Featured Grant

Microphones and Portable PA System

Spring Concert at Davis ElementaryBarb Van Ersvelde, the music teacher at Davis Elementary School, received a GNSF mini-grant for a portable PA system with microphones. Third and fourth grade students were able to practice speaking and singing into the microphones in the months leading up to their April performance. The performance went smoothly, as students were easier to understand and generally more comfortable performing after practicing with the microphones. Barb was extremely satisfied with the equipment that GNSF allowed her to purchase. Justin White, a Davis teacher who is experienced and knowledgeable about sound systems, was also very impressed with the quality of the equipment. In addition to using the microphones and PA system for music classes, the equipment has also been used during Davis’s Blue Ribbon designation and a Readers’ Theater performance.

Project Lead the Way Launch

  • Award: $2,400
  • Applicants: Bill Gruman, Lori Elliot, Shari Gantz, and April Gosselink
  • Students Impacted: 250
  • Description: Grant approves the purchase of manipulative kits for 3rd and 4th grade students to augment the newly adopted Next Generation Science Standards by building simple machines and models.

Storyworks Jr.: Connecting Students with Rich Text

  • Award: $1,156.38
  • Applicants: Christie Hughes, Farrah Deppe and Holly Kuesel
  • Students Impacted: 145
  • Description: Grant approves the purchase of 145 one-year paper magazine subscriptions for third grade English Language Arts classes to provide leveled, rich reading material for students that incorporates science and social studies content along with language arts

Bouncy Bands at Davis Elementary

  • Award: $650
  • Applicants: Ellie Arsenault, Christie Hughes
  • Students Impacted: 50
  • Description: Grant approves the purchase of 46 Bouncy Bands to be used for redirecting student energy while seated at their desks.

A Walk Through Our Past: The History of Grinnell

  • Award: $520
  • Applicants: Stella Mann and Christie Hughes
  • Students Impacted: 120
  • Description: This award will help complete a locally written and printed Grinnell History book for third graders to use every spring during the local history unit. The third graders complete this unit with a trip to the Grinnell History Museum which houses many artifacts referenced in the book.

Portable PA System with Microphones

  • Award: $842.92
  • Applicants: Barb VanErsvelde
  • Students Impacted: 240
  • Description: Grant provided funds for purchasing a portable PA system with microphones. Third and Fourth grade students are able to practice speaking and singing into the microphones making them more comfortable during performances. The portable PA system also provides a clearer sound making it easier to hear and understand students.

RAZ Kids On-Line

  • Award: $1,190
  • Applicants: Justin White, Sally Smith, Kristine Allen, Emily Schultz, Lori Elliott, April Gosselink, Trudy Asplund, Stella Mann, Lisa York, Khristi Hughes, Shari Gantz, Ellie Arsenault
  • Students Impacted: 240
  • Description: Funds will be used to support expanding the RAZ Kids program to all Davis Elementary students.  This program includes interactive books that allow students to read aloud and quizes to check for reading comprehension and fluency.

RAZ Kids On-Line

  • Award: $599.70
  • Applicant: Sally Smith
  • Students Impacted: 100
  • Description: Funds will be used to access to the RAZ Kids Online Interactive program.  Students will read aloud and listen to animated, leveled books and interactive quizes.  Teachers can limit students to appropriate reading to improve comprehension and fluency anywhere with internet access.

District-wide: Fairview, Bailey Park, and Davis

Leveled Book Room

  • Award: $4,000
  • Applicants: Chris Coffman
  • Students Impacted: All elementary students in the district
  • Description: Funds will help develop consistency in the district reading program by creating a leveled library of books for guided reading. Each elementary school will have a centralized location for book storage and a check-out system to keep track of inventory.

iPads for Third Grade Students

  • Award: $6,000
  • Applicants: Ellie Arseneault, Trudy Asplund, Lisa Coffman, Shari Gantz, Christie Hughes, & Stella Mann
  • Students Impacted: All third grade students at Davis Elementary
  • Description: The third grade team will purchase 12 iPads to support digital literacy and to increase and support reading instructional strategies and the implementation of technology in the classroom. iPads feature applications targeted for K-3 learning objectives that can enhance math, reading, and writing through a digital format. The iPads can be used to provide specific targeted interventions based on student data.

Innovative Learning Work Stations

  • Award: $6,000
  • Applicants: Ellie Arseneault, Trudy Asplund, Lisa Coffman, Shari Gantz, Christie Hughes, and Stella Mann
  • Students Impacted: All third grade students at Davis Elementary
  • Description: Funds will be used to purchase workstation materials to create hands-on experiences in literacy and math. These workstations will keep students engaged and help them solve real-world problems. Workstations will connect students’ knowledge to their interests and have them become active participants and critical thinkers in their own learning.

Read, Read, Read

  • Award: $705.31
  • Applicants: Ellie Arseneault, Trudy Asplund, Shari Gantz, Christie Hughes, Stella Mann
  • Students Impacted: All third-graders at Davis Elementary
  • Description: Funds will provide an interactive reading experience to improve fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. Third-graders will read mystery story Jigsaw Jones in the fall, then travel to see the story performed as a play at Iowa State University. Throughout the year, students will be encouraged to read daily at home, with motivational prizes given for reaching certain milestones.

