Is Your Request for a Project or for Materials?

Teacher working with students using VR viewfinders as part of a project.

We receive a number of proposals requesting support for technology or materials. These items may be approved as part of a project, but we don’t fund requests where the overriding goal is to obtain them.

We spend a good deal of time making the distinction for our applicants between projects related to our themes and requests for items. To help clarify the difference, we’re sharing two examples to help differentiate between deep learning/excellent teaching projects that we would fund and requests for equipment or materials that provide the “potential for” deep learning/excellent teaching that we would not fund.

When developing proposals that include support for materials:

  1. Specify how the materials will be used to support the Foundation’s themes.

  2. Justify how the materials create(s) teaching and learning opportunities that cannot be achieved using existing or common classroom materials and technology.

  3. Describe how the materials are essential to achieving the outcomes targeted in the project.

  4. Describe why the school or partners cannot provide these materials. Even in circumstances where items 1-4 are addressed effectively, an effort should be made to demonstrate shared responsibility for the project and/or requested items on behalf of the group applying for the grant.

Example 1- Proposals with similar technology budget items

Red X Mark icon

Proposal 1A (Does NOT adequately ensure deep learning) The proposal is for a set of iPod touches for the classroom to be used as a tool that can repeatedly be utilized to help enhance deep learning. Rationale is provided that these devices can be used in learning centers, will give students access to a myriad of apps to work through a variety of subjects, and that the apps will allow for independent, differentiated, and personalized learning to take place. The main goal of the proposal is to obtaining technology to improve “potential” to support deep learning rather than a specific plan and/or project.  

Green Check Mark icon

Proposal 1B (Better structured to ensure deep learning) The proposal is for a genre study and to support improved fluency. The project involves students recording themselves while reading aloud three selections related to three specific genres. Students will share what they read with a parent/guardian at home. The will then create their own short stories using the format of one of the three genres. The students will read their created selection aloud, record it along with a commentary comparing and contrasting their piece with the original selections. These will be played back and presented to their peers. iPod touches will be used to record and share throughout the project. This project clearly is about the targeted objectives and focuses on engaging students in higher-order thinking to deeply learn about genres and to become more fluent readers. The technology and materials are vehicles to help achieve goals, but not the central purpose of the grant.

Example 2 - Proposals with similar classroom material budget items

Red X mark icon

Proposal 2A (Does NOT adequately ensure deep learning)
The proposal is for a classroom library of age-appropriate, non-fiction books at various Lexile levels. The applicant indicates current classroom resources consist only of grade-level, fiction titles and that the new classroom library will enable the teacher to better develop reading strategies more specific to expository text. The teacher expresses that by broadening her classroom library she can better accommodate new standards and more appropriately meet students’ needs at various reading levels. As in Example 1, the emphasis is on the “potential” for the materials to provide support for the Foundation’s deep learning theme. Specific higher-order-thinking activities are not referenced. This proposal is not a project, but rather provides potential for future projects.

Green check mark icon

Proposal 2B (Better structured to ensure deep learning)
The proposal is for implementing an integrated social studies and language arts unit. Students will trace and evaluate arguments and claims in texts about:

(1) how human activities alter the physical environment and

(2) political, environmental, social and economic factors that caused people, products and ideas to move from place to place in the past and today.

Students will distinguish those claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not. Students will also compare and contrast one author's presentation of events with that of another such as a memoir written by a historical figure and a biography on the same person. A classroom library of specifically-selected, non-fiction texts at various Lexile levels will be needed to see the unit is implemented effectively. This proposal is an integrated learning project using higher-order thinking.

We hope this provides a clearer picture of the instances in which we will, or will not, fund technology, materials, and equipment requests. When it is evident that specific deep learning and excellent teaching activities are at the forefront of your vision for the project, you are creating a strong proposal!