I've often talked about buzzwords and jargon in grant writing. It's a pet peeve of mine and I had fun with this article—finding examples and generally having a rant.
One thing I've said that bears repeating is that you are selling something. Grant writers who have the most success at securing funding for their projects are great salespeople and amazing storytellers. There is nothing wrong with inserting an anecdote or two into your grant narrative if it helps to illustrate a point. Actually, an anecdote is a great way to include research results that showcase your school and the great work you are doing. In professional circles, we call them case studies, but if you're a good writer they can be entertaining vignettes from real life experiences you've had in your school.
Before you write a grant for blended learning projects, (and before you start hearing the buzzing snore on your readers' part) you need to sell your school, its successes and the great results that your projects have shown in raising student academic achievement. It's always more effective to request funding for an existing program that has had documented success than to launch a brand new project with a grant from your foundation or corporate sponsor. They need to be sure you can pull it off; if you've already launched a great project with positive test scores to prove it, funders will jump right in. Remember, you're selling your school.
Blended learning, though, is a good example because it has descended into buzzword status when it's really a promising model for K-12 education. When you start to add technology to your classrooms in a concerted and consistent way, the costs start adding up. The big thing now is placing iPad labs in classrooms so every student has one handy. A way to save is to buy two or three of them for the library or technology labs on tables or carts so teachers can borrow them as needed. I've seen fun tubs that can be mobilized for carrying iPads around. Some students still need keyboards for learning with tablets. I've heard stories, though, about teachers who abuse this system and keep mobile labs in the classes beyond their due dates; we'll need to send out the library police for them.
iPad labs are easy, discrete projects for writing grants. If you tie them to a STEM project, you've doubled their success rate. There's a good article about a district that bought cheap netbooks. They then switched to iPads; it's a cautionary tale, but it refers to funding too. Bandwagon jumping is as common as buzzword abusing. You need to be careful; grantors are sophisticated and they've seen everything. You need a compelling argument for adding iPads to each classroom in your school. Here are some resources:
- Teacher Blog with Great Examples of Funding Sources (there's always someone ahead of me)
- Blended Learning Grant Application Example
- Edutopia Real World Example (points out the need for a great technology plan)
- Apple Grants Advice
- Apple Grants Website - interesting piece on using Perkins funds.
- Disabled World
- Conover Company Grant - independent living
When there's a will, there's a way, but salesmanship always helps bring a project to life in a school. At least it's one way to spice up what must be a deadly process for foundations: poring over all those grant applications. Have a heart; make yours interesting and fun to read (within the constraints of the application, that is).
Have fun with grant writing and let me know how you're doing out there.