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2017-18 Mini Grants

Flower to Seed

Swallow Union | Elizabeth Ackerman & Kathy Schott

Flower to Seed
The Plantmobile will bring flowers and seeds to dissect, and students will learn the different parts of plants and flowers, and their functions



Life Cycles, Habitats and Ecosystems

Swallow Union | Jennifer Dinneen

Life Cycles in the Garden
Plants grow from seeds, produce flowers, fruit and more seeds. The insects that make fruit possible go through metamorphosis. Using skills of observation, students will discover different life cycles that make plants, flowers, and fruits possible

Habitats and Ecosystems
What makes a forest different from a marsh? What are the differences between plants that grow there? Students will learn about adaptations that plants have developed across different ecosystems. They will learn how the abundance or lack of light, soil, and water affects a plant’s growth.



Student Council Leadership Retreat

High School | Vicky Belanger/ Nicole Penchansky ( advisor )

This year for Student Council, we are looking into revamping and strengthening the program so we can better help our school and community.  Two years ago, we created the first ever Student Council Leadership Retreat, which was run by Ms. Penchansky, and held at school.  Last year, we further developed the self-run leadership exploration and held it off-campus at Kimball Farm.  However, this year we would like to have an expert facilitate the retreat to better challenge the students and provide them with the resources they need to become better leaders and teammates.  The retreat is to be held on Monday, September 25th at NARA Park in Acton and will be facilitated by Adventure In Adventure Out.  If we have perfect attendance, 37 Student Council members along with various advisors will attend the event. 

Our reasons for holding this event include: building stronger relationships as a group, developing as a leader, and learning that different roles are needed in a group in order to be successful and that listening and support is just as important as leading.  In addition, we will work to develop events for the 2017-2018 school year that will benefit the school and greater community, such a Pink Week (in which we raise awareness and donate funds to the American Cancer Society), Community Service Week (in which we raise money for the Groton Community Children’s Fund, shop for Christmas presents for children in the community, collect over 1000 lbs of food and clothing for local food and clothing banks, etc.), Rest and Relaxation week, and holding activities to build community and school spirit.  Last year’s Leadership event helped ensure a successful year for Student Council, but we feel that we now need to reach out to professionals to continue to grow.

 We have been working extremely hard the past few years to build our program so we can improve upon our community’s spirit and found that each year we have more and more success, which I think has a lot to due with the Leadership Retreat which provides us with a solid foundation.  To prepare for this Leadership Retreat, Student Council has worked hard to keep the price as low as possible so all students can attend the retreat by fundraising, reaching out to the HS, and negotiating.  The Principal has agreed to cover the cost of the bus ($645) and Adventure In Adventure Out has worked with us to bring the price down from $2500 to $1872. 

In addition, Student Council has raised $500 to put towards the retreat; however, due to new rules with car washes, we were not able to fundraise the desired amount and are therefore reaching out to GDEF.

Robotomies Sponsorship

High School | Mark Rocheleau ( advisor )

The Robotomies is Groton-Dunstable's FIRST Robotics team.  We annually seek community support for our participation in the FIRST compettion.  Entry fee is $5000, plus we are allowed to spend up to $4000 building the robot.  Other expenses are not regulated.  Additionally, if we qualify for district or world championships, entry fee would be another $4000.  In order to be competitive we need to raise money for these funds as well as for tools and expendables.  Our goal is to design and build a robot capable of competing in our two regularly scheduled competitions well enough to qualify for district championships again.  Our students will have the advantage of having been a part of a FIRST robotics team which is something colleges and employers look for when hiring/admitting engineereing students.

Flexible Seating

Swallow Union | Genevre Jankowski

To accommodate the needs of all learners, I have introduced seating choice in my classroom. Students do not have an assigned desk, instead they choose where to seat each day. Since implementing this idea last year, I have seen an increase in student's attitude, and comfort in the classroom. Additionally, I feel the seating choice creates a community climate in the class. Flexible seating allows for student engagement, and collaboration. My classroom is a classroom with many Special Education students.
Many of these students need frequent breaks, and freedom to move in order to be most successful. One thing that is lacking in my approach to flexible seating is multiple choice in the type of seat for students.

