What can WE do?

In 2011, Rayna Dineen studied the heritage and strategies of service at India’s renowned Riverside School and Gandhi’s ashram to enrich her school’s service learning program as her Fund for Teachers Fellowship.

She believes citizenship and service can transform the lives of children. A teacher for over 30 years, both in Santa Fe and points across the U.S., Rayna knows education is more than mastering academic knowledge. It is learning to be compassionate, kind citizens and standing up for what you know is right. Principal and co-founder of Santa Fe School for the Arts & Sciences, Rayna supervises a group of students who call themselves Youth United, who courageously took on the entrenched problem of literacy and asked themselves, “What can WE do?”.

Watch as Rayna shares her vision of education with TedX audiences.

This video originally appeared on TedX’s YouTube channel.

Birmingham Teachers Want Students to Bite into Books

PBS’ Southern Education Desk
by Erica Lembo

It’s a new year at Ossie Ware Mitchell Middle School in Birmingham— and students are in for a surprise. Thanks to their teachers, they’ll get to spend an entire year learning about creatures that have taken popular culture by storm — vampires.  Through a Fund For Teachers grant, LaVerne McDonald, Phylecia Ragland and Stephen Howard traveled to England, Ireland and Scotland over the summer to visit historic sites associated with Western Literature’s vampire legends.  And they hope what they learned will inspire their students to read. Continue reading

FFT Grant Leads to Student Service Projects

Original article appears on My Ballard, accessible here.

Local students fundraise for a community service trip to the Amazon

April 13th, 2012
By: Almeera Anwar

Most students have to wait until college to study abroad, if they do at all, but a handful of Ballard students are getting the opportunity to go to the Amazon in middle school.

The program started about six years ago when Todd Bohannon, a first grade teacher in Ballard, applied for Fund for Teachers grant that enables teachers to go and have experiences they otherwise would not. The goal of the grant is to help them become better teachers. Bohannon said it was kind of a fluke that of all the places he could take students, he decided on the Amazon. “I applied to the grant during a week of where we were just stuck in snow,” said Bohannon, “And a friend from work, who had previously received the grant, told me to just pick the place that was the craziest and most out there – and I picked the Amazon!”

This trip will be the fourth time Bohannon is taking kids to the Amazon. The group is comprised of about 10 – 15 students, all middle-school-aged, and usually one of two parents join the trip as chaperons. The majority of the recruitment for the trip has been through word of mouth from kids that Bohannon previously taught and their friends. “Every time I go it’s a new experience because I get to see it through their eyes,” said Bohannon, “It’s unlike anything that they have been to, so when they arrive, a part of them just lights up, a part that doesn’t anymore. You can see them just let go of our culture and experience nature.”

Bohannon said it’s always rejuvenating to get away, and it immediately puts things in perspective for him, saying “It makes you realize how small you really are and how our problems really are not that big.”

Jen Fallon’s son, Colin, is going on the trip for the first time this year. Colin, a 7th grader at Salmon Bay, heard about the opportunity from a friend’s brother who went in 2009. Fallon said it was all Colin’s motivation and something that he really wanted for himself. Fallon is excited for her son to go because she thinks it’s important for students, especially from America, to see how the rest of the world lives. She thinks her son is most excited about how different this trip will be from anything that he knows, and that he’ll get a lot of personal growth from it.

“My husband and I are not big travelers and we’re middle class individuals, so I certainly never could have taken him to the Amazing rainforest,” said Fallon. “So it’s great for him to get a chance to go with his school. When we were kids, opportunities like this were never an option!”

Each trip is a little bit different; this year the group will be spending longer in the jungle than ever before doing a much larger community service project. Bohannon thinks the students will get a lot more out of this because it will allow them to interact longer with the local community and to hear their stories.

The group is still fundraising for their trip this year and will be at the Ballard Sunday Markets in April and May, when they can, selling Equal Exchange coffee and chocolate.

City Teachers Travel the World, Bring Back New Lessons for Their Students

WNYC.org

Students aren’t the only ones looking forward to summer adventures. Dozens of city teachers are heading abroad on travel grants, and hoping to bring their experiences back to the classroom in the fall.

