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2018 cohort of grantees

Jennifer blodgett

Advanced Content Reading & Math, Patrick Elementary School

Gwinnett County Public Schools

Project: Implementing ePortfolios in the Gifted Classroom

The purpose of this project is to increase student motivation, collaboration, and stakeholder communication by creating student ePortfolios in the areas of reading and math. Research shows that gifted students are often bored and under challenged in school. Using Google as a platform, the electronic portfolios will motivate students by allowing them to showcase samples of their best work in creative and unique ways, while engaging them in 21st century skill development. The portfolios will be used to assess student growth both formatively and summatively, and will encourage student self-reflection and self-assessment. While students will each have their own portfolio, they will be encouraged to work collaboratively with peers when creating and uploading work samples to their Google drives. The ePortfolios will promote student ownership of the learning process. While the portfolio process will be ongoing, students will formally share their digital portfolios twice a year with parents, peers, and administrators during student-led conference breakfasts. Using this platform, students will practice and polish their presentation skills as they articulate their academic growth.


Dewey (1916) said the following about motivation "To be interested, to be absorbed in, wrapped up in, carried away by some object...We say of an interested person that he has both lost himself in some affair and he has found himself in it." Use of ePortfolios will motivate and engage Ms. Blodgett’s gifted students, and will encourage them to take ownership in their learning, while allowing them to practice skills that will prepare them for the future.

Jennifer Blodgett

Claudia fitzwater

Spanish/Robotics, Drew Charter School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: Interactive Fiction (IF) - Gamification of Storytelling

Interactive fiction is where literacy genres, Spanish, and video game development intersect with curriculum. Video games have become the perfect medium for storytelling and students consume them avidly. With this project, we can change the paradigm of students being passive consumers to active creators, by giving them the opportunity to manipulate media in order to construct meaning and approach the Spanish language. The IF project will allow students to develop digital narrative content in Spanish, based on the narrative stories that are used in the classroom. Students will create and design their unique video games using bloxels and ipads while expressing their personalities and leveraging their creativity. Students will be engaged in the design process with a focus on user experience.


The project will explore the following driving questions? Are video games an art form?, What is the relevance of video games in the classroom?, How can video games and storytelling act as a connector to promote interdisciplinary curriculum? How can video games serve as implementation and documentation of STEAM learning? This project aims for a seamless integration of technology, coding and digital art into existing projects, rather than a mere stand-alone technology curriculum. It will support core curricular areas and it will address technology access gaps at school.


The Interactive Literacy project will focus on creative inquiry, discovery, and experimentation on Media Design, Transmedia (Digital Storytelling, video games), Video Production, and Media Coverage.

Claudia Fitzwater

Toni johnson

9th Grade, Westlake High School

Fulton County Public Schools

Project: Make Your Mark!

“Make Your Mark!,” is a 9th grade interdisciplinary collaborative initiative that will allow students to explore their own identity, the community they live in, and how they can make an impact by using Homer’s “The Odyssey” as a guiding text. The eight week unit will be centered around four essential questions: Who am I?, What are my gifts, talents, and abilities?, What are the historical and current community dynamics of Atlanta?, How can I use my own gifts, talents and abilities to make a mark on my community in a positive way?


After completing a character study of Odysseus, students will study their own identity by completing a family tree, choosing one part of their own identity to explore (e.g. culture, ethnicity, race, etc.), and then writing about it. The top ten reports will have the opportunity to complete a DNA ancestry report while working with the biology teacher. From the understanding gained from discovering their own identity, students will start to think about their own gifts, talents, and abilities. After doing a brief study of Ancient Greece, students will research Georgia, Atlanta, and South Fulton County to discover the needs and the community make-up. Then, they will choose one aspect of their community to focus on and how they can make a difference. Students will then design a service project that allows them to use their gifts, talents, and abilities to serve a civic, arts, education, or environmental need in their community. They will write proposals that will be considered by a panel to implement their project. The top 10 proposals will receive $150 to implement their project.