Life Cycle - Water Garden

Swallow Union | Phyllis Hamel

The Second Grade Teachers at Swallow Union School are currently teaching the plant/tree life cycle as well as the symbiotic relationships which occur in life cycles. Having one fish farm tank for each classroom will provide students the opportunity to raise fish (from October 2017 - June 2018) while growing herbs. (Hydroponic Gardening= fish farming and growing herbs in nutrient rich water) Students will see first hand and gain an understanding of how living things interact in an ecosystem, growing plants and fish together. The "outputs" of the fish provide "inputs" for the plants. Students will harvest the herbs and supply the school kitchen with herbs. The water garden grows organic herbs and sprouts and it is a self cleaning fish tank.

Flexible Seating

Florence Roche | Jane Nissi

I have borrowed a few flexible seats from another teacher on my team to try out how flexible seating can impact my classroom. I noticed how the students who were able to choose another seating option were more engaged and were more committed to learning. Recent studies have shown flexible seating provides a more comfortable environment and provides choices for students who may not be able to do their best learning with traditional seating. With flexible seating, students are able to move to the seating that provides them with the most optimal learning. The wobble stools allow students who need to move to wobble slightly while working and the Back Jack chairs will help the students who prefer to sit on the floor to have a seat that provides them with back support. This alternative seating will be accessible to all of my students and will be a part of my classroom for many years.

Blandings Turtle Headstarting Program at the Middle School

GDRMS | Dorothy Dwyer

This is an exciting opportunity to introduce 8 th grade students to the Blanding’s Turtle Headstarting Program inconjuction with the program at the High School. The High School has alloted 4 Blanding's turtle hatchlings for the 8th grade students to raise and release. We will work with the High School environmental science students and Grassroots Wildlife Conservation:
This project will begin 10/17/2017 and will continue until Spring of 2018, when the turtles will be released.

Student Recording Devices

GDRMS | Caitlyn Morris & Julie Spang

Due to increased access to student technology and the GDRMS staff adopting UDL strategies in the classroom, education technology is an everyday event at the Middle School. Desktop vocal recording booths will allow students to record audio and video work within the classroom for projects and assignments. It is difficult to find a quiet place to do these types of recordings. The soundproofing box can be used to put a Chrome book inside and allows a clearer audio to go along with video. The box with a microphone allows students to record audio more clearly. The microphones themselves can also be used without the soundproofing box for audio alone. Teachers and students will have access to the different devices and will be able to use them together or separately for in class use from the Maker space. Many UDL projects offer students options to use audio and/or video in their choice projects but the audio quality and amount of time it takes to find quiet spaces has impacted the quality of these final projects. Teachers have used applications like Flipgrid and Let’s Recap already this year. Julie and I will set up a rental system for teachers to book the devices for use. We also will post pictures of how these are being used in the classroom on our Twitter accounts and the school Facebook page. We will spread news about these being available and possible project ideas with the faculty through grade level meetings and faculty meetings. Having these devices available for students will encourage them to try new options for assignments. Many students express themselves differently through voice and video explanation versus through writing, so this option and accessibility allows all students another option at showing what they know about the content they are learning.

New England Aquarium- Engineering & Erosion

Swallow Union | Genevre Jankowski, Sue Wynn, Julie Bushnell

We are aligning with the Next Generation Science Standards that have been adopted for Massachusetts. To enhance student exposure to the standards, we would like to bring in the Engineering and Erosion program from the New England Aquarium to allow our students a hands-on experience with both the concept of erosion and the overarching science standard focusing on engineering.

