Innovation and creativity are integral components of the core beliefs of the Westport Public Schools and community at large. Our goal is to inspire the imaginations of our students, faculty, and staff to think out of the box and pursue new ideas that make a difference in the lives of our students and our work. We are looking to solve problems in new and better ways, and hope to see ideas that would not normally be considered part of our typical educational offerings and structures.
Innovation Fund grants are available to students, teachers and staff of the Westport Public Schools. For more information and to apply for a grant, go to: WPS Innovation Fund Grant Application. Grant applications for 2019-2020 will be reviewed on an ongoing basis awarded until the $50,000 Innovation Fund is depleted.
Funded Projects To-Date
Building Collaborative Practice through Technology
Using ipad and Swivl technology, elementary Literacy Coaches will record demo lessons, instruction and student discourse, to be used for sharing and reflecting on teaching and learning - by teachers and students.
Composers Workshop: A Musical Collaboration
American Composer, Sean O’Loughlin, will work with 6th-8th grade orchestra students to compose three separate pieces of music that will align with each grade’s curricular goals. Mr. O’Loughlin and students will meet in person, and skype throughout the process, culminating in a performance of the pieces in May. Students will write reflections about the process and its impact on them as musicians and human beings.
The first part of the process, Collaboration:
Digital Portfolios Using SeeSaw
Students spend a good amount of their day creating. They create with their writing, their problem solving, their art, their music, even with their doodles. Giving students the opportunity to share their creations with others and reflect on their work helps give it purpose and authenticity. Having students create digital portfolios allows students to do this. One of the easiest and most efficient tools to do this is an app called Seesaw.The goal of this project is for second grade students at Saugatuck Elementary to work with the literacy coach, Mrs. Carey, the technology teacher, Mr. Lawrence, and their classroom teacher to show what they have learned across subject areas by creating digital portfolios and to reflect on their progress throughout the year.
Exploring and Learning with Google Expeditions
The technology department will now be able to check out a fully out-fitted Google Expedition Kit to Pre-K-grade 12 teachers who wish to take their students on a Google Expedition. Students will not have to have to provide their own cell phone and will be able to explore in the safety of the school network with a teacher guide. Google has 500 different expeditions for our students to go on including visits to international museums, to undersea caves and ecosystems, and to outer-space.
GFS Zero Waste Initiative
Did you know that it takes a head of lettuce 20 years to break down in a landfill? And that food waste is the third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions? Greens Farms School is going to lead the way in helping students, families, staff-- and eventually the rest of the district-- change old habits and remove food waste from our school waste stream. The Greens Farms School Zero Waste Committee is hoping to reduce food waste in our cafeteria by implementing a system that combines composting, food rescue, recycling and conservation practices by students and cafeteria staff. Our hope is that this process will educate, inspire and change the habits of all members of the GFS community and beyond.
Hollywood Movie Music Production
This project will give students a real life experience with current music production techniques. A local recording artist and musician, Andrew Smith, who works with the renowned head of film music at DreamWorks movie studios, 2018 Oscar nominee Hans Zimmer, will work with students at three of our schools to allow them to have hands on experience with movie music production, recording and editing. The final project will be a movie music queue written by a composer at Hans Zimmer Studios and performed, recorded and edited by students. Kings Highway elementary and Bedford middle school orchestra students will be involved by performing, Bedford Music & Technology students will be involved as recording engineers and Staples High School Music & Technology students will be the final editors. Students will learn how to perform with other music tracks to fill in their part of the whole production. They will also make connections to their current studies of music and/or technology with real life non-traditional career opportunities.
Saugatuck Story Festival- October 12-14, 2018
In partnership with the Westport Library, two Staples High School teachers will design a three day literary festival and writing conference inviting agitators, innovators, liberators, and world-makers to connect communities through story. This festival will exhibit the real-world application and implications of reading and writing for an authentic audience, giving students and community members the unique opportunity to engage with authors. We hope to offer an array of sessions and workshops with authors, both on the texts and on the process of writing; and an array of genres, beginning by tapping into local resources and writers. Our goal with this project is to transcend the walls of the high school and foster community conversations through a shared love of books and the written word. Students will be involved in the organization and running of the book festival, and every step of the process, through personalized learning opportunities.
Our Teen Board
Student Record Keeping
The goal for this project by the King's Highway second grade teaching team is to have a comprehensive record keeping tool, CC Pensieve Conferring Notebook software on iPads, that easily allows the teachers to manage and assess student progress. Teachers can quickly reference individual conferences and small group meetings and use that information to meet the needs of each student and plan next steps. Each student has an individualized tracking sheet where data can be viewed and shared. The use of this tool will enhance student learning by allowing the teachers to quickly reference student goals and strategies , track conferring sessions and interventions, and use data to best inform and differentiate instruction.
Think, Make, Innovate in STEM with Drones
Middle school technology teacher, Mr. Rogers, will work with students from Coleytown Middle School and Bedford Middle School in after school and summer programs in conjunction with Westport Continuing Education, on using coding software and drones to problem solve, innovate, and work through real-world challenges while also exploring future applications in our 21st century world.
What Works in Education Podcast Series
We have amazing teachers here at Staples, but most of us rarely have the opportunity to see them in action and experience what makes them great. The What Works in Education Podcast Series is not only a way to identify great teaching, it is a vehicle to make it visible to everyone, whether or not we’re in a classroom. These podcasts highlight what we do best from both the teacher and the student perspective.
World Music Visiting Artist Program featuring the Afro Bop Alliance Big Band
Joe McCarthy is a professional musician, composer and founder of Afro Bop Alliance, winner of the 2008 Latin Grammy for Latin Jazz Album of the Year. Mr. McCarthy will introduce middle and high school music students to performance techniques within the cultural context of Latin music, specifically the Afro-Cuban style. He will collaborate with them on original repertoire and improvisation with a culminating clinic/performance with the Afro Bop Alliance Big Band in June.