Lawrence teachers recently won four grants from Southwestern Bell Telephone that will help them teach the basics in reading and math as well as introduce students to the latest in computer technology.
Karen Crowe, a fourth-grade teacher at Hillcrest School, said the $739 grant she received will allow her students to produce what she likens to a "video term paper."
The grant money will be used to purchase a digitizer, which will allow students to transfer computer-generated illustrations and charts to a student-produced video on U.S. geography.
For example, Crowe said, if a student on the video is talking about the Grand Canyon, a computer-generated graphic can be used to show the various depths of the canyon.
"This is the way kids will give their reports in the 21st century," Crowe said.
Crowe said she especially likes the project's interdisciplinary approach. It incorporates not only social studies, art, writing, speaking and computer usage, but some students in her class who are fluent in Korean and Japanese will add a foreign-language component to the project.
CROWE SAID she plans to emphasize writing the text for the video.
"We're trying to teach kids to be writers," she said.
Another grant from Southwestern Bell will help parents get involved in teaching their grade-school children some basics in math and reading.
Sherrill Catt, the district's Chapter 1 math coordinator, Karen Davies, Chapter 1 reading coordinator, and Norma Harrod, former media coordinator, won the $750 grant.
Catt said the grant will be used to produce videos that parents and children can use at home to work on students' math and reading skills. The videos will be for Chapter 1 students, who receive extra assistance in learning math or reading.
Written activity materials accompanying the videos will stay in the students' homes even after the videos have been returned.
Catt said one video will focus on such concepts as recognizing the value of currency and counting change. She said another video will stress to parents the importance of reading with their children.
"THIS IS A way for parents and schools to form a strong partnership," Catt said. "The kids are going to be the winners."
Catt said one video that the district produced last semester showed students how to use a "milk-carton computer."
In using the computer, students might have a card with a math problem on it. By placing the card in a slot on a modified milk carton, the card exits the carton through another slot such that the answer on the back side of the card is showing.
Catt said the activity helped at least one student to learn all of his multiplication tables over the winter break.
Tanya Mayer, a gifted education consultant at South Junior High School, won a $670 grant for working with "at-risk high achievers," or students who believe they must over-achieve to feel worthy.
AND LAURA Moore, third-grade teacher at New York School, won a $400 grant to purchase about 40 hardbound books, which her students will be encouraged to read with their parents at home. She said the books to be ordered will reflect the tastes of students.
Of the 395 grant applications submitted by Kansas educators for this last round of Southwestern Bell grants, only 56 were funded. The grants are part of the company's Kansas Educational Excellence Program.