Middle School Grant

Spanish Language Graphic Novel

In an effort to better influence literacy and language proficiency in Spanish, we awarded a grant requesting a hard-cover copy of "La Casa de la Dentista".  The graphic novel is written by Señor Wooly (aka James Wooldridge), a Spanish educator local to the Chicago metropolitan area. Señor Wooly has focused on making his materials engaging and appropriately silly for elementary and middle school learners. Often Spanish materials are very simple, or very dry.  Señor Wooly's fun YouTube videos are a hit with the students because they are fun whilst clearly teaching the learning target.

Reading an authentic and complex resource such as this novel will increase their ability to read and understand Spanish in new ways. It will also enhance their speaking skills as it will expose them to a variety of language uses that they can apply to their everyday learning. If purchased, I imagine I will use the story as a read-aloud, photocopy pages for students to work with, or even create an entire Spanish unit centered around this story. The story will take us further away from rote practice and closer to literacy in the students' Spanish language.

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Meditation / Yoga Mats

Each Wai Lana Yoga Mat measures 68 x 24 and features a sticky, non-slip surface with a 1/8 in thickness to provide superb traction. These mats cushion the spine, knees, ankles and elbows, and render support and stability in poses. These are latex-free, light-weight, easy to wash and free from phthalates, phenols, dioxins and furans.  These mats will be used in Health class for meditation sessions one/week in all grade levels. 

As part of the Health curriculum at LBMS, Allison Fink has introduced meditation to all grade levels once per week.  Meditation serves all students regardless of their learning capabilities and produced greater relaxation, better focus, improved memory, reduced anxiety and stress, reduced fatigue, boosts immunity, and students become more self-awareness. 

"I had a student who struggles with ADHD and last year, he said to me that there was no way he could meditate because he wouldn't be able to sit still.  I asked him to please lie down and if can't meditate with us, just be quiet and focus on his breathing.  When we were about 7-minutes in, I looked at him and low and behold he was meditating.  I am a big believer in the power of meditation for all students. " - Allison Fink

The following article addresses meditation in the classroom as well as for students who struggle with behavioral issues. 

Classroom Set of iPod Touch Devices

A classroom set (12) of iPod touch devices, cases, 3 dock charging stations. 

LBMS currently has 6 iPod touch devices that are shared by all staff members.  Art (6th, 7th, and 8th) and Lights Camera Action (7th and 8th) check these out frequently for student use.  In Art students document their art work, film during studio time, and take still photos.  In Lights Camera Action, the students use the devices as their primary source to film and then edit footage on both the devices themselves (using specific editing applications) and their laptops. 

The iPod Touch devices transfer film and photos seamlessly from one device to another and to the student laptops for further editing, analysis, and manipulation.  The students are already very familiar with how to use the iPod Touch devices because they use them in the STEAM lab.  They are lightweight, portable, and have dozens of applications that would enhance both art and film curriculum.  Having a set for film and art to share would reach all fine arts students and free up the existing 6 iPod Touch devices for more teachers and students to use. 

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Virtual Reality Goggles Classroom Set

Student learning can now be enhanced by having the opportunity to visually experience locations not available to us in the traditional classroom setting. For example, when studying ancient civilizations in sixth grade, students will be able to visually "move" through the Colosseum. As part of the seventh grade study, students will actually travel through the Amazonian rain forest. In eighth grade, the students will visually experience the working conditions of a child laborer during industrialization.

 Goggles in action...

Goggles in action...

 The middle school says "Thank You!"

The middle school says "Thank You!"

Vertical Ceramic Slab Roller

In hopes of building our ceramics program, the Alliance is bringing in a slab roller to help our students with their hand-building techniques.  Most traditional slab rollers take up a lot of floor space, are very heavy and not portable.  This new style of slab roller is vertical so it doesn't take up the learning space within the classroom and is also on wheels for easy storage. 

This piece of ceramics equipment will benefit all art students in 6th-8th grade every trimester they are in art (approximately 150 students per trimester).  Students love working with clay and it is a large part of our curriculum.  This roller allows our students to build larger and more structurally sound hand built pieces of art in a much easier and faster way.

Suiting up the Practice Rooms

Students have rehearsal tracks to assist them in learning their vocal music.  Our new equipment allows breakout opportunities from choir and musical rehearsals for more student directed learning.  The portability of the speakers also allows choir and musical rehearsals to take place in various locations - on the stage, the drama room or the presentation stairs.

