Photos courtesy of the Wantagh School District
Teachers are enhancing the classroom experience at Forest Lake Elementary School in the Wantagh School District through educational grants, bringing in new supplies and digital tools for their students.
Principal Jessica Zimmer noted that several teachers have written successful grant applications this year, and the new resources have been well-received.
Fourth grade teachers Erin Moody and Allison Santaniello received a grant from ExploreLearning for a one-year subscription to Reflex Math. Students can access math games on their Chromebooks in school and at home. They have been working on their math fluency, which measures both speed and accuracy, in multiplication and division.
“They love it, and it’s helping them improve their math knowledge,” Ms. Santaniello said, adding that it also provides her with data about each student’s progress.
Ms. Moody noted that students find this to be a much more engaging way to learn multiplication and division than traditional flash cards. The games offered by Reflex have built-in incentives, as students can earn points to add different items to their digital math worlds. Students can also earn a “green light” each day if they practice a certain amount, unlocking even more games.
The fourth grade teachers have made Reflex a part of their daily math centers. The students’ improved knowledge of multiplication and division has proven to be beneficial as they advanced to an even more complex topic – fractions.
Second grade teacher Tara Sottnik received two grants, one from the Wantagh Foundation for Education Excellence, which awards mini-grants to teachers throughout the district each year, and another from Jovia Financial Credit Union’s Funding Your Ideas initiative. The Foundation grant covered the cost of 150 new books for the classroom library and a set of clipboards, which students can use when they do work around the room or school. They clipboards came in handy, Ms. Sottnik said, when they did a science scavenger hunt in the building.
From the Jovia grant, Ms. Sottnik purchased four floor rocking chairs for students to use during independent reading time and art supplies such as colored pencils, markers and watercolor paint. A new classroom set of calculators is also on the horizon.
“I’m thankful to both the Wantagh Foundation and Jovia for allowing me to write these grants, and I’m honored to have received them,” she said. “These supplies have been crucial in enhancing learning experiences in the classroom.”
First grade teacher Colleen Conway also received a Jovia grant, which she used to purchase new social and emotional learning resources for her students. These include fidget toys and picture books, which Ms. Conway will be using to create a calm corner in her classroom as a space for students to manage their emotions.
The new sensory items will complement social and emotional strategies children have already learned. Ms. Conway added that her goal is to give students the proper tools to care for their own emotional wellness and to help out their friends.