Grant Highlight: Genres of Literature Students Participate in “Family Stories: We Honor Our Ancestors” Workshop

Last fall, students in Sheila Hayward’s Genre of Literature class participated in a four-part workshop “Family Stories: We Honor Our Ancestors” with artist-in-residence, Sharon Santillo. The workshop was made possible by a MEF grant submitted by Fowler Librarian, Sheila Hayward. 

The Genres of Literature course was offered as a pilot elective for nearly 300 6th, 7th, and 8thgraders this year. Ms. Hayward was inspired to integrate into the course a project that combines art and writing because of her own experience participating in Ms. Santillo’s workshop several years ago. Upon completing the unit “Biography, Autobiography, and Memoirs,” students worked with Santillo, a retired Maynard Public School art teacher and National Art Teacher of the Year Award recipient, to create a “biography” of an ancestor who is important to them. Students benefited from the experience saying, “I liked learning more about my family and translating that into art,” and “I thought it was really cool to learn that I have some missing spaces about my ancestors that I want to fill in later.” Some students shared their projects with their family members:“My grandmother was very happy that I chose to honor her, and she liked all the things I wrote about her.”

Based on the success of the pilot, Ms. Hayward says she would consider including the workshop in the course again and will incorporate aspects of it into next year’s curriculum based on her teaching assignment.

Learn more about Sharon Santillo and the “We Honor Our Ancestors” workshop.


Grant Highlight: Award Winning Storyteller Len Cabral Visits Fowler

Last week Fowler students participated in an assembly and workshop given by internationally-acclaimed storyteller Len Cabral. Cabral enthralled students with stories from around the world – bringing them closer to different cultures through humor, wonder, and curiosity.

The workshop was made possible by a MEF grant written by 4thgrade teacher Maria Soler, in tandem with a grant from the Maynard Cultural Council. Soler had previously seen Cabral perform so was excited to bring Maynard students a project aligned with Maynard Public Schools Cultural proficiency goals and the Massachusetts Frameworks for speaking and listening.”  Increasing students’ cultural awareness contributes to the cultural vitality of the Fowler community.” 

Cabral told students that he learned many of the stories from his family, as well as through reading different folktales from across the world. When asked by the students what his favorite story is, he replied, “they are all my favorite,” but he likes “trickster” stories best because every culture has a “trickster” character. 

Students were engaged throughout the performance, either by participating in the storytelling or through the question and answer session. Cabral encouraged the students to “write something down every day,” including keeping a journal they can reflect on later in life.

When asked how they liked the performance, one student gave it a “thumb’s up”; another commented, “Len Cabral is an awesome storyteller!”

Read more about Len Cabral.


Grant Highlight: Wobble Stools Improve Students’ Ability to Focus in the Classroom

First grade teacher Jennifer Fioretti noticed her students were struggling to remain seated and engaged during group lessons. After researching flexible seating options, Ms. Fioretti applied for a MEF grant to purchase two “wobble stools,” specialized seating that allows kids to “fidget” with less disruption to others.
 
Students use the stools during whole group instruction and while at their seats completing their work. Using the stools enables students to be remain attentive and sit for longer periods of time. Ms. Fioretti commented, “It’s rare that I have students getting up and walking around now.”
 
Ms. Fioretti observed that one student stopped making squeaking noises with her hands – which had been problematic for some time – now that the stools are used in the classroom.  “It was very successful for her to stay on task.  She asked, ‘Can I bring the stool to speech? I have a hard time concentrating in speech because those chairs are so hard and don’t move.'”
 
Using wobble stools has been so successful in Ms. Fioretti’s classroom that Green Meadow now include their use in several students’ Individualized Education Program’s (IEPs).

Grant Highlight: Fowler Students Enjoy “Extreme Science” Show

Thanks to a MEF grant received by 7th grade Science Teacher, Mark Myers, Fowler students recently enjoyed an “Extreme Science” assembly presented by David Hagerman.

Myers applied for this MEF grant because, “All too often I am asked, “Why do I have to learn this? Why is it important?” A show like this gives students the opportunity to learn about the science behind many things that we take for granted in our everyday lives, and entertains them at the same time.”

