Portland Education Foundation’s volunteer board is committed to a tradition of awarding grants to teachers for the support of classroom innovation. We want Portland educators to feel their hard work is recognized and supported by the broader community beyond school walls. These grants are a way of recognizing, encouraging and supporting educators’ efforts to innovate and excel. By supporting better teaching, the grants are also a means to improve our students’ educational experiences.
Comprehensive Teacher Grant Report
Portland Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 2009, is happy to announce they have awarded 25 grants for their 2013-2014 cycle. The awards were given to 25 teachers and teacher teams in the Portland Public School District. PEF President Mary Bennett added, “One of the most rewarding things we do as trustees of this foundation is to give out money to fund innovation in the classroom. I am astounded at how small amounts of money can have such big impacts directly to the students. My only regret is that we can’t do more.”
All of the funding requests were compelling and worthy of attention, which made the selection process that much more challenging. Those chosen represent PEF’s best efforts to fund a broad range of innovative student experiences.
Portland Education Foundation is run by a volunteer board working to support the Portland Public School District by advocating for excellence in education, connecting schools and our community, and supporting students and teachers. They are committed to making these kinds of grants and continue to increase both the numbers and funding amounts of grants as the foundation grows.
If you would like to volunteer for PEF or would like more information, please visit the PEF website, www.portlandeducationfoundation.org, or email PEF at PEFgrants@gmail.com. If you would like to donate to this effort, please visit the donation page on www.portlandeducationfoundation.org to donate easily via PayPal.
The following is a brief summary of the grants funded for the 2014-15 school year:
PEF 2014-2015 Grants
1.) Wooden Finger Looms - East End Community School
This grant enabled funding to purchase wooden finger looms used to weave natural materials exploring composition with varied textures and colors present in nature. Weaving teaches about pattern, repetition, texture, contrast among other elements and principles of design. This project explores innovative techniques of environmental art utilizing materials from the environment that have finished the growing cycle or washed up on the beach.
2.) Telling Room - East End Community School
This grant will allow the three 5th grade classes to go to the Telling Room. One part of this project is that students interview family members about their culture, heritage or immigration stories. The Telling Room offers a one day field trip where students learn and practice interviewing skills. This helps prepare students to not only formulate questions, but be able to respond flexibly during the interview. These interviews are recorded & students use them to write their own piece.
3.) Bluetooth Keyboards - Hall Elementary School
Many students with IEPs need support with different aspects of writing. Some struggle with the physical act of writing, and others depend on the editing process in order to complete appropriate work, which is much easier on an iPad compared to rewriting. This grant allows the purchase of bluetooth keyboards to connect with iPads for students who struggle with writing and would benefit from technology to support them in their writing development.
4.) Maine Audubon School Collaboration - Longfellow Elementary School
This grant enables the second grade team to work with the Maine Audubon Society to enhance science curriculum and participate in one of Maine Audubon’s School Collaborations, designed to extend the benefits of their innovative environmental education models. Examples of curricula include the water cycle; weather; food webs; seasonal adaptations; life cycles and seasonal changes; plant, animal and insect identification; forest, pond, meadow and salt marsh ecosystems; and unique environmental lessons framed in the context of a broad range of subjects like social studies, math and language arts, etc.
5.) Inventors in Action - Lyseth Elementary School
This project will allow 5th grade and 2nd grade students to work together for a science unit around Simple Machines and Physical Science. Students will research together simple machines and decide which principal they would like to use to create their own invention. During the project, the students will need to use inquiry, exploration and prior knowledge, along with journaling their planning, findings, and solution to creating a working invention.
6.) Every Twig Makes a Difference - Lyseth Elementary School
Visiting artist, Nantz Comyns, will guide and work with students from Portland Arts and Technology High School and Lyseth Elementary to create four larger-than-life animal sculptures from birch-twigs. Comyns will first meet with the high school students at PATHS to teach and mentor the construction process. The next day, Comyns and some of the PATHS students will visit Lyseth Elementary and collaborate with the students there to complete the sculptures. These sculptures will be a joint venture between Portland Trails' School Grounds Greening Coalition, Lyseth's greening and grounds committee, teachers and students at PATHS and Lyseth as well as volunteers from the United Way.
7.) World Drumming Project - Ocean Avenue School
This grant funds the purchase of a world drum set of authentic high quality percussion instruments. By learning to drum in a drum circle, students will learn about rhythm, dynamics, texture, form, and timbre in music. They will also learn how to play in a music ensemble: listening, balancing, cooperation, discipline.
8.) 21st Century Library Media Center - Presumpscot Elementary School
The use of technology as a process as well as a product is critical to preparing students for high school, college and beyond. This grant enables the library to purchase new desktop computers.
