2015-16 Grant Descriptions

2015-2016 Foundation Grant Descriptions and Coordinating Teachers
(* indicates grants approved during fall season)


Computer Control K’nex
Shara Lieberman, Jory Weissman

Fourth grade students will design and write programs to control K’nex models.   The students will then progress through a series of tasks and challenge activities designed to use critical thinking and problem solving skills.

 Let’s Build a Story*
Molly Bayless, Cari Winkler, Katie Wright

Second grade students will use Lego Story Starter sets to create stories by building and writing.  The program will combine writing, speaking, technology, engineering and problem solving skills.

 S.T.E.A.M. Night
Kristin Pressman, Susan Ozawa, 
Darien Parker

Students at all grade levels are invited to participate in an independent inquiry science project.  Projects are showcased at a school-wide event.

Storytelling and Shadow Puppets*
Darien Parker

As a special cumulative storytelling project, fifth grade students will choose a favorite story to retell through two different mediums: the art of shadow puppet theater and digital storytelling.


Edgewood/Elm Place/Northwood

112 Composer in Residence
Mollie McDougall

Students at all middle schools will get to work with a live composer, discuss musical choices made by the composer, and collaboratively rehearse and perform the original piece at the All-City festival.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra School Programs*
Elizabeth Duke, Evan Canel,
 Margaret Delligatti, Larry Goltz, Steve Rohwer, Sharon Steckel

All district fifth and sixth grade orchestra students will travel to the Symphony Center in Chicago to experience Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo & Juliet” and explore and analyze the interpretation of the musical composition connected with the play.

DAR HE:  The Lynching of Emmett Till*
Jon Mall

Eighth grade social studies and ELA and social studies classes across the district will be exploring how conflict results in conformity or resistance through the lens of the Civil Rights Movement.  This grant will fund a one ­man show for all students by acclaimed actor Mike Wiley, who has appeared on PBS, Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channel, focused on the murder of Emmett Till in 1955, a 14-year old black Chicago youth who traveled to the Mississippi Delta, as one of the catalysts that propelled the Civil Rights Movement forward.



Eagle Consumer Watch*
Julie Tracey

Students will assess such every day products as combination locks, paper towels and even pencils, using the scientific method.


Elm Place

Susan Haugland

Sixth, seventh and eighth grade students will explore and celebrate Celtic traditions, history and culture culminating in an evening performance.

Culture to Culture Club
Vanessa Dugo, Miriam Schuman

The Culture to Culture Club is open to all students interested in exploring various regions and cultures of the world.  Students will meet twice per month to research and plan events to learn about a new chosen culture.


Elm Place/Indian Trail                                          

Bringing STEM to Elementary Students*
Lindsey Petlak, Marci Kulback, Molly DeCristofaro and Chip Shilkus

Fourth graders from Indian Trail will collaborate with Elm Place middle school students to work on projects involving such scientific and mathematical activities as digital photography, computer coding and creating 3-dimensional circles. Fourth graders will team up with kindergartners to create and document their work.

Engineering Musical Art Museum*
Caitlin Lucci

MaKey MaKey circuit kits will be used to combine art, music, engineering and film-making into one multidimensional project produced by elementary and middle school students.  This will include bringing art projects to life and creating original musical compositions to accompany the art.

Mix, Scratch, Spin and Move:  Playing with and Through Music as a DJ*
Caitlin Lucci, Trevor Kahn, 
Steve Downs, Sarah Tyre

A DJ will teach seventh and eighth graders how to use the equipment, fundamental techniques, read social cues and interact with their audience.  Success will be demonstrated in a culminating cardio party in the physical education classes.


Green Bay

Fall Music Therapy Connections*
Mirela Vesa

A registered music therapist will facilitate special music activities to build social and language skills, fostering improved communication in students with developmental delays.

Music Therapy Connections
Mirela Vesa

Special needs preschool students will build social and language skills through music therapy.

One Word, Two Words, Red Words, Blue Words
Emily Fenbert

Preschool students will be provided with core language visual aids.  This will assist all students develop vocabulary, particularly students who are at risk for language learning delays.

Parent Academy/Academia Para Los Padres
Erika Moran, Nadia DeHaro Vega

The teachers will host workshops for native Spanish speaking preschool parents to provide support and collaboration.  The workshops will include topics such as development of math, reading and pre-writing skills, differentiation for children with special needs, and integrating technology into children’s learning.

Pequeños Artistas/Young Artists
Nadia DeHaro Vega

Preschool students will have an opportunity to participate in art classes in their own school. The art students will study artists from around the world and learn about their style. Art students will create artwork that resembles the style of the artist they are studying.  Throughout the program art students will also create their own art pieces.  The art classes will take place once a week throughout the school year.


