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2011 cohort of grantees

Nieves Corrales

Spanish, Centennial Place Elementary School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Theatre and Folklore in Spain

The main goal of this project was to implement an approach to language teaching called Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). One of the components of CLT is Theater Arts, which was the focus for ‘Theatre and Folklore in Spain’. Having already implemented this approach, Mrs. Corrales assessed its impact in student achievement and self-esteem through the performance of different plays. The result: students’ motivation for learning the language increased when they expressed themselves through another character, while learning literature, geography, and different ways of acting. They also became less intimidated to speak in public, were able to immerse in dialogues, increased their proficiency levels (speaking, reading, writing and listening), and enjoyed learning.


‘Theatre and Folklore in Spain’ expanded Ms. Corrales successful approach to education and allowed students and families the opportunity to learn authentic Literature and traditions from different Spanish speaking countries.

Nieves Corrales

Ed Chang

Principal, KIPP STRIVE Academy

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Civil Rights Sojourn

Upon opening in 2009, KIPP STRIVE Academy seized upon the amazing opportunity of their location in the West End of Atlanta and developed a social studies curriculum that focused on the struggle for Civil Rights. KIPP STRIVE Academy believes deeply in teaching its students about the Civil Rights Movement, and also immersing them in the history and accomplishments of the Movement by bringing them to the place where history was made. The ‘Civil Rights Sojourn’ was a four-year program that brought the school’s students to sites throughout the South where ordinary people did extraordinary things to change the course of history.


‘Civil Rights Sojourn’ took KIPP STRIVE’s 5th graders to Birmingham to see the 16th Street Baptist Girls, where four little girls were killed by hate crimes. These students were able to talk to the families that were devastated by the bombing. The scholars also visited the Civil Rights Institute that captured the moments of victory and defeat, all while walking the same street where children turned the tide of the Movement in 1963. 6th graders visited Selma and 7th graders explored Montgomery.

Ed Chang

Naja Freeman

6th & 7th Grade English and Language Arts, Bunche Middle School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Anti-Bullying Awareness Campaign

Bullying has reached epidemic levels in American schools and communities. Two of the reoccurring themes that continue to surface in discussions and media presentations are ‘lack of awareness’ and ‘lack of sensitivity to toward the issue’. For the ‘Anti-Bullying Awareness Campaign’, students collected real data about bullying in their own neighborhoods, engaged in promoting awareness and seeking social justice, and collaborated with other community members in performing community service that had a positive impact on students at the school.


Through project-based and service learning, students increased their skills in writing and boosted their self-esteem. This project gave the students outside-the classroom experiences that enabled them to see themselves as change agents. It also helped them feel better about themselves by giving them the opportunity to be recognized for doing something good. After project implementation, Students at Bunche Middle School acknowledged that bullying was a and also expressed that they felt confident in their ability to affect positive change.

Naja Freeman

Kenny kraus

Kindergarten, Sarah Smith Elementary School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Technological Literacy: Crossing the Digital Divide

The use of technology in the classroom has been identified as a priority by the U.S. Department of Education. ‘Technological Literacy: Crossing the Digital Divide’ addressed this priority by providing students with iPads and motivating them to use them in a thoughtful, deliberate manners all while increasing student engagement, motivation, and persistence. The following are examples of how the iPads were used: students and parents posted/replied on the class blog; Skype sessions with a Kindergarten class in Fulton County and with a class in another state; creation of weekly class newsletters; class project for the Georgia Media Festival; class podcasts of sight word songs and class songs to post to the class web page; artifacts for student portfolio.


The goal of this project was to use technology as a tool to engage, motivate, empower, and meet the needs of all learners. As a result of project implementation, students were able to produce a portfolio of work that gave a complete picture of their academic gain, students were able to communicate with peers and parents throughout the school and community in new ways, and students assumed greater control of their learning and experienced greater feelings of self-efficacy and comfort with using technology.

Kenny Kraus

Brian mitchell

Principal, Mary Lin Elementary School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Promethean Board

The purpose of this project was to purchase a Promethean Board (an interactive piece of technology that supports student learning) in a second grade classroom at Mary Lin Elementary. Research indicates that integrating Promethean technology into instruction increases student achievement, and Mary Lin’s goal was to use Promethean technology to increase student achievement for all of its students, including the Special Education classrooms.


Because Mary Lin was unable to equip each classroom with a board without the assistance of additional funding, the school relied on the Mary Lin Foundation and grant opportunities to purchase these resources. Integrating technology provides a teacher with opportunities to create challenging, interactive and meaningful learning tasks for students. These tasks, that are responsive to each learner, are the undergirding of Mary Lin’s high student achievement. Thanks to The Atlanta Families’ Awards, Mary Lin Elementary school now has a Promethean Board in its second grade math classroom!

Brian Mitchell

Alicia pagan

1st Grade, Drew Charter School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: First Grade Bookstore

One of the most important things a first grader learns to do is read. Many of the students at Drew Charter School, however, do not have their own books at home or they have books that are not at their reading level. The goal of this project was to create a ‘First Grade Bookstore’, which provided students the opportunity to “purchase” books that they could keep at home. Students purchased books with Bookstore Bucks that they earned in their classroom by following classroom rules and displaying positive character traits. The goal was that each first grade student would have a personal library at home with at least 10 books on their reading level, and reading at home would increase achievement, self-esteem, and collaboration with parents.