MP3 Players to Assist in Reading

  • Award: $1,000
  • Applicants: Christie Hughes and Ellie Arseneault
  • Students Impacted: Third grade students
  • Description: The purchase of MP3 players, preferably iPod Touch devices, will allow students to record themselves as they read text, play the recording back, learning from their mistakes and tracking their own progress over many different recordings.

Documentary: Byrd Baylor, A Literary Legend, Poet, and Naturalist

  • Award: $1,000
  • Applicants: Kimberly Blunk and Sally Smith
  • Students Impacted: Fourth-grade students
  • Description: Davis fourth-grade teachers, Kimberly Blunk and Sally Smith, plan to film a documentary on Byrd Baylor whom they describe as a literary legend, poet and naturalist. Blunk and Smith plan to use the funds for the cost of a hotel, car rental, and airplane fare to film their documentary on Baylor, a former teacher who is known for inspiring students to think creatively. The teachers describe Baylor as expressing an intense connection between the land and its people with her ideas on reading, language, science, social studies, community-building and environmentalism.

Technology Transforms Learning

  • Award: $37,500
  • Applicants: Technology Task Force, Pam Ewell*
  • Students Impacted: All students and teachers in the district
  • Description: This request was made by the Technology Task Force on behalf of all of the teachers/buildings in the district. The funds will be used to purchase 6 laptop computers per building with the necessary hardware to run them as wireless machines. These laptops will allow teachers to receive training in order to help them gain the necessary skills and knowledge to incorporate more technology into the classroom. They will also be available for classroom and small group work by students.

Playaways At Davis

  • Award: $1,000
  • Applicant: S. Wallace
  • Students Impacted: All students at Davis Elementary
  • Description: Funds used to purchase audio books for the Davis Elementary School Library. These books will be especially helpful for students who are reluctant readers.

* = Contact Teacher

Specific Skills Reading Series

  • Teachers: 4th-Sally Smith*, Kim Blunk, David Abarr, Emily Louden and 3rd-Ellie Arseneault, Chris Coffman, Trudy Asplund, Stella Mann, Sue Johnson, Shari Gantz
  • Students impacted: Third and fourth grade students identified as at- in learning to read.
  • Description: This grant funded the purchase of $3,950.42 worth of reading intervention resources (Specific Skills Series) for low performing students. Combined with assessment tools to improve the identification process for at-risk students in the area of reading, the program can give a student additional practice in skills such as main idea, locating details, sequencing, cause/effect, and making inferences.
  • Expected outcome: The Davis Elementary classroom teachers will identify students whose reading achievement is below grade level. After students use the materials, teachers will assess their progress through a wide variety of means.

“We often identified students with specific reading skill deficits, but struggled to find sufficient materials in any one skill area that could provide enough data points over a 10 week period. Given the cost restraint, we could never have afforded the Specific Skills Series without the funding from the GNEE. We are extremely grateful for the generous contribution to our professional resource bank at Davis Elementary-Kim Blunk, 4th grade.”

3rd Grade Book Club

  • Teachers: Ellie Arseneault*, Trudy Asplund, Chris Coffman, Sue Johnson and Stella Mann
  • Students impacted: All 3rd grade students for reading instruction
  • Description: Grant money purchased reading materials for third grade students. The books chosen were from many different genres including poetry, fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, and biography and were from the first grade level to about fifth grade level. Students were then grouped according to ability. All five third grade teachers, the special education teacher and the title one reading teacher had one group of students to teach at a specific level. 3rd Grade Book Club met twice each week for 45 minutes.
  • Expected outcome: We expect that, when students read reading materials at their specific reading level and received reading instruction at that level, their reading skills will improve. We will assess their reading improvement.

“I love it, the books were really good. It was fun reading harder books.”


  • Teachers: Justin White*
  • Students Impacted: All students in third and fourth grade who have a reading or writing deficit.
  • Description: We ordered Kurzweil 3000 for Macintosh Version 3, a software package that helps students write and can read aloud material scanned into the program. The program is flexible and customizable to accommodate diverse learning abilities and requirements from low visual impairments to severe learning disabilities.
  • Expected outcome: Students will be able to write or work on the computer who would otherwise not be able to write on paper. The program allows teachers to create kid friendly tests. We will assess this program by test scores and assignment completion.

“A mom at Davis school whose child is using the program is amazed at the amount he can write on the computer compared to what he can do using pencil and paper; people can actually read his writing now. Before using Kurzweil his writing had lots of reversals and spelling errors which made it very difficult for his parents and teachers to read his work.”

Nonfiction Reading through Social Studies

  • Teachers: Sue Johnson*, Ellie Arsenault, Stella Mann
  • Students impacted: All third-grade students
  • Description: We ordered nonfiction magazines, with interesting stories and realistic pictures, to go along with our current social studies books. We hope to improve our nonfiction reading scores by offering interesting grade level materials in social studies that the children would enjoy interacting with the visual images in these materials.
  • Expected outcome: In the spring and fall of 2007, we will compare reading scores to see if we have gained in non-fictional comprehension. We will also expect improvement in social studies scores on the 2006 and 2007 ITBS.

“My class commented on the fact there were interesting facts in the reading materials and that the pictures helped them know what it was like a long time ago.”