Toni Johnson

Dawn Parker

Principal, Alonzo A. Crim Open Campus High School

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: A School Based Enterprise Club (Providing New, Refurbished Furniture for Our Families Community-Wide)

The ‘School Based Enterprise Club’ will provide students the opportunity to learn new skills and acquire leadership experience while building a school enterprise around providing furniture for our families and community members in need. This project will give students the opportunity to refurbish old furniture and acquire the necessary skills to set up and run a business effectively, to develop marketing structures for the furniture to be sold and/or auctioned, and lastly, to write news releases to communicate our story. Revenue acquired through auction or sales of the furniture will be used to 1) eliminate barriers preventing our students from attending school regularly and performing at their best level (i.e. providing food for our food pantry), 2) serve as an ongoing source of funds to run the School Enterprise Club and eventually expand into a Schoolwide Business Enterprise for credit towards graduation, and 3) to provide incentives and scholarships for our students.


One of the first steps in creating a School Based Enterprise (Club) is to assess your community needs and their potential as customers. Our student data reminds us that we serve a population where 100% of our students receive free breakfast and lunch; 58% feel that they must work in order to support their families; and 32% are teen parents. Many of our own students have to share a bed with a sibling, while others do not have a bed at all. Providing nice, new, refurbished furniture at affordable prices for our families throughout the community can have a tremendous positive impact for our entire school community!

Dawn Parker

tracey pendley

4th Grade, Burgess-Peterson Academy

Atlanta Public Schools

Project: We're Starting a 4-H Club: Come Grow with Us!

The purpose of this project is to start a 4-H club at Burgess-Peterson Academy that will directly impact self-esteem and student engagement. This project’s goal is to provide positive youth development opportunities for all students in the 4th-5th grades, and also to provide scholarships that will make Project Presentation Weekends at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center and 4-H Summer Camp experiences possible for students requiring financial assistance.


The learning opportunities that 4-H offers will significantly enhance exposure and engagement for students at Ms. Pendley’s Title I Atlanta Public School. Providing such experiences for students with a socio-economic need can contribute to fostering positive life changes and support building a stronger community. It is typical to see the same faces celebrated at awards assemblies and morning meetings because so many of the accolades at school are based on academic achievement. As a classroom teacher of eight years and an educator for fifteen, Ms. Pendley sees the students who go unrecognized and their untapped potential. Maybe they’re not great at testing, but they know how to make amazing dishes in the kitchen, or they rock out on the piano! Sponsoring a 4-H Club at Burgess-Peterson would positively impact all participants, but it would especially provide opportunities for the “unseen” scholars to shine.

Tracey Pendley

Amber Simmons

11/12th Grade, Brookwood High School
Gwinnett County Public Schools

Project: Language Study to Literacy Garden

There is much work to be done in making grammar and language instruction applicable to students’ actual writing practices. While Brookwood High School’s writing scores are above average (85% passing), students still struggle with persuasive writing. One way to foster these skills is to teach students more than just the rules of punctuation - to teach them how language and grammar are powerful tools that can be used, for good or for ill, to persuade and control audiences.


After an in-depth persuasive language study, student will conduct a letter writing campaign so that they employ persuasive writing characteristics in their own writing. To begin the project, students select an American author of interest, and they write a letter to the curator of the author’s historic home requesting seeds, bulbs, or a cutting of a plant to be re-planted on our school campus. When researching the author, students not only gather biographical information, but they also consider an author’s style, themes, and contributions to American culture and literary tradition. After researching, students begin the writing process. They then use rhetorical and persuasive devices such as rhetorical questions, parallelism, call to action, counter arguments, positive and negative affect (diction that directly or indirectly implies emotion), etc., in order to persuade the curators and gardeners to contribute to our school literary garden.

Amber Simmons
Nicole Thompson

Nicole Thompson 

Orchestra, Taylor Road Middle School

Fulton County Public Schools

Project: Express Yourself! Animate Music!

‘Express Yourself! Animate Music!’ will educate children and provide them with a creative outlet to improve the quality of life for assisted-living residents. This project will increase collaboration among science, technology, art, and music. Through Stikbot animation (an application that uses pose-able robot figures for filming short movies) and music performance, the project will promote creativity, problem solving, and technology use.


Orchestra students will be given the opportunity to select three musical pieces to learn and perform for the collaboration. Then, science and art students will be invited to create an animated short film using Stikbot animation to represent their interpretation of the music the orchestra students selected to perform. Once students complete the final projects, they will come together to present and perform for the local assisted-living residents.

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