The show uses materials and equipment to demonstrate scientific concepts such as kinetic energy, electricity, chemistry, forms of matter, and force. Students witnessed the power of a large Van de Graff generator, a demonstration of the Bernoulli effect using floating beach balls, and vortex cannons that shot flying rings of fog into the audience.

Mr. Hagerman customizes the show to each grade level, explaining scientific material in more detail to the 6th, 7th and 8th graders. When asked what he hopes the students took away from the assembly he said, “I hope they take away a strong appreciation of science and that everyone can find a science they enjoy.”

According to one fourth grade student it was “the best show ever!” Another 6th grader commented, “It was awesome!”

The “Extreme Science” show at Fowler was the last school performance of the year before Hagerman performs at Canobie Lake park this summer.  


Grant Highlight: Photography Students Showcase Their Work at MHS

Thanks to a grant by John Ogden, Television and Radio Broadcast Teacher at Maynard High School (MHS), photography students are now able to develop, frame, and display their work for all to see.

The students’ work can be seen at WAVM and throughout the MHS, including near the building entrance.

Mr. Ogden says the displays are a source of pride for his students, commenting on how wonderful it makes them feel when they see their work being enjoyed by others.


Grant Highlight: Fowler Students Pilot “Walking Classroom” Program

Thanks to a grant by ELA Coach, Denise Hatch, Fowler students are using the national-standards based program called The Walking Classroom.

The following story was first published in the Fowler Principal’s Weekly Memo on May 11, 2018

The Walking Classroom is a national award-winning nonprofit program that capitalizes on the favorable link between exercise and cognitive function — children improve their physical, mental, and academic health as they walk, listen, and learn!

The program is simple: Students take brisk 20-minute walks, as a group, while listening to custom-written, kid-friendly content that is aligned with academic standards. Each “WalkKit” audio device is preloaded with content related educational podcasts, which support our ELA, history, and science curriculum. A Teacher’s Guide, filled with a lesson plan and comprehension quiz to support each podcast, allows us to effectively discuss, review, and assess comprehension of the podcast content after the walk.

Podcast topics range from biographies of famous doctors and scientists to meteorology to poetry, and each podcast begins with a brief health literacy message. Additionally, positive character messages are woven into the podcasts. For example, a podcast about the continental divide begins with students in the podcast talking about how exercise helps improve your mood, and then the podcast transitions to a discussion about the continental divide. Discussion questions at the end of the podcast encourage students to consider how similar to where precipitation falls along the continental divide determines in which direction it will flow, student actions and behaviors will determine how other people respond to them. All podcasts contain the three basic components: health literacy topic, main academic content topic, and a focused character value discussion question.

The Walking Classroom provides students with a trusted source of academic content presented in an innovative and engaging manner. Students return from their walks in better moods, more focused, and more likely to engage in post-walk discussions. Additionally, The Walking Classroom provides classes with an innovative tool to meet the needs of students with alternative learning styles, all while walking and having fun!

Please visit The Walking Classroom’s website for more information and to see videos of the program in action. 


Grant Highlight: Bren Bataclan Visits Green Meadow School

Thanks to a grant by preschool teacher Viviane Viros, Boston-based artist, Bren Bataclan, spent 3 days working with students and staff to create a new mural at Green Meadow.

The first day, Bataclan held an all school assembly to talk about his work and to teach the students how to draw characters. Afterwards, the 3rd graders worked with him to create images that reinforced the school’s core values of “We are kind, We are safe, We are learners.” Bataclan incorporated many of their images into the mural, such as a “Stop” sign, children asking each other to play, and a brain.

3rd graders were invited to see the mural being unveiled and to ask Bataclan questions about the project. During the unveiling, one student stated, “This is the best piece of art in the school.”


Student Grant Highlight: Izzy Hathaway and Cierra DeVos Raise Awareness about the Middle East

MHS students worked with their teacher, Jean LaBelle, to apply for a student grant to purchase a map and materials needed to create a display about the Middle East at MHS.

The map spans a complete wall, and includes country profiles, articles and information about the international relations of the region.

Hathaway and DeVos stated that, “By presenting information in a straightforward and clear way, with the help of MEF we were able to spark discussion and raise awareness about the frequently misunderstood Middle East.”