Indian Trail

Award Winning Artists: From Library to Studio
Karen Grost

The purpose of this grant is to provide experiential artistic learning to augment and promote visual learning and literacy. During Library class, students will read and evaluate multiple Caldecott winning books with a partner, write mini reviews, and learn to look for clues as to the media type used for illustrations.  Students will create an accordion style book in which they will mount the artwork created in Art class.

Beyond the Fairy Tale: Empowering Young Women & their TRUE Inner Princess
Lindsey Petlak, Rebecca Alvarado

The grant, inspired by the amazing new versions of classic fairy tales, will examine the admirable and inspiring character traits of these stronger, more independent, kind, and creative new “princesses” and find ways to help the girls learn from and emulate those traits in their own lives as they begin to experience challenges and difficulties as young ladies.

Buddy Bench
Josh Funke

The student council at Indian Trail will be creating a bench that creates a visual cue to other children on the playground that someone sitting on it is feeling left out or needs a friend to play with. The Buddy Bench will help to create a playground culture of caring and inclusion. It challenges children to support their peers and empowers them to be part of the solution.  This will be decorated by the students of Indian Trail and the bench will be placed onto the playground.

Indian Trail Times
Ben  Brandstrader

The grant vision is for The Indian Trail Times to have a weekly student broadcast and student centric news broadcast to the school during morning announcements. The students will write and edit all content before presenting, filming, and editing all filmed news segments. The students will be given the freedom to innovate and create content that they feel will appeal to the student audience.

 A Journey is Worth a Thousand Words
Laura Golden

Students will be attending a field trip to enrich the learning experience and create experiences to incorporate into writing.  Using the Language Experience Approach, students will use pictures taken from the trip to create a hardbound book entitled A Journey is Worth A Thousand Words.

Kamishibai Japanese Storytelling Traditions
Karen Grost

Kamishibai means paper drama in Japanese. It’s based on a traditional storytelling method for children. Students will experience and learn about the tradition in grades K-3rd.  Students will prepare for and perform stories in the Japanese style and tradition of Kamishibai storytelling.
Learning Through Music
Rebecca Alvarado
Using a class set of ukuleles, the students will be taught how to play the ukulele and to play songs that will reinforce the learning taking place in the classroom.  Songs and music are a great strategy for teaching young students new concepts and are especially useful for teaching students who are learning English as a second language.

Makey Makey Technology with Music*
Alicia Luthardt

Students will experience, create and be innovative learners by using the MaKey MaKey kits.  They will be able to make just about anything that is conductive “sing,” make music, create sounds, and say words by connecting it to his/her product.

Mrs. Potter’s Mushroom Farm
Karen Grost

In conjunction with the library unit on Beatrix Potter, each first grade class will “plant” a mushroom kit that will be stored in their classroom. Students will plant, feed (water), check temperature of environment, observe and record details about mushroom growth in conjunction with other Beatrix Potter activities. Mushrooms grown will be sent home with students and can be eaten.

Social Thinking
Jenna Didier, Rachel Williams, Mari Lagone

This grant teaches children with various social skill deficits how to utilize positive social skills and interact with others in multiple settings.   Lessons will consist of reading social scenes, role playing, lecture/discussion, watching videos with discussion, and projects.

The Last Great Race*
Alayna Weinstein

This grant is a study of independence and interdependence throughout the Iditarod sled dog race in Alaska.  Students will learn about the history of the race, the rules, the challenges, and the impact of this race on the rural communities of Alaska.

Ukeleles in the Music Room*
Alicia Luthardt

Students will learn how to play ukuleles in the classroom.  They will use the ukuleles to learn various musical concepts and incorporate them into school performances.


Indian Trail/Wayne Thomas

Laser Music                                                                                                                               Beth Heile

Through this grant, a set of BEAMZ, a laser-based musical device that can connect to nearly any electronic device (i.e. computer, iPad, smart phone, etc.), will be purchased for the Indian Trail and Wayne Thomas music programs.  These will allow all students to activate a sound by touching the light beam.



Curtain Up
Kim Luedtke, Kim Wagner

First and second graders will work with a teaching artist from Chicago Children’s Theatre to understand and act out how the characters solve the problem stated in the plot.  They will analyze points of view of characters, study rhythm and rhyme of phrases and present the story to the entire school, retelling it in their own voices. Music and art will be tie-in to the performances.  The project will culminate in a performance for Lincoln students and for Lincoln parents.

Beth Kenar

This grant supports students in an exciting writing workshop with author, storyteller, teaching artists and certified bullying prevention trainer, Sue Black.  She will engage students in a series of workshops that she describes as hands-on, experiential, on your feet with creative energy, with oral brainstorming and story crafting with partners prior to writing.

