National Parks Month – A Learning Experience for Students

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In honor of National Parks Month in August, I wanted to share an experience I had this summer that I believe can make a difference to many generations of students.

This June, I was fortunate to be able to visit two of our country’s National Parks. It was a trip I dreamed about ever since I was young. My husband and I were finally fortunate enough to be able to make the journey a reality. Some may be lucky to live close to and have access to visit and to take children or students to a national park, but for those who don’t, having the parks come to you may be more realistic then you imagined. Continue reading



Getting the Grant – How to Strengthen Your Grant Proposal

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Strengthening Your Grant Proposal – Emulate Successful Programs

The grant proposals with the greatest chance of being funded are the ones the grant readers believe have the best chance of being successfully implemented. In other words, if you are able to convince those reading and evaluating your grant proposal that you will actually be successful in correcting the problems you address in the proposal, you are much more likely to be awarded the grant money.

Any grant program is essentially a change program. There are two ways to increase the likelihood of success in any change program. The first is to copy a program that is already successful as closely as possible. The second is to pilot a small change program of your own first and then seek grant money to expand it based on the success you achieved in your pilot program. When I was principal of a middle school in Northeast Texas, we were able to capture grant money in both ways. We copied what neighboring schools were doing successfully, and we also set up successful pilot programs that we later expanded with grant money.

If you are going to write a grant based on the success of another school, it is important that you have similar populations and similar problems to overcome. It doesn’t help to say you are going to improve your reading scores just like an adjacent school when that school’s students were one grade level behind in math and yours are two grade levels behind in reading, and that school has 20% at-risk students when you have 60%. The problems don’t match, and the student populations don’t match. A grant reader would have no reason to believe you would achieve similar success.

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Grant Writing for Teachers – Why You Should Apply

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grant writing teacherWhy would you want to be a grant writer for a school? It’s a lot of work to pull together a grant application. And it’s even more work if you’re fortunate enough to receive the grant. You have to keep records, prove that you’ve spent the money properly, and record the results of your program — even if those results are not positive. So why even put yourself through the grant-writing process?

The best, most successful grants are not usually written with just the money in mind. True, money can help move the change process along, but if your purpose for writing grants is truly to better the lives of students and teachers, the chance for success in doing that improves dramatically when you have a positive, well-defined grant program in place.

What challenges are your students facing? What do they need help learning in your school? What behaviors are they exhibiting that might get in the way of achievement? Can your students read at grade level? Are they proficient enough in math to make major purchases without being ripped off? Can they speak English well enough to live productively in American society? Are your teachers trained well enough to truly educate every child in their classrooms? Continue reading



STARBASE Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program

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The S&S team is proud to be the sponsor of the National Afterschool Association Next Generation Award for Afterschool for 2017. We are recognizing the nominees and winners for their accomplishments and dedication to the afterschool community. Benita Blackwell shares her experience as an afterschool professional, and how introducing the field of STEM to her students has had an impact on their lives and life skills.

I was introduced to the afterschool profession six years ago when I served a Certified Secondary Mathematics teacher in the public school system. This particular afterschool profession helped to enhance the academic enrichment with the student body of the school. With my enrichment area of expertise being Mathematics and Science, my students questioned me daily on when they would ever utilize the topics embedded in the curriculum in the real world. No matter how much I related the areas to their real world job content, I was still leaving my students stranded in an abyss, because it was not a part of the world they live in. They still could not see how limits relate to atoms and the atomic number; how basketball related to special right triangles; how vectors are associated with every sport; how mathematics can be a form of literature; how algebra, trig, calculus, physics, outliers, and standard deviations are used in the workplace (engineering, automotive, nursing, doctors, banking, accounting, pilots, scientist, biologist, designers, interior decorators, veterinarians, graphic designers, programmers, coding, architects), basketball, baseball, football, soccer stadiums and buildings, and much more. Continue reading



Classroom Book Activity – Rosie’s Walk

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Classroom Book Activities for: Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins

Story Summary

Rosie the hen is going for a walk on the farm. As she walks around the farm, she doesn’t seem to notice the fox following her. Read to find out what happens to the fox and if Rosie can get back home safe.

Recommended Age: 1st Grade

Activity 1

  • Gather the class on the rug to introduce Rosie’s Walk. As a whole class, do a picture walk of the story. The teacher can model how to do a picture walk or students can volunteer to say what they notice about the pictures.
  • During the picture walk, introduce new vocabulary such as flour and mill. Write the new words on chart paper.
  • After the picture walk, read the story to the class.

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