Monday, December 5, 2011

Expanding Your Resources

During the Holiday season, Santa is not the only one making a list and checking it twice.

For many of us, reaching Winter break is also closely approaching the half-way point of the year and the materials we purchased for the projects planned. Whether you see students for the full year or for a smaller duration, the materials purchased for the year have been used by a good portion of students by now and (if you are like me) you are starting to strategically plan how much needs to be left in order to make it through the rest of the year.

In addition to figuring out how you might make the materials you have stretch out to the end of the year, many of you (according to a per pupil funding poll by the NAEA this year) are working with less than $3 per student. I happen to fall into that category and find that I am often having to choose between basic materials like markers, glue, and paper, forgoing the more exciting materials or projects like printmaking or Raku firing.

In order teach the projects listed above, you need the various equipment or materials to provide the experience. I used to complain and fret, spending hours upon hours doting over every last detail of my start-of-the-year order, worrying about what I was not getting. This mind set put me into a situation where I was looking only to the school district for funds (which have been cut consistently by the State), limiting the materials and experiences for a complete Visual Arts Curriculum.

It wasn't until I worked with my colleague, Jamie Kosmicki on writing a grant that I realized how much control I have over the funding opportunities offered to expand experiences for my students. Since the $1000 grant she wrote to help our High School students experience Raku firing with Paul Flickinger, I have been empowered to do the same.
Paul Flickinger at Byron Center High School, Spring 2010.
From using the resources listed in this LiveBinder, I have been able to have guest artists visit, take students on field trips, as well as buy additional materials and equipment. It has offered me a pathway to expand the resources in my classroom and as a result students have gained insight and skills that would have otherwise been left out.

During this Holiday season, I encourage you to sit down and make a list of the things you have not yet purchased due to the lack of funding. Organize those materials around a project and find the right funding source for you. If you are looking to start small, consider taking advantage of the offer by NEA through DonorsChoose of matching funds.

Good luck in all of your funding efforts to help bring more experiences to your students throughout the year. We are interested in your successes -- please post a project you have had funded in the past through a grant or fundraiser or a project you did get funded as a result of this post.


  1. Here is another livebinder of resources:

  2. There are additional tips in Arts and Activities Mag: