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Grant Writing Secret #2 – Use Their Words

We were all taught in English that you should not repeat the same words over and over again. We were taught that creativity was important. Well, creativity is important, but there is a balance between creativity and clarity. And for government grants, if your innovative idea is too far outside of what the grant is asking for, it will be rejected (even if it is a really good idea!)

One of the biggest things that you should do, is use the terminology that they have in the grant information. For instance, I am a firm believer that it makes a lot of sense in education to link traditional academics to practical skills (career technical education). This concept has had a lot of different names over time: applied academics, linked learning, integrated academics, etc. But I was writing a grant, and in the grant information they called it “Integrated Education and Training”, so I made sure I always used that terminology, even though internal to the school I knew that the term “linked learning” would probably be used. And you can always get the best of both worlds, by using both words, at least in the beginning, and then go to only using their words.

If I had used one of the other terminologies, the school had a chance of not being awarded the grant, because the grant readers might not have made the connection that “linked learning” was the same thing.

To get more tips and to get your questions answered, take one of my grant webinars. I’m offering one next week, on February 14, and one on February 28. Use the Coupon Code of JACOB30 to get $30 off. And if you haven’t yet read the first secret I shared yesterday, you can find it here.

P.S. – If my brief mention of teaching academics and career technical education together piqued your interest, I am having a webinar on February 21 about using Career Technical Education as a Vehicle for Academic Instruction. (And the same discount code works)

Grant Writing Secret #1 – Read the Rubric

I have had great success in my life with writing government grants, both state grants and federal grants. In fact, these grants have provided over a million dollars of funding to the various schools I have written them for.

So sometimes I’m asked about some of the secrets to writing a grant that will get funded. So to help those who are interested, I am giving a Webinar next week (February 14) on Education Grant Writing Strategies, and also on February 28 (And if you want a discount code, use JACOB30)

But since I know not everyone will be able to make the webinar, or wonder if it is worth the cost, I am going to be sharing some of the most important secrets here on LinkedIn. (I will of course go into a bit more detail in my webinar, and answer questions there)

So, here is the biggest and I would say the most important secret. All government grants will have something called a “rubric” (although they may not always use this term for it). It is usually at the very end of the grant’s information (sometimes called a Request for Proposal, or Request for Application, or Request for Funding…) The rubric tells you exactly how the grant applications will be judged.

This is GOLDEN. And critical. Because while most of the time, the information in the rest of the grant will match up to what’s in the rubric, in the end it is the rubric that the judges will use to grade the grant proposals. And I have often seen slight differences between what the rubric says and what the other parts of the grant say… And I know, that if I follow the rubric, I will have an edge on the other applicants, because many of them won’t even read the rubric, or will not be careful in fully following it.

Myths that Many Mathematicians Must Still Believe because they Still Spread Them

I was listening to the radio program The Best Of Our Knowledge this morning, and I heard Professor Colin C. Adams interviewed about the state of mathematical education in the United States.  And while I have a deep respect for the work that Dr. Adams is doing in improving the general reputation of mathematics, I also believe that several of the answers that he gave on the radio show were myths or at least partial truths that are still promulgated as being gospel.

First, there is the assumption that is made that mathematics is a serial progression.  While it is true that much of mathematics is cumulative, in both the sense that most topics require understanding of earlier topics, and that proof is always built upon more basic logical statements.  But, it is easy to confuse this meaning of cumulative with assuming that math is linear.  And math is anything but linear in how math has developed.

For instance, while Williams College seems to still follow the idea that Calculus is the entrance of advanced math, in reality understanding calculus is not necessary to understand many of the contemporary areas of mathematics that are critical for higher paid jobs.   This is because discrete mathematics, including understanding number theory, such as base systems to understand binary, and prime numbers to understand contemporary encryption, is the basis of most technology that has fueled our economy over the past 20+ years.  And while a deeper understanding of statistics does require calculus, a basic understanding of statistics and probabilities do not.

There is also the continuing ambiguity of what “advanced” means when it comes to mathematics.   There are actually 2 ways of seeing math going from basic to advanced.  There is the progression of how we cognitively understand mathematics, from basic to advanced, where we understand counting first, addition next, and so on.  And there is also the logical progression of mathematics, where addition is not the basis of math, but instead set theory is the basis of mathematics.  This distinction became very clear when the New Math was taught in the 1960’s.   Schools attempted to teach what was mathematically basic but discovered it was a failure because this was not at all cognitively basic.    To add to this, we again need to remember that both forms of progressions, the cognitive and proof progressions both can go different directions, as was discussed about how discreet math and calculus are fairly distinct areas where math branches.

Dr. Adams also talked about how math has “1 right answer”.  This again is a half-truth.  It is completely true that for a given set of postulates and definitions, given a mathematical problem, there is only one answer.  But, in the real world there are often more than one mathematical model that can describe something, so often there are slightly different answers that approximate what reality is.  Also, in pure mathematics, different postulates and different definitions produce radically different results.  The parallel postulate is a clear example of this, which by following a different postulate, Einstein came up with many of his theories and mathematical models.  Or in a more contemporary context, in Boolean algebra that is used in computer science, 1+1=1 is a true statement.

Further, even when there is only “1 right answer”, there are many ways of getting to this right answer.  This is something that many math teachers still don’t seem to understand, and consequently many students who do math in a different way, but still get to the right answer, are often put down, or made to believe that they are wrong.

So in summary, while I am glad that more people are talking about math and the importance of math, we must stop spreading myths, even if they are being spread tacitly.