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Robert Pope Classroom Grants

Each year the Foundation awards the Robert Pope classroom grants. These grants help fund innovative classroom opportunities that are not currently being offered by the School District. The CPS Foundation is able to fund up to five $1,000 grants that are selected by a committee of volunteers. These projects and descriptions are found below. 

Check Here to fund a Grant.

Please indicate the title or number of the project in which you wish to support.

“The Foundation is committed to inspire learning, enrich teaching, and create opportunities for students and staff.”

1. Attention Academy And Calming Caddy
$0 of $1,0000

Brief Description

Students will be taught a variety of calming strategies and attention-focusing methods to help them be ready to learn. Classrooms will also be provided with a Calming Caddy that students can use to regulate their emotion and re-focus on instruction. Research shows that teaching mindfulness strategies in the classroom increases student learning. The practices of mindfulness include explicit attentional training and emotional regulation. Students are guided in exercises to focus their attention and help their brain focus on learning. BIST (Behavior Intervention Support Team) that the district is using to help with behavior, uses T.A.P.S. (Total and Perfect Silence) as a way to calm students and focus them on learning. It helps students in regulating responses to impulses. Among children, outcomes of being able to self-regulate and focus include stress management, emotional well-being, and cognitive performance. 

Explain how this project meets the instruction goals and mission statement of the District.

The mission of the Columbus Public Schools is “Engaging all learners to achieve success.” If students are distracted and restless they are unable to focus on instruction. Our mission includes a statement about meeting the unique learning needs of every student. For students from poverty or stress/trauma-induced environments, their brains respond differently than those of higher socio-economic status. These students tend to display more impulsivity, apathy, and emotional regulation is more difficult. This project will provide opportunities for students to learn and practice calming techniques and T.A.P.S. Teachers will have a decrease in time spent redirecting, managing student behavior, and discipline, and more time to spend on instruction.  

What are the major objectives of this project?

Students will be able to write, draw, or demonstrate at least 2 attention-focusing techniques.
Students will be able to identify at least 2 benefits of using attention-focusing techniques.
Students will be able to name at least 2 Calming Caddy tools that can help focus their attention on learning.

Explain the different teaching methods that will be used to implement this project and how they will improve the performance of the students in the classroom.

During the first month of school, we will hold Attention Academy with the students. During these “academies,” a variety of attention-focusing and calming techniques will be taught to students via a Google Slides visual presentation. This presentation will include the rationale behind using these techniques and examples of the techniques. The T.A.P.S. (Total and Perfect Silence) process from BIST will be taught. There will be class discussion about how thoughts, behaviors, and feelings can get in the way of learning. Students will have opportunities to see the techniques modeled followed by student simulation. There will be opportunities for ongoing practice and reteaching as necessary. The Calming Caddy will be shown and explained to the students. Each item in the caddy will be shown to the students and its use will be explained and demonstrated if necessary. Through class discussion, we will talk about reasons to use the caddy tools and the procedures for doing so. Students will be asked to write or draw some of the techniques and benefits. The Academy will be intensive at the beginning of the school year and then reviewed and practiced throughout the year. Some studies with youth find improvements in cognitive functioning when taught strategies for attention and focus. In addition, studies find improvements in emotion regulation, behavior in school, empathy and perspective-taking and social skills. Finally, youth have shown benefits in terms of test anxiety, stress, post-traumatic symptoms, and depression when given skills to help them focus their attention

What grade level(s) will be affected by this project? Approximately how many students will benefit from this project? What is the potential for expansion of this project to other grade levels and/or schools?

Attention-focusting techniques will be taught to all students in grades Kindergarten through 4th grade. This will impact approximately 250 students. Once the Caddy materials are purchased, they can be used year after year because they are not consumables. This project can be easily used at all elementary grade levels and schools and could be modified for middle and high school students with minimal time or cost.

 What, if any, additional materials, etc. will be required from the District to implement this project?

In order to implement this project, we will need a few calming/social-emotional learning curriculum or resource books. These will give some additional ideas and the foundation to get started. Will also need supplies for each classroom to have a Calming Caddy. This will include a plastic basket (caddy), stress balls, stuffed animal, sand timer, stretching bands and other “fidgets”. Would also like to supply each classroom with stability balls and exercise bands for student chair legs. These will allow students who need physical movement during instruction with the tools to get it. Will need to make copies of some handouts/worksheets for student application and evaluation. Will need to copy and laminate papers and technique cards for each classroom for reminders on the Calming Caddy strategies.

 How will you evaluate whether your objectives have been achieved?

Students will be given a variety of opportunities to demonstrate the techniques taught. They will also be given an assessment where they will demonstrate their understanding by writing or drawing. Students will be able to write, draw, or demonstrate attention-focusing techniques, benefits of using attention-focusing techniques, and Calming Caddy tools that can help focus their attention on learning. Students will be expected to write, draw, or demonstrate at least 2 attention-focusing techniques, identify at least 2 benefits of using attention-focusing techniques, and name at least 2 Calming Caddy tools that can help focus their attention on learning. The techniques and strategies will be reviewed and practiced until all students can do so. Small group or individual instruction will also occur if necessary. 

 How will this project be sustained in future years at Columbus Public Schools?

