HAMLET — Five Richmond County educators have won $2,000 Bright Ideas grants to finance projects that blend technology with teaching to bring students’ skills into the 21st century.
Honored at Tuesday evening’s school board meeting, the winners said they already had begun spending their grant money to help students construct and program robots, imagine inventions and express themselves through technology.
Winners and their projects are:
• Nikki Covington, gifted education, and media specialist Michelle Denham, Rockingham Middle School. This project stresses storytelling in literature circles. Students will be asked not just to listen but to examine the stories critically: How does the author build character? How does he or she construct the plot to convey a specific theme? The “precocious readers” will critique the books in the circles, ultimately creating blog critiques and videos inspired by what they have read.
• Jason Harris, media specialist, Fairview Heights Elementary School. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade will boost their learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by engaging in teams that construct and program robotics. The students will master such skills as reading and following instructions — a non-STEM skill — as well as critical analysis, problem solving, and coding and programming.
• Leiah Jarrell, media specialist, Ellerbe Middle School. The school already has redesigned its media center to allow for “maker spaces,” stations that will allow groups of children to explore critical thinking, collaboration and invention. Such stations can put “children in charge of their own learning,” Jarrell said, helping them come up with ideas outside the scope of typical classroom instruction. Children will work on such things as animation, coding, inventing and building structures on the new Lego wall.
• Meghann Lambeth, guidance counselor, Mineral Spring Elementary School. Lambeth has purchased — and intends to lend to teachers, school therapists and parents — materials to help children diagnosed with autism. The children will be able to use the “sensory objects” to express themselves and to boost learning.
The Bright Ideas grant program, sponsored by North Carolina’s electric cooperatives, gives teachers in kindergarten through 12th grade money for innovative projects that might otherwise not be financed. Pee Dee Electric is the local grantor.
The current round of grants engendered 28 applications, nine of which received financing. Richmond County Schools scored more grants than any other district.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]