This past spring thanks to the support and generosity of our community, over $250,000 in grants were awarded. Each month we will highlight various grants that have a positive impact on our students and teachers in our schools.
GRANTS IN ACTION: Inspiring Students as Readers and Writers
Barrel of Monkeys - 4th Grade Writing Workshop
In 2016-17 the Spirit of 67 was thrilled to fund a number of grants that directly support and inspire students to grow as readers and writers in our schools.
Founded by two performers, Barrel of Monkeys (BOM) is a writing workshop that encourages creative expression in children. The methods of this program are founded upon research, which illustrates that drama games support, and enhance the quality and consistency of writing and literacy skills. This program also supports the belief that learning opportunities provided through pictures, song, movement and play-acting are essential to positive child development.
The Barrel of Monkeys program places focus on group writing vs. individual writing, writing for performance and social and emotional confidence. Fourth grade students throughout the district are currently participating in this amazing program. Students kicked this experience off with "in-class residencies" at their home schools in late October. Following the initial workshops with BOM teaching artists in the classroom, students continued to work on the pieces with their teachers before sending the completed pieces back to the actors. On December 12th, BOM actors will return to Lake Forest to perform the student pieces in front of all of our 4th grade students (all 3 elementary schools will meet at Everett School). This unique experience learning to write for diverse purposes and varied audiences directly supports the Lucy Caulkins writing workshop that the district has adopted. More importantly, our teachers and students were thrilled with the experience.
"The Barrel of Monkeys combined writing, movement, drama, and creative expression. The children were absolutely motivated and engaged during the entire process. They worked collaboratively in groups to write imaginative stories that included characters, setting, and a problem to be solved. Then, they worked as a team to 'act out' their stories. Every child was involved. Every child in the room was smiling, clapping and supporting their classmates. The energy and enthusiasm in the room was contagious. We can now look forward to their return in December where students' submitted stories have the opportunity to be performed by the Monkeys," said Debra Berrie, 4th Grade Teacher at Everett Elementary School. To learn more about this innovative workshop and the Barrel of Monkeys ensemble of actors/educators please visit their website:
Monarch & Bluestem Books
This grant provided each of the three elementary schools with two sets of the Monarch and Bluestem 2017 nominated books. As background, The Monarch Book Award encourages children, grades K-3, to read critically and become more familiar with children's books, authors and illustrators. The Bluestem Award is designed for students in grades 3-4 who are ready for longer titles.
Monarch and Bluestem books are on display in our elementary IRCs however, feedback from our Information Literacy Instructors is that the displays are largely bare because the books are so popular. As Susie Oh, Digital Learning Specialist, Everett Elementary School said, "We have a display of the books, but many are checked out and being read, which is a wonderful thing!!" Every student who reads these books is eligible to vote for their favorite titles in late winter - an extra incentive to get reading!
1st Grade Mentor Texts
All first grade classrooms received two additional sets of mentor texts so that children have improved access to these materials. Mentor texts can be used
as an example of good writing for writers and to inform their own writing. Opportunities to study these Mentor texts will strengthen our children's abilities
to apply and transfer the skills taught by their teachers during mini-lessons.
"The students are enjoying looking at the Mentor text books that are available to use after we have read them as a class. This rereading helps the student build their fluency and confidence in reading a higher level text. These extra books also help me as a teacher because I can leave my copy all marked up with my notes," shared Sue Christianson, 1st Grade Teacher at Cherokee Elementary School.
The Phonics Dance
All elementary schools received materials for the Phonics Dance Program. The Phonics Dance Program teaches phonics through a multi-sensory approach.
This program provides support at various levels to strengthen decoding, fluency, phonemic awareness and spelling all of which support the development of strong reading and writing skills.
"You wrote this story?! Wow!" exclaimed a Sheridan Kindergarten Student, reacting to the book Oh, No by Candace Fleming, this year's elementary school visiting author. For over 20 years the Spirit and the APT have partnered to bring published authors in to visit with our students. During these visits the creative writing process comes to life before our children's eyes. This year all of our schools and students K-8 will partake in these experiences. In November, elementary students had the privilege of meeting acclaimed children's author, Candace Fleming. Ms. Fleming has authored more than 20 books for children and young adults, including the bestselling picture book,
Muncha! Muncha! Muncha.
Students and teachers thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn
"Great energy and wonderful presentation. She was great; very animated. The kids were very engaged!" remarked Katie Morehead, 1st Grade Teacher at Sheridan Elementary School.
Deer Path students can look forward to visiting with two authors this year. We are pleased to welcome, poet, author and teacher, Kathi Appelt to DPM this March where she will conduct two days of writing workshops for grades 5, 6 & 7. Eighth grade students will have the opportunity to participate in a writing workshop with award-winning journalist and author, Fern Schumer Chapman as part of the 8th grade Holocaust Immersion Week. There will be much more to come on these exciting workshops as they unfold this spring.
For more information about this year's visiting authors, please visit their websites:
For more information about grants funded by the Spirit of 67 Foundation, please visit our website. All of these grants are made possible thanks to the donations and support from our community. Be a part of this generous tradition and