Kate Philpott-Jensen is one of 48 New York City school teachers to receive travel grants from the donor-supported group Fund for Teachers. She was awarded $5,000 for her proposal to travel to American Indian reservations in the Northwestern United States.

Philpott-Jensen teaches U.S. history and government at East Side Community High School. She said her students come from diverse backgrounds. “Within U.S. history, they’re really interested in, and sort of find that issues of race and identity really gripping, really personally relevant,” she said. “I wanted to bring the narratives of Native American Indians into that.”

She’ll spend three weeks conducting interviews to explore issues of sovereignty and government – specifically, how government relates to the governed. She said she noticed that the history of American Indians post-1800s was lacking in the current curriculum, and will use her research this summer to gather primary sources and develop new lessons for her students.

Left: Kate Philpott-Jensen, who teaches U.S. history and government at East Side Community High School, is traveling to several American Indian reservations on a $5,000 grant. Right: Kendra Din

Philpott-Jensen wants the information to foster lively discussion and raise new questions in the classroom, and said she hopes to have her students work on developing and defending their own policy proposals based on their studies.

Other fellows of this year’s Fund for Teachers program expressed similar hopes. Kendra Din (photo top left) teaches math and physics at the Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem. She won a $7,500 grant from the group, to study relationships between mathematics, art and architecture in Turkey and Iran.

“When you travel, you learn so much more than just learning something straight out of a textbook, and that sounds so awkward for a teacher to say, but it’s absolutely true and that’s why I wanted my students to apply for their passports,” she said. She, too, teaches a diverse group of students, and said her school has a growing Muslim population. Part of her goal is to foster more tolerance and understanding of different cultures and religions.

For her project, Din intends to visiting mosques, buildings, bridges, and other sites to study Arabesque art and mathematics. She hopes her findings will make a particular unit of algebra a little bit more engaging for her students next year. “This particular art form is created with a lot of math, specifically the conic sections unit of Algebra II,” she said.

Din will bring pictures and videos back to school next fall, to give her students a first hand look so they’ll be better able to detect the art forms and the mathematics behind them. She would also like to have them create their own artwork using those principles.

Travel projects from this year’s New York City fellows vary greatly, from studies of local Peruvian music, formulated by Jessica Chase and Daniel Nohejl of the Bronx Guild, to observations of India’s caste system, as proposed by Katie O’Hara, of the Bronx Leadership Academy II.

Fund for Teachers has been awarding grants to teachers nationwide for nearly a decade. This year, the group says it granted $1.7 million dollars to a total of 430 teachers across America.

A Piece of Pi

While math enthusiasts around the world celebrate Pi Day on 3.14 (or March 14), a select group of Fund for Teachers Fellows celebrate math year-round as our Pi Society Fellows. Founded by Apache Corporation Chairman and CEO Steve Farris, the Pi Society incentivizes teachers to design and pursue math-related fellowships that will directly impact students’ knowledge of concepts vital for corporate leadership. In its first two years, the Pi Society is already fueling meaningful work by its Fellows and their students.

Left: Merit sits at the entrance of Pythagoras’ cave classroom on his 2009 fellowship. Right: Bob with his guitar made under the instruction of master craftsman George Riszanyi.

Living in an isolated rural area, Merit Bean’s students at Mt. Abram High School in Salem Township, ME, are amazed when he begins the year’s math curriculum with a slideshow of his 2009 FFT fellowship to Greece. He introduces the Pythagorean Theory by showing students photos of his hike to Pythagoras’ cave classroom on the island of Samos. He teaches geometrical proportions using photos of Grecian buildings exhibiting the Gold Rectangle premise.

“Using my photographs-ranging from the Parthenon to a shepherd’s hut on the side of an isolated hillside on Tinos- my students calculate proportions in class and then disperse into the community to gather examples of the Golden Rectangle. In January, they returned to class with photos of the geometrical principal at work in libraries, court houses and homes. One of my favorites was a picture of an outhouse that was a perfect fit based on its proportions! The students came away with a deeper understanding of how our isolated, rural community was influenced by Ancient Greece and the ways our cultures are more connected than we realize.”

