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November 2019 Grant Recipients

Rachel Schaefer - Idaho CapEd Foundation Teacher Grant Winner

Growing our Learning and Expanding our Minds!

Rachel Schaefer - Patriot Center School, Emmett


This project will expand our school's limited library. We house students that come from the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections and the Idaho department of Health and Welfare. Our two classes are part of the school district but housed in an onsite residential facility. Our classroom library consists of approximately 2,000 books, most have been donated from second hand sources or purchased by our teachers for their students. Our students range in grades from 3rd through to 12th and vary in ability level from beginning reading skills up through college level. Many of these students are here for behavioral needs and most qualify for some type of behavioral support or intervention. One of the reasons we would like to expand our class library is to offer our students a wider variety of reading material that ties into their curriculum during their educational time. Another is to encourage our students to use reading as a coping strategy and to expand their knowledge in the outside world through the power of books!

Nicole Backhaus - Idaho CapEd Foundation Teacher Grant Winner

Peddle Away the Struggle

Nicole Backhaus - Future Public School, Garden City


My students come from a diverse background and often do not speak English as their first language. On top of that, my students experience learning differences that are usually not addressed in the "regular" classroom. Many of my students are challenged with "the wiggles", or ADHD and other sensory processing issues. Our school's philosophy is ALL MEANS ALL and this sometimes requires very creative alternative seating options. I plan to purchase two bike desks, one standing desk with a balance board and fidget bands for their chairs, and hope it will help these students to calm themselves without taking instruction away from others. They can wiggle and learn to read and write at the same time. This turns the classroom into a place where they feel accepted and relaxed.

Ryan Smith - Idaho CapEd Foundation Teacher Grant Winner

Document Camera

Ryan Smith - Grace High School, Grace


I will be using the grant funds to purchase a document camera for my math classes. In math, we teach our students to explain and give their reasoning for how they solved a problem. By learning to communicate mathematically students will develop lifelong skills of explaining and justifying their ideas. In NCTM’s Principles to Actions, we are reminded that -- The discourse in a mathematics classroom gives students opportunities to share ideas and clarify understandings, construct convincing arguments regarding how and why things work, develop a language for expressing mathematical ideas, and learn to see things from other perspectives. To explain to an entire class without being able to show their written work is not easily done. Rewriting their work on a whiteboard takes time, which then leaves room for classroom disruption and loss of teaching time. A document camera would be used in many ways in my classroom. I would use it to give instructions on assignments, help students write notes about concepts and vocabulary, and show student’s work as they talk about math. A document camera would help me continue to teach math using best practices and methods.

Courtney Brewer - Idaho CapEd Foundation Teacher Grant Winner

Minecraft for Education

Courtney Brewer - East Canyon Elementary, Nampa


I work in a rural area with students that often do not have access to computers. These students always come in to school telling me about this "new" game that they love: Minecraft. They talk about it, write about it, and draw it. So, they have inspired me to find new ways to get them interested in learning and collaborating about third grade content. It’s no secret that math is many students’ least favorite subject, and many times it is due to a lack of confidence. Digital games have been shown to enhance students’ confidence and motivation. I plan to use Minecraft Education Edition subscriptions to engage students in learning Common Core math concepts such as: representing and solving problems in multiplication and division, understanding the relationships between multiplication and division, recognizing and solving for perimeter and area, describing the attributes of shapes, and more!

Alexia Jahn - Idaho CapEd Foundation Teacher Grant Winner

Snack Packs

Alexia Jahn - White Pine Elementary School, Boise


At White Pine Elementary School, we have several different programs including the largest English Language Learner Program in the Boise School District at an elementary level. We have a large portion of our population that are at the poverty level but our entire school does not meet the necessary requirements for Title 1. This means that unlike a Title 1 school, our students do not have access to free snacks and various resources throughout the school day. During snack time, the children who cannot afford snacks often go without a snack. As the school counselor, I started to realize that often times when students were referred to me for various behaviors, they were often hungry and thirsty or embarrassed to sit in a classroom without a snack while the other students enjoyed theirs. I started providing snacks for these children myself but could not sustain the need out of pocket and last school year started gathering funds and accessing as many free resources as possible. Twenty-five students currently come to my office on Mondays and get a bag of five snacks to use throughout the week. This grant will help fund these much needed snacks.

