Qualities of A Successful Technology Proposal for High School
By Sarah A. Smith
While exploring DonorsChoose.org, I was intrigued by the types of technologies high school teachers were requesting and for which content areas teachers were making requests. Upon further exploration I found that about 26% of all fully-funded technology proposals are for grades 9-12. Thus, I began to wonder, what are some characteristics that these fully-funded projects had in common and how can I use this information to create a successful technology proposal for my own high school classroom?
Some of the characteristics that were prevalent in my search are the cost of the project, the number of students served, the poverty level of the school, the project title, the teacher's content area, a description of the project, and the purpose of the project.
The majority of fully-funded projects are within the $100 to $500 range which appears to be a reflection of many of the other proposal characteristics identified. Most of these projects are for classes in social studies, yearbook, journalism/school newspaper, and special education. These projects emphasize the need for students to do research, go paperless, connect with international classrooms, or explore other cultures through online resources, documentaries, maps, etc.
Most of the technologies these teachers are requesting to accomplish their goals are laptops or tablets, digital cameras, and projectors. These technologies are requested in small amounts, such as two tablets or one laptop, which will help to keep the cost of the project low. Within the description of these projects, teachers make clear that students will be using these resources within groups, as a lab within the classroom, or to supplement resources they already have either from past projects or from their school. There are a few outliers in project prices ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. These projects are typically for a science class needing lab materials or a special needs math class needing advanced calculators or interactive white board (e.g., Smart Board).
Regardless of the cost of the project, a common trend is the number of students served by the project. The vast majority of projects at the high school level serve 100 or more students. I believe this trend reflects that multiple classes will be utilizing the needed technology. In some cases, such as yearbook and journalism classes, the technologies are used by certain classes but reach the entire student body through the work produced.
Another characteristic of the fully-funded projects I saw was the title of the project. Many of them were catchy and to the point such as, “Yearbook Technology: Equip Problem-Solvers” for photo editing software; “Color My Line Different” for graphing calculators in a special needs class; “Make My Classroom Smart!” for an interactive Smart Board; “If We Build It They Will Come” for a 3D printer in a science department; “International Classroom!” for technology to connect to classes in other countries; and “A Tablet to See the World!” for a social studies class to do research.
A catchy title will attract attention but the title alone is not enough. They also have descriptions that address the type of students who will be served, the current resources they have, the goals teachers and students intend to accomplish with the new technology, and a description of how they will achieve these goals with the new technology. Some of the project descriptions also had a section titled “In Their Words,” which contains quotes from students on why the technology is needed and how they intend to use it.
Given the findings stated above, I would make the following recommendations when writing a DonorsChoose.org proposal for technology in grades 9-12.