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Fifth grade teacher receives her first grant

By Staff | Dec 9, 2015

A fifth grade teacher at The Sanibel School, who applied for her first grant, received $1,000 from the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society Friends of the Refuge that is being used for third and fifth grades classrooms.

“I requested for two different things because they are a little bit more expensive items than what we would have the money for in our small science budget,” Annie Franke said. “In general it is more expensive to do science with experiments than it is to just open a textbook. The students retain the information better and it makes more sense to them when they are able to manipulate things and run experiments.”

One of the problems the school is faced with is darker classrooms for third grade students because the windows do not face in a way that attracts natural light because of the long hallway.

“One of their big units is growing plants, which is nearly impossible to do in those rooms because there is no light in there,” she said of the third grade classrooms. “They couldn’t grow a plant because they would all die within a couple of days.”

Since the school has hands-on, inquiry, experimental science, one of the items purchased are table grow lights to be used for the plants in every third grade classroom.

“They do things by observing the plant growth, determining what causes what,” Franke said.

The second purchase was for different predator and prey skull sets for the fifth grade students.

“With the skull sets they can examine what is different about these animals. The tooth structure, look at the eye placement and try to determine,” if it’s a predator or prey, she said. “They are using the experiences of what they are doing and putting it to work.”

With the items purchased it will help keep the kids engaged while learning science.

“It’s boring to open a textbook and read about something. They are very dry and for information only,” Franke said. “This makes it more interesting to learn about science.”

With the hands-on approach, she said they are finding that students are reading more nonfiction books because they are interested in the topics they are investigating.

“It really is good for their reading development because it pushes them to checking out more books to help them with the topic they are studying,” Franke said. “That’s a pretty neat side affect.”

This is Franke’s sixth year of teaching at The Sanibel School and her 21st year overall. She taught in St. Louis for 10 years before moving to Florida. She worked at Rayma C. Page Elementary School for four years as a special area teacher that ran a science lab.

“We did first through fifth and they came in and did labs with me once a week,” she explained.

Her love of science stemmed from her father who was a physics and astronomy professor. Franke spent many weekends camping with her father and biologists and chemists.

“We found snakes in the woods, identified plants and identified the stars in the sky,” she said. “I just have had a love of science for all of my life. It’s fun to pass that on to the kids.”

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.