Project Based Learning with a Maker Mindset: Grass Valley Receives a Light Awards Grant

Previously published by the Light Awards Program

PRESS RELEASE: SAN FRANCISCO, CA – May 5, 2016

Grants enable 13 teams of California educators to engage in professional development programs that invigorate personal commitments to teaching

The Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation announced today that 13 teams of California teachers are recipients of the 2016 Leveraging Innovation by Growing and Honoring Teachers (LIGHT) Awards. Launched in 2014, the LIGHT Awards recognize creative, innovative, and passionate teachers looking to pursue high quality professional learning. The awarded teams each receive up to $30,000 over two years for projects which are tailored to the needs of their schools and communities. The grant program is designed to encourage more engaged and rewarding teaching as well as to foster community among its awardees.

Intrepid believes that teachers are in a unique position to know what types of training and projects will be most relevant and will lead to sustainable change within their classrooms, schools, and beyond. With help from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Intrepid’s LIGHT Awards Program was designed to encourage teachers to grow as leaders and innovators. Following an open application process which produced more quality applications than could be funded, teams were selected based on a number of factors, including innovative project ideas, dedication to teaching, and a passion for professional growth.

Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation Founder Karen Leshner shared, “I am delighted to welcome the 2016 cohort of LIGHT Awards teams to our community. With the addition of these new recipients, the LIGHT Awards program is impacting a total of 133 teachers working on 27 exciting projects in the greater Bay Area.”

Members of the 2016 LIGHT Awards teams teach at the following 15 schools:

  • Alpha José Hernández Middle School, San Jose, CA
  • Aspire East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy, East Palo Alto, CA
  • Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8, San Francisco, CA
  • Ellis Elementary School, Sunnyvale, CA
  • Grass Valley Elementary School, Oakland, CA
  • Hillsdale High School, San Mateo, CA
  • John McCandless STEM Charter School, Stockton, CA
  • June Jordan School for Equity, San Francisco, CA
  • Lafayette Elementary School, San Francisco, CA
  • Longfellow Middle School, Berkeley, CA
  • Madison Park Business & Art Academy, Oakland, CA
  • Merrill F. West High School, Tracy, CA
  • Mission High School, San Francisco, CA
  • Oakland International High School, Oakland, CA
  • Vargas Elementary School, Sunnyvale, CA

Examples of the awardees’ projects include:

  • Developing a school-wide, vertically integrated curriculum and project based learning units around the concept of flight
  • Developing a teaching garden as an outdoor science classroom
  • Building staff capacity in the dual immersion model of bilingual education
  • Developing skills and a framework for experienced high school math teachers to mentor new teachers
  • Bringing mindfulness based practices into teaching, curriculum and school culture

Read summaries of all 13 awarded projects here.

To accomplish the 13 awarded projects, the teachers will participate in trainings and workshops, attend conferences, work with experts and coaches, codify and share their own experiences, and establish professional learning communities.
Dr. Lucinda Taylor, Principal at Madison Park Business and Art Academy in Oakland shared, “I am confident that our team will learn a great deal over these two years that the members will be able to bring back and share with the rest of our staff in support of improved student outcomes.”

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Our team of mighty Makers celebrates at the Light Awards Convening in August.  (pictured from l-r: Paula Mitchell, Monique Parrish, Diana Culmer, Roxanne Martinez)

[Grass Valley’s] team of four elementary school teachers will pilot a Project Based Learning (PBL)/Maker-Centered program. To start, they will attend a PBL conference and workshop to learn the basics of creating excellent maker-based projects. Then, they will embark on courses of training to create integrated cross-curricular lessons that involve protocols, tools, and applications that are useful for evaluating and deepening their own and their students’ learning. Ultimately, they will train additional educators at their site in the PBL/Maker mindset. The team’s focus and expertise is on both general education and special needs classes. For students with special needs, the opportunity to participate in projects that highlight different ways of thinking increases engagement, confidence, and sense of belonging in the school community as a whole.

 

 

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