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Keywords: Personal Narrative Writing
Subject(s): English/Language Arts
Grades K through 5
School: Orwell Village Elem School, Orwell, VT
Planned By:
Original Author: , Malvern
Cover Letter

October 23, 2005

Tool Factory/Olympus
and Tool Factory Classroom Grant Program

Lois Hillman is pleased to submit this request for your review. I look forward to utilizing the resources provided in this cooperative grant effort to enhance and build critical writing skills valuable for lifelong pursuits.

As outlined in the grant details, this proposal requests three Olympus digital cameras, one software site license for Tool Factory, $500 cash to assist with project costs and 30 “digital camera basics” workbooks. These learning tools will enable the special education teacher to broaden and differentiate instruction in written language to better meet the needs of students in the learning support classroom.

The model that will be developed for integration into the 3rd grade written language arts curriculum will include the use of digital photography and customized software to provide visual and kinesthetic modalities associated with reaching the special needs learner. This creative approach to be provided through the Olympus and tool Factory Classroom Grant Program is to be used within this learning support classroom allowing the students an opportunity to make a personal visual connection that will enhance their curriculum based writing projects.

Great Valley School District continues to be at the forefront of technology integration to provide the learning tools necessary to prepare our children for their future. Recognizing and understanding the special needs of our students and utilizing technology tools effectively to provide unique opportunities to reach all students is a part of the district’s commitment in their mission statement.

Thank you for your interest in reviewing this request. I envision building upon our collaborative success by developing a program that could become a model for others.


Lois Hillman
Special Education Teacher
K.D. Markley Elementary School
Great Valley School District
Malvern, PA 19355

Cover Sheet

Date of Application: October 31, 2005

Name of School:
K.D. Markley Elementary School
Great Valley School District
Malvern, PA 19355
Principal: Dr. Karen Schneck
Assistant Principal: Christopher Pickell

Contact person:
Lois Hillman
Special Education Teacher

School Demographics:
K.D. Markley Elementary School is one of three elementary schools within the Great Valley School District. Great Valley School District is located in the suburban community of Malvern, PA, approximately 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia, PA.
K.D. Markley services students in grades K-5, with a student population of 820. There are 6 classes per grade level, with an average of 21 students per class.
K.D. Markley is also the home of 4 learning support classrooms, which provide replacement programming from regular education for language arts and math. The average number of students supported in each grade level learning support program is fourteen (14). K.D.M. also provides services for special needs learners through a primary Autistic Support program.

Purpose of the grant:
To improve student writing, as measured on the Great Valley School District writing rubric, by providing differentiated instructional opportunities within the written language curriculum for students with special learning needs, affording the opportunity to add visual aids and kinesthetic interaction to their writing projects.

Grant request:
$3,000 in technology equipment and supports
$500 in cash

Total organization budget:
Great Valley School District operates on a $3 million dollar annual budget. Extending from July 1 to June 30 of each calendar year.

Total projected budget (with project support):
$3,500 – the computer technology and other supports are already in place to facilitate the guidelines of this outlined project.

Project Name:
Bring Language to Life

Needs Assessment

In today’s world of education we are challenged each day to raise the performance of our students to meet a set of standardized expectations. With a curriculum that is laden with ties to these standards, each student is required to perform these designated tasks regardless of level or ability. In an effort to leave “No Child Left Behind”, it is the daily responsibility of the classroom teacher to look for new and creative ways to make the connections for the students that will facilitate their ability to learn, acquiring these skills.

One stumbling block to this formula for standardization is that every child learns differently, at their own individual rate and pace. However, the standards are here to stay, so what is it that we do to bring this diverse student population along in a “standard” way? One tool used by educators is called differentiation.

Differentiated instruction accommodates multiple and varied learning needs within the standard units of instructions, providing the same educational experience for each learner in a way that provides personal success for each student’s learning ability and style. Utilizing a model of differentiated instruction allows the teacher to meet the demands of standardized instruction, while tailoring it to the needs of the individual student.
Students that require specially designed instruction within a learning support classroom will often need instructional material presented in a variety of modalities with frequent opportunity for practice and repetition of that skill. The instructional area of written language is not exclusive from those instructional demands. Providing differentiated instruction through visual, auditory and kinesthetic experiences in written language the outcome of the student’s written material in enhances and improved. Practice and repetition of these experiences allow development of proficient writing skills amongst these special needs learners.

