Lessons Learned: Multiplying First Graders’ Love of Math with NEA Foundation Grants

First grade teacher Diane Ward applies her NEA Foundation Student Achievement Grant to rethink math class. Ward and her grant co-applicant, Laurel Donley, who both teach at Clearmount Elementary School in North Canton, Ohio, set up stations with different games and group work to get students excited about math. We love this idea, so we recently checked in with Diane to find out how our grant is helping her students.

1. How are you using your NEA Foundation grant?

With the generous grant I received from the NEA Foundation, I've been able to create math stations tailored to both the needs and strengths of my students. The NEA Foundation grant has also allowed me to purchase high-interest teaching materials, such as LEGO MoretoMath.

2. Why is the project important to your students?

This NEA Foundation grant has allowed me to create a wonderful experiential learning environment for the 22 children in my first grade classroom. They use the majority of their math time   engaging with math materials, as well as OSMO, an interactive gaming system using iPad Minis for hands-on learning.  

The math stations we use now have been an asset to my students in many ways.  Students can practice math concepts as they complete activities or play games with a partner. When students work in partners on math activities created for their individual needs, I have an opportunity to meet with small groups to enrich or reteach if necessary. 

The LEGO materials I purchased with the NEA Foundation grant provide a creative, problem-solving component to our innovative education program.  

3. How has the project improved your students’ chances for success?

My students will be much more successful in their future mathematical endeavors because they have been encouraged to reach their highest potential through hard work and creative thinking!  I have witnessed great progress in the math abilities of my students this year. The high degree of interest in our math activities has been an added pleasure to observe. My students actually ask to use our math stations during free time and indoor recess!

We had a substitute in our class recently. When I came back the next day, there was a note on my desk that read, “They are MATH WIZARDS!”

4. Why do educators need grants?

In my opinion, educators need grants like the NEA Foundation Student Achievement Grant to allow for the creation of environments where children can reach their highest potential. If educators have the funds available to ensure their classrooms are filled with high-interest, engaging materials, students will be able to get the most out of their time spent in the classroom. 

Looking for a grant for your classroom? Find more information about how to apply for grant resources. The next deadline for application is June 1, 2016. Learn about other grant projects we've funded in our Grantee Archive.



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