Grants Support Teachers Pushing Blended and Online Learning

One teacher is developing open physics curriculum; another is evolving a tutoring program in a blended format; and a third is working on competency-based math lessons. All three of these instructors, alongside several others, have been the recipients of teacher grants from the Foundation for Blended and Online Learning intended to help them continue creating or expanding personalized learning programs that incorporate blended and online learning components.

The foundation is a charitable organization set up by K12, an education technology company that produces online curriculum for schools and families.

Educators from 33 states submitted proposals for grant amounts of up to $10,000, according to Amy Valentine, the organization's executive director. "Applications came from a variety of school types, including full-time district-based online, parochial, online charter and blended programs, as well as from traditional schools that do not currently have technology-rich programs in place," she said. "From this pool, seven grants were awarded to teachers transforming practice in their schools and districts using technology to personalize learning."

The grants are intended to support technology, tools, curriculum, platforms, planning and professional development.

Among those who received the grants was Peter Servidio, a fifth-grade teacher and coordinator of distance learning at Holy Savior School and Saint Dominic Academy in Maine, who is implementing a roadmap for delivering digital lessons to rural students and modeling a replicable program for Catholic schools in the state. Servideo received $10,000.

Steubing Elementary School's Vanessa Jimenez in San Antonio, TX received a grant to continue development of a blended dual-language kindergarten literacy program that uses online resources and allows students to compile digital portfolio for documentation of their work and their thoughts about it.

Micah Johnson, a seventh grade history teacher at Headland Middle School in Alabama, is developing project-based modules that use blended learning to help geography students living in a farming community connect to the land and their community.

Third-grade Teacher Julia Lyles at Heritage Elementary School in Kentucky is expanding an open, competency-based blended math model and curriculum for her students.

Joshua Miranda, a teacher at Massachusetts charter school City on a Hill, is working on a tutoring program for numeracy and literacy that uses OER content and personalized instruction in a blended learning environment.

Science educator Anthony Schmidt, who teaches at Schurz High School in Chicago, is using a flipped classroom model and open physics curriculum with his 11th graders.

In Washington's Eatonville High School, Patricia Shelton is continuing the transition to online of an alternative learning center, the Cruiser Success Center (CSC), which supports at-risk and over-aged students. "Equipped with more capable hardware and infrastructure, CSC can continue [its] mission to increase the graduation rate for students who might have traditionally dropped out due to academic, social or family demands and other obstacles," noted Valentine.

"The advancement of technology-rich learning environments should not be an exclusively top-down process," she added. "Entrepreneurial classroom leaders have always sown the seeds of innovative practice, inspiring new models of instruction that connect with students as individual learners and adapt to the tools and needs of an ever-evolving school and work environment. We are so proud to support these teachers as they design 'what's next' for students."

Grantees are expected to track and report on their progress and challenges over the next year as they continue working on their programs. Eventually, all recipients will share "evaluation reports" on the grant site to help other teachers advance their own instructional practices.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.