BREMCO ‘Bright Idea’ grant winners bring innovation to the classroom
Christina Day Staff Writer email@example.com
Five local educators have been awarded grant money for their novel approaches to teaching and implementation of “bright ideas” in the classroom.
Blue Ridge Electric Membership Company (BREMCO) announced that the Ashe recipients of its 2013-2014 “Bright Idea” grants came from Mountain View Elementary, Westwood Elementary, Ashe County Middle School and Ashe County High School.
Jorena Sparks, art teacher at Mountain View was granted $1,037 for her “Smart Art from the Start” concept which allows students to collect their works of art in both physical and digital formats.
The BREMCO grant will allow Sparks to create a portfolio for each student from Kindergarten through sixth grade to collect all of the artwork they create during the school year. Parents will be able to review the portfolios during parent-teacher meetings and the students will take home their portfolios at the end of each year.
“Smart Art from the Start” will also allow for the creation of digital portfolios so students’ work can be photographed and exhibited online. The hope is that each student will eventually have one work of art uploaded into their digital portfolio every nine weeks, Sparks said.
By sixth grade, each student will have at least 28 pieces of art in their digital portfolios. When students graduate from Mountain View, they will receive a CD with images of their creations from each school year.
Sparks said she sees numerous benefits to her students’ art work being collected digitally.
“Students have never had the chance to view several of their pieces together at one time,” Sparks wrote in her grant proposal, “The opportunity for visually tracking growth and learning from their mistakes and triumphs has never existed before.”
Ashe County Middle School Media Coordinator Janis Harless and Eighth Grade teacher Kellie Johnson received a “Bright Idea” grant for their coordinated effort to purchase globes for the middle school.
The globes will enhance Johnson’s lessons on settlement patterns and physical land characteristics. Students will use the globes to illustrate how world influences effected North Carolina and the United States.
“Having globes will foster small group participation and offer opportunities for discussion thereby increasing student learning,” Harless said. “These markable, moveable globes will involve students physically in the learning process” assisting both visual and auditory learners.
“Interacting and learning with these globes will help students to visualize and realize that they are part of a much larger community than just their town, county, country or even continent, and indeed, their world is not flat,” Johnson said.
Josh Beckworth, an English teacher at the high school, said he also focused his funded project on interactive learning.
Beckworth said that he will use the $674 grant to purchase an anthology of books centered around “traditional art and crafts as well as transcriptions and explanations of traditional oral folklore,” and a classroom camcorder.
Students will use the camcorder to recreate a project from the anthology, “thereby increasing their non-fiction reading skills,” Beckworth said.
Kevin Miller of Westwood Elementary will use the $1,050 grant for his “I like to Move it Move it” project to combine physical fitness with technology to encourage student participation “in a fun, easy and rewarding physical education program,” according to a BREMCO press release.
According to the release, BREMCO has been giving “Bright Idea” grants to schools in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Avery and Wilkes counties for 20 years to “provide educators with funding of up to $1,500 per grant for innovative classroom projects that benefit students and would not otherwise be covered by the school budget.”
Ashe educators interested in applying for a “Bright Idea” grant for 2014 can visit ncbrightideas.com to find applications and instructions.
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