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How Can Museums and Educational Institutions Secure Funding For Educational Programs?

AlchemyLogoCropWhen it comes to planning programs for your organization, you may have the perfect plan and a great way to implement it, but a lack of funding can hinder even the best of ideas. As you begin to plan your educational program (lesson hack day, editathon, fellowship and more) you might start by applying for grants or hosting events to raise money so your program can have the funding it requires.

The question that plagues many people is, what grants can I apply for to makes sure my program is successful? Below are a few grants that you can apply for to help your program be the best that it can be.

  • National Leadership Grants for Museums – The Institute of Museums and Library Services offers a variety of different types of grants for different institutions, and project types. You can view all of their available grants here:http://www.imls.gov/applicants/available_grants.aspx. Regardless of what institution you’re from and your project type, there should be something to help you get your project off of the ground. Some available grants include projects that are demonstrations, innovation, conservation, research and more.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities- The NEH is an organization that supports activities that engage Americans in understanding the humanities. All of the projects that NEH funds must be imaginative and bring ideas to life for people of all ages. Previous grants that the NEH has funded include, museum exhibitions, interpretations of historic events as well as book/film discussion groups and more. For more information about the National Endowment for the Humanities, and to apply for their grant check out their website:http://www.neh.gov/grants/public/museums-libraries-and-cultural-organizations-implementation-grants.
  • National Endowment for the Arts – The NEA provides grants to organizations that are interested in bringing the arts to underserved populations. The NEA strives for an inclusive community and wants art to be available to everyone regardless of your location, ethnicity, economic stability or disability. Projects they have funded are ones that have the potential to provide meaningful change in any aspect of the art community. For more information about this grant: http://arts.gov/grants-organizations/art-works
  • American Alliance of Museums ­– The American Alliance of Museums offers a grants calendar on their website which includes information about upcoming grants your museum or cultural institution can apply for. The grants calendar can be found here:http://www.aam-us.org/about-us/grants-awards-and-competitions/grants-calendar/. The calendar is constantly updated with new grants and accurate information about approaching deadlines and what programs qualify.

Some great programs your educational institution can host includes a hack day, an editathon, teacher fellowships and more.

Alchemy Learning, founded in 2012 in Baltimore, MD, creates cloud-based, data-driven learning & curriculum management tools for teachers, schools, and organizations. This past fall Alchemy released SmartBinder Flip (beta), the free, cloud-based lesson binder which allows teachers to build and deliver digital lessons and capture valuable feedback on class engagement and understanding. Our premium product suite consisting of SmartBinder Collaborate (which includes SmartBinder Teams) and SmartBinder Engage are now publicly available. Contact us today at alchemylearning.com.

Stay up to date with what’s going on at Alchemy Learning; follow us onTwitter,Facebook and LinkedIn.

How Can I Generate Educational Content And Lessons For My Organization?

AlchemyLogoCropThe term educator is often used to describe a person who educates the minds of those around them with new and enriching content.  For instance, if you are a part of an organization such as a museum or a historical society, you may need to create a lesson plan and share educational content. But with your busy schedule, how can you ensure that you’re creating high quality material? Below are a few tips and strategies to help you engage and teach on behalf of your organization.

