Grant Writing for Your Classroom
Posted: Thursday, November 1st, 2012
by Laura Henriques
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if schools were funded at levels that would allow us to do everything we wanted to in our classrooms to support student learning? Imagine if we had the resources to do quality hands-on science, with enough money for equipment and all the necessary consumables. Remember when schools had money for field trips? Don’t you long for the days when there was a budget for your science department? While schools should be cathedrals of learning, and funded at levels that enable us to teach with technology and do inquiry investigations, the reality of today’s fiscal environment is quite different. With this in mind, I am hoping to inspire you to be proactive and look for grant funding resources to bolster your science classroom. Whether your dream is to plant a school garden, incorporate technology to engage your students, or buy materials for use in lab, the steps to obtaining a grant are the same.
What do you want to do? Your first step must be to have a project in mind and find a funding source that aligns with your goals. (There are some potential funding sources listed at the end of this article.) You don’t want to write a grant to get money for something you don’t really want to do. Remember, if you get the money you have to do the project. That’s no fun if it isn’t a good fit!
When you develop your project you need to identify goals, determine who the key people and partners are (ensure that you have their support and buy-in), determine a timeline and figure out what your deliverables are. What kind of budget is needed for the project to work? There should be a direct match between what you want to do and how you are going to spend the money. When you think of deliverables, think in terms of the life of the project. Develop a timeline and determine what you will have done each month/quarter/year. What data will you collect and how will you know you are successful?
Writing the Proposal: When you find a potential funding source, read through their materials carefully. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if you have the best idea in the world, if it is not a good fit with their goals your proposal will get rejected. Reviewing the list of past grantees and their projects can provide insight into the types of programs the funders like. It may also give you ideas to incorporate into your own proposal.
At this point in the process you will want to be in touch with your school administrators to determine how the grant will have to be processed. Although the paperwork to get a project submitted can be cumbersome, many school districts have an educational foundation that serves as the fiscal agent for your project. Talk to your administration early in the process so that they know what you are trying to do, what you need from them, and when the deadlines are. Sometimes you can submit a proposal on your own, but more often than not you need administrators’ authorization.
Actually writing the proposal and putting everything together in a readable format is critical. Be specific enough that funders know you’ve thought through your program and know how the pieces fit together. Include data where appropriate, and indicate the type of data you will collect throughout the grant. Your district’s research office might be of help at this stage. Although it may seem obvious, it’s important to follow the granting agency’s guidelines in terms of page number, font size, etc. It would be a shame to lose funding because you didn’t get the proposal in by 5 PM or your margins were the wrong size.
I like to tell beginning grant writers to copy the call for proposals into a word processor and then write to each section. Use tools that will help the reviewer have an easy time reading your proposal. For example, bold or underline key points, use headers, restate key ideas from the proposal, and include diagrams or charts if that will help make your case. Perhaps most importantly, write your proposal early enough so you have time to have others read the it and give you feedback. A critical review from a friend can tell you where it’s not clear or needs more data to support a claim.
Submitting the Grant: Pretend it is due a day before it really is. Murphy’s Law tells us that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. This is particularly true for grant submissions! The day you want to submit is the day the Internet will crash at school or the person who was supposed to send you a letter of support is sick. Plan well ahead so those glitches won’t be too stressful. Give yourself even more time if you need district approval to submit. If you are collecting data from human subjects you will need to talk to your district’s research office and seek IRB consent. The IRB consent does not always have to be done prior to submitting a proposal but it must be done prior to collecting data.
When you get funded, celebrate and start your project! Remember to thank your funders, and be sure to acknowledge them if you (or your school) do any press releases. Keep them informed of progress and be sure to submit a final report. Even if you don’t get funded you should try again. Read the comments from the granters (if there are any), make revisions, and try again next time. Again, looking at the list of the projects that were funded as this may give you some ideas about the agency’s priorities and help you tweak your proposal for the next submission.
Sampling of Funding Sources: Below is a sampling of funding sources. I have not included places like NSF or NIH, as most classroom teachers are not going to be writing a proposal of that scope. As you look at the different websites and proposals you will see that they vary dramatically: some literally take just a few minutes while others are more extensive.
Donor’s Choice – you post a request for your classroom and donors give directly to you.
Digital Wish – submit a technology lesson plan be eligible to win a grant
Target – funding for field trips
BestBuy – funds technology for the classroom
Lowe’s Toolbox for Education – funds project with permanent impact (indoor/outdoor facilities, landscaping, gardening projects, etc.)
American Chemical Society’s Hach High School Chemistry Grants provides support for supplies, lab equipment, instructional materials, professional development, field studies, and science outreach activities for secondary chemistry teachers/programs.
