California Educator

September 2012

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APPLY! CTA's teacher-driven grants improve student learning HAVE YOU SEEN one of your students struggling and known exactly what needed to be done? Do you have innovative ideas to improve student achievement in your school? Then apply for a grant from CTA's Institute for Teaching (IFT). Funded by voluntary contributions from CTA members, the program promotes and supports strength-based, teacher-driven change. Applying for the grant is simple and there are no strings attached, say grant committee members. Just do what you say you are going to do in your grant. The grant evaluation committee members are Liane Cis- KELLY HORNER ANSWERS: How are grants reviewed? Know that each application is scored and discussed by the evaluation team to ensure that we each understand the intent of the applicants. At least two members of the team visit the sites of the grant recipients and report back to the IFT Board; the feed- back we receive reinforces our goal that the process is simple, input is welcome, and inquiries are quickly answered. mowski, Mt. Diablo Education Association; Dave Orphal, Oakland Education Association; Cynthia Soares, Gridley Teachers Asso- ciation; Barry Wissman, Palm Springs Teachers Association; and retired CTA staffer Kelly Horner. They say the IFT Grant Program demonstrates CTA's commitment to support teachers and support staff in their day-to-day work with students in their classrooms and their school communities. Check out for details. Their best advice: Write grants with a "strength-based" approach. Here's more advice on grant writing. How much can be applied for? Educator grants are up to $5,000. Chapter Kelly Horner grants are up to $20,000. I am amazed at the significant, positive impact the grants have on students and teachers. Each grant has been unique and creative, evidence of the time and energy the recipients put into creating a posi- tive learning environment for their students. Anything to add? Meeting these teachers and seeing and learning about the differences they are making in their students' lives, and their own, has made a dif- ference in my life. I wish everyone could visit these classrooms and talk with the teachers and have the opportunity to thank each of them for dedicating their lives to teaching. Grant aligns curriculum, produces better thinkers If you want to make your students better thinkers by vertically aligning curriculum skills in grades 9-12 social sciences, what do you do? If you're Kory Bootsma, you apply for an NEA Foundation Grant. She teaches at Rancho Verde High in Moreno Valley. The grant funded the Val Verde Teachers Association member's Advanced Placement Vertical and Collaboration Program. "By creating curriculum that is both vertically and horizon- tally aligned, students understand that the skills they learn from grade to grade and class to class are cross-curricular in nature, ensuring that they apply knowledge and skills learned from all curricular areas to the subject being taught," Bootsma says. Vertical alignment of curriculum skills in the social sciences includes essay formats and structures, as well as interpretations of 26 California Educator September 2012 Rancho Verde High School teachers show how curriculum aligns in their classes. Top row: Mike Presser, Teresa Adams, Kory Bootsma, Steve Tremble. Bottom row: Kristi Coulter, Aimee Habicht, Bill Gerdes, John Rockwell. Photo by AP student Isaiah Duffy primary source documents. As students prog- ress from one grade to the next, they already have basic skills covered, allowing more time for critical thinking. "Social science teachers work collabora- tively with English-language arts teachers in the 10th and 11th grades in a double-sized classroom," says Bootsma. "This allows for English skill-based strategies to be used with historical documents and expository texts, showing students that skills are used in mul- tiple disciplines."

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