Grants in Action — Fall 2016

Check out what’s going on with REF grants across the district!

Coolidge 7th Graders Drumming Away!

By Anna Wentlent-Choral Director and General Music Teacher Coolidge Middle School

The seventh graders at Coolidge Middle School have been studying the music of West Africa in general music class using the instruments purchased with an REF grant. Each day they practice echoing, improvising, and soloing on different percussion instruments, including talking drums,  djembes,  tubanos, gankogui bells, cow bells, shekeres, and rattles. Class ends with a traditional West African drum ensemble. See a video below!


Library Makerspace Robots

By Lisa Norcross, Library Media Specialist, M.S., Assistant Principal Wood End 

The Library Media Specialists are very excited to introduce robots into our curriculum thisscreen-shot-2016-10-29-at-11-42-50-am school year. The Week of Code takes place in December and many schools will be kicking of their robot use then. So far we have been working as a team to develop lessons including coding and programming as well as sharing ideas of how and when we will use the robots with the different grade levels. At Wood End, we tested the robots in after school and summer programs. Students worked in groups and independently to program the robots to do various tasks. They learned how to connect the robot to the IPADs and then how to create a program to control the robot. The robots were cruising up and down the halls of the school! We are looking forward to using them with more students as the year goes on and the kids can’t wait to get theirhands on them!

Killam prepares Art for the Sky!

By Amy T. Hussey, M.Ed, Killam Visual Arts Specialist Teacher

The J.W. Killam community is going to be the first school in Massachusetts to experience – Art for the Sky with visiting artist, Daniel Dancer on November 7th, 9th, and 10th!

Art for the Sky is a three day artist in residence program where the entire school community comes together to experience adventures in creativity and perception and to deepen our relationship to sky, earth, and one another while creating a giant living painting made of people!

To learn more about Art for the Sky, please visit and be ready to be amazed!

In honor of school tradition and to raise environmental awareness, the entire school community has chosen our gigantic living painting to be a Koala!  The school is buzzing with related lessons and learning about our beloved mascot and threatened species from habitat simulations in PE, learning Wings to Fly (Daniel Dancer’s original song about using our “Sky Sight”) in music classes, to research in the media center. Check out the photos of some of our preparations.  More to come!

First Graders practicing visualization skills while reading Koala Lou.

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Above Left: Ambitious fourth graders are raising money to support Koala preservation. Above Right: Beginning of our school- wide Killam Koala bulletin board.  Students are adding information from their research about Koalas and the threats they face.

Coolidge Middle School creating videos that are out of this world!

By Christine Steinhauser, Coolidge Library Media Specialist/Teacher

Using materials provided by the REF Grant, the students are using Green Screen Technology, also known as color keying or chroma keying to produce videos. Using the app DoInk ( the students shoot scenes in front of a green screen and then add various video or image backgrounds to them, including images of places that are out of this world!  This grant has allowed the students to be in the director’s chair- to facilitate their own productions.

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As the students learn to use the software and equipment, the creativity and authentic learning by the students is  showing up in almost every class in the form of presentations and projects. Skills that the students are learning include problem-solving, presentation, file management, copyright, and many others.


One class is currently working on a collaboration project. The students are “reading” a book about holidays around the world.  They are placing themselves on the page of the book, and reading about the holiday. The project will be shown to the school during the holiday assembly in December.


Update on RMHS Physics Lab Grant 2013

By Steve Cogger, RMHS Physics Department

We are now starting our fourth year with the lab equipment provided by Reading Cooperative Bank through REF.  Since we received the equipment over 1000 students have been able to engage in hands-on discovery learning in physics. The lab materials provide real-time feedback and provoke interesting discussion among the students as they try to make sense of what they are seeing. As teachers we are grateful for having equipment that lets us implement a proven physics curriculum.

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RMHS Computing in the Arts

By Steve Cogger, RMHS Physics Department

In the Interactive Device Design class students are utilizing user-friendly microcontrollers to create visual and musical devices that respond to human inputs. Once the basics of the programming environments and hardware capabilities are understood, students will screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-11-43-30-amdesign and build actual devices in their area of interest.

To date the students have been learning the basics sensors and how to develop programs that read the sensors. Next quarter the students will be doing open-ended design projects starting with musical instruments.

These boards were built with REF provided materials from this grant and materials made in the 3-D printers provided by a previous REF grant. The blue plastic parts in the photo are brackets and holders that will let students mount the sensors and other parts designed using LEGO connectors and beams.

Elementary School Open Circle Resources

By Lisa Norcross- Library Media Specialist, M.S., Assistant Principal Wood End 

Thanks to the REF grant each elementary school library was able to add new titles to our screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-11-43-44-amcollections that support Open Circle. At Wood End, I was able to purchase twenty-five new titles that enhance the Open Circle lessons as well as support the Core Values at our school. In addition, these titles also incorporate mindfulness and strategies to help students when facing a problem. I was able to create a small area of the library to house our Open Circle Collection. Teachers can now easily access needed materials. So far, this section of the library has seen a lot of use!