Ridgefield, CT, May 12, 2014


The Ridgefield Education Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of their 3rd grant cycle. The foundation awarded funding for projects based on the criteria that it was new, different, has not been tried before and can help move education forward. Use of 21st century skills, innovation, creativity and collaboration are also required characteristics. The foundation ensures projects align with district goals and priorities.


The winners are:


Common Ground in connection with The Aldrich Museum – Scotts Ridge Middle School and The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art seek a three school-museum-artist partnership in Fairfield County. Along with 2 charters schools based in Bridgeport and Norwalk, Scotts Ridge and The Aldrich will develop an innovative program that will have a direct impact on curriculum through school collaborations, student engagement and teacher development. Barbara Jennes, SRMS 8th grade English teacher explains, “A collaborative approach with an outside resource can inspire creative thinking and provide a unique cross-disciplinary perspective on working with others to solve a challenging problem – an essential 21st century skill.” Danielle Ogden, Senior Manager of Education Programs and School Initiatives, at The Aldrich also endorses the idea of a collaborative project, “it will enable both the museum and Ridgefield Public Schools to deliver high quality, innovative and an enriching learning experience to both students and teachers in our community.” The project will span the course of the 2014-2015 school year, after which an art project developed by participants will be on display at Scotts Ridge Middle School.
Amount awarded: $3,800 to The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art on behalf of Scotts Ridge Middle School


Gamestar Mechanic – Scotland Elementary School would like to improve problem solving skills using the gamification model. Students use gaming to learn and develop new skills without really knowing it because it is fun. Thomas DiMarzo, SES 5th grade teacher, states, “the idea of creating their own game really motivates the student. This program also allows other uses to play their game, rate the game, and give constructive feedback.” To further develop 21st century skills and the sense of collaboration, Holli Levy, Elementary Technology Resource teacher, will include another school in the pilot. A website will be developed so the students from both schools can share and critique their final products. Amount awarded: $240 to Scotland Elementary School


Increasing Social Skills Through Technology – The Ridgefield High School Special Education Department would like to increase their use of a research-based method of instruction that has been highly effective for high school students receiving special education services, particularly in the area of social skills. “Teachers will utilize a flip camera to record both structured and unstructured conversations of students to increase both verbal and nonverbal interactions with peers,” details Beth Skudzienski, RHS Special Education teacher. Students will be filmed during their social skills class while engaged in both structured and unstructured peer conversations. This allows an immediate platform to discuss and share new strategies, enabling students to understand content and social cues that can ultimately help them succeed in various settings. Amount Awarded: $450.98 to Ridgefield High School


SmartMusic in the Elementary Band Classroom – Barlow Mountain Elementary School is interested in using an application where teachers assign 5th grade band students exercises to practice. “When students play along with SmartMusic at home, it can record, evaluate and submit the recording to the teacher via email. The teacher is then able to immediately replay the recording, allowing for feedback and suggestions,” adds Colleen McGuirk, BMES Music teacher. SmartMusic provides seamless interaction between home and school, student and teacher. An additional benefit is the app allows to create a portfolio of each student’s work. Amount Awarded: $1,540 to Barlow Mountain Elementary School


Project MoGo – East Ridge Middle School would like to collaborate with the Math and Science departments to deliver a connected project that meets the needs of both 8th grade classes to measure position, velocity and acceleration of moving objects. A Vernier motion detector uses ultrasound to measure the concepts and students will understand the connections between proportional relationships, lines and linear equations. David Bozzuto, ERMS 8th grade Science teacher, who is partnering with MaryAnn Goldstein, ERMS 8th grade Math teacher, elaborates, “Students will utilize an inquiry based learning model to generate real world data. They will be more engaged studying the concepts because of the hands on approach.” The teachers will collaborate on lesson activities and will provide a STEM-based approach in some of them. This is a collaborative grant with Ridgefield Public Schools who is supplying graphing calculators for the project. In addition, this grant will be extended to Scotts Ridge Middle School for execution. Amount Awarded: $1,658.30 to East Ridge Middle School


21st Century Classroom – The teachers and students of the Ridgefield High School Science Research Program have designed and are building a 21st Century Classroom, named the “Center for Research and Innovation” this Summer. Michael Yagid, RHS 10th grade Dean and Science Research program advisor, explains the space, “It will be a connected classroom that will inspire students to work collaboratively and creatively while promoting skills in information, technology and media literacy.” It will be a mobile environment so the room can change instantly to meet the needs of differentiated learning spaces. The foundation will fund a Skype room style camera to provide interaction with outside mentors, organizations and partners. Amount Awarded: $600 to Ridgefield High School Science Research Program


The Ridgefield Education Foundation looks to support initiatives that focus on 21st century learning with creativity, innovation and collaboration. By serving as a catalyst for innovative programs, leveraging the use of technology and enhancing the resources available to educators, REF hopes to help move education forward. The Ridgefield Education Foundation is a 501c3 not for profit organization. Donations are considered tax deductible. The foundation always welcomes new team members!


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