Sunday, December 16, 2018
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20151030 SISD-Simply-the-BEST-LogoBy combining Michelle Galvan’s knowledge of grant writing and Pamela Buentello’s knowledge of teaching high school English, the two earned their classes a $932 grant from the Sharyland Education Foundation.

The two teachers will have their classes working on a graffiti wall and book project.

Each student in their freshman and sophomore English classes is required to read an assigned book and create an artistic representation for each chapter. The students will then be grouped, assigned a chapter and have to decide among each other which of their works convey the chapter the strongest. Every group will then display their visual creations chronologically on a wall, much like a mural, to summarize the story from start to finish.

“It helps to see what the kids are thinking as they’re reading through something,” Buentello said. “The whole point is to see what they find is important, what they’re picturing in their head. That’s why it’s so interesting to see the diversity of each project.”

Buentello brought the idea to the Sharyland Advanced Academic Academy when she came on staff two years ago, but has been teaching it for about six years. She teamed up with Galvan, who has written grants in the past, to try their hand at earning funds from the Sharyland Education Foundation.

Galvan said she often dips into her own pocket to buy supplies for her classroom because she wants to provide her students with the necessary materials to complete the assigned work. With the money awarded, the two teachers will be able to purchase arts and crafts supplies, journals and books for the project.

“The grants allow us as teachers to do things that we wouldn’t normally do. I can’t afford to go and spend $400 on art materials,” Galvan said. “The grant allows us to step out of the box and do something a little bigger than we would have been able to.”

In addition to holding the students accountable for their reading assignments and teaching them real world experience by working in groups, the teachers explained that the book and graffiti project also provides another avenue to showcase what the students have learned.

“If you use all the different ways then they have lots of opportunities for success,” Galvan said. “Some students don’t do so hot on quizzes, but if I give them the ability to respond to it in writing and drawing, that’s another proof that they're getting what we’re reading.”

Buentello has not decided on a book for her sophomores, but Galvan’s freshman class has been working on George Orwell’s Animal Farm for a few weeks. Some of the visual interpretations have been through graffiti-style art, cartoon art or collage work.

The murals are scheduled to be put up around semester exams in December, but Galvan doesn’t know when the grant money will come in. It is likely only next semester’s classes will be able to utilize the funds, she said.

Buentello said in the past she has asked students if she could keep their projects as an example for future classes, but often times students wants to keep their work because they’re proud of the final product.

“I didn’t think it would be something as small as this would be worthy enough to be awarded money,” the English teacher said. “I’m excited to see how the kids are going to react to having so much more to choose from than what they had before.”