Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Day 16 Grants

SONY DSC On the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook, the twenty day blogging challenge created by Kelly Hines was mentioned and I decided to give it a shot. So here is the challenge for today:

“Have you ever earned a grant? What was it for? Who was it from? What tips might you offer for someone seeking a grant?”

I have gotten a few grants over the years but my favorite ones that I got were for my landscaping project. I got this grant for 3 years in a row and it really made a difference in my class.

My class was a high school self-contained class for students who would only receive an attendance certificate. My students felt like it was a waste of time and so did some of their parents so I had to find a way for them to learn a skill and raise their self-esteem. We decided to landscape the school grounds and luckily I had a coworker who used to teach an agriculture class so I asked if we could combine the classes for this grant. I would do the paperwork and he would advise us on how to do the work.

My class helped me write the grant since they would be involved in the work. I also would have some of these students for 4 years so I wanted them to have a lot of input into this project. They were so excited about actually doing something they thought was meaningful so we began the process. First I had to get the approval of the administration and once I outline a plan, my principal was agreeable but skeptical.

The first year we decided to plant trees around the school so my class had to do research on what kind of trees and how much they cost. We also had to figure out what tools we would need and how much they would cost. After that we had to decide where we wanted to plant them and how many trees we would need. Of course this plan had to be approved by the principal. Then we had to map out a timeline for our plan of action. Once we had all of this information, we were able to fill out the grant application and then wait.

By mid summer, I found out that I won the grant and we hit the ground running. We had to purchase all the tools and supplies. The hardest part was digging all the holes by hand. We planted 30 trees and had to dig holes that were three feet deep and three feet in diameter. This took a couple of months but we wanted to get the trees planted before winter came which we did.

The interesting observation was that many of the general education students were envious of my students and told them so. This was the first time many of my students felt envied and it felt good. Some students asked how they could get into my class so they could be a part of this and one of my students replied, “You have to be special!”

After they were planted, they looked so good and we were so proud of these trees.

The next year I wrote another grant for landscaping around the building and we planned on planting azaleas around the front of the building. The process was the same and the only thing different was that we purchased different tools and had a different timetable for the plan.

The last year I was at this school, I won a grant to landscape around the softball field. Again this was well received by the community and the school – students and faculty.

It was a great experience for all. We found a way to make learning relevant and meaningful. Plus we were able to show how our lessons benefitted the school and community. I was so proud of my students and many years later, they still call me and we reminisce about this great project!

Have you earned a grant? What was it for?

Image: '172/365 - Digging a hole'
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