By MICHELLE BROOKS
RUSSELLVILLE - Technology, literacy, security and motivation were rewarded with the inaugural grants from the Russellville Schools Foundation.
Individual teachers could qualify for up to $500 and groups for up to $1,000. The annual grant program is made possible by donations to the foundation.
Upper elementary students will benefit from iPad Mini technology in science, history, math and literacy.
New applications will allow teachers to leave the textbooks and expand creatively. The small technology also will free up classroom space.
"As the elementary students progress through the grades, it becomes more challenging to motivate them," said Cindy Wieberg. "Technology is the key."
The fourth-grade teachers implements a personal iPad usage plan in the last school year.
"Student's learning was more meaningful because of the incorporation of specific skill related games," Wieberg said.
They were used for electricity and economic units for the whole group and in small groups for reading, math tutoring and enrichment
Because science concepts are assessed on the fifth-grade state MAP (Missouri Assessment Program), the teachers intend to concentrate the use of this new technology in units including rocks and minerals, space, scientific method and ecosystems.
As a companion to a significant Children's Trust Fund grant, the local foundation helped provide security and other measures necessary to open the Parents As Teachers new Early Childhood Play Center.
Tracey Bieri will install an iDock Wireless Listening Center, comprised of six wireless headphones, a wireless transmitter, and a dock which will expand the teacher capabilities of a single iPad.
The device will allow for differentiated instruction in literacy, math and technology. She hopes it may aid in reducing the need for Title 1 services.
"Students will have access to interactive books and extra practice with the comprehension and phonics skills that will supplement our Journeys Reading Curriculum each week," Bieri said.
And finally, the foundation grant will provide supplies to enhance the Spring 2014 MAP assembly skit. The musical performance incorporates test-taking tips and models appropriate strategies.
"The 2013 skit was made memorable to the test-takers, but at cost to the staff for the cute, matching team costumes," Wieberg said. "The effect on student learning should be reflective on our increasing MAP test scores."