The Scott County Regional Authority awards hundreds of thousands of dollars of grants every year. Pleasant Valley Community School District is lucky enough to receive grants from this organization. Last year, PV was awarded several grants and now, one year later, we want to thank the SCRA, and provide an update on several of the projects.
Rising Growth Plus Rising Costs Puts Libraries in a Precarious Position
Due to the rising cost of library materials and the PV district’s excalating population growth, The Pleasant Valley District libraries had been struggling to keep collections current and viable for students. Yearly school librarians must weed nonfiction materials which have become dated and therefore obsolete, and in turn replace them with high quality current materials. Fiction titles, after years of use, become worn, or their covers become antiquated making replacement necessary. For a library to remain relevant to students, librarians must purchase ‘new releases’ and ‘next in the series’ titles. This is a costly endeavor, as book prices have risen dramatically over the last decade. In addition to rising material costs, PV has experienced a significant increase in student numbers over the last ten years. Our district has increased by 1,280 students. All PV schools have also witnessed an increase in our special populations, including special education students, visually and physically challenged students, and English as Second Language (ESL) students. All of these stakeholders deserve library materials written to engage a diverse range of social, developmental, linguistic, and last but not least, reading abilities.
Though PV had continually committed to providing a budget for each school library during this time period, there was still a need for more funding to give PVCSD students the best library experience. All of the funds requested from SCRA made the biggest and best difference – being used to purchase additional materials for the Pleasant Valley School District libraries. The funds were divided among the schools, with each school receiving a $7,000 allotment. Librarians used their allotment to sustain the print standards in each of their collection, where applicable purchase a database, and purchase materials to meet the needs of our special populations.
The school library fills an important role that cannot be met by the public library or other entities. While this service is important to all students in the district, it is especially important to our students whose parents are geographically, financially, or otherwise unable to take a student to a public library. School libraries provide students the opportunity to explore different genres, read topics of interest, and read for curricular purposes without having to rely on a parent/guardian to transport them. PVCSD is extremely grateful to SCRA for their assistance as we strive to provide a superior educational experience for every Spartan.
Virtual Reality Integrated Welder Simulator Trainer
As we all know, learning has and will always continue to change and evolve over the years. One of the ways that this has occurred in the PV School District is within our welding program, where PVCSD requested grant funding for a virtual reality integrated welder simulator. The purpose of this virtual reality integrated welding simulator training program is to benefit our high school students enrolled in any one of our industrial technology courses that incorporates welding into the curriculum. This simulator program has been proven to advance the welding performance of students by significantly increasing the amount of welds practiced/performed and greatly reducing training costs associated with welding prior to them utilizing the live welding guns and material.
Welding is a skill that requires students be trained to a specific standard. Training takes time, money, communication and talent. In a classroom today, instruction consists of teacher demonstration, student practice, and one-on-one teacher feedback. Unfortunately, when students are in the live booth, they are not able to receive the immediate feedback that is needed until they show their weld to the teacher. Based upon the feedback, the student will then go back into the booth to practice again. In this classroom, students are lacking the quick turnaround of feedback and the additional practice requires more materials resulting in a budget that must allow for multiple attempts.
Because of the money granted by SCRA, our welding students are now able to use the virtual reality system to speed up their learning time. With the implementation of the Virtual Reality Integrated Welding Simulator, students are able to rapidly refine their welding skills through multiple attempts and learn the proper technique through immediate feedback while practicing in a safe, virtual environment that does not require the expense of real or consumable materials. PVCSD believes in helping all students, no matter their interests or skills, follow their dreams and post secondary goals and this funding from SCRA has made all the difference with PV welding students.
Library and English Chromebooks
Over the course of the last five years, Pleasant Valley students and teachers have begun to utilize technology at an increased rate in the area of K-12 English/Language Arts. The grant applied for regarding usage of Chromebooks was designed to allow all students enrolled in an English class at PVHS daily access to technology, which has proven important from studies that show that when students compose their writings with computers, they produce compositions of greater length and higher quality and students are more engaged with and motivated toward writing.
Through the implementation of Chromebook laptop computers into all of our high school English classrooms on a daily basis, we have been able to advance the learning of all our through the following methods:
- Google Classroom – This blended learning platform developed by Google for schools allows teachers to organize their instruction in such a way that students and teachers are able to communicate effectively in real time. This blended learning allows teachers to share course expectations in one location, students are able to access their materials anywhere at any time, and teacher to student or student to teacher feedback on their papers is completed online within their papers prior to the final writing being submitted.
- Turnitin – This program also empowers students throughout the writing process from the initial outline to the final draft. Similar to Google Classroom, students are able to receive immediate and targeted feedback from their peers and teachers. Students are able to watch their writing increase over time as they are able to access their previous writings and comments from their teachers. This program also serves as a teaching mechanism for teachers as they can make informed decisions based on the needs of each student.
We are so appreciative of the SCRA’s belief that Chromebooks and technology will only strengthen our students’ abilities as they continue down the road of education!
Technology in the Preschool Classroom
Students in preschool greatly benefit from exposure to and instruction of literacy and language skills to support expressive and receptive communication and language development. Access to a variety of tools to meet the needs of all learners is vitally important within the preschool classroom. This project will focus on all students and those specifically at risk for language and literacy delays by providing technology based supports that can facilitate the learning of vocabulary, social communication interaction, functional language, and overall expressive and receptive language skills.
Students in preschool benefit from direct instruction for language and literacy skills. Providing instruction in various ways using differing supports helps engage all kinds of students, regardless of their learning abilities. All students can benefit from instruction with the use of technology, which was the purpose of the grant ask. Paired with verbal language, modeling and instruction; assistive technology communication supports can bridge the gap of delayed language development by giving students with various abilities the opportunity to engage in large and small group instruction, social interactions, and everyday communicative functions. Without this support, students may be unable to communicate their thoughts, ideas, wants and needs within the classroom setting and beyond.
The grant funding has been used by all classroom teachers, teaching assistants, and speech language pathologist on a daily basis within the preschool classrooms! Even our youngest students are aware of the amazing gifts we have received and we are so grateful for the SCRA helping to provide this accessibility to our young minds.
Turning Junior High Students Into Producers
Technology has been present in the halls of every building at PVCSD for many years now! Students have been making videos, creating podcasts, using design programs, and so much more. At PV Junior High, a process has begun to create a green screen room to help students create more effective videos that show deeper understanding of particular topics. This grant from SCRA allowed the technology team at PVJH to take it even further by purchasing iPads for students to video tape, edit, share, and do almost anything needed to create quality products. Using the green screen and iPads, students were able to create videos where almost anything is possible – from being inside a cell and describing each part and function, to traveling to the Middle East to describe the culture and climate, or even showing what it’s like to be inside a real news studio.
With the introduction of the four iPads, a green screen, microphone, and lights students of all abilities have been able to accomplish almost everything they would need in a production room. The greenscreen room has created a space in the library where students are able to, with help from the library staff, create green screen features that incorporate more than just a background of Pleasant Valley Junior High. Thank you SCRA for believing in PVCSD students as we embrace technology across our district!