Oklahoma Fellows Tour German Auto Plants

by Silas Allen
The Stillwater News Press

STILLWATER, Okla. — As a part of a program designed to help teachers bring the world into their classrooms, two automotive instructors at Meridian Technology Center took a trip over the summer to the birthplace of the automobile.

David Shields and Shelly Smith went to Germany recently to tour auto manufacturing facilities there. The trip was funded by a grant from Fund for Teachers, a program designed to enrich K-12 education.

The two instructors toured auto manufacturing facilities in Stuttgart and Munich. During the trip, they toured plants owned by BMW, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

One of the more interesting aspects of the trip, Shields said, was seeing the differences in the attitudes toward cars between Germany and the United States. While the Germans take as much pride in their cars as Americans, their driving habits are different, particularly in urban areas, he said.

When Germans commute into a major city, rather than driving to their place of work, they’ll typically park in a commuter lot on the outskirts of the city and take a train into the city, Shields said.

That style of commuting is possible, Smith said, because light rail systems in major urban areas like Stuttgart and Munich are so comprehensive. Unlike urban areas in middle America like Dallas and Kansas City, urban areas in Germany are designed to allow commuters to get anywhere in the city limits without the use of a car.

“If you knew what train to take, you could get there,” Smith said.

Each of the factories Shields and Smith toured included a museum chronicling the history of the company. Those museums included details on how existing technology came to be, Shields said.

For example, he said, the Mercedes-Benz museum has a display that includes the world’s first automobile, the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. Being in the same room as that kind of history was a great experience, Shields said.

The museum did a good job of explaining how engineers had produced the car simply by trying their options, finding out what didn’t work and learning from their mistakes, he added; one of the exhibits in the museum lists ideas that ultimately failed, but allowed the engineers eventually to build a working product.

“It was just trial and error,” he said.

Smith said he was also impressed with the so-called fit and finish, or alignment, spacing and security of the car’s components. By today’s standards, he said, it might not be impressive, but considering the engineers were working with a brand-new product and using 19th-century technology, the car was remarkably well assembled.

Although they recently returned from the trip, Shields and Smith said they’re already working to incorporate lessons they learned in Germany into their courses. The two took about 1,200 photos during the trip, and they said they hope to be able to use them to show students what the inside of a German auto manufacturing plant looks like.

Another idea they hope to incorporate into their classes is the use of virtual tours. Many German auto factories offer online virtual tours of their facilities, as do several factories in the United States and Japan. Those tours could allow the students to compare an American auto plant — for instance, the Ford F-150 plant in Dearborn, Mich. — with one in Europe to see what methods are different and what are similar.

As important as it is to show students the inner workings of German factories, it’s also important to give them an idea of the culture surrounding the German auto industry, Shields said. To that end, he said, the two instructors won’t simply be giving students an overview of auto factories, but they’ll also be discussing German culture and geography.

From Umbria to Ulaanbaatar

Many thanks to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) for featuring Fund for Teachers in their latest edition of Education Update. Read here about three Fellows who shared their “experiences of transformative personal and professional growth achieve through exciting, death-defying, and enlightening adventures” for the article.

“Disability is not inability. Give me a chance to prove it.”

Fund for Teachers Fellows Danielle Merdin and Terri Wellner traveled to Kenya to establish a Virtual Information Project partnership with classes at Nairobi’s Kilimani Public School, an inclusive school for students with disabilities, similar to their school in Boston. Watch their touching documentary here.

Students honor McAuliffe legacy with science fair

Sarah Thomas
The Boston Globe

FRAMINGHAM – A quarter century after high school teacher Christa McAuliffe died on the space shuttle Challenger, a new generation of students honored the teacher’s legacy Thursday evening with a science fair held at her alma mater, Framingham State University.

“More than anything else, Christa was about teaching,” said Mary Liscombe, executive director of the Christa McAuliffe Center for Education and Teaching Excellence, which is based on the campus. “Her story reinforces the message that anyone can live their dreams, and that message endures through teachers who inspire their students to learn.”

Training for the Challenger flight included some lighter moments for Framingham State grad Christa McAuliffe (left), chosen as the first teacher in space, and her backup, Barbara Morgan. (Nasa via Associated Press/File 1986)

The fair, which showcased the work of McAuliffe Regional Charter Public Middle School’s eighth-grade students, was the capstone of the center’s memorial for McAuliffe and the six other crew members who died on Jan. 28, 1986.