The other important element of quality written language instruction children is providing the opportunity for them to make a personal connection to their writing. Research indicates that when children understand the connection their writing makes to their world, the quality of the writing improves. When this personal connection is established the flow of thoughts and ideas is enhanced. Once this flow is established, the student is able to expend cognitive energy toward improving the writing process, rather than laboring through the development of the ideas for the project.

Through state standards, writing rubrics outline how we measure levels of Proficiency in our student writers. In Pennsylvania, writing is scored in five areas of concern – Focus, Content, Organization, Style and Conventions. The four step writing rubric ranks student levels of proficiency in writing as Below-Basic(1), Basic(2), Proficient(3), and Advanced(4). According to the standards every student must attain a score of Proficient (3) in all five areas of concern of written language.

In answer to those guidelines, Great Valley has incorporated into the written language curriculum instruction on different styles of writing, based on the appropriate grade level. In third grade the curriculum addresses Narrative, Persuasive and Informational writing. Each genre of writing is assigned to a trimester marking period and assessed through writing samples, utilizing the four point writing rubric, to measure levels of proficiency.

In an effort to meet these standards based curriculum requirements, the learning support programs, geared for students with specified learning disabilities, crafts an instructional model to address our special concerns. I will use my third grade, first marking period Narrative writing curriculum to outline the needs of these special learners.

Narrative writing is introduced in the curriculum anthology series. Students are introduced to this style of writing, the parts Narrative writing are reviewed through literature and the components of a Narrative broken down sequentially for the students. After reviewing samples of Narrative writing in Literature, the whole class creates a “Shared Pen” Narrative, further reviewing and reinforcing the components of writing style.

The prompt for this group Narrative is “My Day as a Pencil”. The students can immediately relate to this topic, as they touch, move, manipulate their pencil and imagine the adventures of this pencil during a school day. The auditory component of this shared exercise is enhanced by the visual and kinesthetic elements. The children can see the pencil in their book bags coming from home, they can see the pencil in the desk tray, they can hear the sound of the pencil in the sharpener, they can see and feel the point as it is sharpened and dulled throughout the day. It becomes a wonderfully, creative experience in Narrative writing for the students and they acquire the skills and knowledge to begin their own writing selection. As with all of our writing, the students will proceed through the five steps of writing, Prewriting, Draft, Revising, Editing and Publishing. This modeled exercise also allows the introduction and instruction of these five steps.

The next two writing assignments parallel the shared pen experience. The first prompt being, “My School Day” and the second is, “My Weekend Day”. These prompts parallel the sequence of the “My Day as a Pencil” allowing the students to repeat and reinforce the skills they have recently acquired. So, where does the need for digital cameras and software come into this process? How will those learning tools enhance the opportunity for differentiated instruction on these writing assignments?

As in the example of the modeled Narrative passage of the pencil, the students were able to make a connection with the material because it was introduced, reinforced and practiced using all of the different learning style tools. As the project progressed as a whole class, the expectations of focusing and organizing ideas, supporting the piece with sufficient content, providing transitional sections to the piece, and using proper grammatical conventions were modeled into the lessons as the students experienced the day with that pencil. This is the same experience I believe that digital camera technology and Tool Factory software will bring to the other narrative selection writing.

I believe the need for the students to gather photos of themselves throughout their school day and weekend day will enhance their writing. It will provide for them an immediate tangible, visual model for writing. Rather than struggling to retrieve the details of their day, those events will be visually presented right in front of them. Taking the photos will also provide opportunity for repetition and reinforcement of the events prior to writing. The personal connection to their writing will be made. Once the personal connection is made and enabled by through these processes, the student should be able to put forth cognitive resources needed to improve the quality of the written language project.

