2013 cohort of Grantees

 

Jennifer Hall

Gifted Language Arts, Brown Middle School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Lights, Camera, Action!

The main goal of the project ‘Lights, Camera, Action!’ was to enrich and expand Ms. Hall’s existing film and Shakespeare program, enhance the teaching of the Common Core standards, all while providing students real-world experiences and developing college and career readiness skills. Each year, Ms. Hall’s students read and analyzed middle school versions of Macbeth (6th grade), Othello (7th grade), and Hamlet (8th grade). The classes then created re-writes, adapting the setting, characters and events, while adhering to the play’s themes. Students “hired” their classmates for film jobs (i.e. writer, director, camera operator, actor, and crew). The students then pitched story ideas and the writer’s created the script. After rehearsals and pre-production, they filmed their productions. Through the production process, students learned invaluable skills utilized in the field of filmmaking.

 

Corendis hardy

French/English/Language Arts, Frederick Douglas High School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Language Enrichment Program

Based on data from several reports, Frederick Douglass High School was plagued with a high dropout rate and low test scores. Additionally, there was an alarming number of students failing classes. Thousands of studies reveal that proficiency in all modalities of language helps students in the following areas: improving results on standardized tests; passing their classes; graduating from high school; and thriving in a post-secondary academic setting. ‘The Language Enrichment Program’ aimed to address the issue of literacy deficiencies among Douglass’ student population, namely seniors who needed to pass the English Language arts standards (ELA) and the Georgia High School Writing Test (GHSWT) for graduation. The principal goal was to increase language proficiency for Douglass’ most at-risk learners through intense, personalized tutorials. Thus, increasing a student’s chances for graduation, higher test scores and better grades.

 

The ‘Language Enrichment Program’ had five principal goals: 1) Build and/or strengthen strong literacy skills that support student learning in all curricular areas; 2) Promote language enrichment as a powerful tool for ensuring more success (both in general and collegiate settings) after high school; 3) Increase the high school graduation rate by giving students the literacy skills to be confident learners AND correct deficiencies based on previous test scores;  4) Improve standardized test scores by teaching literacy-focused test-taking skills; and 5) Create life-long readers and writers who use language as a viable tool for professional and social empowerment as well as personal gratification.

Dwight ho-sang

Principal, KIPP WAYS Academy

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Gentlemen of Distinction

‘Gentlemen of Distinction’ was a program where students were identified because of low academic standing and/or poor behavior in school: detentions, suspension, and their interaction with teachers and peers. Grade level teachers were asked to nominate 10 students to participate in the program. At the beginning of the year, these 40 participants assessed themselves and were assessed by each of their teachers according to a character report card. The assessment was given again at the end of the year to track their progress.

Each Monday, the boys met with Mr. Ho-Sang, other male staff participants and parent volunteers to discuss their academics, read articles to build character and increase focus, and listen to KIPP alumni and other outside speakers. In addition to these weekly meetings, students participated in service projects to teach them the importance of being an upstanding citizen and student. This project culminated with a camping trip to revisit the goals they set for the year and assess their progress made throughout their experience.  

 

Mr. Ho-Sang found mixed results. 40% of the young men continued to struggle both behaviorally and academically. Behavioral struggles, however, did not necessarily equate to a lack of growth. Mr. Ho-Sang saw students take more ownership of actions and the consequences that came with them, students became more reflective, and the number of negative incidents decreased. Mr. Ho-Sang found that it was a little more difficult to push the students academically for various reasons including: academic deficits, frustration with the rigor of their classes and lack of work ethic. While Mr. Ho-Sang wanted to see more growth in his students, he realized that building character and academic skills is a process, and each student develops at different rates.

 

Jennifer lockwood

4th Grade, Springdale Park Elementary School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Full STEAM Ahead with Learning

‘Full STEAM Ahead with Learning’ was used to: 1). Deepen students’ understanding of STEAM concepts by having more access to instructional materials and time participating in STEAM-based lessons; 2). Increase students’ knowledge of STEAM-related professions and motivate them to contemplate a STEAM profession in the future and; 3). Increase students’ knowledge of how to communicate with others regarding STEAM concepts while using technology effectively.

 

‘Full STEAM Ahead with Learning’ engaged students in hands-on STEAM lessons to extend their understanding of concepts in these fields. Students participated in weekly STEAM lessons that were integrated with the Common Core and Georgia Performance Standards. In addition, students collaborated with professionals in STEAM fields to gain more knowledge about how concepts are used in real-life situations.  Students communicated about STEAM concepts with their peers and community through a class blog and online experiences. At the end of the year, students used the information they gained to complete a STEAM Showcase project that they shared with their peers, community members and other stakeholders.

 

kelly petrello

5th Grade, Springdale Park Elementary School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Digital Citizen's Online Classroom

Most of the students at Springdale Park Elementary School have access to smart phones and internet use at home. Despite this exposure, the students lacked the knowledge of how to use technology for educational purposes. They were not skilled with certain programs that are needed to be successful in school such as PowerPoint, Word, Blogging, iMovie, and others. They had a narrow view of technology as a way to communicate with friends, post pictures, or play games online. This project was intended to broaden the students’ knowledge of technology as a tool to communicate ideas, gather research, and make presentations. Ms. Petrello hoped that the students would be inspired to create projects and independently find answers to questions in the classroom. Additionally, she wanted to teach them the necessary computer programs to be successful students in middle school. The project aimed to inspire the students to use technology to become more independent students.