Because of the ‘First Grade Bookstore’, Ms. Pagan’s students were more excited about reading than they were before the bookstore started. That excitement drove them to read more and become better readers. The bookstore sparked dialogue within the first grade as they were talking more about reading and their plans to read in the future. The ‘First Grade Bookstore’ also increased collaboration between all of the first grade teachers.

Alicia Pagan
Robin Robbins

Robin Robbins 

Principal, Burgess-Peterson Academy

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Learning Through the Outdoor Classroom

The vision for the Burgess-Peterson Academy ‘Learning Through the Outdoor Classroom’ project was to provide an additional learning space for students. Research consistently shows that authentic learning experiences assist students with being more motivated to learn. Another vision for the Outdoor Classroom was to facilitate the teaching of students in a non-traditional approach. Often times, students have difficulty learning in a traditional manner, using traditional approaches. This project sought to fix the problem of students not being motivated to learn as well provide teachers with additional teaching and learning space. Ms. Robbins also felt that this project would decrease student behavior problems.


The ‘Learning Through the Outdoor Classroom’ had a profound impact on balancing traditional and non-traditional methods of teaching. Because of the project, there was an increase in student self-esteem as the students were able to feel confident when they were able to learn better in an outdoor classroom. The Outdoor Classroom established a place at the school where the teachers and students could de-stress as well as where teachers could meet the varying needs of the students’ learning styles. This project has also been a bridge with the local community and stakeholders, especially with the assistance of the build itself. Burgess-Peterson has also made the classroom open and available to the community for community-sponsored events!

Mike Stewart

mike stewart

5th Grade Math, KIPP STRIVE Academy

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Entrepreneurship in Action

This project aimed to strengthen the students’ computation skills, particularly with decimals. Mr. Stewart wanted the students to be able to apply the concepts they were learning in class to real world situations. The goal of the project was to make these concepts come to life, invest the students in the importance of the concepts, and also to allow them additional practice at building their proficiency with these concepts.


Every day ‘Entrepreneurship in Action’, students had to complete real world calculations. Whether it was writing checks, making deposits into a back account, balancing a checking account, or conducting business transactions between themselves and the other businesses in the classroom, students were constantly being asked to perform mathematical transactions – especially those pertaining to decimals. The students got so invested in the process of becoming business managers that Mr. Stewart didn’t think they even realized how much math they were actually completing. Not only did the project allow the students more time to work with the concepts from class, but it also enabled Mr. Stewart to extend the learning of those concepts to levels that he did not think he could have done in the normal progression of his lessons. Overall, project ‘Entrepreneurship in Action’ was a huge success!

Sarah Visel

Sarah visel

3rd Grade, Morris Brandon Elementary School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Technology for Data Driven Instruction and Assessment

We live in a technology driven society and educators and children need to be prepared. The goal of ‘Technology for Data Driven Instruction and Assessment’ was to collect data on what Ms. Visel’s students knew in a more efficient way than using projects, tests, quizzes, etc. These modes of assessing a child’s knowledge require a lot of planning during and after school hours for educators. Ms. Visel’s project catapulted her teaching into the digital age by assessing students during a lesson, while giving her immediate results in a matter of minutes and saving her much planning time. Therefore, her lessons that followed the project were more finetuned to the needs of her class, allowing her to cover more custom designed material.


‘Technology for Data Driven Instruction and Assessment’ allowed students to text an answer to a question using the Learner Response System remotes (provided by this project). The answer would then arrive on the Promethean Board (an interactive piece of technology that supports student learning). The Learner Response System would then show a graph of all the answers sent, with the number of students that sent each answer. Ms. Visel was able to then review all the answers right then and there as the lesson was going on without having to grade additional papers and talk through possible errors made in their calculations at a later time. This assessment then drove the rest of instruction for that lesson, rather than lessons on following days or weeks. This project allowed Ms. Visel to hit the “ground running” when she returned to teaching and motivated her class to all send in the same correct answers. It became a classroom celebration when this success happened!

Shenise White

Shenise White

1st Grade, Springdale Park Elementary School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Applied Math

President Barack Obama launched his Educate to Innovate campaign in 2009 as a way to inspire boys and girls to excel in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Research shows that American students are outperformed by other nations in the areas of math and science. Clearly, there is a need to improve math and science education for all students, in order for them to compete in a global workforce. The need for improved education in math and science inspired this project. The implementation of this project aimed to fix math deficiencies, by exposing students to math concepts using real-life contexts versus a set of skills acquired through drilling and teaching procedural steps.


The implementation of ‘Applied Math’ addressed the aforementioned need. Math literature was used to introduce concepts outlined in the state standards. Interactive flipcharts were also used to teach concepts and facilitate learning. Math manipulatives were incorporated during guided practice, independent practice, and learning centers to reinforce concepts and to provide visual representations of concepts. Finally, students applied mathematical ways of thinking in real-life situations during educational field trips to local businesses. Students were able to experience and discuss how math is used in various careers and how it relates to their lives.

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