Monday, January 28, 2013

Want Innovation in Education? Involve Teachers

In Los Altos School District, we support new ideas and practices to strengthen teaching and learning. Our goal in offering Innovative Teacher Grants is to fund and share successful strategies to educate and prepare students in a way that meets their individual needs.   We are especially interested in grants that will help teachers explore ideas to help us achieve our district vision of “becoming a leader in revolutionizing learning for all students.”  All proposals must align with LASD’s mission and with one of our goals as outlined in the Educational Blueprint:

    • Individualize Learning for All Students
    • Explore, Develop and Implement Innovative Practices
    • Increase Learning Opportunities, Professional Development and Sharing of Best Practices
To build our knowledge base and to uncover new, great practices in public education we have  invited all LASD teachers to apply for these grants.  

Throughout this school year, LASD will be able to provide up to $50,000 for teachers grants.  These grants have been made possible by a generous private donation that is a direct result of the incredible collective work we are doing to improve the learning experience for all students.  

Grantees must agree to share their work with the broader LASD teaching community and prepare materials to be used in public presentations.  We have just completed the second round of the grants and are pleased to report out the following projects have been funded.

Fall Cycle
ePortfolios:  A fourth grade teacher will focus on using electronic portfolios to move towards becoming a paperless classroom.
Lego Robotics Elective:  A junior high teacher will be creating a Lego Robotics elective for the 2013-2014 school year
Chromebooks in the Primary Grades:  A team of second grade teachers will be working on using four Chromebooks in each classroom to determine the effectiveness of this tool in primary classes using a small group instruction format.

Winter Cycle
Design Thinking:  A team of fourth grade teachers will create lesson plans using design thinking and pull together a prototyping supply rack to use with students during the process.
Sound/Filming Studio:  A grade six teacher will create a small room for students to use for filming with green screen and basic sound equipment that is accessible to all students and teachers on campus for multi-media projects.
STEM Project:  A grade five teacher will create a new STEM project aligned with a current fifth grade science unit incorporating materials from “Engineering is Elementary.”
Multi-media Projects:  A team of first grade teachers will work to develop best methods for incorporating the creation of multi-media projects into the first grade curriculum.
Programmable Robots:  A team of sixth grade teachers will collaborate with Khan Academy to have students create simple robots that can be programmed during their CSTEM class.

All grantees will share results from their learning project later this spring.  We believe there is great power in providing our teachers with both the freedom and resources to explore how to best “revolutionize learning.”  We look forward to sharing the results of their collective work and would love to hear any other ideas you have on increasing the teacher voice in rethinking instructional practices.

By: Alyssa Gallagher, Asst Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction

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