Hundreds of people crowded into the McCarthy Center Forum at Framingham State for the evening’s events, which included short speeches by Liscombe and state Senator Karen Spilka.

“This is a bittersweet celebration,” Spilka said. “Christa is an inspiration to us all, and it’s great to see such a packed room. My thanks to all the students that participated. You are our future.”

Grace Corrigan, McAuliffe’s mother, was scheduled to appear, but was unable to attend.

The fair was conceived by Dan Anderson, McAuliffe Regional’s eighth-grade science teacher. Despite his school being named after such a famous crew member of the Challenger, Anderson said that until last year, he didn’t know much about space.

“It wasn’t on our curriculum. We focused on cells and genetics, and that’s where my passion really was,” Anderson said. “I didn’t have as much genuine excitement for space science, and I think my students could tell that.”

Luckily, Anderson had a solution: space camp. With the help of McAuliffe Regional’s director, Kristin Harrison, Anderson applied for a grant from the Fund for Teachers to spend a week at the Space Academy for Educators in Huntsville, Ala.

“Part of the grant was bringing some part of my experience back, and this fair was the way we decided to do it,” Anderson said. “We have learned so much. The students at our school learn experientially, and they have interviewed space scientists from all over the world. I love space now!”

One student, Matthew Yaeger, wore a regulation NASA space suit to present his research on propulsion in space, and said he has wanted to be an astronaut since the second grade.

“It was a great project,” said Yaeger, who collaborated with his friend Jacob Komissar. “We went to Worcester Polytechnic and talked to a lot of scientists. It was kind of cool, because I had all these ideas of how propelling space ships could work, and then I found out NASA had been thinking of the same things.”

Another student, Caroline Boldt, said she didn’t have much of an interest in space before she started her project on Pluto with her friend Shannon Pruyn.

“My favorite subject is biology, but when I grow up I want to do something in the arts,” Boldt said. “Now I think I’ll have to do pictures of space in my art.”

The evening’s events also included archival displays from the Christa McAuliffe collections, and performances at the Challenger Learning Center planetarium.

The students who participated in the fair put themselves in contention for a grand prize trip to space camp in the summer by writing short essays about what the project taught them.

Sarah Thomas can be reached at sarah.m.thomas@gmail.com.

© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.

NHS teacher serves dual role as documentary filmmaker

Aaron Wright Gray
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN – Judith Blake haphazardly discovered her passion for film. It started with a membership in a food co-op. She wanted to publicize the benefits of being a member and thought that video might be a good medium.

To gain the skills needed to produce the video, she took classes at Norman Cable, where she learned movie-making basics and discovered her knack for producing films. She continued her education by taking classes at Rose State College.

“So, then, I started producing all over the place,” Blake said.

She began with the community access channel, but soon extended her passion into Norman, filming “The River Crossing 1889-1989,” her first documentary, narrated by James Garner, in honor of the Norman Centennial.

Following this documentary, Blake made several more before deciding she wanted to share her love of film with others through teaching. She got her certificate and began teaching speech, drama and yearbook at Alcott Middle School in 1997.

In 2002, she reached her goal of teaching television production at Norman High School. Blake serves as adviser to the student program “Tiger Den,” as well.

But teaching didn’t hold Blake back from producing her own work. As part of a Hitachi teacher exchange program, Blake created the film “A Mosaic of Japan,” which won a Marshall Gregory Award from the Oklahoma Education Association.

In the summer of 2009, she received a $5,000 grant from Fund for Teachers to travel to Cape Town, South Africa, to film a documentary focusing on four different schools in the city.

Blake said the question she wanted the film to answer was, “What do our high school kids look like compared to Cape Town, South Africa?”

The work is titled “Ubuntu, Sharing Voices from Cape Town, South Africa.” It is currently in the final stages of completion.

Parts of this documentary will be shown at the Cinematic Artists of Norman meeting 6 p.m. Wednesday at Norman High School Fine Arts Building.

During, “An Evening with Judith Blake,” Blake will address the group of local filmmakers and film affiliates about her film career. The first CAN meeting for the public is free.

When it comes to maintaining a balance between teaching and producing her own work, Blake said they go hand-in-hand.

“I think it makes me a better teacher,” Blake said, noting that producing her own work puts her in the shoes of the students. She faces trials, such as learning new equipment, experimenting with various styles and having film plans suddenly change.

Experience, Blake said, translates into the classroom.

“You have to stay a step ahead. And the best way to learn anything is to do it,” she said.

