Smiling Scientists at the UC Botanical Garden

When the docent at the UC Botanical Garden asked Berkeley Arts Magnet (BAM) kindergarteners, “Why is this season called fall?” the students responded, “Because the leaves fall!” while they made sweeping motions with their hands representing falling leaves. The students brought a lot of energy to the garden on the day we joined Benjamin Wilkins-Malloy’s […]

Students Build Stories with Berkeley Rep

For over a decade, the Berkeley Public Schools Fund has partnered with Berkeley Repertory Theatre to bring theater workshops into our elementary schools. The Story Builders program uses “sound, movement, dialogue, and improvisation [to] turn the classroom into a living theatre.” Throughout several classroom visits, students read a story and then bring it to life […]

Developing Life Skills in the Marin Headlands

Twenty-five fifth graders. Four days. Countless exercises and challenges to strengthen character before middle school. Rick Kleine’s Classroom Grant for a Marin Headlands Camping Trip for his Jefferson fifth grade class tackled personal growth, collective communication, leadership building, and even some World War I & II history. Kleine writes in his Classroom Grant application, “As […]

Challenge Day Ignites Compassion at Berkeley High

As Berkeley High teacher Shannon Erby pointed out in her Classroom Grant application for Challenge Day, “Students can be mean. Sometimes they are intentional bullies, other times they don’t realize the impact their words and actions can have on others. Unsafe and/or contentious environments are not conducive to learning.” Erby’s solution (or, beginning of the […]

A Visit to Berkeley High’s Orchestra Rehearsal

Visiting Karen Wells and Mary Dougherty’s Berkeley High orchestra rehearsal, we were pleased to observe two types of Schools Fund grants in action. The first, a contrabass clarinet, was the result of a directed gift from Another Planet Entertainment. The second was a Classroom Grant for Professional Music Mentors. Another Planet Entertainment’s Annual Gift to […]

Storytelling Festival at Berkeley High

I sat in Berkeley High’s Little Theater waiting for the Storytelling Festival to begin, listening to student conversations happening around me. Some quietly tackled math homework, others sang in Spanish, a few more chatted about their crew team. Soon one conversation melted into another, the crew kids picking up on basic Spanish phrases, exclaiming, “You’re […]

Work Hard Play Hard: Franklin Preschoolers Explore Careers

A fireman, a construction worker, and a veterinarian walk into a classroom. They’re all roughly 3 feet tall and use plastic tools exclusively. This isn’t the set up for riddle; it’s playtime at Franklin Preschool where students are using Community Career Costumes provided by a Schools Fund classroom grant. Franklin teacher Joni Miller requested funds […]

Getting in the Zone: Hilary Mitchell’s World of Hip Hop

“Get in the zone, people!” Sixty fourth and fifth graders are lined up in imperfect rows in the Washington cafeteria. Younger students look on, snacking on apples and doing their homework. It’s an energetic space, full of elementary student chitchat and fidgeting. When we come through you know we shut it down! Beats bust through […]

Berkeley Teachers Let Them Play

In May of this year, we came across a New York Times article by David Kohn called “Let the Kids Learn Through Play.” At the time, we were promoting some Friends & Family Grants from Berkeley preschool teachers trying to bring more play into their classrooms. These teachers already felt strongly about the points of […]

Teachers Reflect on 2014-2015 Classroom Grants

Berkeley Public Schools Fund Classroom Grants have been a staple of Berkeley public school classrooms since 1984. Some projects are small, requesting consumable classroom supplies or a single field trip. Other applications tackle bigger, innovative ideas: socio-emotional training, STEM curriculum, literacy materials. All of these 300+ yearly applications are brought to the Schools Fund Grants Committee and reviewed […]