  • Hosting a ‘Lesson Hack’ Day – The perfect time to engage teachers is over the summer while class isn’t in session. For a few hours, it can be beneficial to host teachers and give them access to your resources. Not only will a lesson hack day serve as a think tank for everyone to brainstorm ideas, it can also count as Professional Development credits. If your organization hosts a PD day it can specialize on a in which topic you and your organization hold expertise. At these PD days, you and fellow educators can build and contribute to each others lessons. For a good example of a PD-driven lesson hack day, see the The Maryland Historical Society’s initiatives here:http://www.mdhs.org/education/teachers/prof-dev-workshops.
  • Teacher Fellowships – A fellowship takes place over the span of a few days or even weeks and it can include lectures and other PD activities. This is similar to a ‘lesson hack’ day except it’s longer and more intense. While this type of activity will require some funding, it can bring out a whole group of people who share the same passions as your organization. The American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati has an example here:http://www.revolutionarynj.org/events/american-revolution-master-teachers-seminar/.
  • Create a Competition – Everyone has a little of a competitive streak inside of them. Creating a lesson plan competition could be a great way to generate content and create an incentive for other educators to build lesson plans centered on a specific topics that pertain your organization. The reward for the ‘winning lesson plan’ could consist of being on display or even a free class trip for the winning teacher. In addition, your organization can benefit from utilizing any of the submissions you receive. Here is an example of a lesson plan competition for the language arts:http://www.lalschools.com/en/LAL/lesson-plan-competition.
  • Editathon – Your organization may well have expertise in a given field that you can share with the world, but may find inaccuracies in a number of other sources on the web, including Wikipedia. Fortunately, there is a way to correct all of the misinformation online however: an editathon. This type of event allows anyone with a basic knowledge of editing on Wikipedia and an interest in the subject you’re lecturing on to make more credible information easily available. This type of event will also serve as a think-tank for like minded individuals to come together to discuss a topic and share ideas as well as build relationships within the community. The Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery have put together an event like this:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Meetup/DC/Freer_and_Sackler.

Generating educational content and lessons for your organization can be successful with collaboration and the help from other educators. While you’re building digital lessons for your organization, it’s also helpful toembed certain tools into the lesson. Digital tools can help you further engage the students and create a more impactful lesson.

Alchemy Learning, founded in 2012 in Baltimore, MD, creates cloud-based, data-driven learning & curriculum management tools for teachers, schools, and organizations. This past fall Alchemy released SmartBinder Flip (beta), the free, cloud-based lesson binder which allows teachers to build and deliver digital lessons and capture valuable feedback on class engagement and understanding. Our premium product suite consisting of SmartBinder Collaborate (which includes SmartBinder Teams) and SmartBinder Engage are now publicly available. Contact us today at alchemylearning.com.

Stay up to date with what’s going on at Alchemy Learning; follow us on Twitter,Facebook and LinkedIn.

Where Can I Find A Teacher Travel Grant?

AlchemyLogoCropAs an educator, you may well have summers away from the classroom, which leaves you with valuable time to engage in unique and enriching experiences that you can bring back to the classroom in the fall.  Travelling sits on the top of many teachers summer wish lists and can not only serve to help you relax and exhale, but can often times be used to enhance your understanding and connection to the material you teach and help you inspire your students even further. As all teachers know, when you’re excited, they will be too!

As wonderful as these experiences can be for you and the impact it may have for your future students, it’s not always easy to fund and plan your own expedition. Fortunately, there are many different programs that can help you fund the educational experience you crave. Applying for funds is as easy as filling out an application. While it may be too late to apply for a grant for summer 2014, it’s never too early to think about next summer!

The following organizations help teachers fund their travelling and learning learning experiences and may well be worth a look!:

  • Fund For Teachers – In order to be eligible for a grant from this organization, you must be employed full time as an educator for PreK-12th grade and spend at least 50% of your work week instructing students. You must also have at least three years of teaching experience and the intent of continuing to teach the following school year. Anyone who thinks that a summer travel opportunity can positively impact his or her teaching should apply. If accepted, the fellowship can grant up to $5,000 for individuals. Application deadlines vary from state to state but on average, Fund For Teachers funds 500 summer programs a year.
  • The Earthwatch Institute – The Earthwatch Institute recruits individuals from all around the globe to take part in research projects over the summer. In order to qualify for a research project, you just need to be a K-12 educator. Annually, 200 people are granted fellowships and Earthwatch will cover the cost of research, food and accommodations.  Travel to and from the site is not covered unfortunately, but it is common that most people receive reimbursement. While working on the research project, many fellows keep journals and then incorporate their experiences into future lesson plans.
  • Fulbright-Hays – Through Fullbright-Hays, educators are allowed to plan trips abroad that will help enhance their lessons and create a stronger impact for the students learning. The program is usually 4-6 weeks long and takes place in countries outside of Western Europe. Qualified applicants have three years of experience and teach some sort of curriculum relating to social sciences, languages or the humanities. The fellowship covers the cost of the entire trip except for a $450 cost share and more than 100 teachers are accepted annually.
  • Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program – The Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program is designed to give all educators the experience to bring geographic awareness to their classrooms. The program is open to all educators who have a proven dedication to geographic education in their field. The program covers the cost of transportation, lodging and food. There are a few different expeditions over the course of a year and each expedition has 2-3 fellows. This program doesn’t just have expeditions during the summer, some take place during the school year- so when filling out your application, it is important that the date works with your schedule.

