Two Tahlequah High School algebra teachers are among those awarded Public School Classroom Support Grants from the Oklahoma Department of Education.
Caleb Taylor and Gabby Veith were two of 50 teachers tapped for part of the total $70,000 in grant funding.
"As we reviewed nearly 100 grant applications, we were excited to see many funding requests for collaborative learning. We know from research that interactive classrooms foster student understanding and enable individualized instruction that meets kids where they are," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister in a press release.
This is the first year for the Public School Classroom Support Grants, which were funded through contributions from state tax returns by individuals and corporations. Each grant was capped at $5,000, but the THS educators' application asked for $2183.67. They do not yet know if the whole request was funded.
"Caleb and I both teach Algebra 2, so we decided to team up. We asked the state to grant us funds to buy the supplies needed for Algebra 2 activities," said Veith. "Our goal is to bring meaningful tasks and activities that will enhance the learning of our students. We hope to instill in them a love of mathematics by building a deeper understanding of the mathematical through these activities."
That statement aligns with the grant's area of focus: "supporting the needs of English learners, plus a subject area aligned with the state textbook adoption cycle -mathematics, this year - to ensure grant funds are spent on materials that supplement textbooks and offer collaborative opportunities or alternative methods of instruction."
The areas of student instruction and potential student benefit were used to determine who received the grants.
Instead of one project, Taylor and Veith outlined five smaller ones.
"We are trying for every chapter in the book to bring in hands-on activities. Mostly, we do it the cheapest way possible," said Veith. "We actually asked for money for materials."
Some of the supplies they plan to buy with the grant are: small mirrors, meter sticks, metric measuring tape, laser pointers, easel pads, polyhedral dice, decks of cards, catapult kits, and catapult balls. These items will be used for activities to learn and comprehend the themes of rational functions, quadratics, exponential, radicals, and piecewise functions.
"They will gather data, come up with the equation, and test if the equation is correct," said Veith.
According to the grant proposal, in the activity for quadratic functions, students will be "given a catapult to use to estimate, through trial and error, the best equation to model the path of the projectile. Once the students have found the equation then it becomes a competition as to who can hit a designated target the most times. This allows for students to create their own equations and then test them and find out the accuracy of their equation."
Dice will be used for a population simulation game to study exponentials, and the playing cards will be used for the activity titled "Simplifying Radicals with Go Fish."
"I think the kids really enjoy having a break from sitting down and doing worksheets," said Veith. "It makes it more personal, and they are putting it into practice."
Veith said she thinks the activities are fun and the students seem to like them.