Western Regional Noyce Conference – Tucson AZ
November 16-18, 2012
handouts from the workshop all came from the ACS website
Florida State has a website (http://ret.fsu.edu/Research_Tools.htm) which includes a variety of research instruments and the scholarly literature which describe their development. The various instruments are categorized as: Affective Measures, Conceptions/Beliefs, Teaching Observation Protocols, Descriptions of School Sites, and Descriptions of Teaching Practices. There are instruments related to nature of science in the Affective Measures category.
Assessment Tools in Informal Science http://www.pearweb.org/atis has a variety of surveys/assessment instruments that are useful for both formal and informal settings. This site allows you to search for instruments by age (select what age level you are working with), domain (type of instrument – Competence and Reasoning, Engagement / Interest, Attitude / Behavior, Content / Knowledge, Career Knowledge / Acquisition), assessment type (Drawing, Interview, Point Scale, Multiple Choice, Short Response, Extended Response). You can also do custom searches where you control for multiple characteristics.
Where to Find Data (School Based Data)
This site allows you to find out data about districts and schools in California. You can search for individual schools and find out data about the teachers and students (EL population, free/reduced lunch, teachers in/out of field, etc.) http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/Pages/Home.aspx
Other sites which provide educational data
National Center for Educational Statistics http://nces.ed.gov/programs/stateprofiles/
Collection of different data sets for education http://www.data.gov/education
State level data, allows for easy comparison across states http://eddataexpress.ed.gov/
School websites also include accountability measures and demographic data.
During the workshop I told you that VWR Education (parent company for Ward’s, Sargent-Welch and SK Science Kit & Boreal Laboratories) does a cost match for supplies you purchase with them using grant money. Attached is the information you need to have to take advantage of that opportunity.
Letter with information about how to apply.
Application to get the 20% cost match on purchases.
I wrote this article for the November issues of California Classroom Science with this conference workshop in mind. It has most of the information I shared with you during our session. (Published in California Classroom Science, vol. 25, no. 3 – November 2012 issue)
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if schools were funded at the levels that allowed 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 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. Knowing this, I am hoping to inspire you to be proactive and look for 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 writing and getting a grant are the same.
What do you want to do? You need to have a project in mind. That has to be your first step. Then find a funding source that aligns. 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. If your project does not align with their funding priorities you will not get funded. It doesn’t matter if you have the best program in the world, if it is not a good fit with their goals the proposal will get rejected. Reading through the list of past grantees and descriptions of 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. Many school districts have an educational foundation which serves as the fiscal agent for your project. The paperwork to get a project submitted can be cumbersome. Talk to people early in the process so that they know what you are trying to do, when the proposal is due and what you need from them. 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 districts research office might be of help at this stage. It may seem obvious, but 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 processer and then write to each section. Use tools that help the reader have an easy time reading your proposal. Bold or underline key points. Use headers, restate key ideas from the proposal, include diagrams or charts if that will help make your case. Write it early enough so that you can have others read the proposal and give you feedback. You know the project, will it be clear to someone else? A critical friend reading the proposal 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 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.
If you get funded celebrate and start the project. Remember to thank your funders. If you do any press releases you want to be sure to acknowledge your funders. Keep them informed of progress and be sure to submit a final report. 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. Looking at the list of other projects which were funded may give you some ideas as to the agency’s priorities. It might 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 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
Loew’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 Programfunds 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.