Here's How IDEA Grants Help Change the WFISD World

How IDEA Grants Help Change the WFISD World

IDEA Grant winners tell how their classrooms benefited from this special gift


Lacey Davis, Booker T. Washington Elementary, Kindergarten

 I received money to purchase the interactive tech tool called Osmo. I had seen Osmo in another school, so I did some research online. It aligned with many of our district priority standards, so I was sold.  I wrote a grant last year but didn’t win so my advice to others is to keep trying.  Sometimes you just get lucky!

I have used all three of the Osmos components. We use tangrams for problem solving, letter tiles for building words and number tiles for composing and decomposing numbers. We use Osmo Words for Balanced Literacy.  We use Osmo Numbers and Osmo Tangrams for our Guided Math rotations. The students are so engaged; they cheer when it’s their turn! 


The Osmo grant has increased my student’s opportunities to engage in interactive technology applications. Having Osmos to use with our classroom iPads during math centers and Balanced Literacy has increased the number of children developed on TPRI and increased the number of students passing the district math tests.  I have seen huge gains in the objectives of number identification, problem-solving, letter and sound identification and word-building. 



 lacey davis

 Two kindergarten students in Lacey Davis’ Booker T. Washington Elementary class use an OSMO to learn about Tangrams.



Caili Knecht, Booker T. Washington Elementary, 1st grade


I received 10 iPads through the IDEA Grant. We started using them around January 22, 2018. Now my students use them daily. We use them for several activities throughout the day.

For our English block, the students used the iPads to develop their own short story books. We also used them that same week to research information about George Washington Carver. The students use the Epic app to read from a library of children’s books or to have an informational text read to them. Then they searched for specific facts about Mr. Carver.


I also use the iPads quite often for differentiated instruction. Some of my students know their sight words, so they listen to a reading app or read on the iPads. At the same time, my lower students will be using them to practice phonics skills. 


            During our math block, the students again use the iPads for differentiation. I found a really great app that helps the students with number sense. My lower students use this app often, while other students may work on an app called Education Galaxy or an app that allows them to practice their math facts. 



Julie Woolsey, Burgess Elementary, 1st grade


My IDEA Grant for first-graders was titled, “Old McDonald Comes to Town.” My class has been using the resources provided by the grant all year to study farm animals.


Then, on March 7, Coalson's Corral mobile petting zoo visited Burgess from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. The visit was a highlight that was designed for students in every grade level at the school to enjoy. The company brought pygmy goats, rabbits, mini pot belly pigs, geese and chickens that scampered around a fenced enclosure. Students entered the enclosure in small groups to pet the animals.


Students loved it.



Lenora Krugle, Kirby Middle School, Science



My IDEA Grant provided a wonderful travel opportunity for my students. Kirby robotics students traveled to Lubbock for the “Get Excited About Robotics (GEAR)” event where they were able to be “college students for the day” at Texas Tech University. They learned about sensors and motors. They received lessons from senior mechanical engineering students. They gained a lot of insights into the fields of engineering and robotics.


They loved the beautiful campus. My hope is that they were inspired to pursue education beyond high school and enter post-secondary education or seek training and certification in a career field. I wanted them to experience higher education and to see what is available to them. Science Curriculum Specialist Steve Henderson assisted me on this trip and was a huge help.


Hopefully, we (WFISD foundation and the WFISD family) have planted the seeds for these students to grow into amazing adults. I am beyond grateful to the Foundation for providing this trip through the IDEA grant. 



Kristan Neeb, Jefferson Elementary, librarian and webmaster


I sorted through our Robotics Club applications and selected eight students -- six 4th-graders and two 5th-graders -- who will divide into two teams for a mock robotics competition this spring. They will follow the TCEA Robotics competition guidelines.


To do this, they will research, plan, create a prototype, document and test their robot, then commercialize their project. The kids were so excited to identify and research their problems so they could begin building their robots!


Another component of my IDEA grant was to begin a Robotics Club during our school clubs on Friday. Now, our Jaguar Jungle Robotics Club has 26 students. We've started out studying simple mechanics after a basic introduction to robotics. During one meeting, we divided students into teams, and they built catapults. We had a playoff-style bracket to find our winning team!




 Kristan Neeb

The Jefferson Jaguar Jungle Robotics Club sits for its first club photo. The students hold the two LEGO EV3 Mindstorms kits that the IDEA Grant funds purchased. Top row: John Grady, 4th grade; Keegan Yandell, 4th grade; Mason Macias, 4th grade; Isaac Legg, 4th grade / Bottom row: Chance Rodriguez, 5th grade; Cael Rumfelt, 4th grade; Lily Leija, 4th grade. Not pictured: Carter Spurgers, 5th grade.



 Tonya Parham, Special Education for Rider, Hirschi and WFHS, Horticulture


Tonya Parham

“My students Justin Miville and Wesley Bicoy water the worms. This is the first level of the worm factory. As time progresses, we will add levels that make it look like a worm hotel,” said Tonya Parham.




My IDEA Grant was titled “From Trash to Cash.” I wanted to create a program where my students could produce their own compost for our gardening. Good quality soil and compost is the key to a productive garden. However, it can be very expensive to purchase. So we are making our own by using "trash" using kitchen scraps, leaves, and coffee grounds.


