Saturday, May 28, 2011

Guest Post - Sources of Funding and Free Stuff for Teachers

by David Andrade,

Teachers have always had to scrounge for funding and the current economic situation only makes this more of an issue. Even with government stimulus packages and big grants, teachers don't see much money for our individual use. We've all wished we had more money to purchase books, supplies, equipment, and other items for our students and our classrooms. But what do we do when the money just isn't there?
The first place to look is grants. There are a lot of grant sources out there. Not all of them are easy to get though. I always suggest that people ask for help from grant writers or other teachers who have been successful in getting grants. Most grants have tips and advice on their own web site also.

Some schools may qualify for Priority School District grants and other State and Federal grants. These are for low income districts and can be used for supplies and equipment to help with extra programs related to drop out prevention and improving student performance.

A great resource for funding classroom projects is Donors Choose. Donors Choose was actually started by teachers. You sign up for an account, fill out a project proposal, selecting the items you need from a variety of vendors, and then people with money to donate go to Donors Choose and select projects to fund. I have had multiple projects funded through Donors Choose. It is a very simple process and the staff can help you with any problems.

Corporate grants are another source of funding. ToyotaToshibaVerizon,MicrosoftBest Buy, and Target all have grant programs you can apply for.

Some vendors have their own grant programs, special pricing or can help you find grants to buy their products. Smart Technologies, Epson, Mimio andVernier are some of the companies that will work with you to hep you find funding.

Donations are another source. Local Businesses may be looking to donate money, supplies or equipment. Many companies would rather donate old equipment and supplies to a school rather than just throw it out. Your school gets supplies and the company gets a tax write off. I have gotten lab supplies from a DNA company that updated their labs, a computer from a small company that upgraded theirs, and our school has gotten office supplies and furniture from a nearby business that was moving their headquarters. Many teachers have contacts at area businesses through friends or family. Use these contacts to your advantage.

Do more with less. Look for cheaper or free alternatives to the major brands. There are a lot of manufacturers of interactive white boards out there. Shop around and find the best deal. Make your own white boards using melamine coated hardboard from a hardware store at a fraction of the cost of a commercial white board. 

Use free software and web services instead of paying for licensed software. There is a free resource for pretty much any paid software (check this blog you are reading along with Educational Technology Guy for some great free resources). Google is a great place to start for some great free services (email, calendar, office suite, and more).

Partner with local colleges. Sometimes they have older equipment that they can donate to you. They may also have grants that they can get that can also benefit the K-12 system.

Look for grants and funding opportunities on the web. TechLearning has a great section on funding tips. There is a Grant Guru column, as well as a data base of grant sources. The TL Advisor Blogs also have some great ideas and free resources.

Edutopia and Nortel Learn It also have grant and funding resources. And of course, you can always "Google" for more information. Educational conferences are another great way to find funding resources and talk with vendors on different ways of funding purchases.

You can also look at professional societies for the subject you teach. For example, I use aviation and aerospace examples to teach physics. I have gotten grants and resource from the Air Force Association and American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Many of these types of groups have classroom grants. 

Zondle - Games to Support Learning

Zondle is a provider of free games designed to help students practice recalling information. Zondle offers hundreds of combinations of topics and games. When you sign into Zondle select a subject area and topic. After selecting a topic Zondle will generate a list of games based on that topic that you can play. Registered users of Zondle can embed the games into their own websites and blogs. Learn more about Zondle here and in the video below.

Try a sample Zondle game below.

Applications for Education
The Zondle site talks a lot about a feature for teachers to create student accounts and monitor the progress of their students. I searched and searched but couldn't figure out how to enable that option (it could very well be something obvious I'm overlooking). That said, if you're looking for some good review games for elementary school and middle school students to play, Zondle could be a good resource for you. If you have a classroom website go ahead and put a few Zondle games on it for your students to play.

America The Story of Us - Lesson Resources & More

This morning I turned on the television and saw that the History Channel was running a marathon presentation of their documentary series America The Story of Us. The entire series is twelve hours long. In those twelve hours the series covers everything from the settlements of Jamestown and Plymouth to the election of President Obama. The whole series cannot be viewed online, but History does have a lot of video excerpts from the series available online. If do have access to the whole series (you can buy at 60% from Amazon) has good teacher guides available for free. For teachers there is a pdf guide to the whole series and pdf guides to each episode.

If you are interested in quizzing your students before or after watching an episode, the Ultimate History Quiz is based on the information in the series.

Here's a video introduction to the series.

If you're interested in buying the series on DVD, here's my affiliate link to Amazon's page.

Week in Review - A Big Thank You

I have to start this week in review by saying thank you to everyone that emailed, Tweeted, Facebooked, and commented in support of my efforts to stop someone from wholesale plagiarism of my posts. That issue combined with the normal end-of-the-year stress that all educators deal with made for a long week. It was good to hear so much positive feedback. Thank you all. Speaking of end-of-the-year stuff, congratulations to all of you who wrapped up your school year this week.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Put the Directions to the Side, Make the Learning Central
2. Two from the Archive - So Your Content Got Stolen, Now What?
3. Go Pileus - Drag and Drop File Sharing
4. What's Up With That? - Guest Post
5. Compare & Contrast Map - A Writing Template
6. webNotes - Takes Notes On Your Android Device and Computer
7. How to Create a Movie Using JayCut

Please visit the official advertisers and marketing partners that help keep this blog going.
Edublogs provides blog hosting for teachers and students. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
SimpleK12 is my blog marketing partner.

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