Lincoln Goes Country
Janet Lubetkin

Fourth and fifth graders will learn about how country music developed from gospel and blues and farm songs to the most popular genre in current music.   Working with playwright and lyricist Matt Boresi and composer Rachel Page from the Music Institute of Chicago, fifth graders will explore how music grew out of an agrarian culture and changed as industrialization took effect.  Fourth graders will explore regions of the U.S. including the South, Plains and North, to create a script that traces the path of country music.



Aladdin Broadway Workshop*
Nancy Cohen

Marisha Wallace, an original Broadway cast member of Aladdin, will come visit Northwood to host a 4 hour workshop and master class.  The entire Northwood Aladdin, Jr. cast and crew will be invited to participate to learn from a real Broadway actress.

 Roots Fest
Carolyn Frye

Cultural diversity in the performance arts will be celebrated through performances and workshops given by professional storytellers, actors and musicians.

Uke KAN Play Ukulele
Regina Mele

Eighth grade students will have the opportunity to learn to play ukulele during music class and to perform during Roots Fest.

What is Your Story?
Luisa Benson, Suzanne Sosnowski

Eighth grade students will learn about U.S. History and its effect on students’ personal histories in English, Language Arts and Social Studies classes, and then learn to express their thoughts and feelings by creating and performing spoken-word pieces with resident artist Adam Gottlieb, a teaching artist affiliated with such diverse organizations as Young Chicago Authors and Louder Than A Bomb youth poetry slam festival.

Yoga for the Special Child
Zoe Seder, Sammi Roth

This grant will provide professional yoga instruction—both physical and mental– to special education students to help reduce stress.  Breathing, awareness, patience, and self-care are among skills that will be learned.


Oak Terrace

Addendum To The Steel Drum Project*
Susan Siciliano

After receiving a 112 Foundation Grant for a class set of steel drums and mallets, in order to prepare to introduce her students to the drums, music teacher Susan Siciliano attended a workshop and performance by Potts and Pans.  This grant will bring Potts and Pans to Oak Terrace to talk with third, fourth and fifth grade students to perform with steel drums and explain their history and construction.

Banker’s Game
Peter Samaris

Using hands-on beads to represent different base ten values, MyPath first-fifth graders will learn about such mathematical concepts as number sense, estimation, place value, skip counting, borrowing and regrouping.

Cocinando con Matematicas
Erica Brady

Through cooking, students will learn about mathematical concepts, writing, and nutrition.  Learning will culminate in the publishing of a Spanish language cookbook and a video cooking show, all produced by students.

Lessons with Legos
Steve Hodgson

Working with Legos, MyPath fourth and fifth graders will work with hands-on materials to learn about such mathematical concepts as perimeter, area and volume of a structure; equivalent fractions, engineering and creative problem-solving.

Robotics, Coding, and Programming with Sphero*
Leonor Burton

Fourth and fifth grade My Path students will engage in hands ­on programming and robotics using a little robotic ball known as “Sphero.”  Sphero can be controlled using an iPad or Chromebook.  Students will learn how to write codes to make the device maneuver its way through mazes and challenges that they or teachers design.

The Steel Drum Project
Susan Siciliano

Students in 5th grade will learn how to play the steel drums.  Steel drums have a unique sound that cannot be imitated by any other instrument.       Learning to play the steel drums will give students increased opportunities to play pieces with the sounds that are authentic to various musical styles from many places

Turtle Math
Howard Templer

In previous years various animals and insects have been studied by the students to create real world examples for math calculations.  This next year turtles will be used in the classroom to engage students’ curiosity toward math learning.

Worms Eat Our Food Scraps
Patricia Castro

The program will engage students in hands-on earth science, math, and language arts learning experiences in the areas of sustainability and environment.  Students will have the opportunity to participate in the vermicomposting (composting with worms) program.



Legos Across the Curriculum*
Sarah Walsh

Second grade students will engage in weekly writing and math lessons based on Lego creations as a result of this grant which will fund purchase of Lego Education Story Starter and More to Math kits.  With these kits, students will incorporate technology, engineering, writing, speaking and math concepts in creative and innovative ways.

Reflections on the Wild:  Observations and Interpretations Of Regional Flora
Sharon Steckel

In this multi-disciplinary unit, fourth grade students will be introduced to the fields of botanical drawing and poetry as they relate to science within the context of nature.  Students will develop an appreciation for the preservation and protection of native species.

Robotics in 1st Grade
Andrea Dunning

Through the use of the Lego Education WeDo program, students will be able to use technology and engineering concepts to “program” a robot.  The WeDo program introduces young students to simple machines, motors and sensors.

