The December KBAY Teacher of the Month is Dominic Rizzi who received a grant to purchase science kits for his middle school students.
Grant lets students do hands-on science
Dominic Rizzi received a Wells Fargo Teacher Innovation Classroom Grant from the Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) to purchase physical science lab kits.
“The SVEF Grant for our science and math students was to purchase a Physical Science laboratory kit that included a hands-on, project-based approach to investigating the physical sciences in each of our major units of study. The kit would help students to visualize data and aid in representing student findings using mathematics and graphing.”
“With the SVEF Innovation Grant, students have been and are being exposed to activities that were not accessible to them before. Working with the new physical science lab kit, students are able to use precision tools to collect data. For example, students use photo-gates to get accurate and reproducible results for speed vs. time and distance vs. time graphs. The photo-gates are used again in a traditional lab where students measure the period of a pendulum swinging with different masses. Before having access to these precision measuring tools, students encountered unexplainable errors from common stop watches and human error that gave rough conclusions to an otherwise noteworthy lab. Now with the proper tools, students can better understand and visualize the patterns in our physical world as they are introduced to Newtonian physics and the phenomena around them.”
Caroline Davis Intermediate School, Oak Grove School District
“Our school is located in South San Jose with a population of about 700 students. A majority of our students are English Language Learners with a passion for math and science and an eagerness to learn. I teach a mix of 7th grade and 8th grade science sections where we cover a range of topics. In 7th grade we discuss geological formations, climate and weather, the human anatomy, physiology in the plant and animal kingdoms and how to conduct ourselves like a professional scientist. In the 8th grade we discuss atoms and molecular bonding, chemical and physical changes in matter, space exploration, and Newtonian physics. In both grade levels, we emphasize the importance of doing ‘good science’ by critically thinking to solve problems, creating lab investigations that are precise and accurate, communicating our results to our peers through means of technology and collaborating as a team to break down large projects into easy to manage sections through leadership and team responsibilities.”
The ongoing classroom challenge
“My sense of humor and storytelling often gets our class off track. Though usually still on a science topic, it can be difficult to redirect students back to the goal. At the same time, taking conversations where the students have interests and stories of their own is a great way to learn from each other’s experiences. Knowing that I can be there for those types of candid discussions to help students understand what they experienced is sometimes a more powerful lesson then the one I had prepared from the night before.”
Dominic received his science degree and teaching credential from San Jose State University and also holds a Master’s of Science Education from SJSU. He has taught science in the Oak Grove School District for four years.
“Teaching and learning has been a lifelong passion of my family and me. Sharing my Love of learning is what I enjoy most about being a teacher. I have seen that we learn best when we are teaching something to others. It is at that time we are rapidly thinking about our explanations and our reasoning that we truly begin to understand what it is we know and what we are still trying to figure out. I get real joy from watching my students explain, what used to be, abstract concepts to each other. When a student takes the time to show another, that is how I know I’ve done my job well. Being a ‘sage on the stage’ is not what I am good at. However, being a ‘guide on the side’ allows me to watch my students grow and support them through the challenges they face in science and math. I most enjoy helping my students to find the joy in nature and science around them at their homes and in their environment.
“Being a ‘guide on the side’ allows me to watch my students grow.”
The Teacher of the Month received $1,000 Grant courtesy of Silicon Valley Education Foundation!
There are hundreds of teaching innovation stories in the Silicon Valley; stories of teachers who keep a solid foundation of learning in their classrooms, then go the extra distance to inspire kids in ways that will take with them into the real world. Check out some of the past recipients of $500 Teacher Innovation Grants:
Click here to see more of our past Teachers of the Month!
About Silicon Valley Education Foundation
As a leading non-profit resource and advocate for students, educators and administrators, Silicon Valley Education Foundation is dedicated to elevating scholastic achievement. Since 2006, more than 750 Teacher Innovation Grants have been awarded to local educators to inspire student learning in and outside of classrooms. SVEF’s mission is to make Silicon Valley the leader in academically prepared high school graduates.
How Can I Support Public Education?
Our local community’s vision is a technologically, innovative Silicon Valley where public school investment results in a strong and sustainable economy and a future workforce is created from local talent. Today, nearly 50% of high school graduates in Santa Clara County are not eligible to attend a four-year California university. SVEF is working with schools to reverse this trend by offering critical math and science programs to prepare students for college and career success. Make a difference in the lives of Silicon Valley students by donating to these crucial programs.
The continued improvement of student achievement in public education relies upon the generosity of our donors and partners. To find out more about how you can help SVEF academically prepare more Silicon Valley students for future success, visit www.svefoundation.org.