Learning Grant IMpacts
The Innovative Learning Grant program provides funding for teachers to implement innovative and interactive projects/lessons. In the last six years, the Waterloo Schools Foundation has gifted more than $180,000 to 89 projects at 17 different schools.
The “Little Learners” at Elk Run Early Childhood Center have been able to explore the smallest forms of life (seeds, insects, water, and other nutrients) and learn how they work together to sustain life through this hands-on science project. The school was given funding to purchase child sized tools, seeds, plants, soil, and books to create an outdoor learning environment for all 200+ Elk Run Students. Five flowerbeds have been planted, and now serve as a great way to introduce preschool students to the wonderful world of science!
Failure Free Learning
According to the Deaf Literacy Center, the average reading level of deaf high school graduates in the United States is roughly at the fourth grade level. This project is “dedicated to changing the future of deaf/hard of hearing students in Waterloo” by bridging the gap between American Sign Language and Standard English. The Failure Free Reading program helps deaf students read with full comprehension and signing prosody (head movement, facial expressions, etc.), customizing solutions for the deaf and capitalizing on their strength of sight. It teaches critical vocabulary skills and instills confidence in students’ abilities to learn through petitions, sentence structure, and compelling story content. More than 15 students from Lou Henry Elementary, Hoover Middle, and East High have shown significant reading improvement as a result of this innovative curriculum.
String Vibration Study
A classroom set of ukuleles were purchased for fifth grade students at Highland Elementary to study the science of sound (or acoustics) during music class. After learning how to play these unique instruments, they study vibrations and sound frequencies by using different apps. This is a new and exciting way to apply scientific questioning and critical skills to the universal language of music. In a District where more than 30 different languages are spoken, it’s a great opportunity to make learning accessible for all students.
Rubrics CubE Club
Rubik’s Cubes have been proven to increase spatial intelligence and cognitive development in students. ELP Teacher, Robin Loes, has worked to incorporate them into her lesson plans to extend student achievement in this area. After a number of students showed an active interest in continuing to learn beyond the lesson plan, she established a club at Kingsley Elementary where students work together to create mosaics using 250 cubes. More than 100 students participate in the club monthly, and it has been so successful that two other schools have started one of their own, borrowing the Rubik’s Cubes purchased through this grant. The students have even showcased their work at the Cedar Valley STEM Festival and Advanced Programming Showcase!