The Grant enabled us to purchase two different systems: a worm factory for vermicomposting and a tumbling compost bin. We use the tumbling compost bin by collecting greens and browns such as food scraps and leaves. The students add water and spin the bin throughout the week, which helps it decompose faster.


For the vermicomposting, we learned first how to create the correct environment for the worms to thrive, which can be tricky. The students love opening the worm factory to feed and water the worms. This has to be done every couple of days.


It is going so well; I am thrilled with the addition of this equipment to our program because it will be something we can use year after year. It was a great investment in our program. I can teach composting in the classroom, but being able to bring the ideas to life with these two systems creates a memorable experience for my students.



Cindy Peterson, Jefferson Elementary, Kindergarten


Lana Brewster, Priscilla Lopez and I wrote the IDEA Grant called, “Implementing Innovative and Interactive Instruction with IPEVO.”

The IPEVO looks like a little pen. Students use that “pen” to interact with a mimio board by writing with it, using it as a pointer to play memory games, or to graph with it. We use it in small groups, in math, and in our language arts time. You can do all sorts of stuff; it’s really neat.


I love it, and more importantly, the kids love it!




Daniele Chavez, Fain Elementary, Grades K-5


Mary Coleman and I wrote the IDEA Grant titled, “Makerspace Magic.”  Receiving this IDEA Grant certainly helped make the beginning of the year a success. We purchased many exciting modern manipulatives and a large amount of crafting supplies to get us started.


Our students in grades kindergarten through 5th now have even more reason to look forward to their weekly library visits. That’s when they visit Makerspace. They choose from a variety of stations with challenges oriented to a certain type of career. They may choose a station for artists, engineers, computer programmers, musicians or writers. We don’t limit it to only those careers but may include an opportunity to practice a combination of skills.


So far, students have participated in the following projects:


  • Making circuits and combining them with Play-Doh sculptures
  • Playing mini-golf with a robot called Sphero SPRK while also learning how to code a program
  • Designing custom greeting card paper by marbling shaving cream and food coloring
  • Creating and decorating musical instruments with recycled objects
  • Making more musical fun with Makey Makey circuitry and foil piano keys
  • Building Lego challenges such as building a marble maze with Legos
  • Understanding chain reactions with toppling dominoes
  • Making magnetic poetry
  • Composing music with the help of our robot Dash
  • Learning and creating optical illusions
  • Collaborating in competition against another group to engineer the best marble run with a limited set of supplies






Fain Makerspace 2

A Fain Elementary student shows off artwork he made in the new Makerspace area of the library, provided by an IDEA Grant.








Fain MS3


Circuitry and robotics are just a few of the opportunities available to Fain students through the Makerspace Magic Idea Grant.




Jamie Newberry, Burgess Elementary, 2nd Grade


I wrote the IDEA Grant, “One Book for Burgess,” which blossomed into the Burgess Family Literacy Night.


We had 204 students, along with their families, join us for that special night. We set up literacy activities for the children and their families. Our goal was for the families to have fun experiences together that were centered around reading for pleasure. 


Burgess family night


It was exciting to see parents helping their children create reading pointers, discuss reading strategies, and write together.  Each student who attended the Family Literacy Night with his or her family received a book titled, The Chocolate Touch, by Patrick Skene Catling to enjoy reading together at home.  These books were purchased with funds from the IDEA grant.  It was pretty amazing!



Amanda Beck, Cunningham Elementary, PreK


Jessica Jacobs and I wrote the IDEA Grant, “Oh, The Places We Will Go.”


These funds paid for a field trip that we scheduled for April 11. With these funds, we took a field trip that began at United Market Street at 9 a.m. Students toured the fresh produce section and passed around pineapples to see how heavy and spikey they were. Then then went to the seafood counter, where they got close-up looks at shrimp, lobster tails, crab legs, and fish. They even saw a fish, complete with its head, and they looked into its mouth.

Then we went to Fire Station #6, where we met the fire fighters and posed for a picture with them. Then we visited the post office on Southwest Parkway and mailed letters to ourselves. We finished the day at Texas Roadhouse, where we enjoyed lunch.



Jamie Jo Morgan, Carrigan, Talented and Gifted Grades 3-5




Jamie and TAG


TAG students pose around the IDEA Grant’s aquaponics system that they tweaked with a robotic improvement.

When I wrote my IDEA Grant last fall, I requested and received a Solar Smart Robotic Aquaponics set-up. Fowler 5th grader, Braycen, suggested a way to make it even better. He suggested we use littleBits electronics to automate a light sensor to turn the lights on and off and to automatically feed the fish daily when the sun rises and sets.

The Aquaponics system works with an aquarium on the bottom, full of fish. The dirty water is pumped into the top, where plants grow in a bed of clay pebbles instead of dirt.

The dirty water feeds the plants, which clean and re-oxygenate the water for the fish. No filter is needed. The plants get nutrients from the fish; the fish get clean water from the plants, and the cycle continues.

My TAG students set up the system, care for it and document each step by creating, filming and editing YouTube videos for their YouTube channel.