After going on any of these exciting fellowships, it would be hard to not have a wonderful time to further inspire your students’ learning and perhaps even inspire envy in your colleagues!

It may be too late for an abroad fellowship this summer, but it’s not too late to sign up for professional development days. We have put together a listhere of some great opportunities taking place all over the country this summer and be ready when applications open again for the fellowship programs next year!

Alchemy Learning, founded in 2012 in Baltimore, MD, creates cloud-based, data-driven learning & curriculum management tools for teachers, schools, and organizations. This past fall Alchemy released SmartBinder Flip (beta), the free, cloud-based lesson binder which allows teachers to build and deliver digital lessons and capture valuable feedback on class engagement and understanding. Our premium product suite consisting of SmartBinder Collaborate (which includes SmartBinder Teams) and SmartBinder Engage are now publicly available. Contact us today at alchemylearning.com.

Stay up to date with what’s going on at Alchemy Learning; follow us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

How Can I Encourage My Students To Continue To Learn this Summer?

Alchemy LearningThe school year is about to come to a close and you will be parting ways with the young minds you’ve spent the past year molding. However, just because they are no longer your students, that doesn’t mean your influence has to come to an end. As the idea of summer reading may seem a little outdated with the recent influx of new learning and instructional technology, there are a number of alternatives that your students can use to quench their thirst for learning with some self-directed learning! Apps as well as websites have proven to be a valuable tool to constantly engage students and further their passion for learning.

Self-Directed Tools for Elementary/Middle School Students:

  • iTooch – iTooch is an iPad and iPhone app for 3-5th grade school students to help them learn math facts, language arts and science material. This free app helps students learn the material through games and text summaries of each lesson. There are over 18,000 exercises on the app for students to try. iTooch is a great way for students to solidify the material they learned in class and keep it fresh over the summer.
  • Mathmateer –  Mathmateer is an iOS app that is great for helping elementary school students learn math facts as they correctly solve a series of math problems related to time, money, numbers, multiplication, and geometric shapes. The faster that the student answers the questions, the more points they are awarded. Points accrued allow you to purchase upgrades to your rocket ship allowing it to fly longer.
  • Sushi Monster – Sushi Monster is another free app for engaging students in math. The game is directed at 9-11 year olds and is a fun way to keep them engaged while memorizing multiplication tables. In addition to being a fun game at home, Sushi Monster meets the Common Core Standards. While playing the game, students are able to earn points and unlock new levels after mastering the basics.
  • Grammaropolis – Grammaropolis is a game-based learning app for students that are struggling with Basic English grammar. It is available on all iOS devices and comes with songs, videos, quizzes and more about all of the parts of speech. It is great for Elementary school students who may be having trouble grasping the different parts of speech and how they function.