After the photos are gathered, the Tool Factory software will provide a much needed tool for these sometimes struggling writers. Previewing the software tools allowed me to see components of the software that will further meet the needs of this project for each student. Tool Factory provides a management tools that will allow the teacher to customize the software to meet the ability of each student. Differentiation is the introduction of the same concepts in customized ways to match the student. This management tool will allow for that differentiation and independent growth of the students ability to use the tools of this learning software.

There are several tools within the Tool Factory that will be useful to the development of this project. First, there is word processor that can be customized for each student through the management tool. Although our current word processor is widely used, it has features and options that are overwhelming for the primary student. These students only need a few options to be more independent in creating a digital publication.

Next, there is a paint program which allows for the import, manipulation and integration of the digital photos to be taken. Lastly, Tool Factory includes a bank manager that can be used to develop banks of photos and word banks that can be customized per project.

The combination of the cameras and software will clearly assist this special needs population to gain more proficiency in their curriculum based/standards based written language projects. This process will be repeated for Narrative, Persuasive and Informational writing projects throughout the year.

In addition to the cameras, a software and user’s workbook, this grant also offers $500 in cash to facilitate the process. To best meet the needs of the students, this money would be marked for the purchase of photo paper and a laser color printer.

Program Goals and Objectives

1. To increase student writing in the area of focus to a rubric score of (3)
2. To increase student writing in the area of content to a rubric score of (3)
3. To increase student writing in the area of organization to a rubric score of (3)
4. To increase student writing in the area of style to a rubric score of (3)
5. To increase student writing in the area of conventions to a rubric score of (3)
6. To increase student writing composite to a rubric score of (3)
7. To increase student’s personal connection and engagement with written language project pieces, increasing their time-on-task.
1. Students will demonstrate understanding of written language project.
2. Students will use Olympus digital cameras to take digital photos of personal experience events that match written language project topic.
3. Students will download digital photos to classroom iMac and store in Tool Factory photo bank.
4. Students will use Tool Factory Painter to create and print a contact sheet of personal experience photos, aligned in order of sequence to match written language topic.
5. Students will proceed through the five steps in the writing process utilizing personal experience photo contact sheet to develop written language project.
6. Using Tool Factory word processor, student will publish written language project with personal experience photos within the context of the piece.


Using 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 written language average scores as a baseline of student improvement over the course of one year’s instruction, the teacher will compare growth of students in the 2005-2006 school year, utilizing the Bring Language to Life model outlined in this grant proposal to measure the increase of student performance in written language.
Baseline/Initial writing samples have been gathered. The Great Valley 3rd grade writing rubric is modeled after the Pennsylvania Writing Rubric, available as a benchmark for meeting state standards.

Great Valley School District Writing Rubric - 3rd Grade
*Writing rubric is in table format. Submission of this evaluation tool will be upon request.

Lois J. Hillman
 B.S. – Sociology
 PA Level II Certification K-12 – Mentally and Physically Handicapped
 M.Ed. – Mentally and Physically Handicapped; Penn State University
 M.Ed. – Technology in Education; Rosemont College
 17 years in special education
 7 years in education as network administrator for Great Valley High School LAN

Personal commitment to integrating technology learning tools into the public education system to best meet the needs, enhance the instruction and enrich the experience of the learner.


It is my firm belief that if awarded this grant that will provide the visual, kinesthetic interface through digital photos and student friendly software to written language, the learning support students participating in the Bring Language to Life project will improve their written language proficiency, as measured against state standards. The students will have opportunity for repetition and reinforcement of skills. The students will make a personal connection with their written language project. The students will be provided with an enjoyable link to writing. Differentiation of instruction through software support will enable the students to be successful at their level of achievement, allowing for growth and improvement with each repetition of the required skills.
Materials: Point and Shoot, Word Processor, Paint, Slideshow, Camera Bags, Batteries
Other Items: 1 Hewlett-Packard LaserJet Color Printer HP LaserJet 2550L color printer 4 ppm color/ 20 ppm black (A4) personal Color LaserJet printer, $369.78 each, total of $369.78
Kodak Photo paper (16 packs) PICTURE PAPER 4INX6IN SOFT GLOSS 50 SHEETS, $7.99 each