Stories and STEM­­­They’re All K’nxted*
Amy March, Becky Purse 
and Brittany Linn

Throughout the 2015­-2016 school year, kindergarten and fifth grade classrooms will partner to engage STEM challenges centered around a classic children’s story, fable, or nursery rhyme to tie in literature skills and build interest.   Students will undertake STEM challenges linked to the story.

 Storytelling in Kindergarten – They All Have Stories to Share
Amy March

Students will be engaged in a yearlong study of the art of storytelling.  Literature, visual media and technology will serve as springboards for students to learn how to express themselves creatively, and with the ability to speak effectively for a variety of purposes.  Students will also learn how to use puppets and props to enhance their performances.


Red Oak

Lego Story Starters
Kate Strong

Students will work in groups of three collaborating to write an original fairy tale.  This project will employ Lego Education StoryStarter, a hands-on learning tool that enhances students’ reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.

Literature with Laughter
Valerie LaRiviere

Students will enjoy mixing literature with laughter by writing short stories some of which will be selected by the Griffin’s Tales student performing arts group to be brought to life in skits, plays, songs and raps created by the college students and performed by them for the Red Oak students.

Makerspaces/ STEM in the Library*
Kate Strong

Makerspaces support learning in an informal, play-focused environment that can cultivate an interest in science, technology, and design.  By offering a Makerspace environment as an optional lunchtime club at Red Oak, students will have the opportunity to work together on projects that involve a student-centered environment for creating, inventing and “learning by doing” in an exploratory setting.

Mallet Mania
Kaitlin Zawacki

Xylophones will be purchased for the Red Oak music program so that there will be a full classroom set.  Students will no longer have to switch between partners or sit out for some of the class experience because until now there were too few xylophones.

Meet the Lincolns
Matt Hollander

President Lincoln and Mary Todd will be coming to Red Oak to talk with third, fourth and fifth graders.  Rumor has it that these actors are the most sought after and highly regarded Lincoln/Todd impersonators in the Midwest.  The assembly will kick start a biography project for the third grade and the Illinois History Project of the fourth grade.



A Celebration of Mexican Folk Heritage
Kathryn Polyack

The Sherwood art, music, library and gym teachers are collaborating on a project for the entire study body to learn about Mexican folks arts.  Students will hear authentic Mexican folk tales from a professional storyteller; create papel picado, sugar skulls and paper mache in art class; learn traditional Mexican songs and dances; and incorporate Mexican folk heritage in PE/health class as well.

Be Present to Learn*
Heather Fee-Alvarez/Emily Shayman

This grant promotes the ‘Calm Classroom’ which is a program based in Highland Park that provides a series of self-regulating relaxation techniques; these mindfulness exercises are used to reduce anxiety in order to enhance student focus and attention. Students can more fully achieve academic success when they are emotionally present and ready to learn.  Experts from Calm Classroom, will come to Sherwood classrooms to present some of the science and benefits behind relaxation and mindfulness techniques, do a small related project with the students, and then practice the techniques.

Elementary Engineers
Anne Schultz

Fourth graders will participate in various engineering tasks following the design process of asking a question, imagining, planning, creating, and evaluating or improving.  The project will culminate with a field trip to iFly where students will learn about STEM careers and STEM in the real world, and perform activities that deal with solids, fluids, forces, measurement, recording data and interpreting results.

Helen Weiss

Sherwood fourth and fifth graders will benefit from the purchase of a LittleBits circuit kit from which they can make a flashlight, light-sensing alarm and learn about electronics, and a Makey-Makey invention kit which allows students to combine art and engineering on the internet.  Students can use these kits during an optional lunchtime club.

Musical Poetry* (with Red Oak)
Helen Weiss

Students at Sherwood and Red Oak will be exposed to various types of poems in English and in Spanish (for the Dual Language classes).  Students in grades K-2 will have an interactive poetry musical presentation with Jeff Mondak, an author and children’s poet and Sergio Wals, a musician from Mexico.   Students in grades 3-5 will collaborate with Jeff Mondak to write poetry which will be turned into an original song with the help of musician, Sergio Wals.


Wayne Thomas                                                      

Emily Crutchfield

The purpose of the grant is to teach students to play an instrument that they have not had any exposure to in the past.  It supports interdisciplinary learning in that the students will learn about different cultures as while playing songs from other parts of the world.  Next year, the teacher anticipates using the ukuleles in the fifth grade concert, which will feature music from different areas of the world and featuring the music in the school concert.

Wisconsin Fast Plants
Katelyn Lorenz

Wisconsin Fast Plants will be purchased for students to grow as part of their third grade science unit on life cycles.  Students will measure the plants, graph their growth, draw what they are observing and share information with their peers.

Yoga for Focus, Engagement and Brain Breaks
Deb Smith

All grade levels will have yoga activities brought into the classroom to help students become more relaxed, focused and engaged.