NEF Funds 10 Winter Grants Totaling $34,296
At the Needham School Committee on Tuesday, the Needham Education Foundation (NEF) announced the recipients of 10 grants totaling $34,296 in the winter grant cycle. A large grant will allow 35 middle and high school teachers to participate in a three-day Project-Based Learning (PBL) workshop, where they will design a project to implement in their own classroom and learn skills and strategies to design and implement additional PBL activities in the future. PBL is at the forefront of educational methods that teaches many of the skills linked to the district’s recently-developed Portrait of a Needham Graduate competencies.
Awarded grants also include:
- Charles Coe, an African-American professional poet, author, and teacher, will spend a week helping 7th grade students use poetry as a lens for their own life experiences, and teaching them the importance of creative expression.
- Mitchell students in grades 1 through 5 will benefit from visually-based math puzzles that support a deeper understanding of concepts for all students, including ELL and other high-needs learners.
- ImprovBoston will bring their program “Lessons of Improv: The 4 Cs (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking)” to Pollard, allowing 7th grade students to take the stage alongside the cast in an environment of supported risk-taking.
- To promote enhanced concentration through body stimulation, Balance Ball Chairs will be added to 7th and 8th grade Language-based special education classrooms.
- Master Lego Model Builder Ian Coffrey will introduce Kindergarten students at Broadmeadow to the basics of design, planning, and project management to create large structural towers using mobile Lego makerspace kits.
- Logitech Crayons will be available to High Rock students as a tool for art and technology integration in all curriculum areas, expanding the ways they can learn and create, and providing accessibility to students who experience physical or sensory barriers to traditional art learning.
- Six creative calming stations with puzzles, project kits, and games will be installed throughout Broadmeadow for children needing a break from class due to stress or the need for self-regulation. The selected materials are creative, meditative, or cooperative, and will bring about a sense of accomplishment and self-efficacy when completed by a student.
- One High Rock teacher, a member of the school’s Equity Steering Committee, will participate in Cornell’s four-course online Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program, which will provide training to support more inclusive practices to benefit both students and staff at the school.
- An accessible three-wheeled bike will be available for students for whom a two-wheeled bike either is not safe or inaccessible in order to participate in the third grade “bike rodeo” at all five elementary schools.
NEF Funds 12 Fall Grants Totaling $50,102
At the Needham School Committee meeting last night, the Needham Education Foundation (NEF) announced the recipients of 12 grants totaling $50,102 in the fall grant cycle. Two of the grants provide for professional development in STEAM and visual arts, impacting instruction and curriculum across all five elementary schools. A large grant at the High School will fund an artist-in-residency program “Your Voice Matters. What’s Your Story?” to foster community and facilitate conversations around empathy and equity.
Awarded grants also include:
- Four performances for the Pollard 8th grade of “A Revolution of Her Own!” — the story of Deborah Sampson, the first woman to enlist, fight, and be honorably discharged from the American Military.
- A visit with graphic novel author of “She the People,” Jen Deaderick to host a series of workshops at the Needham High School’s One Day program.
- Cooking For Kids, a weekly cooking activity for students learning life skills in substantially separate early learning classrooms at Sunita Williams.
- Sensory Pathways at Eliot and Mitchell, which will allow students to take movement breaks using academic visuals to release energy and sensory build up..
- The addition to Broadmeadow, Eliot and Newman libraries of Vox Books — hardcover books with an integrated audio recording to help emergent and reluctant readers.
- Pedometers for each second grade classroom at Broadmeadow to reinforce math concepts such as graphing and place value, and to better understand real-life distances in geography units.
- Mindfulness workshops for students and teachers in each cluster classroom at High Rock.
- Professional development for all K-5 math coaches and grade 6-12 math teachers with Sunil Singh, co-author of “Math Recess,” a book which emphasizes learning mathematics through play and as a means to provide equity to all students.
Low-Ropes Challenge Course at Pollard
Funded by a large grant from the NEF, the Low-Ropes Challenge Course at Pollard features seven elements presenting meaningful physical and mental challenges to help students develop social and emotional skills.
Grant writer, Michael Marcojohn is excited to see this grant come to life. He wrote, “I have always had the dream to build a course and provide students with the same positive experience I once had. I cannot wait to provide students with such a different and unique experience. Students have been asking me since the first day of school about when they will be allowed to enjoy the course.”
On October 3, Pollard teachers were trained and certified on the low-ropes course. Students at Pollard will now be able to use the course to help create an inclusive and cooperative team atmosphere.
Sensory Pathways at Broadmeadow
The NEF funded two Sensory Pathways that were installed this month at Broadmeadow and they have already made a huge impact on the students and teachers, who were instantly mesmerized. These Sensory Pathways have given students opportunities to get their movement out.
The paths are located in the first-grade wing for the kindergarten, first and second graders to use, as well as on the ground level near the occupational therapy room. Each path is designed to change a child’s body position as he/she completes the course, focusing on academic visuals while moving the body in a specific order. By jumping, bouncing, bending, pushing, and breathing, students release their energy and sensory build-ups that impacts their ability to best utilize their brains.
Although teachers were initially worried about sending students to the paths independently, after a class lesson, they gave it a try. Teachers were pleasantly surprised at how responsible students were being when they asked to go on a sensory break. Broadmeadow families have enjoyed the videos shared by Principal Gaberman shared the videos in the school’s bulletin. Grant writer, Saundra Watson noted, “It has been amazing to see so many students reading the directions and following the movements and others following along by creating their own movements.”
Take a sneak peak at how Needham students are moving their bodies and putting the pathways to good use. Thank you to grant writer Saundra Watson for making this innovative grant come to life.