Excel Grant Stories – Technology

One way the Foundation supports the HPS district’s Strategic Plan where every student in the class of 2026 will graduate tech-savvy and tech-literate is through our annual Excel Grants. The Foundation’s Excel Grant program was created to support classroom innovation throughout Highline Public Schools and to provide teachers resources they need to help students be successful. Below are technology grants funded this school year.

AP World History Scholars Achievement Fund at Highline High School

AP World History Scholars Achievement FundThis Excel Grant provided funds to increase the number of Chromebooks in our learning community by 25% as we went from 15 to 20. Having more technology has improved our ability to share ideas and collaborate on projects. It’s also made it less likely for kids to want to turn to their phones for distraction. All 100+ students enrolled in AP World History this school year have been touched by the grant.

“It was an honor to receive this grant. My students felt really special and they clapped loudly when showed them the check.” ~ David Ruby

Assistive Technology at White Center Heights Elementary

Augmentative communication app - LAMP for students This grant brought the technology of an iPad to the Early Childhood Special Education’s Extended Day Program at White Center Heights Elementary. This program serves only student’s age 3 to 5 years old with a diagnosis of autism or suspected autism. I have used an iPad, which was awarded through an Excel Grant last year, at the Program at Mount View Elementary for the past school year. The new iPad that was awarded at White Center Heights this year has brought the same quality instruction to those students. We use the iPad for instruction, including music based-instruction used for teaching imitation skills. We also use it for assistive technology through an augmentative communication app called LAMP for students that are non-verbal.

This has given the students a voice and increased both their receptive and expressive communication skills. The Extended Day program is extremely data driven; therefore, we use the iPad to collect data on each student on a daily basis. The iPad has streamlined how we are able to record and analyze data for our students which has improved the students programming and led to improved learning for students.

The grant/iPad has made collecting data easier and improved communication between my paraeducators and myself. It has also improved communication between all the students’ service providers. The grant has also improved services for students that need assistive technology by shortening time it usually takes to receive a trial device from the district. Instead of waiting months, which for a young student with early intervention services is a long time, we now have the tools immediately.

“The grant process is working very well, and I am very appreciative of receiving the award.” ~ Kristen Gainer

Equitable Technology at North Hill Elementary

Equitable Technology - MakeBeliefs ComicsWith the generous grant of the Highline Schools Foundation I was able to purchase 7 chromebooks that live in the library. These chromebooks have been used everyday by students. The 4th-6th graders worked in groups and researched other countries. The focus of this project was finding credible sources, digital citizenship, research skills, and appreciation for other cultures. Each group then used their research to design a travel brochure about their country using criteria that aligned with CCSS for social studies.

Our K-3 students have used them for myOn, typing, access to the King County website, creating graphic novels using Makebeliefs, and Destiny Quest. Having this technology accessible daily given me the opportunity to teach lessons on digital citizenship, cyber safety, google documents, and cultural diversity. These chrome books have been used by 610 students weeks. It has provided technology equitably to all of our students.

I cannot express how thankful we are for the technology that stays in the library. Before if I wanted to teach a unit on cultural diversity, I would have to run upstairs and borrow a cart of computers or sometimes borrow from different pods for each class session. Having these computers has allowed me to teach digital citizenship to my students and to have them have the technology available to practice.

We have a new family who just moved here from Samoa. The child is in 5th grade and they came to Seattle for his medical treatments. He has struggled leaving his country. He was so very proud when he and his partner turned in their travel brochure about Samoa. He was beaming. He was proud of his work and he appreciated the chance to show us about his country.

The 4th-6th graders are currently creating their own graphic novel with a comic program called Makebeliefs. They are working in groups to design comic strips and we are putting it in a book for our principal who is retiring.

