In order to maximize the creative experience of Tinkercad 3D Design (a browser based design program), Andor Kish, HBW's technology teacher, received a VFEE grant to bring a MakerBot 3D printer to the computer lab. The MakerBot 3D printer uses a heating element and spools of plastic filament to shape three dimensional objects like cell phone cases, toys, and even prosthetic hands. Mr. Kish taught the students in his design class the basic elements of computer aided design (CAD) and then supported their creativity with mini-lessons on shortcuts and troubleshooting, but without a 3D printer to print their final designs, the students would have been forced to remain in the conceptual phase. Mr. Kish's application to VFEE was awarded because it helped him to further enhance the educational experience of his students. We are really excited to see what comes next.
Verona Foundation for Educational Excellence (VFEE) is proud to announce a Special Grant awarded to the Verona Public Schools in support of the District-Wide Google Initiative. VFEE will grant $75,000 over the course of three years to support Chromebooks in our Classrooms. $25,000 was awarded at the Verona Board of Education meeting on September 8, 2015. VFEE will provide $25,000 per year for the next two years making the Google Initiative Grant the largest award by VFEE since its inception in 2007. This initiative is a district-wide program that will bring innovative educational apps and creative classroom learning tools to students and teachers throughout Verona Public Schools. Cathy Jackson, Chair of VFEE, captured the mood of the group, “Our board is dedicated to directly impacting student success, enriching student opportunities and supporting quality instruction.” Superintendent of Schools Rui Dionisio shared the following: “We have a responsibility to make schools more relevant for kids as they walk through our front doors each and every morning. The technology we are scaling is not a substitute for high quality instruction in our classrooms, but rather a means to enhance learning opportunities for our students that did not otherwise exist without the technology. Our teachers are excited about learning new approaches. We are seeking new opportunities for our students to publish their authentic work to a broader audience, videoconference with people from different parts of the world, and to provide our staff ways to most effectively support student learning and maximize the potential of every child. Our goal is to continue to create 21st century learning classrooms throughout our entire district with a focus on creation and collaboration. The success of this program would not be possible without the generous support of the Verona Foundation for Educational Excellence. This award will enable the Verona Public Schools to scale the infusion of effective technology and provide an innovative approach to teaching and learning. For that, we are extremely grateful.” The Google Initiative Grant Award would not be possible without the generous support of our donor base. We want to thank those who have provided contributions that fund quality innovative educational grants to Verona public schools in an effort to enrich the educational experience of the students of Verona. Your support is greatly appreciated by the trustees of VFEE as well as district teachers, administrators and students.
VFEE Grants Coordinator Nick Klose presents the grant details at the Sept. 8 Board of Education meeting.
Verona Superintendent of Schools Rui Dionisio shows off one of the Google Chromebooks owned by the district at a Sept. 8 Board of Education meeting.
One District One Book
VFEE recently awarded their largest grant ever to Knights, Dragons and Castles, Oh My!
The kick off for One District, One Book occurred on Thursday, March 26th, 2015 with an all school assembly. There were lots of fun activities planned to get the children excited about this reading adventure!
Each Verona family received a copy, via the youngest child, of Kenny and the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi, along with a reading calendar. Families shared reading time for a chapter each night. Students across all four schools blogged about their reading. Since the book takes place in Medieval Times, each grade learned about a topic from that time period. This was followed by an all school assembly where students shared the many, amazing things that were learned.
As a culminating experience, members of the New Jersey Renaissance Faire presented to all four elementary schools over the course of two days. Brookdale Avenue School students visited Forest Avenue School for the faire on Friday, April 17. All grades, K-4, participated in this all day event.
Teachers, lead by Corissa Walker, perform their introduction dance routine to students at Brookdale Avenue Elementary School.
Jennifer Kleinknecht, the librarian at H.B. Whitehorne Middle School, and the HBW science department are the latest recipients of a grant from the Verona Foundation for Educational Excellence (VFEE). With it, they have added Science Flix from Scholastic, a curriculum-driven science database with integrated and interactive features and intuitive navigation. It provides students with a better understanding of science concepts and ideas thru hands on projects, articles, videos, teacher lesson plans and rubrics. There are three reading levels and a read-aloud feature. The emphasis is on the latest thinking in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and the Next Generation Science Standards.
After surveying many of the HBW science teachers, Kleinknecht determined that this database would be a perfect fit for the school. In just the last few months it has been used by the entire fifth grade to build background knowledge of endangered species before embarking on their individual research projects.
Melissa Slavin, who teaches sixth and eighth grade math, is using it in her classes and is especially appreciative of the different reading levels available for the students. It was also widely used by students researching their projects for the HBW Science fair.
“It’s a great resource for parents if they want to quickly brush up on what their children are learning in science,” says Kleinknecht, and invites any parent to contact her for further information on how to access the system.
The Finch is a new robot for computer science education. Its design is the result of a four year study at Carnegie Mellon's CREATE lab.
The Finch is designed to support an engaging introduction to the art of programming. It has support for over a dozen programming languages and environments, including several environments appropriate for students as young as eight years old.
The Finch was designed to allow students to write richly interactive programs. On-board features include:
Most people in town refer to the stream flowing out of Verona Park as simply “the Peckman,” which by definition is really a river. Many would be surprised to know the variety of organisms that live in the river. On October 15, five classes from H.B. Whitehorne Middle School had the opportunity to collect and identify several of those “critters,” courtesy of a Verona Foundation for Educational Excellence (VFEE) grant.
The grant covered the expense of a visit from a naturalist working for the Essex County Environmental Center. David Alexander, the naturalist, met with the students in five different class periods. He instructed them on how locate and identify invertebrate organisms in the water and riverbed. The students captured and released sow bugs, caddis flies nymphs, mayfly nymphs and leeches. Snail shells were also identified. The students also found fish and frogs but concentrated on the invertebrates. These creatures were used to give the river a score based on the type of life discovered. In the end the students calculated the scores.
The eighth graders were surprised to discover that the Peckman, behind the track on the end of Park Place, is in fair condition at this point in time. Conditions may change at different points along the river or at different times of year. Students identified storm water drainage pipes and hypothesized that after salt is applied to the roads the river conditions will be less favorable to aquatic life.