Self-Directed Learning Tools for High School Students:

  • TEDTalks – TEDTalks embody a way to engage and inspire high school aged students to think differently about the world around them. There are over 900 TEDTalk videos that subject content varies from modern exploration, rethinking the music video and more. Some of the high profile engaging speakers include tech geniuses (Bill Gates and Larry Page), rock legends (Bono and Sting), and more.
  • MindSnacks – For high school aged students, MindSnacks breathes new life into subjects such as foreign language, SAT vocab, and geography. The app offers games and lessons that go beyond basic memorization. In addition, the app alters every users experience based on the skills that you’ve been having difficulty mastering.
  • Codecademy– Learning to code is one of the most sought after skills now in the job market. For a high school aged student who is already spending countless hours online, why not learn to build your own computer program? Codecademy currently has seven different programming languages that you can learn at your own pace on their website.

There are plenty of different tools available to help students continue learning throughout the summer. Students should not only continue to learn over the June, July, and August to prevent significant learning loss, but also to expand on the subjects they are interested in as well. Self-directed learning will help engage students in the topics they’re interested in and further their passion for education.

Alchemy Learning, founded in 2012 in Baltimore, MD, creates cloud-based, data-driven learning & curriculum management tools for teachers, schools, and organizations. This past fall Alchemy released SmartBinder Flip (beta), the free, cloud-based lesson binder which allows teachers to build and deliver digital lessons and capture valuable feedback on class engagement and understanding. Our premium product suite consisting of SmartBinder Collaborate (which includes SmartBinder Teams) and SmartBinder Engage are now publicly available. Contact us today at alchemylearning.com.

Stay up to date with what’s going on at Alchemy Learning; follow us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Are There Any Professional Development Opportunities for Educators in the Summer?

colouronwhite-300x214While school year may be winding down, there are plenty of upcoming educational  opportunities for educators to take advantage of.  In fact, the summer may offer even more professional development events, conferences, and workshops than the school year. And the best part is you don’t need to find a substitute teacher for the day!

Below are some fun and exciting professional development opportunities available for you to attend this summer.

  • The Civil War Trust’s Summer EventFrom July 17-20 in Atlanta, Georgia the Civil War Trust will host its 21st Teacher Institute. The event is four days full of workshops and tours led by historians and educators. Some special guests include Todd Groce, Jared Frederick, Vince Dooley and many more! Additionally, registration to the event is free for friends of Alchemy Learning if you sign up with this linkwww.civilwar.org/AlchemyAtlanta. In addition to free registration, there will also be free classroom materials, plentiful travel scholarships and free continuing education credits.Civil-War-Trust
  • SC Midlands Summit– On June 11-12th, in Columbia, SC the SC Midlands Summit focuses on the use of Google for Education research tools, Web 2.0 tools, and technology integration in the classroom.  There is a full lineup of speakers and more on the session schedule.
  • Technology for Teaching and Learning ConferenceThis two day conference from June 19-20 in Louisville, KY is an opportunity for K-12 educators to explore how to effectively use technology in education. At the conference, there will be keynote speakers, practical examples, breakout sessions, content delivery and more.
  • EdSurge EdTech EdCamp – On June 24th in San Mateo, Ca, EdSurge is hosting a SF EdTech meetup at the Edomoto headquarters. At the meetup, there will be a few 30-minute sessions based on what the attendees are interested in.
  • ISTEThe biggest EdTech conference in the world is taking place in Atlanta from June 28th through July first. ISTE brings together educators from all grade levels to give them the support and educational resources to support learning in the digital age. In addition, when you attend the conference, you receive a one-year standard membership to ISTE.
  • RSCONRSCON stands for Reform Symposium Free Online Conference and it’s an online event taking place from July 11th-13th to highlight ‘wow’ moments in teaching and learning. The conference features 10 keynote speakers, a tech/app/lesson smackdown and more. It’s an opportunity to connect with over 10,000 educators worldwide without leaving your home.
  • EdTech Demo Fair and EDVentures Conference – On July 17th in Newport Beach, CA, emerging edtech products created by education entrepreneurs will be on display for a hands on demonstration. The event is free and a great way for an educator to see and interact with new and emerging technologies.
  • EdmodoconEdmodocon is a one day webinar on August 6th, for educators to share how they are using Edmodo as well as other digital tools in the classroom. If Edmodo is a tool you frequently use this can help you take the next step and further enhance your use of the tool in your classroom.