EPA’s 2012 Environmental Education Grant Program funds environmental education projects that enhance the public’s awareness, knowledge, and skills to make informed decisions and take responsible actions towards the environment. (application due 11/21)
Westinghouse provides schools grants emphasizing innovative math and science programs
NSTA has a list of grant opportunities on their website as well.
Good luck and let me know if you submit (or get) a grant as a result of reading this article.
Posted: Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
by Robert Victor
These monthly charts plot positions of the stars of first magnitude or brighter and the five naked-eye planets at evening or morning mid-twilight. The charts can be used to follow the comings and goings of planets and stars. This selection includes dates of peak interest, when planets appear strikingly close to each other. We hope you and your students enjoy following the planets from one night to the next surrounding these occasions!
January 2015 at dusk: Mercury approaches within 0.6 degree lower right of Venus on Jan. 10. Venus and Jupiter visible simultaneously above opposite horizons starting late in month. See also the January 2015 Sky Calendar. Follow these two brilliant planets for the next five months, until their very close pairing on the evening of June 30. Learn More…
NGSS Implementation Update: State Implementation Plan, New Assessments, LCAPs, and Curriculum Framework
Posted: Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
by Jessica L. Sawko
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to implementing new state standards and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are no exception. Two weeks ago the California Department of Education (CDE) and State Board of Education (SBE) responded to CSTA’s call to provide clarification regarding the standards that are to be included in a district’s LCAP when addressing State Priority #2. Today and tomorrow the CFCC will convene again with the writers of the NGSS Curriculum Framework to provide feedback to the writers on draft framework chapters and CSTA will be at the meetings to provide input into process. Later this week the SBE will interview candidates for appointment to the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) – the body that will pick up the work to finish the NGSS Curriculum Framework after the CFCC completes its work. Finally, next week the SBE will convene its November meeting on November 13 – 14, 2014. On the agenda for this meeting is a recommendation from CDE that the State Board approve the State Implementation Plan for NGSS – a plan which will lay the groundwork for implementation activities at the state and local level as well as for support providers like CSTA and others. Also on the agenda is a report from CDE’s assessment division with the results of the stakeholder group meetings that were held in July 2014 to inform the planning of the future statewide assessment system for science. Finally the SBE will appoint new members to the IQC. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
The 2014 NSTA Long Beach Area Conference – in Collaboration with CSTA is just one month away! If you have not already registered for what promises to be the professional learning event of the year for California science educators – it is not too late! Make plans to join more than 2,200 science teachers in Long Beach this December 4 – 6. Discounted registration rates are available through November 14, 2014. Please register today. Remember – both CSTA and NSTA members have the benefit of being able to register at member rates (a $90 savings).
If you have already made your plans to attend the Long Beach conference – please mark your conference schedules with these two CSTA events:
CSTA Night at the Aquarium of the Pacific NGSS Science & Engineering Showcase – Thursday, December 4, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Tickets are limited – purchase yours today (only $10 for CSTA members and $25 for nonmmebers – ticket price includes light food, admission into the Aquarium for the event, and one beverage). Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
by Laura Henriques
As a former physics/physical science teacher, the California Classroom Science (CCS) issue focusing on physical science is always one of my favorites. I enjoy reading about lessons, labs and teaching ideas that my colleagues share in each month’s CCS, but I really enjoy reading physics and physical science lesson ideas as those apply most directly to what I teach. As with past issues of CCS, we have some great articles written by a wide variety of members on a range of topics. Sadly (for me), only a couple of them focus on physical science.
One of the physical science highlights is Padma Haldar’s article that has students doing ‘mythbuster’ activities to help them better understand the Nature of Science. This project requires students to engage in many of the science and engineering practices (they ask questions, plan and carry out investigations, analyze and interpret data, and evaluate and communicate information) and Ms. Haldar seems to be explicit in helping students understand the nature of science throughout the process. Another article in this month’s issue is Valerie Joyner’s where she shares a primary activity which focuses on the crosscutting concept of patterns. Her lesson links patterns with properties of plastic lids. As is the case with crosscutting concepts, she shares how this activity about patterns could be linked to other patterns in nature and science. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
by John Spiegel, Anthony Quan, and Yamileth Shimojyo
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have the ability to transform teaching and learning in the classroom. They will dramatically change how students experience science by shifting the focus from the memorization of facts to greater student engagement in the processes of science. The NGSS emphasize learning in three dimensions: Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas. In addition, there are seven Conceptual Shifts, or Innovations, that have strong implications for teaching and learning. These shifts include the interconnected nature of science as practiced in the real world, the integration of science and engineering, the use of performance expectations, a focus on deeper understanding of content as well as application of content, and alignment to the Common Core State Standards. Teachers will ultimately be tasked with implementing the NGSS, but cannot do so without extensive time to plan and engage in professional learning. Learn More…