2010-11 Grant Funds put to Great Use by RHS Middle School Teacher Mr. Clark Kantola

Below is the letter and funding request sent to RCEF by Mr. Kantola. Reading the information, you will appreciate how your funding of RCEF grants greatly enhanced the learning in this classroom. These are the projects that RCEF was created to fund!


Ravenna Community Foundation Grant Evaluation

Dear Ravenna Community Foundation,

Thank you so much for the grant money. Overall, I am very excited about what students were able to accomplish this year, and I am looking forward to how this can be incorporated at the start of next year.

The Block by Block was by far my biggest focus, and I think it was a huge success. It consumed the majority of the time of all the items purchased. Every student was required to create them. With the Block by Block, I created 16 folders that listed 60 different figures (along w/ hints for each figure) that students could create. Sixteen bags were set out on a lab table. Students were free to work on them at designated times (such as after hw was done, following a test, etc), and they had to sign them out. I invested a lot of time trying to make sure I could keep a record of who used what bag and folder in order that I could make sure pieces weren’t getting broken. I separated the group of 60 figures into three chunks. Students were first assigned #1-15, second #16-30, and third #31-60.

Depending on the designated time period, students were only required to create 6-9 figures, and anything over this was extra credit. In order to validate that they created one of the figures, they had to get two of their peers to check it and sign their names on a sheet. I found that creating these was initially very difficult, even for many of the students who regularly earned good grades in math. I was hoping for students to get more figures created, but realized that there was some deep spatial/3-D thinking going on in their heads. Over the course of the year, students got better at it, and I was impressed with the progression of their confidence since the beginning. I even had several students come in at lunch to work on them. One of the most exciting parts was seeing students help each other. I would not let a student touch another student’s blocks, but I did allow (at times) a student to help a struggling student through explanation as the struggling student tried to fit the pieces together.

As for the 3-D Tic Tac Toe and Batik (which students also had to sign out during the year), students did work with these but it was occasionally. At the end of the year I chose to hold a competition in my classroom instead of simply having it at lunch. Two thirds of the students participated, and I was impressed with how competitive they got. Also, I found that even though only 2-3 may have been playing one of the games there was also several students crowding around watching them.

Regarding the Rubik’s cube (which students also had to sign out during the year), I made a folder listing different accomplishment levels. Ten students solved one side, and nobody solved anything above this. This was often done at break time before class started and mostly (but not always) by some accelerated kids (who got their math done early and were well ahead in their Block by Block). Even though it wasn’t used as much as I hoped, I appreciated the challenge it gave to some of the students who never had trouble with math. I apologize for not having a picture of students using the Rubik’s cube.

If you have any questions regarding it, please feel free to call or email me. Attached to this email should be several pictures. Thank you again.

Clark Kantola
Grant Title: Spatial & Problem Solving Activities that Engage and Challenge Students

If Necessary, Would Partial Funding Help?: YES
If YES, What Other Sources are Available?: None at this time

Project Time Frame: At various times throughout the year
Amount Requested: $300

Has Your Supervisor Approved this Grant?: Hope so
Number of Persons to Benefit:85 sixth graders

Please Itemize Your Proposed Expenses:
Project Budget
Item unit price quantity total cost
-Rubik’s Cube $9.06 2 $18.12
-3-D Tic-Tac-Toe $13.95 2 $37.68
-Block by Block $11.73 13 $152.49
-Batik $23.00 2 $46.00
-½ to 1 inch 3 ring
binders for Block by Block $3.00 15 $45

Total = $299.29
Cost (in dollars): $300

Please Briefly Describe Your Proposed Project:
I want to create a collection of logic, spatial, and problem solving activities that will challenge 6th grade students and extend their thinking processes. Two years ago, when team teaching an exploratory class, another teacher and I incorporated a few of these activities. We believe students enjoyed them, and that they were a big success academically. Now I want to build upon and expand this by incorporating activities such as these into my regular math class. I will also be mailing pictures of these activities.

Each class is about 50 minutes long. I am constantly asking myself, “From the time students walk into my room to the time they leave, are students being challenged academically the entire time?” These activities address this question. If students get homework done early, they can sign one of the activities out.

For example, Block by Block is a challenging activity with sixty different figures that can be built. For durability, I want to copy these sixty figures, put them in three ring binders, and make them available for students to sign out. It is my intention for these activities to last for many years. I have found that if students sign out the activities they are more accountable and therefore more responsible to keep the sets intact. Block by Block, Rubik’s cube, Batik, and 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe are all fun activities that engage students to think analytically and three dimensionally.

Is there research to support your proposal? How does it impact district goals?
For the past several years we have scored low on the grade level content expectations (GLCEs) that involve cubes, nets, and similar spatial orientation concepts. The implementation of these activities helps fill this hole. Students at this grade level are constantly being challenged to jump from using concrete pictures to “picturing it in their heads”. For many students, this is a difficult task that requires much practice between the two types of thinking. I believe these activities accomplish academic goals while incorporating hands-on learning in an exciting format.

At the end of the year, I will provide pictures of students using all the activities. For the Rubik’s cube I will list the number of students who were able to complete two sides, three sides, and so on. I will also describe the level of participation in the Block by Block activity. Finally, in May I will hold a lunch-time competition where students will be able to compete against each other in Batik and 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe. I will share the results of this competition with you.

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