Professional Development opportunities are springing up all over the country for educators in the summer and they’re a great way to use your free time to further your learning and understanding of the techniques and amazing tools available to you.

Alchemy Learning, founded in 2012 in Baltimore, MD, creates cloud-based, data-driven learning & curriculum management tools for teachers, schools, and organizations. This past fall Alchemy released SmartBinder Flip (beta), the free, cloud-based lesson binder which allows teachers to build and deliver digital lessons and capture valuable feedback on class engagement and understanding. Our premium product suite consisting of SmartBinder Collaborate (which includes SmartBinder Teams) and SmartBinder Engage are now publicly available. Contact us today at alchemylearning.com.

Stay up to date with what’s going on at Alchemy Learning; follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

What Web-Tools Can I Embed Into My Digital Lessons?

colouronwhite-300x214Lesson planning in the digital age can be difficult; you need to find a balance between engaging your students and ensuring they are gaining the necessary skills and knowledge.  Fortunately, there are plenty of technology resources available to assist you in creating the best digital lessons possible for teaching your students.

Alchemy SmartBinder is a digital tool to help you build and deliver engaging digital lessons while gaining valuable insight into how students are progressing. This tool also gives teachers the ability to embed properly-secured digital resources into lesson.

Below is a list of some of the wonderful tools that contain embed codes for easy incorporation into lessons.

Audio Tools:

  • Audioboo – Audioboo is a great tool to capture your students voices as well as your own to enrich your lesson plans and motivate students to become more engaged.
  • Soundcloud – Soundcloud is another tool to embed sounds to your lesson plan. You can share podcasts, distribute lessons as well as your own music.

Video Tools:

  • Animoto – Creating a video will not only engage your students visually, but audibly as well. Animoto helps you create videos that will engage your students in the lesson.
  • Voicethread – Voicethread is a tool to help you create conversations surrounding media. After creating a Voicethread, your students can comment and add their own ideas to the dialogue you started.
  • Glean – Glean is a video database with educational videos about math and science related topics. Glean allows you to track when your students have watched the videos which will help you get an understanding of how your students are staying engaged.

Storytelling Tools:

  • Popplet – Creating a thought map is a way for students to be able to follow the relationships between objects and ideas. Popplet can help your students visualize the connections between them.
  • Dipity – Sometimes the best way to explain the order of events to your students is with a timeline. With Dipity, you can create an interactive timeline complete with audio, video, images, text and more.
  • MindNode – Everything is connected, that’s the idea behind MindNode. You create ideas and can connect them to other ideas. This forms an interconnected map of your ideas to show how everything relates to each other.
  • StoryboardThat – Students learn by relating to the content. Telling them a story will further draw them in and interest them in the lesson at hand by structuring the lesson into something that’s easy to follow.
  • Fotobabble – While a picture may say a thousand words, sometimes it’s best to add your own audio instead. Fotobabble allows you to integrate photos and audio to help tell a story.

Collaboration Tools:

  • Padlet – Engaging with your students is something that doesn’t need to take place only within the four walls of your classroom. Padlet allows you to ask a question, and then have your students share their responses. They can be open ended or multiple choice. And responses aren’t only limited to words, students can also share videos and photos.
  • Scoop.it – Working with other educators is a great way to share ideas and further develop your lesson. Scoop.it allows you to curate with up to thirty other members.

Cartoon and Comic Creation Tools:

  • BitStrip – It’s no secret that students love cartoons. Bitstrip is a place where you can create your own comics to connect with your students using a medium they love.
  • ToonDoo – This is another tool that you can use to create comics. Visual learners will benefit from the added imagery to your lesson.
  • Pixton – This comic creation tool also allows for a voice-over effect to enhance your comics as well as the students learning.

