DonorsChoose: Transforming Our Classroom Into a Literacy Cafe

At Knovation, we’re committed to helping educators and learners succeed. DonorsChoose is a great way we can lend our support!

This quarter, Knovation has selected a student-inspired DonorsChoose request from East Lyme High School in Connecticut.  This young man’s proactive enthusiasm for creatively designing a better learning environment is definitely about doing something good for kids — something we Knov8rs do everyday!

Here’s the story:   Mrs. R. is an English teacher at East Lyme High School.  She is committed to providing personal attention to her students.  Her daily classes consist of up to six students per period, fostering both individualized and small-group classwork for optimal learning.  Her classroom is small and cramped with older technology and furniture that makes interaction difficult.

Jason, an 11th grade student, approached Mrs. R. with an idea to turn the space from a small, cramped room into a ‘literacy cafe’ with a vibe likened to a popular coffeehouse where countertops and barstools or small tables and arm chairs, along with state-of-the-art technology like Chromebooks/laptops would both open up and mobilize the space, allowing for greater opportunities for creativity and learning.  With Mrs. R.’s encouragement, Jason designed the floor plan, and Mrs. R. was sold (and so are we)!   Transforming the classroom into a more inviting space encourages self-paced learning, greater access to online programs and both one-to-one and group coaching opportunities. Portable devices allow students to move freely from individual projects to group learning situations. They can read, research topics and complete individualized practice using one device without interruption from other students. Students can also easily work collaboratively by reconfiguring the seating arrangement and sharing devices.

Mrs. R. supports Jason’s vision because she recognizes that some students at the high school level have struggled their entire educational career to read and/or write. It takes the right environment to keep them engaged and motivated to overcome  obstacles for achievement.  A more casual, inviting and supportive environment like Jason’s proposed East Lyme’s Literacy Cafe, is exactly what students need to feel empowered to experience success!

Jason hopes, when fully funded, the completed projected will help more students like him to feel comfortable asking for support they need to be successful.  He wants East Lyme’s Literacy Cafe to become the model for other schools to see how an engaging environment can help teenagers like him learn best.  We applaud Mrs. R. for giving Jason the encouragement to develop the idea.   We applaud Jason for his creativity and tenacity to see this project through as it can positively affect at least 40 more fellow students per year. We encourage you to donate to the cause.  This project must be fully funded by Thursday, August 3, 2017.   

“The East Lyme High School experience prepares students academically, emotionally and socially to be positive forces in the world and to live responsible, purposeful and healthy lives.”

East Lyme High School is a four-year, comprehensive public high school offering curricular and co-curricular programs to approximately 1,300 students.  Offering an extensive range of courses in college and career preparation, East Lyme partners with Connecticut College, the University of Connecticut and Three Rivers Community College.  They also provide students the opportunity to learn through the Virtual High School program. They have been recognized by US News and World Report as one of the Best High Schools in the United States with a 98% graduation rate, as well as by the Washington Post as one of America’s Most Challenging High Schools.

Knovation is committed to curating, contextualizing, tagging, aligning and maintaining OER for learning through our applications, netTrekker and icurio. Through strategic partnerships with other organizations in the K-12 space, we also integrate our Content Collection with learning management systems, assessment solutions, and learning object repositories. Together we’re meeting the diverse needs of students and teachers around the globe.

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