News

News

BEST donations at work in our schools

Uncategorized

The Principal of the Harry Lee Cole School recently shared some wonderful examples of BEST donations at work in our classrooms:

It’s a great feeling to know that BEST helped to bring these technologies to our schools, and we’re planning to do more this year!

$2,400 in donations!

Uncategorized

We have received $2,400 in donations from 35 Boxford families. Thank you so much! Your donations will be used to fund innovative teaching tools and professional development in our schools.

Our first priority will be this fall’s 2014 grant requests from teachers. We’ve received almost $13,000 in grant requests from the teachers at the Harry Lee Cole School and the Spofford Pond Elementary School.  The Board will be meeting in November to review the grants and determine which ones we will be able to fund.

It’s not too late to become a BEST supporter! Donate now and join the 35 other families in Boxford who are helping to make our schools better!

Weather Station in the classrooms

Uncategorized

BEST’s mission is to fund innovative teaching tools that bring new educational opportunities to our schools. In recent years, that has meant a lot of technological investment: Smart Boards, laptop computers, and iPads. However, BEST welcomes grants that bring other tools to our school. For example, in 2009 BEST funded a weather station at Spofford school.  We asked Ms. Cronin (Grade 3) to tell us how they use the weather station in their classroom.

Ms. Cronin reported that the third grade does an entire weather unit each year. The students record daily observations in their weather journals, then graph and analyze trends. She is working toward making a weather report a part of the normal school day.

The weather station was only possible because of your support. If you have not given to BEST this year, would you consider becoming a supporter?

The Fall, 2014 grants are in!

Uncategorized

The Boxford Elementary Schools Trust has received grant application from five different teachers, totaling almost $13,000. Requests are coming from the STEM program, the SPED program, from the Spofford technology team, and from the Multiage team at Cole.

But we have a problem: at the moment, we don’t have enough money to be able to fund all of these grants. We have raised almost $1,500 through your generous donations and we would like your help so that we can fund as many of these grants as possible. Please consider becoming a BEST supporter.

What happens to the grants next?

The Grant team will review the grants, meet with the teachers and the principals and discuss the grants, and make a recommendation to the board. The BEST board will meet in November to vote on the grants, using our Criteria for Evaluating BEST Grant Applications. We’ll also have to see what funds we have available, and prioritize the grants. We’re hoping to have the funds to support as many of these grants as possible, but we need your help.

We’d like to thank the teachers for taking the time to fill in the grant forms: they are long and we certainly ask for a lot of information, but these details help us to evaluate the grant.

 

iPads in the Multi-Age classrooms

Uncategorized

In the spring of 2013, the multi-age classrooms at the Cole school submitted a grant to BEST asking for 6 iPads for each classroom.  In the grant they wrote:

The multiage teachers frequently teach the students in small groups, while other groups of children or individuals are working independently. The iPads would fit easily into this format, so an easy transition is likely. Having the opportunity to work with a small number of iPads will enable the teachers to learn how best to use them, find Apps that are worthwhile, and get ready for a full class set if the 1:1 initiative is successful.

At the time, this was a pilot – no other classroom in the district had iPads dedicated to the classroom. This model has been so successful that Ms. Suther also asked for iPads for her classroom, and ultimately the school committee funded iPad carts for each grade at the Cole school. Recently, we asked the multi-age teachers to tell us more about what they do with the iPads during the school day.

Students use the iPads in small groups during WIN block, science, as a literacy choice, for math practice, discovery time, and social studies blocks. Once the iPad is in the hands of a student, they are off and running.

Some specific examples are:

  • Creating books and stories via Scribblepress, Puppet pals, Educreations
  • Listening to reading via Tumblebooks, BookFlix, Storia
  • Creating videos of student work
  • Student demonstrations of apps and how they work
  • Geography: students used Google Earth to find and locate features, landmarks, and places in their home town and state and then learned about them
  • Research of animals via National Geographic kids, Wikipedia, iknowthat.com,
  • Independent skill practice via ixl, Spelling city, Razkids, as well as several dozen math and phonics apps
  • Phonics games, spelling games, math games (number sense, time, money, problem-solving and more)
  • Publishing student work to make books in non-fiction study of Continents
  • Sharing and engaging students in their learning eg volcano video, taping of their Caine’s Arcarde projects
  • Articulating and sharing their learning strategies eg triple digit addition in math using Educreations
  • Researching for science projects using Discovery Education.

We are so happy to be able to support our teachers, as they bring new educational tools into the classroom. We couldn’t do it without your support.  If you have not given to BEST this year, would you consider becoming a supporter?

Ms. Suther’s class Grant report

Uncategorized

In 2013, Ms Suther approached BEST with a grant request for six iPads for her first grade classroom, to be used in small workgroups.

In her grant application she wrote:

“The iPads will be used to provide engaging activities in support of concepts being taught in class. The iPads will enable the teachers to direct students to specific, targeted skills for extra practice or extensions. Small groups and individuals will be working at their specific levels of learning. Learning to use the iPads effectively is a goal for the teachers, and training will be needed as they implement this small group approach. In addition to learning how to use the technology, children will also have a wider variety of opportunities to explore and learn through the many apps available.”