Other Embeddable Tools:

  • Evernote – Evernote allows you to capture your notes off of a white board and embed it into a lesson. But the capture is more than a picture of what you wrote, the image is searchable to help you organize your content.
  • Google Blogger – Google Blogger is a blogging platform where you can share thoughts, images, videos and more.
  • Voki – Sometimes in the digital space it’s nice to put a face to a voice, a digital face that is. Voki allows you to engage your students with an interactive lesson delivered by your own personal avatar.

Embeddable Games:

  • Grammar Pop – Grammar Pop is a game you can play to enhance your grammar skills. Playing a game is a great way to engage students and increase their interest levels in learning specific skills or ideas.

Embedding a tool into your lesson is as easy as copying and pasting an embed code. However, not all tools have equal levels of security around data. At the beginning of each embed code you will see either ‘HTTP’ or ‘HTTPS.’ The ‘S’ at the end signifies that there is a layer of security to keep your data safe (SSL). Some learning management systems and content management systems, SmartBinder included, will not support tools that don’t have the SSL because it can put student data at risk. It is important to check the embed code to see if the tools you’re using uses HTTP or HTTPS and how that impacts you.

Alchemy Learning, founded in 2012 in Baltimore, MD, creates cloud-based, data-driven learning & curriculum management tools for teachers, schools, and organizations. This past fall Alchemy released SmartBinder Flip (beta), the free, cloud-based lesson binder which allows teachers to build and deliver digital lessons and capture valuable feedback on class engagement and understanding. Our premium product suite consisting of SmartBinder Collaborate (which includes SmartBinder Teams) and SmartBinder Engage are now publicly available. Contact us today at alchemylearning.com.

Stay up to date with what’s going on at Alchemy Learning; follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

How Can I Use Technology Keep My Students Engaged Through The End Of The Year?

colouronwhite-300x214The end of the school year is rapidly approaching and, depending on where you teach, summer break could be under a month away!  But how can you keep your students excited and engaged about what you’re teaching when thoughts of summer fun are starting to occupy their minds? Your students still need to finish learning the curriculum and prepare for final exams as well as state standardized testing, especially as many schools have already begun their state testing.  Here are some suggestions to keep your students engaged (while still having fun!):

Review Games – Towards the end of the year, students may be focused on days at the beach and baseball games, but don’t let that detract from what they should be learning in the classroom. Try playing review games to keep your students engaged and prepare them for finals and testing at the same time:

  • PurposeGames is a great free tool for you to create games to play in your classroom. There are two types of games you can create in the form of a multiple-choice option or a mapping option where your students are given an image and they have to name certain places on the map. This game isn’t limited to geography; it can be used with mapping the human body, moon phases and more.
  • ProProfs Brain Games is a free tool to create word games such as crossword puzzles, word searches, brainteasers and more. A huge benefit to these games is that they are easily embeddable and can be added to your Alchemy SmartBinder.

Quiz activities – There’s no easier way to prepare for a final exam than with practice quizzes, and here a few tools that can help you break the monotony of standard assessments and keep the students intellectually hungry:

  • eQuizShow is a free tool to help educators create a Jeopardy style game online. You simply enter categories and then type in questions and answers. eQuizShow is very easy to use and doesn’t require you to upload any files.
  • Socrative is another quiz building tool that is extremely device-friendly. It can be used by student teams or individually by your students as they race to answer questions correctly.  After each correctly answered question a rocket ship moves incrementally across the screen and the first individual or team to propel their rocket ship to the other side of the screen wins.

Alchemy Learning, founded in 2012 in Baltimore, MD, creates cloud-based, data-driven learning & curriculum management tools for teachers, schools, and organizations. This past fall Alchemy released SmartBinder Flip (beta), the free, cloud-based lesson binder which allows teachers to build and deliver digital lessons and capture valuable feedback on class engagement and understanding. Our premium product suite consisting of SmartBinder Collaborate (which includes SmartBinder Teams) and SmartBinder Engage are now publicly available. Contact us today at alchemylearning.com.

Stay up to date with what’s going on at Alchemy Learning; follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.