Let's Get to the Heart of It!

Melissa Hunt - I.T. Stoddard Elementary, Blackfoot


Our entire school participated in the Rock Your School Day in September where we taught the regular curriculum, but in a super, fun and engaging way. I did a pirate theme, and every math, reading, science, and art activities centered around pirates. Even our superintendent came and read pirate stories to my first graders. A classroom transformation alters a classroom environment to maximize student engagement and teach rigorous content. I have been gathering and making things for two more room transformations: a Hospital theme and a Science Lab theme. We will transform our classroom into a hospital surgery room. I will get child sized lab coats for each child that can be worn at both events. We will get Germ Kits, so the children can test different things around the school for germs. We will get science kits for the heart and other major organs, and other materials to make these days engaging and informational. The children will also participate in math and reading activities such as number operations and vowel surgery. I have already started creating materials for these special days, and this grant will help with completing it.

Sarah Brownsten - Idaho CapEd Foundation Teacher Grant Winner

Fine Motor Fun!

Sarah Brownsten - Future Public School, Garden City


Fine motor skills involve the use of small muscles that control the hand, fingers, and thumb. Children who have difficulty with fine motor struggle to cut with scissors, and hold a pencil to write. As you can imagine this can cause frustration, anxiety, and feelings of defeat for our youngest students. Many experts in early childhood say that before a child holds a pencil they need to have other rich sensory and fine motor experiences such as: playing in the dirt, rolling play dough, putting together puzzles, using play tweezers, etc. After spending almost a decade in early childhood, and reading countless research articles on this topic, I firmly believe (and have seen it action!) having high quality and intentional materials in the classroom not only help children have a love for school and learning, but when they pick up that pencil or that pair of scissors they are ready to conquer whatever is ahead of them. A confident and engaged learner is a successful learner. Together we can set the stage early for a successful academic career.

Maggie Finkelstein - Idaho CapEd Foundation Teacher Grant Winner

Community Garden

Gayle Wollman - Zion Lutheran School, Nampa


Our 1st/2nd grades are planning a community garden to be set up at our school. They are studying measurements for building raised beds, identifying the best place in our yard to put the garden, gathering information about the best vegetables to plant in our climate zone, and learning about healthy soil. They will help purchase supplies, and will help our older students build the beds, establish the beds in the right place, lay the soil, and then plant and care for the vegetables. This project will carry the school through the winter and spring. We will be offering childcare at the school for the 1st time this year, so our summer "camp" children will care for the plants throughout the summer. At harvest time, we will advertise the availability of vegetables for the taking to our surrounding neighborhood and our school families.

Alicia Frost - Idaho CapEd Foundation Teacher Grant Winner

Hands On Math Manipulatives

Alicia Frost - Nampa Early Childhood Learning Center, Nampa


Research in Early Childhood development and learning support that young children learn important foundational, developmental, and educational skills through exploring and engaging in hands-on materials and play. The goal of this grant is to provide Preschool students with a variety of developmentally appropriate math materials that can be rotated among six Early Childhood Special Education programs. These materials will allow the Early Childhood Teachers to provide a variety of activities that promote engagement and interactive experiences as well as differentiate instruction according to the needs of students. As Early Childhood educators, we are constantly looking for new mediums and experiences to support children's learning through interactive play materials. In order for students to remain engaged, they need the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of materials and experiences to build those early learning concepts. The materials that will be purchased with this grant will allow for enhanced learning experiences for young children, encourage social interactions, and support children in acquiring foundational math skills.