Once the resource books and items are purchased for each Calming Caddy, they can be used year after year. Only the calming coloring books are consumable and would be used infrequently and for short periods of time so should last a long time. Because the strategies and techniques are taught to all students, they can use them every year no matter what grade or which classroom they are in. The skills they learn are transferable to a variety of school setting as well as life skills. New students can be taught these skills as they enter our school.


2. ELL Newcomers
$0 of $1,000

Brief Description

The first part is creating an active, engaging, and supportive classroom environment to help serve the needs of our newly arrived English Language Learners. These students need tangible hands-on measuring manipulatives and lab equipment to use in the classroom as support in learning concepts in science. This will help to build the background knowledge and assist our students with future learning when they get moved into regular education classes and beyond. Building academic vocabulary and lab equipment awareness is vitally important to successful learning. The second part of my project is creating a library of bilingual nonfiction reading books. Want to concentrate on bilingual nonfiction books related to social studies concepts that not only support instruction in the native Spanish language, but also support at-home progress in English and offer a parental connection to the school. Bilingual books allow students and their parents to strengthen their literacy together. Also, this creates a positive connection between home and school by increasing parent involvement. Each book we purchase will focus on key vocabulary terms that are recommended in the areas of social studies. Each book purchased will focus on key vocabulary terms that are recommended in the areas of social studies. In addition, pocket dictionaries will be intended for classroom instructional support and at-home use for both homework and the parental connection. Building background knowledge helps to establish a foundation of learning upon which students may build and strengthen future learnings. Once again, the items requested are science lab and measuring supplies/manipulatives, pocket Spanish/English dictionaries and bilingual nonfiction books.

 Explain how this project meets the instruction goals and mission statement of the District?

There are ten learning/instruction goals/standards for the newcomers English Language Learners program. This project covers all of the State English Language Proficiency Standards for sixth through eighth grade, but mainly ELP 6-8.3, which states…an English Language Learner can speak and write about grade appropriate complex literary and informational texts and topics and 6-8.8, which states…an English Language Learner can determine the meaning of words and phrases in oral presentations and literary and informational text. This project meets three instructional norms/goals of the school. We are to utilize visible participation by everyone. By having and using hands-on science equipment and manipulatives, all of our English Language Learners in class will be visibly participating in concept formation because they will be working with objects in their hands, not just using paper/pencil. The second goal will be providing frequent and positive feedback. If we have equipment to use, we can monitor if they understand, by how they use the equipment. By having and using our bilingual books, in and out of the classroom, we can meet yet another instructional norm by building positive relationships with students and parents, in and out of the classroom. This will give parents of English Language Learners a way to support their child at home. At this time also, building a bridge between parents, teachers, and school. Our district’s mission statement is “Engaging all learners to achieve success.” The project meets our mission statement because “engaging ALL learners to achieve success”, means just that. Engaging English Language Learners, as well as, students whose primary language is English, is our mission. Have support through research when learning vocabulary needing to be practiced. Additionally, to understand science concepts, one must use hands-on equipment. Hands-on is engaging. 

What are the major objectives of this project?

Measureable objectives:
1) Increase our 8th grade ELL scores on the Nebraska State Assessment in science section of the test (NESA)
2) Increase our 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students scores on the essential elements tests they are given in regular education science classes
3) Meet a set criteria on a scientific lab fidelity guide by March 1, 2018.
4) Identify all lab equipment we worked with in our room by March 1, 2018
5) Check out read with an adult 10 of our classroom nonfiction texts by March 1, 2018
6) Answer correctly comprehension checklist for each nonfiction book by March 1, 2018

Explain the different teaching methods that will be used to implement this project and how they will improve the performance of students in the classroom.

Will use a variety of teaching methods while implementing the project. We will use our science lab and measuring equipment in a small group setting while conducting science experiments. During those experiments our students will discuss which tool would work best for the method we need to use. For example using a beaker vs. a graduated cylinder. We will use the lab equipment for demonstrations and assessments. As far as the nonfiction reading texts, we will use “I do, We do, and You do” as a classroom reading strategy. We will use the bilingual books as supplimental reading materials our students read from, so that we can measure proficiency levels of our readers. When reading aloud, we can use what is called the “cloze” procedure. Teacher reads and students insert the important or high utility words. 

What grade level(s) will be affected by this project? Approximately how many students will benefit from this project? What is the potential for expansion of this project to other grade levels and/or schools?

Sending bilingual books home with students will send a positive message home to all of our Spanish speaking population, thus all will indirectly benefit from this project. Specifically and directly, our newly arrived and our ELL students who are not proficient in English, grades 5 – 8, will be affected and positively influence by this project. Our Spanish speaking population ratio at our school is approximately 45%. 

What if any, additional materials, etc. will be required from the District to implement this project?
Will need some small organizational tubs/totes, and a bookcase, a shelf, and or an additional file cabinet to store these items. There may be additional nonfiction books I would like to add to our library as some books may endure wear and tear.  
How will you evaluate whether your objective has been achieved?

We will evaluate by having students and their parents fill out a detailed survey about the bilingual nonfiction books in March 2018. Will compare pre and post NeSA scores and can also use pre and post essential elements quiz scores.

How will this project be sustained in future years at Columbus Public Schools?
There should be minimal replacement costs. May ask for additional copies and equipment at a later date, depending on class sizes. Will ask the CMS PAC for funding, as well as reapplying for this grant.