  • ION Audio Block Rocker Max Bluetooth Speakers
  • IPOD Touch
  •  1 IPAD Pro for the choir room to control all of the new technology.

Hybrid Pianos - Tradition Meets Technology

The grant brought a Yamaha NU1 Piano Hybrid and dolly to LBMS.  An issue with electronic pianos of the past was that they could not provide the authentic playing experience or sound of a real piano.  Our new Hybrid piano has the same action and natural wood keys used in the best Yamaha pianos without the cost of tuning or upkeep. Additionally, our new hybrid piano has no maintenance costs, whereas currently, the district incurs a cost of $400-$600 per year to tune and maintain the choir room piano.  

The Hybrid Piano fills the new choir with the appropriate amount of sound to support the singers in rehearsal.  It also has the ability to transpose, provide additional keyboard sounds and MIDI record onto a flash drive at the touch of a button.  The compact design allows for more student space when multiple grade ensembles are rehearsing.

Sounds of (no) Silence

The new choir room was in need of a sound system to play music for choral rehearsals and music listening.  In addition, we wanted to expand the system to include recording capabilities for choral and general music students.

This grant provided a new sound and recording system which benefits  student growth and learning by allowing their singing to be recorded with instant playback. With the assistance of this technology, students can now learn to identify and apply criteria such as correct vocal tone, vowel shapes, interpretation of the notation and technical accuracy to rehearse, refine, and determine when a piece is ready to perform.

This provides us with an opportunity for students to develop their critical listening, analyzing and evaluative skills. 

Simulation Software for STEAM lab

We would like to purchase additional software for our STEAM lab to address the many different interests and application possibilities for our students. s

Students will leverage the simulation technology to create their own SMART learning goal that they will strive to achieve.  They will have to use a variety of resources to construct knowledge on the engineering, physics, and design aspects of each program.  Students will use the simulation software to design and create new, useful, or imaginative solutions to their SMART goals.  Students will use the digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning through real world applications (mechanics, construction, design, architecture, city planning). 

Marci Chesin Memorial Children's Book Project

The Alliance for Excellence has now funded the Marci Chesin Memorial Children’s Book Project, which is a fun school project where 7th graders author a story with a moral lesson, print the story in a hardcover book and read the story to 2nd graders. The 7th graders enhance their creative writing, illustrating, mentoring and presenting skills; and the 2nd graders learn about moral issues, how to read, and role model engagement. The funding buys the materials to create the hard cover books with illustrations for 100 students.

Ukeleles Program

The Alliance for Excellence funded the purchase of 25 Tenor Ukuleles for Ms. Cvitkovic’s 6th grade music students.  This pilot program affords students the opportunity to not only learn a string instrument, but also to explore other world cultures.

While all students benefit from these instruments, those who are kinesthetic and tactile learners directly benefit from their engagement with the ukuleles.  To further integrate the ukuleles into the curriculum and programming, Ms. C. has also created a Uke Club at LBMS.  Ms. C. and her students are really enjoying their awarded Alliance grant of ukuleles!  Uke on!

Rosalind Wiseman Presentations and Workshops

On Jan. 21 and 22, 2014, Rosalind Wiseman will be presenting and providing workshops within our district.  These include: a district-wide teacher presentation, a parent presentation, and 6th – 8th grade student workshop.  Rosalind is a nationally renowned speaker and expert on the topics of bullying, social competency, strengthening relationships, ethical leadership, and media literacy.  Her approach is direct and her ability to address social/emotional issues through directness has been especially effective with middle school students.  Rosalind addresses what people “think” and how that impacts what they say and do.

Digital SLR Video Cameras

There are two Visual Storytelling classes offered to 8th grade students at LBMS.  Using the cameras, the students create visual stories comprised of both still images and HD videos.  These specific cameras provide all the necessary components such as lighting, shots, and angles for students to utilize.

The cameras are also used to document events at LBMS for use on the website and for archival purposes.

Language Arts Common Core Growth Binders

The 6th grade Language Arts teachers are currently working to rollout the binders with the 6th graders. The purchase has allowed for the students to keep and reflect on their work with the English/Language Arts Common Core Standards. These binders are organized by these standards within the months of the school year. As they move through the year, students will cycle through the standards three times. Specifically, each month, they will organize pieces in these binders/portfolios and then examine how they have grown as readers, writers, and thinkers. By the end of the school year, we all will clearly see how far the students have come in their understandings, applications, and syntheses of these standards. With these binders as evidence, students will truly be charting and reflecting on their individual paths towards success in Language Arts.