“I just want you to know how grateful I am for everyone who works for the Foundation. You work countless hours to support the students of Highline. We know that not all schools have equitable resources, but you are leveling the playing field by supporting our kids.” ~ Tami Skeen

I don’t know how to say it in English | Seahurst Elementary

I don't know how to say it in EnglishI was able to sign out a dictionary to every Level 1 (or new-comer) family in our school. Students took the dictionaries home to assist with homework or referencing when they did not know a word. This also helped families have access to an easy to use dictionary to assist anyone in their home learning English vocabulary. Also, I was able to increase student access to Imagine Learning English with the iPad minis. One student was even able to find a great translation app to assist her throughout the day.

I think this grant has helped families the most. Often, newcomer students are unable to do homework or understand their reading because they do not know the vocabulary. It is hard for a parent to not have the ability to help their child. By giving every family a picture dictionary to keep at home, parents are able to learn alongside their student(s).

“Thank you for making this possible.” ~ Amanda Lattin

iPads for Our 2028 Grads at Parkside Elementary

iPads for Our 2028 Grads - ST MathMy students have made great progress in math and reading this year! We have four computers in the classroom and now the addition of five iPads has made a huge impact on accessibility to Lexia and ST Math. Students reading below grade level have had access to a program that targets their specific needs. I am able to work with a small group of students while other students are either reading or working on iPads to access MyOn or Lexia. Both programs offer meaningful work that is differentiated to meet the needs of each student at his/her level. I am able to spend more quality time with my small groups, as I know my remaining students are engaged in meaningful work that is teaching them the skills and strategies they need to know to make progress. I monitor our Lexia usage reports very closely; my class has met 100% usage almost every week since January!

The major difference is that I am able to have more students more often benefiting from all technology has to offer. Our reading workshop runs smoothly as students are engaged and focused for the entire hour. Most of my students started the year at or below the beginning Kindergarten level in Lexia, most have made more than a years growth and are at or above the mid First grade level in less than a years time. Our math workshop is one full hour of complete student engagement. I am able to work with three different ability groups, while others work independently or on ST Math. I am able to set the ST Math curriculum to match the skill that I am teaching. My students are at 65% for ST Math. I know this will be higher next year as I will be able to start my math workshop in September.

“I really appreciate having this Foundation, it has helped so many of our students.” ~ Kathy Patricelli

Let’s Be Tech Savvy! at Marvista Elementary

Let's Be Tech Savvy - iPad keyboardsWith the current writing curriculum, writing expectations have increased dramatically. Kindergarteners used to only be expected to know how to write their letters by the end of the year, now they are expected to sit silently for 45 minutes and continuously write sentences. Students are taught a little bit of handwriting but it does not carry over to when they do writing in writer’s workshop. They are also taught very little spelling as it is not required. Students that have both handwriting and spelling plus a little spatial difficulty of staying on lines equals to either very limited writing, writing non stop run on sentences or since they use peer writing partners all the time, the partners (and the teacher) cannot read what is written. It makes it very discouraging for the student that has the writing issues.

When the iPads finally got Word 2 years ago or so, it was a game changer. I have used my own personal iPad with external keyboard with many students and have seen enormous success. For a current OT student who has an iPad, I went through the time-consuming laborious process of getting her one from Special Education and it has made a huge difference. Here is a quote from her current 4th grade teacher, Cooper Johnson: ” I believe that students need to have a fair chance at showing their abilities as learners. I have a student in my classroom who, without a keyboard, has illegible writing. They keyboard and Ipad have allowed her to write stories and feel confident about her work. She used to not want to show her work to her peers, but because of her typing she now is eager to show writing off to her whole classroom. As a teacher, I now have the ability to read the her writing and truly grade her on her writing ability. Without the keyboard and Ipad, this would not be possible.”

There are a few reasons for an external keyboard instead of on-screen keyboard. One is so that there is more screen area for the students to see their work. If half the small screen is taken up by a keyboard it makes it more difficult to see what the student has already written. Two is the microphone feature. It is much more difficult and many more steps to access the microphone for a student to say a word they are having difficulty spelling. Probably the biggest issue is there are not arrow keys on the on-screen keyboard. This makes it very difficult to move around on the document.