We are including a description of the program from the New England Aquarium's website: Engineering and Erosion

Our new Coastal Engineering Outreach Program challenges students to address the issues of local coastal erosion through the engineering design process, with an emphasis on communication and collaboration. Students work as teams employing engineering design to plan, test, and present their solutions to limit the erosion of sand from their own section of simulated sandy coastline. We would like to bring this program in to Swallow Union for our fourth graders to participate in during the beginning of 2018.

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2017-18 Major Grants

Classroom Workstations

Middle School | Hoag

Ms. Hoag requested designed UDL Mobile work stations for her classroom.  At the core of the UDL framework is the idea of flexible learning environments that accommodate learning differences, including small and large group work as well as spaces for quiet individual work within the classroom setting. Funding this project allowed four sixth grade social studies classes to access mobile work stations daily, for many years to come. This type of flexible learning environment will foster group collaboration, discussion areas, and quiet spaces for individual work. Now, students can choose the working environment that is best for them to promote their success!



Virtual Reality

FR/SU | Spang & Kaplan

Thanks to the generosity of a previous GDEF, the Middle School was able to take students on Virtual reality field trips using the virtual reality viewers via a GDEF grant with student owned phones.  This grant completed the Virtual Reality set and add the new Augmented Reality technology into the K-8 classrooms as well as Virtual Reality for the elementary classrooms.




Middle School | Humphrey

GDEF provided three aquaculture kits to pilot a program which provides the materials to demonstrate a powerful demonstration of the way to farm and grow food, conserve water, while sustaining plant and animal life. The cross-cutting NGSS 8th grade theme of cause and effect; was demonstrated via interdependence of living and non-living things on earth. Students also explore products and reactants in photosynthesis and cellular respiration!


Student Recording Devices

FR, SU, High School | Spang

GDEF provided desktop vocal recording booths to allow students to record audio and video within the classroom for projects and assignments. The soundproofing boxes were used to put a Chrome Book or iPad inside, allowing for clearer audio recordings. These devices available for students encouraged them to try new options for assignments, expressing themselves through voice and video.


Carnegie Hall Performance Sponsorship

High School | Savoy

GDEF provided financial assistance to the GDRHS Chamber Choir to perform at Carnegie Hall with Eric Whitacre, the number one classical composer of our times.  They performed with high school and adult choirs from Massachusetts, Texas, Utah, California, Verona, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Additionally there were 75 performers from all over the world. The GDRHS Chamber Choir’s name was on billboards and in magazines throughout the city! The students memorized nine advanced level songs in nine weeks and represented GDRHS beautifully.




Music Together

Boutwell | O'Neill

GDEF partnered with Boutwell to bring a music program for all ages and learners to enjoy!  




Milling Machine

High School | Rocheleau

GDEF purchased a Milling Machine at the High School to support hands on technical curriculum for those interested in Robotics. The students, as part of their work to build robots that win competitions, engaged in the full spectrum of robotics and design by learning to make their own parts




Mastering Physics

High School | Siren

GDEF purchased a site license for 25 students to engage with the e-text, Physics for Scientists and Engineers:  A Strategic Approach with Modern Physics.  The Physics curriculum text offers a software package where students can complete homework online and even more innovative, the homework is examined by the software, providing an overview to the teacher on that students strengths and weaknesses in the homework.




Graphing Calculators for the Classroom

High School | MacDonald

GDEF provided one classroom set (30), TI-84 Graphic Calculators to provide a tool to learn hands on and apply the expanded curriculum of Algebra and Trigonometry.  These calculators last on average last 10 years. This grant allowed all students access to the tools they need in the classroom to participate in the lesson.




Reacting to the Past: Role Playing Games in American History

High School | Olson

GDEF provided three interactive games which utilize primary documents, encourages students to create arguments,problem solve, make deals and compromises, and speak publicly.   Role playing historical events gives our students ownership and engagement in learning history and in-depth learning, understanding, and empathy. Students were able to access the curriculum in an engaging manner at their own academic level. The games provided a format for competing interests and shared ideas.




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