Bob Dunn’s students at North County Union High School in Newport, VT, experiment with physics under the guise of rock and roll. Last summer, Dunn enrolled in a workshop in Nova Scotia on his FFT fellowship and learned how to make musical instruments while employing mathematical concepts. Under the direction of craftsmen who have built guitars for Keith Richards and James Taylor, Dunn developed skills (and instruments) that served him in creating a math class, “Making Musical Instruments.” In designing and building their own instruments, students considered amplitude and sound wavelength, and selected woods based on their research. A colleague of Dunn’s also created a math unit which focused on calculating the placement of dulcimer frets based on string length. In February, before an audience of parents, faculty and peers, students shared their scientific findings and musical skills on their own hand-crafted dulcimers.

Bob’s student adds clamps to his hand-made dulcimer.

Additional Pi Society Fellows include: Mike Beebe, Littleton, NC, who visited renewable energy technology centers across America to observe, research, and develop a standards-aligned project-based Algebra II curriculum; Padma Rayalla, Atlanta, GA, who observed mathematical teaching and assessment strategies in Bangalore and Hyderbad, India, to implement with International Baccalaureate students; Rebecca Brink, Necedah, WI, who attended the conference History and Epistemology in Math Education in Vienna, Austria, followed by an exploration into the lives of early mathematicians in Athens, Greece, to incorporate the history of mathematics and culture into current curriculum; and Richard Saxer, York, NE, who observed geometry’s relevance and application in prehistoric sites, architectural designs and art displays throughout England and Ireland.

If you are interested in supporting teachers’ and students’ pursuit of inspired mathematical learning, please invest in a piece of the Pi Society by contacting us at info@fundforteachers.org.

Grant Brings World Of Harry Potter To Tony Goetz Students

movies-music-games.com

Cheri Fite is bringing the world of Harry Potter into her classroom at Tony Goetz Elementary School.

Fite, resource room teacher, applied for a grant from Fund for Teachers that allows her to bring the magic of Harry Potter into her classroom.

“When we come back in January we’ll start reading ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,’” Fite said. “When we read certain parts I’ll bring out photos to show them where the scene is in real life.”

Fite can do that because the Fund for Teachers grant helped her travel to England over the summer – where she went in search of Harry Potter armed with a list of questions from her students.

“I found everything and more,” Fite said. “That’s what they want you to do – experience other cultures so you can share that with your kids.”

Fite said her students were full of questions about Big Ben, bobbies and palace guards.

They wanted to see Platform 9 and 3/4, Hogwarts and Diagon Alley too.

“In the dining hall, I got goosebumps when I walked in there,” Fite said, showing a photograph of the room in Hogwarts where the magic begins. “It was so cool.”

She found Platform 9 and 3/4 in the train station where Harry Potter and friends disappear into a brick column to board the train for Hogwarts.

She took lots of pictures everywhere she went.

Fite hasn’t shown her students everything she brought back – yet.

She wants to pull out some surprises while they read the book.

Blayne Allen, 11, said the Harry Potter lesson plans are “awesome.”

“I’ve seen all of the movies and read the seventh book,” Blayne said. “I can’t wait to see the pictures when we’re reading. I can picture the scenes in my head, but not a strong picture.”

Fite put Harry Potter costumes out for her students to explore Friday morning.

The kids of all ages tried everything on, waved wands at one another and said, “Levioso!” and “Abracadabra!”

Each student compared him or herself to a character from the book and talked about scenes they liked from the movie.

All of the activities the students have done so far are preparing them for reading the first book in the series.

Fite’s lesson plans while the class reads include students dressing up and acting out scenes, mailing letters by “owl” and putting on the “sorting hat” and finding out which “house” they’re in.

Russell Bingham, 12, is a redhead – naturally everyone thought he’d make a good Ron character. But Russell said he’d rather play Malfoy, Harry Potter’s nefarious classmate.

Regardless, Bingham can’t wait to start reading the first book.

“I’m looking forward to it because I know the books are better than the movies,” he said.

