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The teachers and specialists in Provo City School District are our innovators. They are innovators, companions, and caretakers—the brick-and-mortar that founded learning in our community. The Provo City School District Foundation wants to recognize and support their efforts to make our schools a better place.

Each year, the Foundation awards mini-grants to a few of the many deserving district teachers. To receive the grant, teachers must submit a two-page application detailing their concept for an innovative project to their classroom or school. After receiving the completed application, the Provo School District Foundation Selection Committee picks the mini-grant recipients for the year.

It’s a process that isn’t required of teachers, but each year, many go the extra mile for their students.  

This year, we’re speaking to a few teachers who have received mini-grants to ask them about their classroom’s perceived need, their mini-grant product, the classroom impact of their mini-grant, and lastly, advice for new and struggling teachers on how they can differentiate and extend learning in their classrooms.

This week we spoke to mini-grant recipient Kayli Shelburne from Provo High School. Kayli used her mini-grant to build film kits for her classes and fellow Social Studies teachers to finish an advertisement project for a chosen political party at the close of their campaign unit. We sat down with Kayli in an interview to discuss her project and its profound effects on her students.

Q: What was your perceived issue? What did you use your mini-grant on?

A: So last summer, I went to a tech summit, and there was a booth from a film production company that I loved. The other teachers at the summit and I got to play with different film tech to create high-quality videos. It was a ton of fun.

I try to incorporate projects once a semester, and our thoughts—i.e., the Social Studies hallway, being myself, Aulava, Wilson, and Hernandez—wanted to create the same film kit for our students to make quality videos related to campaign videos and propaganda. My government class finished a campaign project and filmed advertisements for their political parties, and they were good. Miss Wilson’s class, for example, used them for political interviews.

We emailed the company from the booth for their equipment list sheet, like briefcases, clapboards, ring lights, microphones, that sort of thing. Now that we’ve used our mini-grant and kits, I can tell you that their videos have been incredible.

Check out one of their videos below:

Q: How did the kits change your projects for your students?

A: The quality was much higher, and the excitement and buy-in were there. Students were like, “Oh. We can actually make a quality product.” They’re telling me that they’re proud of their work. The videos are good enough that we’re saving them to showcase as examples for students in the following years. I went back and watched videos from last year’s project submissions compared to this year’s submissions, and there’s an obvious, noticeable difference because of the kits.

Q: So often, mini-grants to extend or differentiate learning. For struggling new teachers, what advice do you have to extend or differentiate learning for your students?

A: This is a conversation we have all of the time: how do we meaningfully differentiate in bigger classes where the range of abilities significantly differs? As I develop as a teacher, I find that projects give space for me to differentiate. 

I’ve also been toying with choice boards for autonomy. We’re in the beginning stages for choice boards, but the idea behind the choice board is to let kids demonstrate their learning in products and environments that make sense to them, or are in their wheelhouse. It’s a tricky question, but project-based learning just makes sense to me.

Spencer Tuinei
  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei
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