Fund for Teachers Helps Teachers Travel the World

Grantwrangler.com

What will you do this summer? A learning odyssey may be just the journey you need to rejuvenate and energize your teaching. Funds for Teachers, a national, donor-supported grant giver, honors the professionalism of dedicated teachers with a unique fellowship program to help teachers travel the world. They fund life-long learning opportunities for teachers to transform learning for their students.

Design Your Own Journey
Our Fellows use $5,000 individual grants or $10,000 team grants to explore ideas, terrains and cultures on all 7 continents,” said Stephanie Ascherl, Supervisor, External Relations. “Each Fund for Teachers fellowship application is as unique as the teacher who designed it.

Beth Mowry, a 2010 Fellow, pursued her interest in paleontology by joining a dinosaur dig in Wyoming. The staff paleontologist offered to send her home with 150+ million year old dinosaur bones for her students to study. Not only did the fellowship transform Mowry’s classroom, she presented her work at a poster session at the annual meeting of the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology.

“My Fund for Teachers grant changed my life,” Mowry writes. “I’m a do-er and a teacher…I’m networking and currently have a list of at least 20 paleontologists from around the WORLD who are willing to support our kids.”

10 Years of Supporting Teachers
Over the past decade, Funds for Teachers has invested more than $14 million in 4,000 preK-12 educations, creating a rich pool of project ideas. The teacher project online search tool allows you to search by keyword, subject area, year or location to get ideas and connect with local Fellows.

Not only do teachers pursue an individual odyssey, they become part of a larger network. An online forum at Fund for Teachers encourages Fellows to share experiences, curriculum ideas, travel tips and thoughts about fellowships.

Winning Applications
Eligible teachers in 18 program locations around the country apply online to be a fellow for the upcoming summer. (Check for eligibility.) Applicants are asked to describe the object of their odyssey and reflect on how the proposed experience will make a difference for them as teachers, for their students, and for their community.

Applications are judged by a regional selection committee made up of past grant winners, community members, local district or school administrators, and donors. Using a scoring rubric, judges evaluate applications to find the programs that will have the greatest impact on participating teachers, their students, and their communities. (View the scoring rubric.) Fund for Teachers receives about 1,500 applications each year and awards an average of 20% of those applicants.

“Turning away teachers who are actively seeking ways to improve their practice is the most challenging aspect of our work,” said Ascherl. “While we can’t accept applications from every teacher, the projects we are able to fund make an enormous difference in our Fellow’s teaching and in their students learning.”

Resources
Fund for Teachers grant application are due at the end of January for the following summer. Applications for summer 2011 are due Friday, January 28th.

Start your application today: www.fundforteachers.org

o find more summer grants, go to Grant Wrangler Search and select Professional Development in the category drop-down.

An Interview with Karen Kovach Webb: Fund for Teachers

Michael F. Shaughnessy
Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, New Mexico

Fund for Teachers has an important contribution to make toward an expanded notion of what constitutes teacher’s professional development.

Karen, what exactly is this FUND FOR TEACHERS and where does this money come from?

Fund for Teachers has an important contribution to make toward an expanded notion of what constitutes teacher’s professional development. Quality, depth and authentic work with purposeful processes, skills and craftsmanship that will directly impart student learning as proposed by an individual or a team of teachers is what we aspire to fund with each of our grants. We are a donor supported public not-for-profit set up to fund the continuing, self-designed professional development and scholarly exploration of teachers. Research shows that teacher effectiveness is one of the most important factors for student achievement.

Founded ten years ago by Raymond Plank in an effort to change the learning experiences of American students; Fund for Teachers received seminal funding, along with early introductions to energy sector peers, from Apache Corporation. We continue to grow and diversify our outreach in alignment with an ever expanding donor base of individuals and corporations and an increasing number of strategic partnerships forged with a geographically diverse group of local education foundations.

Tell us about the application procedures- how many sheets of paper have to be filled out and can this be done on line?

Applications and the scoring rubric are available online, October 1st, through the January 28th deadline. Applicants fill out two online forms, and the proposal, which is comprised of seven sections. Proposals cannot exceed 18,000 characters (around 4 typed pages). The Fund for Teachers application is incredibly user friendly, and we take pride in our simple, but effective proposal requirements. Many grants seem overwhelming, strictly because of the application process. In addition to FAQ’s and very specific instructional information; the applicants may also participate in frequent webinars or attend local information sessions in person. Fund for Teachers has removed the “hoops” that so often prohibit teachers from applying.

