fourth graders are in for a big surprise next year.
The district was recently awarded a $267,300 grant that will help purchase new equipment for fourth-grade classrooms and fund a “study trip” to the USS Midway Museum. The grant will also fund teacher training.
“A lot of the people that received grants, they didn’t get as much as they asked for. But we got every penny we asked for, which is really exciting,” said Mary Kraus, the district’s program manager of technology services. She and teacher Sally Ahern co-authored the grant and submitted their application in October 2009.
The grant was awarded through the Enhancing Education through Technology State Program, which is dedicated to improving student achievement through the use of technology in elementary and secondary schools. Lemon Grove was the only school district in San Diego and Imperial counties to receive the competitive grant and only one of 27 districts statewide.
“It’s an incredible honor, and it’s an incredible opportunity,” Kraus said.
Each of the district’s 13 fourth-grade classrooms will receive about 10 new computers, Kraus said. The existing computers are not considered “current” by the California Department of Education, because they are older than 48 months, Kraus explained.
Fourth-grade classrooms will also receive Promethean interactive, Internet-enabled whiteboards and student hand-held responders, Kraus said. She added that the district has already received 40 percent of the grant monies and recently ordered the Promethean equipment.
“We have an engagement gap among young people in this country that are very used to using an iPad or an iPod or a laptop netbook,” said Sonny Magana, the head of Global Research for Promethean. “The kids are used to using technology at home on a regular basis, and they come to school and expect to use interactive technology. If they don’t, then it’s very difficult to not only get kids engaged, but to keep them engaged.”
The district began installing in 2009.
Promethean research shows when teachers use interactive instructional tools.
was the first local school to receive boards. The district determined that the new technology has had a positive impact on academic achievement and student engagement, according to the study and the school’s achievement results. The school had an 18 percent gain in mathematics during the 2009-10 school year.
“We decided that if we could help turn around , that would make a wonderful model for the rest of the district,” Magana said.
In addition to providing the new equipment, Promethean will provide school district staff with a development plan for teachers to show them how to integrate the technology into their lesson plans, Kraus said.
“It’s an exemplary partnership,” Magana said. “We understand the needs of the teachers in the 21st century, particularly in these times of economic strife. We want teachers to make the most out of the resources they have and realize the benefits of the investments they make in Promethean.”
The grant has established other district partnerships, too.
Kraus said the district is collaborating with the USS Midway Museum to modify its educational programs for the district’s fourth graders.
“We were honored that the district invited us to partner with them because Lemon Grove is known for, what I call, ‘thinking out of the box,’” said Sara Hanscom, the director of Education Programs at the museum. “They are ahead of the game in so many different areas, particularly in the use of technology and making that technology available to students to enhance education all the way around.”
Hanscom said students will learn about electricity and magnetism during their study trip next spring.
To prepare for the trip, teachers will meet at the museum for a study session on June 29. They will learn about the Promethean equipment, which the museum also has, and how it will be used. Museum staff and teachers will also discuss the material students will learn before, during and after the trip.
“This is an opportunity for us to really streamline our museum classes to match the needs of the Lemon Grove School District,” Hanscom said. “It’s an example of how different types of educational communities can work together—the school and the museum—to really benefit students in all different ways.”
Kraus said grant partners also include the San Diego Science Alliance, which will “help expand teacher capacity in magnetism, electricity and teaching in a project-based environment,” as well as the Classroom of the Future Foundation, which will research and evaluate the outcomes of the grant-funded work.
“The opportunity is really fabulous for the students and the community of Lemon Grove, because with the budget the way it is, we wouldn’t have been able to provide these opportunities,” Kraus said.