I got my start grant writing when I was a music teacher. There were many small fun projects I wanted to do with my students which did not require a lot of money. Unfortunately, because I worked for an urban school district, neither the district, nor my students had any money to bring these projects to fruition. So I started to look for grant funding to support my innovative education.
There are quite a few grants available to help teachers implement innovative projects in their classroom. In general, these grants range from $200-$5,000. If you are creative and persistent, this amount of money can provide a lot of education and fun for students.
These grants are most common in the spring. Grantors do this so teachers can start the year with their new supplies. Unfortunately, a lot of teachers miss these opportunities because they are busy with teaching, testing, and making up lost days due to the snow and ice. So we wanted to provide some insight for teachers on how to prepare for these opportunities.
1) As you go through the school year, notice places in your curriculum where you could put a fun, innovative project. Write down what supplies and equipment you will need, what students will learn, and how you will measure their learning.
2) During a planning time, over a weekend, or over spring break, use a supply catalog to create a budget for your project. Don’t take anything for granted, including all the little things you need like pencils, paper, paint, printer ink, USB flash drives, and batteries.
3) Think about how you can sustain your project for more than one year. This might mean extra batteries for the digital camera, extra printer ink to ensure the books can be printed out for the students to take home, or extra beakers to replace the ones that students will accidentally drop.
4) Can you partner with another teacher in your school to serve more students? Share your great idea with the other teachers who share your grade or classroom subject. If a project can be implemented across the entire grade, then the next grade will have a whole classroom of smarter students.
5) Can you involve parents in your project? If you can also tie your project into a Science Night, Literacy Night, or Music Concert where students can share what they have learned by having them work on a project together with their parents, this will not only solidify what students have learned, help them to feel more confident in their learning, but it increase that illusive parent involvement. The more parents are involved with their students’ education and the more parents see how they can support the education you provide in the classroom, the more effective your teaching can be.
Watch for our blog next month about how to use these small grants to implement big projects in your classroom.