Category Archives: Alchemy in Schools

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.

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.