Is this only for teachers or can guidance counselors, and computer support people also apply?

Our grants are available to PreK-12th grade “teachers” who have three years teaching experience and spend at least 50% of their fulltime position in a classroom or classroom like setting. Librarians, counselors and technology specialists who engage in classroom instruction with students for half of their work week are eligible.

Do you encourage national investigation or international?

We encourage teachers to make that decision for themselves. Some of the best work can take place in a teachers own “back yard”—if that is where they determine their questions can be answered. What makes Fund for Teachers so special, is the belief in a teacher’s knowledge and choice of what learning experience will be the best for their personal and professional growth AND what will translate into the most beneficial experience for their students and communities.

Could you just give us a few sample projects to whet the interest of teachers out there?

Fund for Teachers Fellowships are as unique as the teachers who design them. Here are a few:

  • Travel to England to explore the world of Harry Potter to bring literature to life in the classroom.
  • Study and chronicle early Roman architecture in order to enhance and enliven the teaching of mathematics through visual imagery.
  • Paddle a sea kayak the entire length of the Lower Mississippi River to conduct scientific research and develop a river ecology unit.
  • Follow the path of Georgia O’Keeffe across TX and NM looking at art, petro glyphs and pictographs, and attending a workshop at Ghost Ranch and International Folk Art Market.

Let’s face it- we would all like a vacation in Iceland, I mean Hawaii- but what are you looking for in terms of these grants?

Successful Fund for Teachers’ Fellowship proposals show evidence for the possibilities of both personal and professional growth for the teacher scholar, as well as project the potential impacts on their students’ learning. The rigor of the application is complimented by the rigor of the scoring rubric. The step by step on-line process allows the teacher to review both sets of criteria prior to making application.

How many people read and review these grants?

Applications are reviewed by committee assembled in each program locale of diverse group of community members. Each application is independently read and scored by a cluster of at least three individuals. Final scoring is determined by “cluster” group discussion. Last year, there were nearly 200 readers nationally. The same scoring rubric and selection process is used across the country. Funding is a collaborative decision based solely on the merit of the proposal as evaluated by the local cluster and the funds available. Committee members include past grant winners, donors, school or district leaders, and community volunteers.

Do you have a web site where teachers can get more information?

Teachers and all other interested parties are invited to visit www.fundforteachers.org.. Information may also be obtained by calling 800 681-2667 or by email to info@fundforteachers.org.

And what do you have for college professors to expand their horizons?

Fund for Teachers’ grants are designed specifically for PreK-12th grade teachers.

Young Entrepreneurs Learn Their Craft at English

The high school’s Entrepreneurship Class hosted a community-wide Holiday Bazaar.

Wagner Ríos
Jamaicaplain.patch.com

On Thursday, 22 English High Entrepreneurship Class students tested their newly-acquired business acumen by offering a variety of items for sale at the high school.

There was a festive atmosphere with dozens of youths — either Entrepreneurship Class participants or organizers and helpers — exhibiting a variety of items in colorful displays, and encouraging the public to make their holiday purchases. Class participants where distinguishable by their business attire.

Program organizers Meredith Innis and Wendy Lai lived and studied micro entrepreneurship (business initiatives funded with very small amounts of capital) in the Dominican Republic as 2010 Fund for Teachers Fellows.

The Fund for Teachers provides resources for educators to investigate their own areas of inquiry and then share their research and discoveries with their students. Both English High Entrepreneurship Class founders are now applying their learning to help students explore business opportunities.

Shortly after 10:00 am customers begun trickling in.

Lai explained that “A group of 22 students received a $50 loan each from the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, and after a careful market analysis purchased season items such as warm cloths, sports memorabilia, jewelry, gadgets popular with high school students like phone chargers, etc. The goal is to make a profit from the sale of the merchandise, part of which will be invested in micro entrepreneurship programs in developing countries.”

“I enrolled in the program” said student Armando Cruz, “to explore career choices: to decide whether I want to go into business by myself or into management; to look into different possibilities.”

The program provides a combination of classroom instruction and real world experience. The class studied business principles during the fall, and then traveled to New York City’s Garment District to purchase the items that were for sale at the bazaar.

The Entrepreneurship Class runs a store at English High where students and faculty may purchase refreshments and other convenient items. The outlet provides students with hands-on experience in the basics of running a business.

The public had an opportunity to see future business leaders of Jamaica Plain and other areas of Boston in action, displaying their recently learned business skills and polished professionalism.

View more photos.