9.) Living Our Presumpscot Promise - Presumpscot Elementary School
This grant allows for the creation of a classroom library which can be shared between rooms. The kindergarten class will be proud to share their books with their new fifth grade reading buddies. The books will help teach the character traits of respect and responsibility.
10.) Shadow Puppet Theater - Reiche Elementary School
This grant allows for the hire of Shoestring Theater to build a professional, portable and sturdy shadow puppet theater that students at Reiche School will be able to use for many, many years. Shoestring Theater will also come and coach classes in performing.
11.) ELL Students Have Flying Start - Reiche Elementary School
This project would purchase student books and teacher materials as well as support some field experiences to be used in the literacy and language instruction of ELL students in grades K-2. The instructional materials are from Okapi's Flying Start to Literacy program. The program pairs an engaging informational book with a non-fiction book, using the same key vocabulary, concepts and high-frequency words in both books in the pair. To further build the background knowledge of students to support deeper understanding of the guided reading texts, they will be provided with a variety of field experiences.
12.) Book it Home - Reiche Elementary School
This grant allows for the purchase of books for classroom libraries. With the guidance of teachers, students can regularly take a book home and once returned, take another. As a result, they will have access to the necessary resources to practice reading beyond the classroom.
13.) Shared Reading, Shared Success - Riverton Elementary School
Shared reading of "big books" is a critical piece of reading instruction for young readers. This grant allows for the purchase of a set of big books that are appropriate for first grade readers and will be shared across the first grade classrooms. These big books are leveled and appropriate for teaching the reading strategies students need.
14.) Getting Dirty - Riverton Elementary School
This grant funds the construction of a sand box that would benefit all children as a space where they can come to have a tranquil moment even in the upper grades. The whole school has been working on creating garden beds and using our natural spaces as learning tools.
15.) Creative Literacy: The Performance Cycle - King Middle School
This grant allows for the hire of a professional educator, teaching artist, and arts administrator who has been working in the field of creative literacy and language development for twenty years, to come to King Middle School and work intensely with forty-five English Language Learners. The ELL population in particular needs support in identity development and socio-linguistic self-awareness as they immigrate here, acculturate to a new society, and work hard not to lose their native language,traditions, beliefs, and identity. The workshop will empower them with voice and language.
16.) Energy Transfer Machine Project - King Middle School
Funding from this grant enables the purchase of technology to build and enhance Energy Transfer Machines to teach students about energy, and explain how energy changes forms as it travels through the machine.
17.) Four Freedoms - King Middle School
In the Four Freedoms expedition, students will explore concepts of freedom by first looking at Norman Rockwell’s famous paintings of the four freedoms, printed in the Saturday Evening Post in 1943. These paintings were inspired by Franklin Roosevelt’s State of the Union speech in 1941. As students examine these images and their historical context, they study the concepts and meanings of the same freedoms today through a variety of reading assignments, discussions with guest lecturers, movies and other research. Students then express their personal experiences and reflections on the ideas of freedom through a variety of writing and visual art projects, culminating with the Freedom Collages exhibition. Based on imagery gathered from a variety of contemporary media and commercial sources, the Freedom Collages are striking commentaries about how students view the nature of freedom in the world today.
18.) Urban Ecology: Underwater Robots - Lincoln Middle School
In this project, students will help build underwater robots, then use them to collect water samples and inventory aquatic life in the ponds at Baxter Woods and Evergreen Cemetery. This project develops materials for future classes, including a student-written instruction manual as well as the underwater robots themselves. It establishes a baseline to which data can be added by future classes.
19.) Digital Art - Lincoln Middle School
In completing the Digital Art Unit, students will create personal digital art works; self-portraits, mandalas, and design illustrations. All students will create their own individual pieces. The works can be printed for display and to take home.
20.) Digital Microscopy - Lincoln Middle School
This grant purchases a Bodelin Technologies ProScope (wireless digital microscope that meets scientific standards) and accessories. This microscope allows students to use iPad technology in new and innovative ways. The images, video and data from one of these microscopes can be shared in real-time with up to 253 iPads. The microscope, plus two lenses allows students to take close looks at single and multi-celled organisms, plant life, tissue, bacteria and other investigations central to the life science curriculum.
21.) Building a Classroom Library - Lincoln Middle School
This grant funds the creation of a library in a social studies classroom featuring historical fiction and informational text.This is a unique way to raise students' curiosity about books an their connection to social studies content. Reading historical fiction promotes academic equity because comparing books from one unit to the next provides kids with equal opportunities to develop historical analogies. A classroom library will help hammer home everyday details in the social studies content.
