Some of us used Cyber Monday to shop for noise-cancelling headphones and a bigger monitor. Jennifer Kleinknecht used it to get new presentation technology for every teacher at H.B. Whitehorne Middle School, with the help of a $1,500 grant from the Verona Foundation for Educational Excellence (VFEE).
The technology is called Buncee, and it allows both teachers and students to make highly interactive presentations. There are lots of ready-made templates for the teachers and lots of stickers, emojis and animations for the students. It integrates with the Google Classroom technology already in use in Verona and it can be used by individuals or in groups.
Kleinknecht talked about Buncee in a LinkedIn video chat with VFEE board member Sarina Rivera. Over the past decade, the community-funded non-profit has given out more than $200,000 in grants to teachers for learning projects across a wide range of disciplines. Kleinknecht has gotten grants for a science database for the HBW library, e-books and more.
Buncee had been on the radar for Verona before, Kleinknecht said, but it hadn’t made the cut. But when she was assigned to the district’s tech committee last summer, she decided to learn more about it and ended up putting it on her VFEE wish list. Kleinknecht was awarded a $1,000 grant, which would have bought Buncee for 10 teachers, but when she saw the company’s whole-school Cyber Monday sale, she asked VFEE to increase the grant and it agreed.
“We are in the middle of shifting to a whole new way of teaching and learning,” Kleinknecht said in the “Behind The Grant” chat.
Kleinknecht said that one of the best things about Buncee is that it is easy to use. “You don’t want your technology lesson to be spent on working the pencil,” she said. “I can explain this to fifth graders in literally a minute, two minutes, and it’s so intuitive they can figure it out themselves and just get creating and really use their imaginations.” She also likes the way students can give encouraging feedback to each other’s work through Buncee. “They can give likes and hearts and emojis and comments to each other,” she said, “so even though we’re apart, it’s allowing us to connect them.”
It’s all helping to break the monotony of virtual classrooms during the pandemic, especially Buncee’s selfie tool. “It’s been great seeing the personalities come out,” Kleinknecht said. “We miss that so much of being able to see the kids personalities and really getting to know them and make those connections. It’s been really fun.”
If you are on LinkedIn, you can watch VFEE’s “Behind The Grant” video there.