Innovation and Impact Grants

2014 PDK/PLT Innovation and Impact Grant Recipients

Photo of Jill Gonzalez-BravoFocused R2 with Focusx2i – Jill Gonzalez-Bravo
Project “Focused R2 with Focusx2i” will provide a cadre of teacher leaders from identified high need schools with resources and training to support professional reflection and increase rigor in the classroom. Five threads of research shaped the purpose and vision of this project. This synthesis resulted in a program designed to create a tether of support that will strengthen the instructional practice of teachers in high need schools, promote critical thinking skills for 21st century learners, and provide effective clinical environments for emerging teacher candidates.

Jill Gonzalez-Bravo is the Director of Clinical and Field Based Experiences at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas. Her experiences include over 20 years in education beginning with two years of service in Peace Corps, followed with an urban alternative school, then a rural mid-west setting. Her transition to higher education expanded her vision from being an effective educator to ensuring an effective educator, in every classroom, from day one. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Kansas State University researching teacher education and strategies to motivate candidate professional identity development.

Photo of Betty HuntMATLAB and the Math Classroom – Betty Hunt
The purpose of the grant is to outline ways in which MATLAB (matrix laboratory, a programming language primarily used for numerical computing) can be integrated into a junior level high school mathematics classroom through a selection of suggested activities to support mathematical thinking, STEM learning and the Core Standards for Mathematical Practice. The intention is to introduce a wider scope of students to some basic components of computer programming, identify ways in which mathematics and computer programming are interdisciplinary and can be applied to real world problems, and strengthen students’ problem solving skills through the study of the underlying algorithm of a program. Additionally, the idea of using MATLAB in the math classroom is to help create an active, student-centered learning environment in which students work through a design process taking on the roles of problem-solvers, innovators and inventers while increasing their technological literacy. MATLAB is frequently used in engineering courses and fields, so for a school that strives to prepare students for college degrees in various engineering fields through Project Lead the Way, it is the programming language of choice.

Betty Hunt is the 10th principal of Pius XI High School, a Catholic, co-ed high school of 900 students in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Hunt’s extensive thirty-year career as a Pius XI educator, department chair, and Director of Academic Operations is supported by her love for learning, collaborative administrative style, and deep pride in Pius XI High School. Betty is a graduate of St. Catherine’s High School and Marquette University. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s in Educational Administration.

Photo of Isabel MoralesCommunity Mapping as a Vehicle for Critical, Digital, and Geographic Literacy – Isabel Morales
High school seniors enrolled in Government will use GIS (geographic information system) software to capture, analyze, and present geographic data about their communities. They will utilize this software to create maps that: 1) present problems in their communities, such as poorly located businesses and socioeconomic inequalities, and 2) develop long-term visions for sustainable and just communities. Students will utilize their research to deliver a presentation of their vision to local community leaders and elected officials.

Isabel Morales is a founding teacher at Los Angeles High School of the Arts, an innovative pilot school within the Los Angeles Unified School District. This year, she received her Ed.D. from the University of Southern California, and was honored as a 2014-15 LAUSD Teacher of the Year. Isabel currently teaches Government, Economics, AP Government, AP Psychology, and Sociology to high school students. She was recently awarded a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship, which will allow her to infuse geographic literacy into her curriculum after returning from an educational excursion to Iceland.