Sunday, May 27, 2012

Donations for School Projects

One year many moons ago, I asked parents of my students to keep their empty wrapping paper rolls to send in to make rain sticks.  I also just bought a fabulous necklace at my school's E-Fair, with a flower shape pendant made from beverage can tabs and a little ribbon.  Donations of this kind of "worthless" materials to re-use are one thing, but how do you feel about schools soliciting donations of electronics, money for building playgrounds and the myriad other expenses that arise for the basics - and beyond - in education?

I've felt little twinges of jealousy knowing that a service such as Donor’s Choose is available to my American counterparts to help them to meet technology and other needs (and desires) in their classrooms.  Essentially a teacher can describe a need or request for their classroom and the public can help them out by choosing which projects to help fund.  In the spirit of extreme couponing, there are even "matching codes" which can be found online to double up the donations received.  As someone who bought equipment I felt was essential for my class this year with my own money, I'd like to take advantage of this kind of a service.       

Then I recently stumbled across a facebook group opposing the Donors Choose project and it gave me a different perspective.  I do "get" the argument that adequate funding for education should be provided by the government for equitable access to quality education for all. And I know teachers in the U.S.A. are not compensated nearly as well as an experienced teacher here in Canada is, which makes me wonder about how well funded their schools and classrooms are.

But the reality is that when technology and funding is spread evenly over classrooms, sometimes it does get stuck on a back storage shelf unused until it is obsolete. This can unfortunately happen when a teacher doesn't have an interest in, or the know-how to use the technology effectively...maybe through his or her own stubbornness or perhaps more often due to lack of training and timely support for using new technology. Meanwhile, other teachers spend tons from their own pocketbooks to organize special learning projects for their students and make them happen.

So, with that being said, if you're a Canadian teacher interested in pursuing a grant, here are a couple of possible sources:
  1. Best Buy's "Best in Class" fund 
  2. The History Education Network's THEN funding program
  3. Vernier's Probeware grants
  4. Curriculum Services Canada
  5. The Computers for Schools program (for refurbished computers)
  6. Ontario Teachers Federation grants (see page 5 of this document)
Please let me know of any other sources I ought to add to this list for other teachers!

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