About a month and a half ago, I decided to write a grant for our local foundation. They approve about 15 grants a year, give or take and for any amount up to $2,000. When the opportunity presented itself, it was intimidating. I am a 3rd year teacher and have never written a grant. Beyond that, I have an irrational fear of rejection. But…at this point in the school year…or rather year in general, I needed a pick me up and I needed a distraction. Writing and researching for a grant seemed to take care of both of those things. I took a leap of faith.
Before I even wrote the title page, I knew exactly what I wanted to write my grant on. Simple. My class needed a tool that would help students have discussions about creativity and allow them to develop their. Copyright is a *huge* issue in art education right now. No first year teacher can say they haven’t run into the issue of copyright and how to avoid using it in their lessons. Kids always want to recreate things because, well, what they’ve seen is usually pretty creative. Well, it’s time we took a stand. students really need an environment in which they can accomplish creating something completely unique, rather than tracing copying and stealing from others. Not only does it teach bad habits, but students suffer because they never know what they are capable of creating.
I do two units on the computer. One in 7th grade with advertising and one in 8th grade with Photoshop. The problem always ends up being that students are limited by the images they can use because there are few free-use websites available. Some students don’t have their own technology so they cannot bring their own images. Many students get stuck on finding images online that area always copyrighted. For practice using programs or making reports, fine. But for projects and their own creativity, bad.
Since I came to my school, I wanted digital cameras in the art room. But oh the price tag associated with that. So you can guess that I decided to write my grant for digital cameras. I needed to be realistic – these cameras weren’t going to be used for teaching photography skills. They have great cameras at the high school for that and if my curriculum goes that way eventually, I will need to find a larger source of income before I can afford it. For my current purposes, I needed digital cameras that were good quality but not outrageous in price, had a few multi functions but kept it simple and could be hooked up to a computer without any installation involved. While I don’t own a point and shoot camera, they would essentially suffice for what they were needed.
I wrote the grant to include these cameras, extra batteries and memory cards. These cameras would provide a foundation that allowed students to talk about copyright and use the cameras to create and edit their own images using their own creativity. The basics of photography can be applied to basic cameras…(who can remember there once was photography without digital screens…film – remember? ahah) and thus my baby was born. I was starting to get really attached to the idea of having decent cameras and the means to really keep my curriculum copyright free.
After connecting my purpose to the district goals, visions, and technology standards I waited. It was becoming a situation where I was bursting to tell someone what I had asked for but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I was just about to ask when and if we would hear back about the grant when I got a little slip in my mailbox.
I was approved.
$2K worth of wonderful is about to come to my students fingertips and I am so happy. I squealed. Really, I did. The ordering took place the following week (yesterday, actually). I was going to exhaust my resources through Amazon but a few bugs popped up and I had to try out Overstock for the first time. Thanks to Overstock, not only did I receive free shipping but their prices were such a bargain, I had extra money left over which allowed me to purchase extra batteries and 7 class tripods! What I intended to be tools for students to overcome copyright and create their own ideas could easily turn into an extra bit regarding photography, yearbook help, school wide projects using the arts…so much. Okay, tripods didn’t necessarily make that all come into light but my imagination cannot stop running out of ideas regarding what these simple cameras can do!
I am excited. My grant writing fear is gone and I will forever be applying for grants left and right. It was another event that allowed me to rejoice in what I do. It let me know I’m doing it right. I’ve always wanted what’s best for the kids and what can be better than giving them the means to create, understand creativity and originality. So exciting. Totally worth the leap of faith I took. Definitely a pick me up.