RESULTS! The keyboards were purchased and most of them are in use. As teachers find out about the advantages of using Word with an iPad I am getting more and more requests. I love these keyboards. They are easy to type on and seem to last quite a while. One student was so successful with her writing using the iPad and keyboard that she no longer needs to go down to the resource room for writing support. I see her every week and there is independent quality writing every time on her iPad. Another student which was producing nothing with his on demand writing handwriting it is now coming up with a few sentences on the iPad.

“I don’t envy this process. It is much appreciated though!” ~ Kathleen O’Grady-Graham

The Sound of Success! Accessing Technology with Headphones at Southern Heights Elementary

The Sound of Success! Accessing Technology with Headphones - LEXIAWith this grant, I was able to purchase a class set of headphones for my K/1 students. Each student can now access the technology we have in class to its full potential. The headphones have held up really well and we’re very happy with the purchase!

Technology is part of our everyday life at school. We are lucky enough to have a class set of iPads shared with us, so we can use blended learning for math and reading. We use our new headphones to utilize Lexia, a reading and phonics program. Having more headphones has allowed me to have more students access the technology, and this allows me to reach more students in a variety of ways. Having more options for technology also allows my students to have more choice during the day. They can switch between reading books and doing phonics on Lexia. I have a group of students that is still struggling with letters and sounds, and it has been really helpful to have headphones so they can hear Lexia more clearly.

“I am so thankful for Highline Schools Foundation and the Excel grants every year. I am lucky to have received my grant this year.” ~ Kaia Tomokiyo

Sometimes grants fall under more than one category. Read more …

2nd Grade Television Studio at White Center Heights Elementary. We have been able to be more creative with lessons and activities while giving the students a fun opportunity to act, speak in public/on camera, and have fun! Read more about this grant: Excel Grant Stories: The ARTS

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! at Shorewood Elementary. The initial grant proposal was written to benefit the Music program (i.e., Shorewood Choir), the PE program (i.e., Field Day activities), and multicultural activities (i.e., Club de Lectura), We discovered that many more organizations and activities were able to benefit from the portable sound equipment purchased through our Highline Schools Foundation grant. Read more about this grant: Excel Grant Stories: The ARTS

“Come on Let’s Dance” with Ozobot 2.0 and Cozmo” at Pacific Middle School.  The purpose of the grant was to provide opportunities for my Design and Engineering students to go to the next level of computer programming by engaging with Ozobot 2 and Cosmo. We were very fortunate that the newest Ozobot, EVO was released, which is the third generation of Ozobots. Read more about this grant: Excel Grant Stories: STEM

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! at Shorewood Elementary. We discovered that many more organizations and activities were able to benefit from the portable sound equipment purchased through our Highline Schools Foundation grant. These include the after school Art Club, Girls On The Run, Jump Rope For Heart, and several PTA activities. Read more about this grant: Excel Grant Stories: The ARTS

Math for Independence and Understanding at Global Connections High School. The grant to purchase eight TI-84 calculators allowed the students in this Resource Room classroom to be more successful in their math class. Read more about this grant: Excel Grant Stories: STEM

Robots in Action at Gregory Heights Elementary. Every student in the sixth grade at Gregory Heights has been able to participate in hands-on coding experiences. Students are excited about coding and learning about careers in STEM. Read more about this grant: Excel Grant Stories: STEM



Since 1999, the Highline Schools Foundation has been supporting innovation and excellence in Highline Public Schools. Our funding priorities focus on programs to improve academic achievement, supporting college and career readiness, grants to teachers for engaging classroom projects, the arts, athletics, and programs that keep students in school and productive. Highline is a district full of need and opportunity. The Highline Schools Foundation is the only non-profit organization dedicated to all schools in our district—our goal is to help as many students as possible be successful!

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