“Switched on Physics”: FFT Fellow and Students Build Robot

Kristi Nix
The Journal of Pearland

Dawson High School’s Switched-On Physics program offers students creative new ways to learn about science. It’s a unique approach designed to allow students to explore and discover new ideas in the classroom.

Some say the program’s success is driven by the enthusiasm and down to earth approach of physics teacher Alexander Graham. It seems his love of learning and physics is contagious.

“Mr. Graham told me the program wasn’t too heavy on the science side of things and I wasn’t much of a science person,” Dawson High School student Jason Ko said. “But, the project turned out to be a real world application in physics. It was really fun. I had a good time.”

Last year Graham applied to Fund for Teachers and won a $5,000 grant. He used the funds to travel to the Philippines to study the Las Pinas bamboo pipe organ. It was an experience that inspired him to tackle new classroom projects such as an alternative energy-driven digital pipe organ and a student driven robotics project.

The robotics assignment offered his students a lesson in physics and computer software engineering, as well as a lesson in creative ingenuity.

Last week, his students held a demonstration of their new robot (ALFRED). The life size machine was mounted on wheels; its motion was controlled by a computer engineered and installed by the students. During the demonstration, the robot roamed the classroom. It then rolled out into the halls of the school, only occasionally crashing into the lockers.

Students also demonstrated the robot’s ability to speak. Future modifications are in the works to program the robot to speak more than one language, students said.

About Funds for Teachers:

Each year, Fund for Teachers awards grants to individual educators across the county to fund a unique, once in a lifetime professional development experience.

Fund for Teachers gives fellowships for self-designed professional growth to PreK-12 teachers who understand the value of learning and their ability as educators to make a difference.

“We recognize that the teacher is the decisive factor in students’ learning,” said Karen Kovach Webb, Fund for Teachers’ Executive Director. “We are deeply committed to the growth of teachers through strategic investments in their own areas of personal and professional interest. We’ve seen firsthand the impact Fund for Teachers fellowships have as a transformative resource for teaching and learning.”

Since 2001, 4,000 teachers have been awarded $14.2 million in Fund for Teachers grants-up to $5,000 for individuals, or $10,000 for teams. Fund for Teachers fellowships have taken place in 113 countries on every continent, empowering teachers to explore countless ideas, terrains, and cultures.

For more information about Fund for Teachers, visit www.fundforteachers.org

Web Cam Brings India To Beggs Elementary School

Rick Wells
The News On 6

BEGGS, OK – A group of Beggs third graders talked to people on the other side of the world Wednesday morning. The teachers used something the kids love – computers – to teach them about and take them to a place they’ve never been.

“Why do the women wear red dots on their forehead, and what does that mean?” asked Payden Bradshaw.

Payden Bradshaw is a Beggs third grader. She’s participating in a video conference with some new friends in India. The kids have been studying the continents and had some questions they wanted answered.

They want to learn by doing and seeing, they don’t want to just read about it,” said Sherrie Guthrie, third-grade teacher.

Sherrie Guthrie is one of the third-grade teachers, and her brother is working in India right now. So they used the Internet and a webcam to hold a video conference to ask and get answers to their questions.

Emma asked about the weather.

“How is the weather today and can you tell us about monsoon season?” she asked.

Seventy-six degrees, they said, and monsoon season runs through the summer months. They could have read that, but how much more fun this way.

But in this time of shrinking budgets where’d they get a web cam?

Cindy Swearingen, the Beggs Public Schools Superintendent, told us the teachers are very active grant writers finding money outside the budget to support programs they think they need.

“How can I take these kids out to a place they’ve never been to expand their horizons,” said first-grade teacher Darla Six of her goals.

She helped write the grant that got the webcam and some training on how to use it – to go places like India to get questions answered like about those red dots on some Hindu women’s foreheads.

Payden Bradshaw now knows the answer.

“They wear it when they are married,” she said.

In Beggs you will find creative teachers using technology to help educate their students despite tight budgets.

Sherrie Guthrie’s brother Roy Kulp will be in Japan in a few weeks, so they plan another web cam hookup with him and some of his colleagues there, to learn more about that country.