New grants support flexible seating, community survey and more

Wigglers and wobblers welcome! Thanks to a BEF fall grant, Maryland Elementary students are exploring new ways to move and get comfortable in class. Stability balls, Hokki stools, cushioned discs and bouncy bands attached to chair legs allow students to find a comfortable posture and an opportunity to wobble, bounce or shift position while learning, both increasing their focus and minimizing disruption of those around them.

Hokki stools, which rock and wobble, are a favorite in some classrooms

The $15,208 grant was one of five recently approved for funding by BEF’s Grants Committee, with grants totaling $30,975.

“We’re out of the years of desks aligned in rows,” said second grade teacher Meghan Kroll, who applied for the grant along with Reading Intervention Specialist Katie Appel. “We need to give them what they need if they are a little squiggly and wiggly, so they can move around.” Kroll piloted the seats in her own classroom before applying for the grant.

The seats are popular with students. “It

keeps my brain thinking and I never get stressed out,” said second grader Thomas Curtin, who bounced gently on a blue stability ball as he worked on math problems. “It makes me feel comfortable and confident.”

“It’s nice to wobble and learn at the same time,” added classmate Gabrielle Kline.

Cushioned discs can be used for comfy seating on chairs or floor

Each K-5 classroom in Maryland now has four stability balls, four Hokki stools, four discs and three sets of bouncy bands; the classes develop their own systems for selecting and rotating choices. Based upon feedback from Maryland teachers and students, BEF is prepared to fund the purchase of flexible seating options on a similar scale at both Cassingham and Montrose.

“It’s changed our kids’ attention span and their ability to learn,” said Appel. “It completely changes the dynamic of the classroom.”

Other grants approved by the BEF this cycle included:

BEXLEO cameras – $5,000 to yearbook advisor Mike Nolan for camera equipment with noise cancelling features, state of the art lens and battery grip to support the production of the Bexleo yearbook.

VISITING ARTIST – $2,871 to BHS art teacher Mabi Ponce De Leon to support a student self-portrait project. 200 Bexley High School art students will photograph themselves, resize and transfer the photos onto plates and then manipulate the images with carving and color. Visiting artist Barb Vogel will work with students over a two-week period in April to create the artwork, which will be displayed in the Cassingham Complex.

ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS SURVEY – up to $5,980 to Bexley City Schools Director of Student and Community Engagement Leisan Smith to implement a district-wide survey in coordination with the School Climate Committee. The purpose will be to obtain new data on “thrive indicators” as well as risk behaviors of Bexley students in three grade groups, following up on similar surveys done in 2005, 2009 and 2013. The data will be used to develop a district-wide strategic plan to address social and emotional needs of students at each grade level surveyed.

STEM EXPLORERS USING ROBOTICS – $1,916 to Maryland 5th Grade Teacher Michael Vincent to introduce robotics, design and coding skills to 200 fifth grade students at Maryland Elementary, culminating in a school competition May 12.

The deadline for spring grant applications is March 10, 2017. Click here for more recent BEF grants.

Bouncy bands give wiggly feet something to do