You are already familiar with requesting freebees from local companies that are happy to help the schools. And you probably save a variety of items from egg cartons to L’eggs containers for craft projects. But in today’s economy, it becomes even more important to find other ways to save money so you can have more resources for your classroom. Here is the Letterman-style countdown…
5. Design group projects. This is a teacher's favorite way to save time and materials while encouraging students to cooperate and arrange an order of values. With a group of three working together, you use 1/3 the materials and take 1/3 the time to grade their projects. (Note: Never use a group of four because in that situation, inevitably one student sits back and watches the project unfold.)
4. Find retired or retiring teachers. Many retirees want to downsize or clean their supply cabinets before they leave. Approach the retiree with the thought that their materials will live on through the next generation of students. I’m sure that teacher will be very glad to share what she has stockpiled over twenty or thirty years. (After he or she has retired, feel free to discard unusable materials and save what you need!)
3. Post a teacher’s wish list on your website. You do have a website, right? Where you post assignments and extra credit offerings? If not, start one. Then let parents know that the homework assignments will be there for their review every night. (Make sure you update it every night.) You’ll be more likely to get finished homework the next day. Part of your website should be a wish list with a deadline if you have one. Suppose you need 40 toilet paper rolls by February 4. Post that request on January 20 and watch the donations come in. Remember to post a thank you when you reach your quota. Don’t be afraid to ask for things that cost money. Maybe you need two dozen black sharpies and three packs of construction paper for a map project. Let your parents know what you need, how many, the deadline, and what the materials will be used for. Remember to post pictures of the finished products.
2. Write a grant. Grant money is out there for targeted projects. Look at this government site as only one example: http://www2.ed.gov/fund/grant/apply/grantapps/index.html . Then click on Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program. This program deadline for 2012 has passed, but is available every year. You might apply for classroom sets of books for use in your classroom because they fill the need to provide hi-lo reading material for your reluctant readers. Grantmakers love this stuff! See how many creative grants you can write to gain materials for your classroom.
1. And the number one way for teachers to save money is: Combine curricula. You could get a book on rainbows to use during the science block, another one on cooperation because you find a number of your students lack this quality, and a third on alliteration for your literacy corner. Or, you can buy one book that satisfies all those qualifications. Go to Entelechy Education, LLC for examples of books in a new series that combine STEM topics with character education, in a literacy curriculum.
When you use these five suggestions and your own creative ingenuity, watch your resources multiply with a minimum of expense and effort. With the money you saved, you can get some storage bins to hold it all neatly!