New Trends in Curriculum for Grant Writers

I’ve talked about templates for writing grants before, to make things easier and to help you reuse the narratives you already have. I use a template for my grant applications.

Here is (again) Neva’s template for grant writing (some things bear repeating):

  • Abstract (consider writing your abstract last; it will allow for more concise, project-specific information)
  • Problem Statement or Significance of Project
  • Project Purpose (overall goal and specific objectives)
  • Research Design or work plan (activities and timelines)
  • Applicant qualifications and capabilities, demographics
  • Evaluation Plan – assessments
  • Budget (summary and justifications – refer back to the design/work plan)
  • Sustainability (how will you pay for the program when the grant is gone?)
  • Appendix (everything else)

As I am poking around for resources for grant writers in schools, I keep bumping into this thing called “blended learning”. Basically (don’t wince this is very basic), it’s adding technology to existing classroom lessons to increase motivation and engagement in learning. It can include video, podcasts, streaming content from providers, interactive exercises, asynchronous and increasingly, synchronous lessons. Grab one of those iPad labs the district is handing out, don’t be left out in the techie cold.

With blended learning, the student is the star with the teacher on hand for support. Some part of lesson delivery is online using a learning management system (LMS) that includes a database to keep track of student assessment, attendance, and achievement gains (the LMS does the heavy lifting). Assessment is just one way technology will facilitate student learning.

But, you guessed it, these new models require funding, and this one is no different. Thankfully, the grant providers I know are way ahead of us, they’ve jumped on this bandwagon because it shows so much promise. The Donnell-Kay Foundation (Denver, CO area) has prepared a section on their website that shows this trend.

Education Elements provides a budget toolkit for your review. It outlines everything you need to know to construct a grant narrative that will attract funding for blended learning initiatives. The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation devotes a part of its site to this exciting idea for blending technology with traditional learning environments. They caution that at this time they are investing in a small cohort of schools to develop evidence-based research on how well this model may work, but it bears watching, and who says you can’t strive to become one of those schools?

I’ve spent a great deal of time lately on the websites that foundations and corporations have developed to talk about new trends in education. Blended learning has jumped to the forefront and doesn’t seem like a fad. I hate education fads because schools jump on bandwagons too soon, spend money on resources they don’t need and eventually won’t use. Remember, link your learning projects to Common Core Standards and you’ll be in good shape. Don’t wander from this basic tenet.

The Dell Foundation blog provides a nice case study on early stage innovation projects. They’ve created an interesting report that compares blended learning projects in five different schools; we can all take a page from this report and apply it to our own learning environments.

Next Generation Learning Challenges gives us a handy list of funding opportunities for new initiatives that use technology in schools. There are certainly more out there but this list is conveniently regional so you can see foundations all over the country that are embracing this “breakthrough” model called blended learning.

There are other grant opportunities you may want to explore for blended learning projects:

And finally, a collection of blogs to keep you up to date on blended learning and all the great things that are happening there. Many are for college environments but their advice and stories can be studied with k-12 in mind.

This blog tries to stay current, it’s difficult, and there are so many ideas, models, and classroom stories to tell about grant writing, the application process and trends. Let me know if you have other things you’d like to know about.


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About Neva Fenno

Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed., MLIS, has been a special education teacher, school library media specialist, curriculum specialist and grants manager for several urban school districts in New York and Massachusetts for 30 years. As grants manager for 7 years, she managed up to $28,000,000 a year in federal, state, foundation and corporate grants from application through fiscal administration. She has hundreds of stories to tell, not all successes, but from each story there is a lesson to be learned.

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