District hands out global initiative grants

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Twelve grants across all levels were recently funded through the District's Global Initiative Program for 2013-14, Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services George Mavroulis said.

About $12,000 will be handed out this year school through the grants, he said.

Three grants were handed out at the elementary level:

  • Sauk Trail: Music, Dance, Art, and Culture of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and West Africa (John Becker)
  • Park: Project Based Global Literacy and 21st Century Skills (Brenda Autz)
  • Park: Getting’ Buggy! (Nicole Kartman)

The Sauk Trail project will bring together students and community through dancing, playing, and singing Afro-Cuban salsa music, Becker said. This will happen through learning in music classes throughout the school year, with a culminating evening event later in school year.

In addition, Sauk Trail's physical education teachers plan to work on salsa dance and movement with all of their classes. In art class, students will be doing art projects that will be displayed that tie in directly with the cultures of this region of the world. 

Autz's grant involves two projects that will take place in three classrooms, more than doubling the number of students who were involved a year ago. The grant provides for improved literacy instruction, greater use of technology, and global collaboration and sharing.   

One project is "Global Read Aloud,'' which was developed by West Middleton fifth-grade teacher Pernille Ripp. Park students will connect with other students from around the world "to show them that they are part of something bigger than them,'' Autz said. The second project, "Cuban Art Exchange," allows students from Wisconsin and Cuba to share art and ideas, along with building elationships between two cultures divided more by ideology than distance.

All three Park fourth-grade classrooms are involved in the exchange this year through an organization called Children Are the Hope (CATH). The project is highlighted in the short documentary "Global Wisconsin."  

"Our classes are very fortunate to be invited to participate," Autz said.

The Getting Buggy! grant allows first-graders to learn more about insects. They watch mealworms turn into beetlesand magggots turn into flies. This yar there are also plans to view luna moths, one of the largest moths in the world with a wingspan of 4.5 inches, painted lady butterflies and a praying mantis.

"The kids become so excited when the life cycle change happens,'' Kartman said.

Two grants were handed out at the middle school level:

  • Kromrey and Glacier Creek: Teaching 21st Century Skills with Future Problem Solving (Ruth Frawley)
  • Glacier Creek: Building Global Awareness in a 21st Century Classroom (Holly Reardon)

Frawley said the FPS program will help improve literacy due to the emphasis on research, writing and reading. In addition, a number of the topics students will explore include social isolation, desertification, surveillance society and land transportation.

Reardon's project involves building international school partnerships, a project blog and a global awareness project. She hopes to have her students blog more, participate in classroom chats and use interactive apps to respond and reflect.

"I have a vision,'' she said. "I see a classroom where every student is working on a device, and where students are engaged in interactive lessons, collaborating and creating.  ... I see a classroom where students are connecting with kids all over the world to share experiences, build awareness, and learn.''

Six grants were handed out at the high school level:

  • MHS: Human Rights Week (Tim Davis)
  • MHS: The Memory Project (Bob Elland)
  • CSCS: Career Readiness Program (Jason Pertzborn)
  • MHS: Felting: An International Tradition (Robin Kourakis)
  • MHS: Global Education Certificate Development (Laura Love)
  • MHS: Global Guest Speakers (Janel Anderson)

Human Rights Week is a week-long event focusing on human rights related themes, where all high school students and community members have the opportunity to hear and see speakers, presentations and films on a variety of human rights related themes. The event will be held in February 2014.

Elland said MHS art students have created 125 portraits of children who live in orphanages all around the world over the past three years.  Each spring the portraits are exhibited at MHS in Gallery 2000.

The artists receive pictures of children who are waiting for portraits. The artists create the portraits, and the finished products are delivered to the children.

"This is an opportunity for (our art students) to open their hearts to children who have endured many hardships, and to promote the value of sharing kindness with others,'' he said.

Pertzborn's students will develop a portfolio and teach Junior Achievement classes to elementary students as part of his proram. They will also partner with local businesses to do real-life simulations, such as preparing to apply for a job and doing a mock interview with a local human resouces department.

Kourakis said her students will learn about the history of felting and its utilitarian purposes and application as a fine art throughout cultures and time as they learn the science behind different types of fibers including wool. They will use traditional tools and techniques to create felted art that is both culturally and contextually relevant as well as personal. The grant funds iwll be used to purchase a felting machine.

The grant proposed by Love will help staff review the DPI's Global Education Certificate and modify it for MHS students so that it can be part of the 2014-15 curriculum.

MHS hopes to bring in experts from around the world to bridge the gap and enrich 21st Century global competencies for all students, Anderson said. MHS plans to use Skype and Scopia to bring those guest speakers into classrooms, she said. This kind of work is already being piloted by schools in our area, including at Lodi.

Finally, one grant will impact elementary and middle school students. "We Are One: A Global Art Exchange" was developed by Claire Staley and will benefit Northside and Kromrey students.

Last year students at Northside and Kromrey were paired with students at Jyotidaya Cooperative School in Chapagoan, Nepal.  Nearly 600 MCPASD students completed a project, while he entire student population at Jyotidaya Cooperative School (298 from grades K-8) also completed a project. 

The plan this year is to incorporate add an elementary school in Burma.

"This will give MCPASD students an opportunity to further expand their cultural horizons, by learning about another country in addition to Nepal, and ensure that each and every student receives a piece of artwork to take home,'' she said.