22.) Wireless pH Sensors - Lincoln Middle School
Funding will be used to purchase a class set of Vernier Wireless pH sensors that are compatible with the MLTI issued iPads. The pH sensors will be one of the water quality tools used for gathering data about Baxter Woods Pond, Evergreen Cemetery Pond, and the pond tank in the LMS Geodesic Dome. In addition to community based learning, the students will have the opportunity to use this latest technology during lab investigations to identify changes in matter. The advantage of using a wireless pH sensor is its precision of measuring pH levels compared to traditional color change paper strip or a color change indicator solution which are difficult to differentiate between close pH readings. Students will also have the opportunity to observe graphical displays of precise pH change when conducting experiments in the classroom.
23.) Inspiring Lives - Lyman Moore Middle School
This grant enables the purchase of multiple copies of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. The Common Core Standards emphasize informational text reading, research, and speaking and this project will help students work toward meeting those standards.
24.) Dissecting Into the World of Science - Lyman Moore Middle School
The seventh grade middle school curriculum includes the study of life science. This project will enable to understand the structure and function of major organs in different animal systems using the hands-on, minds-on experience of dissecting. The grant allows for the purchase of specimens for the students.
25.) Game Making in the Classroom - Lyman Moore Middle School
This project will blend the aspect of computer game making and the middle school curriculum together. Funding from this grant will create life long Gamemaker Mechanic accounts for every 6th grade student at Lyman Moore Middle School. The curriculum in computer class is to showcase how computers can enhance the students’ lives and show them the opportunities they have with an understanding of technology in their future.
26.) Engineering Community - Casco Bay High School
In this expedition student teams will apply their understanding of Motion and Energy (work) through an engineering competition. Crews will compete against each other in an engineering competition (modified Pinewood Derby). The expedition not only serves to teach and assess Physics and Math content but as a way to strengthen community for individual crews as well as the sophomore class as a whole. Crews will complete in a design competition (modified Pinewood Derby). Students will use Pinewood Derby blank car kits and design their own wheels using a 3D printer. Students will design and print three sets of wheels and evaluate the performance of their designs to choose their best option for the competition as a crew. At the conclusion of the competition local fifth grade students will come to Casco Bay to learn about Potential and Kinetic Energy and take part in a quick build design competition (roller coasters) led by the Physics students.
27.) Bottle Biology - Deering High School
The project involves students designing closed systems that include soil, water, snails, pill bugs, and plants. Plastic soda bottles are used to house the components and packing tape is used to seal them shut. Students make daily/weekly observations of their bottle and respond to specific questions about the changes they observe. A digital journal including photos and measurements is maintained by each student throughout the project.
28.) Buy Art, Feed the Hungry - Deering High School
This project will enable teachers in the art department to create a unit on advocating for social justice through the arts. Original student artwork will be matted and prints will be sold at first Friday art walks and parent/teacher conferences at DHS. The money raised by the sale of student art will be used to help feed the hungry in our city.
29.) Voices that Matter - Deering High School
This project will engage the at-risk students in Deering High School's Alternative Ed Program in a collaborative writing workshop with The Telling Room. The project titled "Voices that Matter", is intended to highlight the importance of personal narrative as a way to express oneself as a legitimate part of ones' community. The funding will pay for publishing the collective of multi-genre narratives written by students with help from The Telling Room.
30.) Spoons for Food - Deering High School
Metalsmithing & Jewelry Design students will participate in the Buy Art/Feed the Hungry fundraiser at Deering High. The fundraiser is a chance for students to create artwork that reflects on issues of poverty and hunger in the global community. Students will make individual, unique jewelry inspired by flatware forms and jewelry made from recycled flatware. The work will be made out of pewter using simple wax casting techniques. This artwork will be sold during the First Friday Art Walks in December and at a later date in the spring. All of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to local soup kitchens.
31.) Dance Theater Intensive - PATHS
This grant allows for the hire of a guest artist in theater to help develop an original dance piece that explores students’ personal stories and uses them to develop a script, dialogue, and text that would be incorporated into a performance piece. The performance piece would be a mix of dance, music, and original stories about students, their lives, their cultures, and their experiences in school culture.
32.) Puppetry for Portland - PATHS
This project will provide portable puppet theaters and seating for anyone in the Portland school system to use. The concept is to build two portable puppet theaters: one to reside in the Lyseth Art room and the other to be to be loaned out using the library sign out system. The theaters will come with twelve folding camp stools with fabric seats that will be created and painted or batiked by the Lyseth Art students.
33.) Art Van - West School
Art Van, a therapeutic art program, will work with groups of West School students in this project, making art as a way to build trust, create healthy relationships, and encourage healthy risk taking.