The BEST board approved her grant request and Ms. Suther received her iPads in the spring of 2014. We followed up with her this year to see how things are going and she writes:

“I love having the iPads in my room! In addition to having the technology available to do “listen to reading” and “working with words” from the Daily Five, I also use them for math centers. I hope to do small group teaching with the iPads this year. I feel like there is a lot more that I can do as I become more skilled as well.

I used them last year to research our organism projects and it was awesome. The children could do their research right in the classroom. In prior years we had to book extra Computer lab time to do our research and fit it into a 45 minute block whether the student was ready or not. The flexibility of being able to have the technology in the classroom as individual students need it was a bonus I hadn’t anticipated.”

This was a model that had been started in the multi-age classrooms the year before, with 10 iPads (also donated by BEST). Because of the success of the program in Ms. Suther’s class, Ms. Golesworthy’s class, and Ms. Salisbury’s class the Harry Lee Cole school is in the process of acquiring an iPad cart for each grade, which means that soon all classrooms at Cole will have access to iPads.

This is exactly the kind of work the BEST loves to do: a teacher sees a proven teaching method or tool that she would like to bring to our district  so she writes a grant to BEST. The grant is funded, and the model is so successful that it’s replicated throughout the school.

We could not make these things happen without your support! Thank you!

BEST Funds Art at Spofford

Uncategorized

In April of 2014, Ms. Ashmore-Davis (the Art teacher at Spofford Pond Elementary School) received an iPad cart, with funds provided by BEST from the Harriet Ernst Endowment fund. Students went to work right away with the iPads, using them for their art projects.

Here are descriptions of some of the art projects that are happening right now in Art class.

Grade 5: Grade 5 students used the Brushes app on their iPads to create digital version of their still-life  tonal collages.  Each image was created by using 5 different layers, separating each color onto a separate layer, and combining them to make the resulting image.  Students then had the opportunity to share their digital image and show how the image was created. You can see some examples of this work in the photos above.

Grade 3: Grade 3 students are working on a unit exploring Prehistoric Cave Art.  They watched a short video on the Apple TV that described the story of an 8 year old girl who actually discovered the cave paintings in Altamira, Spain. Students are now working on tutorials on the iPads that teach them how to draw cave-style animals step by step.  They will eventually be transferring these drawings to their own ‘cave walls’ using earth tone chalks.

Does your company give?

Uncategorized

You may not realize it, but BEST raises funds every year by writing grants. We have written grants to several foundations who have, over the years, kindly made donations to BEST. Last year, we raised over $6,000 by writing grants.

This is where YOU might come in: the company you work for may have a grant program. Many of these companies will only accept grant applications from their current employees. If you could take five minutes of your time to contact your HR department and see if there’s anything available, you may be able to help BEST raise funds for our schools! If you find something promising, contact BEST at info@bestforboxford.org and we’ll work with you to get the grant written.

Fall Grant Deadline is almost here!

Uncategorized

The Fall, 2014 grant deadline for BEST has almost arrived. Teachers need to complete their Grant Application by October 8 and submit them to the principal, who will review and approve them. The grants will be reviewed by the BEST Grant Committee, and then the board will vote on the grants.

This is the most exciting time to be working with BEST: we get to see all the wonderful ideas our teachers have. We also do diligently review the grants to choose those that we think have the best chance of success.

Of course the work doesn’t end there – we keep raising funds so that we can continue to support these and future grants.

BEST Funds Art at Cole

Uncategorized

In the fall of 2012, Ms. Dalton (Art teacher at Cole school) approached BEST with a grant for a few iPads that she could use in small workgroups, during the children’s WIN block. That program was so successful, that she returned a year later and asked us to fund a full one-to-one iPad cart for her classes, so that all students in a class could use the iPads as part of their art class. In April of 2014, we were pleased to be able to provide Ms. Dalton with her iPad cart.

Some of the artwork made by the students is shown below. Ms. Dalton writes:

This gallery is a sampling of the digital iPad painting K-2 students have made this year. Each painting in inspired by the traditional media project we created in art class. These are original paintings using a new media.

We asked Ms. Dalton “How has this changed or enhanced the learning of art concept and techniques in the art room?”

Thanks to BEST the art room at Cole School is full of creative opportunities for growth in new media art. Students are using the iPads funded by this grant to expand prior knowledge of a subject taught during art class. For example, the first graders are just finishing up a mix-media project called “Giant Leaves”. As an extension of this mixed media paint project students have the opportunity to create the same project on an iPad. In order to achieve the effect of digital splatter painting, paint scrapping and chalk pastel smudging, higher order thinking skills will be used.   Through experimentation students will determine how to use opacity, layering, and erasing to create the desired effect.

Then we asked “How has this improved art instruction and children’s knowledge and skill in art?”

This grant has improved art instruction and children’s knowledge and skill in art because the process of digital art creation captures the students’ creations stoke by stroke and allows students to view and self-assess their work by pressing the play feature of their painting. This enables the students to “interpret intent and meaning in their artwork” Responding Anchor Standard of the new Nation Core Arts Visual Art Anchor Standard/Responding.

This pilot project was so successful that it has been reproduced in the Art room at the Spofford Pond elementary school, as well.