Innovation a hallmark of Tri-Creek grant programs

2014-01-08T00:00:00Z Innovation a hallmark of Tri-Creek grant programsTimes Staff
January 08, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Editor's note: An incomplete version of this news story appeared in the Southlake edition Jan. 5. Here is the full story.

LOWELL | The Tri-Creek Education Foundation awards grants each year to teachers and other staff members who propose innovative programs that are not funded by the Tri-Creek Community School Corp.

Having just awarded the 2013-14 grants, the foundation directors were pleased to receive summaries of the 2012-13 grants and learn that students have been putting their minds in motion to enjoy cultural activities, gymnastics, reading and junk.

Here is a summary of several programs funded by the foundation:

Students more “put together”

While it has long been understood that moving bodies support eager minds, some Three Creeks Elementary School classrooms are employing the principle to improve student academic outcomes. Based on neurological research, the “Minds in Motion” curriculum employs a blend of gymnastics, balance exercises and exercise technology to strengthen the young student’s ability to organize and retain information. In 5- to 15-minute intervals throughout the day, students participate in coordination drills such as walking a balance beam, crawling through desk mazes, rolling on gym mats, and climbing stairs, all in the classroom.

Results from the first year of implementation have been positive. According to Three Creeks teacher Kassie Hanger, “I have noticed incredible focus change in my students. Students are more ready to learn when they have completed “Minds in Motion” for the day.”

Get your head thinking

According to Matthew Heiny of Three Creeks Elementary School, the new reading series Key Links Literacy Set “gets him thinking.” The reading materials purchased by teacher Kristen Hughes, have opened new pathways for enjoying the written word at an early age. Students in grades 3 through 5 are using the literacy materials to build proficiency in a broad range of reading skills including inference, prediction, summarizing and theme development. 

A special feature of the stories is the presentation of thought provoking questions throughout the stories as opposed to just at the conclusion. Students and their parents are encouraged to read together and discuss the questions as they progress through the story. 

Indy College Crawl

In preparation for the 2013 Academic Decathlon and Academic Super Bowl, 50 Lowell High School students spent three days in Indianapolis visiting Butler University and the University of Indianapolis thanks to a grant awarded to Academic Teams Director Joe Gianotti, a LHS English teacher.

The students met with professors of Russian and Greek history, areas of concentration in the decathlon.

Students on the Academic Super Bowl team prepped on biology concepts at the Indiana Medical History Museum. Art requirements were explored at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Proving the value of their “Indy Crawl,” the Academic Super Bowl Fine Arts' team finished 21st of 83 schools in Indiana, and the Science team qualified for the state finals. The Academic Decathlon Team qualified for the National Decathlon by winning the History portion of the competition and placing second in Music. 

Their own life stories

The essence of any human interaction is the telling of at least some portion of one’s life story. Megan Iussig’s Lowell Middle School eighth-graders had the opportunity to see just what is meant by exploring one’s life story in a trip to the Broadway in Chicago presentation of "Big Fish: A New Musical of Epic Proportions." The play follows the journey of Will Bloom as he endeavors to separate fact from fiction in an effort to understand his father’s life.

After attending the performance, students became playwrights, directors, songwriters and actors as they collaboratively told their own stories. The final projects were shared through a variety of media.

Learning from junk

Junk was used as a learning tool in Beverly Free’s Lowell Middle School sixth-grade science classes. Given a box full of odds and ends, students worked collaboratively to design and construct a “machine” that had the demonstrated capability to move. The conversion of potential to kinetic energy was the goal, as required by Indiana educational science standards. Working collaboratively, students sent their “junk machines” traveling as far as five meters.

After completing the project, each group developed and presented an oral report to the other design teams.

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