Local teacher ‘turns off’ lights so that South Africans can ‘turn on’ theirs

Local teacher ‘turns off’ lights so that South Africans can ‘turn on’ theirs

Original article appears on Citizen Standard, accessible here.

Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2015

By REBECCA ZEMENCIK
Managing Editor

VALLEY VIEW – Tri-Valley High school teacher Pam Ulicny has teamed up with a solar energy entrepreneur to develop a financially feasible way for South Africans in poverty to afford clean, safe solar power as a substitute for conventionally used kerosene lanterns.

During a trip to South Africa in 2011 (courtesy of the Toyota International Teacher Program), ‘Mrs. U.’ as she is referred to by her high school students, was lucky enough to have the trip of a lifetime. It was during that trip that her life was forever changed.

To continue reading about Mrs. U and her fellowship, click here.

Improvements Beyond Test Scores

In the summer of 2012, Stacey Callaway and Erin Lloyd, attended the Boothbay Literacy Retreat in Boothbay Harbor, ME, to learn strategies for engaging a “generation of nervous writers” and turning classrooms into highly literate reading and writing workshops, as Fund for Teachers grant recipients.

Today’s Teacher Column in the Midland Reporter-Telegram, written by Stacey (and inspired by Erin), echoes the voices of many Fund for Teachers Fellows and the pitfalls in standardized testing.

“…students are much more than just the product of their scores.”

To read the article, visit the Midland Reporter-Telegram website.

Teachers’ journey to Middle East brings powerful lessons to classrooms

Teachers’ journey to Middle East brings powerful lessons to Kansas City classrooms

Original article appears on The Kansas City Star, accessible here.

Posted: Monday, January 5, 2015

By JOE ROBERTSON

By the time they were standing on a Palestinian rooftop in the West Bank, the plans of the three Kansas City teachers had long fled them.

Under a searing sky, they absorbed the sights of patched bullet holes in the water tanks beside them, the razor wire separating the Israeli settlements below, the chilling sniper towers.

They had given up hope of carefully chronicling each day’s journey.

They weren’t settling in at nights the way they had imagined to review the lesson ideas they would be taking home to their students at Alta Vista Charter High School.

This stark view over the city of Hebron was just another backdrop to people they had met — Israeli and Palestinian — whose stories one after the other had burst the teachers’ intellectual and emotional tanks.

“There was so much intensity,” language arts teacher Jay Pitts-Zevin said. “We ran out of bandwidth. How could we capture someone’s story and do justice to it?”

It was all they could do, in exhaustion, to write down as much as possible from their journey lasting a little over a week and bring it home.

To continue reading, click here.

Focus on Teachers: Brooklyn teacher talks about shift to personalized learning

Focus on Teachers: Brooklyn teacher Aaron Kaswell talks about his shift to personalized learning

Original article appears on Impatient Optimists, accessible here.

Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2014

By VICKI PHILLIPS

When I was at the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) conference last month, I was able to catch up with math teacher Aaron Kaswell from MS 88 Peter Rouget School in Brooklyn, NY.

A year ago, we highlighted Aaron’s and his school’s implementation of New Classroom’s School of One, a blended learning approach that uses daily assessments to customize the next day’s instruction using multiple strategies, including individual online learning, workshops with teachers and problem solving tasks with peers.

At the time, Aaron was a few months into his second year of School of One.  He was eager and pleased to be moving beyond logistical questions of implementation to focusing on ways to use School of One to engage and challenge students at higher levels.

I was interested to hear from Aaron what he had learned from this past year and where he sees School of One heading for his students and co-teachers.

To continue reading, click here.

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.