 

The ‘Digital Citizen’s Online Classroom’ Project increased the number of available computers in the classroom for student’s use. The added technology allowed students to access computers when they needed, thus increasing their independence with their learning. Through technology lessons, students learned to create blogs, make iMovies, research, and create Powerpoint presentations. With this knowledge, they created a blog community that inspired them to miss recess to write on the blog and come to school early to sign up for the computers. The students created oral presentations and interviewed community members using Facetime. They became writers and reporters as they used the blog as a forum to express their knowledge. By the end of the year, one parent even stated that her child used to go on the computer for entertainment, but now uses the computer to find information. Ms. Petrello’s 5th graders became the leaders in the school when they presented to 4th graders “Ways to Eliminate Cyberbullying”. Ms. Petrello feels confident that their knowledge and confidence with technology will make them competitive students in middle school.

 

alison shelton

Principal, Centennial Place Elementary School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: CPrizEs - Involvement Rewards Program

Parental involvement is an important component to the strength of the instructional program at any school. The main goal of this project was to increase parental involvement and student engagement through a rewards system. The premise is similar to other rewards programs used at various stores where customers earn points for purchasing items. The way ‘CPrizEs – Involvement Rewards Program’ worked was that families worked collectively to earn points through parent involvement activities, volunteer activities, scholastic opportunities and character point opportunities. The points were able to be redeemed to purchase school supplies, pay for field trips, school uniforms, etc. This program provided a tangible system to record hours of support to the school while bringing awareness to its importance. 

 
 

tiffany stembridge-taylor 

Math, Washington Early College High School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Integrating Technology with Mathematics

Upon graduation from Washington Early College High School, students are expected to have a strong skill set which includes problem solving and reasoning. The goal of this project was to teach these skills to students by making them active participants in the learning process. Ms. Stembridge-Taylor aimed to create a model classroom for the district where students demonstrated deep understanding of mathematical concepts using technology.

 

‘Integrating Technology with Mathematics’ was a project that sought to connect Washington Early College High School students with the resources they needed to excel in their mathematics courses. Before this project, and the technology (touchpads, iPods, and digital video) it provided, students were using mathematics dictionaries to find information. After project implementation, the students had easier access to real world data collection and were able to build their communication and research skills in mathematics.

 

amber stewart

Gifted Education, KIPP STRIVE and KIPP Vision Academies

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Increasing Civic Engagement through Student Media

Ms. Stewart’s 5th-8th grade students lacked a general understanding of the importance of current events and the power of positive words. Her students also had many struggles with cyber-bullying, misuse of social media and other ways in which they used their words negatively. The goal of this project was to empower students to promote positive messages while increasing an understanding and passion for current events.

 

Through the production of student-created Public Service Announcements (PSAs) and weekly current events quizzes and forums, Ms. Stewart’s students increased their participation in gathering and sharing current events and using their words to promote positive messages. Her students were able to combat the negativity of their peers (and themselves) by creating a positive message through scripting, editing, filming and producing PSAs geared toward internet safety, bullying, peer pressure and other relevant topics. Students created these PSAs and then shared them with teammates across the KIPP STRIVE and KIPP Vision Academy campuses. Students were able to view each other’s’ projects and one school is even making plans to share them with the entire school during weekly village meetings.

 
 

Haena Yoo

1st Grade, Gideons Elementary School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Break the Cycle!

Originally, ‘Project Break the Cycle’ aimed to improve parent involvement at Gideons Elementary School by educating them about the importance of literacy and quality early childhood experiences through parent workshops. Having taught first grade at a Title 1 school for three years, Ms. Yoo worked with children who were mostly below level in reading and math standards. Ms. Yoo realized during her teaching that these children were very capable and excited to learn, but they were not exposed to rich vocabulary and life experiences in their early years. She wanted to inspire and provide the tools for parents to increase their children’s’ early exposure to linguistic and math concepts in the home so that students would have a foundation for future educational success.

 

As the project developed, Ms. Yoo decided to add a ‘Learning Library’ which improved their parent resource center. She added summer transition books for every grade level as well as supplemental prep books for reading and math for the entire school. Ms. Yoo then listened to the needs of the parents of the school and created a ‘School Store’. This store solved the problems of parents being unable to provide their children with school supplies due to lack of transportation. Finally, Ms. Yoo facilitated ‘Parent Meetings’ where staff recognized and appreciated parents for all of the hard work that they put in to developing their children. Overall, the parental involvement increased because of Ms. Yoo’s ‘Project Break the Cycle!’

brianne turgeon

Music, Springdale Park Elementary School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: The Science in Music

‘The Science in Music’ was a year-long exploration of the ways in which Science and Music curricula overlap and support one another. Ms. Turgeon paralleled these units of study with classroom teachers’ lessons as they presented the Georgia Science and Georgia Professional Standards (GPS), and encouraged students to seek and find their own connections between Science and Music throughout the school year. Ms. Turgeon’s goal for this project was to support Science curriculum and positively affect student achievement and self-esteem for all students at Springdale Park Elementary.

 

Because of “The Science in Music”, the fourth and fifth grades had several students who moved from the “did not meet” standards category into meeting and/or exceeding standards. The data showed that the focus group of fourth grade had fewer students who “did not meet” standards and more students who “exceeded” standards. This shows that Ms. Turgeon’s' Fourth Graders benefitted from more focused Music/Science instruction as well as STEM initiatives within the Fourth Grade team.

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