April 11

Dena Johnston presented Abbey Wiggins with an Innovative Teaching Grant Aqueduct Aquaponics System

Free State High School
Abbey Wiggins

The Aqueduct Aquaponics System consists of a fish tank, media bed, float bed and sump pump and will continuously circulate nutrients from the fish waste through the plants in the media and float beds. The students will grow tomatoes, peppers, peas and cucumbers, herbs, strawberries and lettuce. Students will have the opportunity to explore symbiotic relationships between plants and animals while producing a sustainable food source for the future. This system enhances student achievement because it supports collaboration among classmates to make decisions and will literally allow students to taste the fruits of their labor. Hands-on engagement deepens student understanding and concept retention.

Deerfield teachers receive their Innovative Teaching Grant Classroom Break Boxes
Deerfield Elementary
Jennifer Taylor, Jenny Humburg, Danielle Bechard and Ashley Davis

Improving kindergarten students’ self-regulation skills in order to improve on-task behavior during academic instruction time is the goal of this project, which incorporates low-cost environmental changes and develops a sensory-motor break area. The target population is kindergarten students, specifically those with ADHD or who are typically off task during instruction time. This project allows students to continue to work within the universal classroom setting, while also learning how to meet their sensory needs to achieve their personal optimal learning environment. Through this, the student becomes less of a distraction to peers and will spend more time on-task effectively.