2017-18 Institute for iNNOVATiON winners
Mountain Brook Elementary has been awarded a grant to put toward innovative global learning. The team of educators who developed this plan teach Kindergarten through Sixth grade students and include: Suzanne Andrews, Judy Dyess, Kelsey Frey, Allyson Martin, Thea Patrick, and Bethany Tompkins. Two additional key members of the team are current MBE 5th graders, Grayson Hydinger and Wells Finch, who will play an integral role in developing the global learning project and acting as liaisons between the faculty and student learners. The goal of this team’s work is to promote global citizenship using virtual experiences and world-wide connections. The team will explore a variety of technologies to help them reach their goal which will include virtual reality headsets and global learning courses that connect their students to students around the globe through video conferencing. Preparing the next generation of global citizens will help students thrive in our increasing global community. The grant team is excited about continuing their journey to educate the next generation of global learners!
Too many students have a fear of mathematics, and Morgan Chatham, math teacher at MBHS, wants to do something about it for the Twelfth grade students in her Algebra 2 class. The 360° Math Engagement project creates a community of students with a common goal of learning as opposed to a disjointed collection of people taking notes and doing homework. The classroom will literally transform into a 360° learning environment where three walls of the room have edge-to-edge writing surfaces. During class, students will have the opportunity to work problems at the walls, learning from each other in skill groups. All students will start at a level 3 problem and move to more difficult or more scaffolded problems based on performance with the first problem. There will be five difficulty levels of problems ranging from step-by-step instructions to complex problems with no support at all. The ultimate goal is to have all students able to work problems without any support. This will be manifested in a “target wall” that all students are trying to reach. As students reach the target wall, they will be reassigned to help other groups. The goal is for students to become aware of their abilities and move to the next group as needed. The beauty of this is that students are fully engaged in the process. There is limited passive learning- each individual is up and moving in the classroom. Students are engaged in conversations about mathematics with Ms. Chatham and their peers giving them ownership of their learning and a voice in how they progress.
In 2016, Amy Anderson and Amanda McClung created a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.) Lab through their Institute for Innovation grant. This allowed them to purchase materials and provide professional development support to implement S.T.E.A.M. activities. A co-teaching model was introduced in several classrooms to implement the S.T.E.A.M. lessons and integrate multiple subjects while also addressing the new Mountain Brook science standards. As a result Ms. Anderson and Ms. McClung observed a renewed excitement for teaching and learning with increased student engagement, creative problem solving skills, innovation, resourcefulness, and collaboration; With their 2017 Institute for Innovation grant, they will continue to use the successful S.T.E.A.M. philosophy to vertically align science experiences, kindergarten through sixth grade, using the co-teaching model and continued teacher development, adjusting the current model to accommodate two science facilitators – one for K-3 and one for 4-6.