Grants In Action

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.

Far From The Tree – Film Screening and Panel Discussion

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.

 

Rubik’s Cubes at Needham High School

by Paige Rowse, Needham High School Teacher-Librarian
 
The NHS Library is pleased to add 225 Rubik’s cubes to the collection this year thanks to a grant from the Needham Education Foundation. This purchase was an instant hit with cubers and noncubers alike as the Rubik’s Cube Club immediately set to creating the first mosaic. They chose to build the portrait of Caesar Chavez, solving each individual cube to a specific design and stacking the cubes together to form the final mosaic. In a few afternoons, their masterpiece was complete and displayed prominently in the library. This new piece of art sparked a number of discussions as students and staff realized how it had been created.
 
We have since created a number of smaller mosaics which were started by math teachers and completed by individual students visiting the library. Another exciting opportunity provided by these cubes is to design our own mosaic, fostering technology, art, and design skills in the process. This is one of the many ways in which this program can grow in coming years and connect to many different students. In addition to the opportunity to design and build mosaics, Rubik’s Cubes themselves can provide a fun avenue to explore mathematical concepts such as geometry, algorithms, factorals, and exponents. Teachers are welcome to check out a class set of cubes for hands-on learning opportunities, which is easy thanks to the 25-cube boxes designed and built in the Da Vinci Workshop. These boxes were designed not only to contain a class set of cubes, but also to display a small, finished mosaic or portion of a larger mosaic.
 
It is incredible to see all the different people and departments involved in just this one grant! We look forward to seeing more students and staff explore this innovative opportunity.

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