Back-to-school has always been one of my favorite times of year. I look forward to seeing the great sales every Sunday. Who doesn’t love crayons for 25 cents, notebook paper for a penny, and rulers for 50 cents — the deals just keep coming!
However, what I really love (and hate at the same time) is when the teacher catalogues start coming in the mail. I will spend too much time drooling over things I wish I could have in my classroom. I mean, who doesn’t want a traffic light decibel reader or a wireless Eggspert in her classroom? But then reality sets in when I look at the prices, and I begin to wonder if there is some magical classroom out there that actually has all of these great things. Or do all teachers drool at the catalogues as I do?
That’s where DonorsChoose.org comes in. What a great Web site: Teachers can post things they would like to have in their classrooms for their students to use. Donors can log on and browse the different projects teachers have posted and choose their favorites, helping to fund part of or an entire project.
I have had quite a bit of luck using DonorsChoose.org; my first year of teaching I had two projects funded to the tune of $364. Last year I had seven projects funded, totaling $2,232. While I appreciate all of the items, the ones my students have enjoyed the most include the graphic novels, the sets of Fly Guy books, the classroom subscription to BrainPOP.com, and the calculators. My all-time favorite, though, is the set of 42 math picture books. Not only do they coordinate with our curriculum, I am able to use the books to bring literacy into my math instruction. My students could tell what a big deal these books were to me and would constantly read them during free reading time.
So many teachers at my school ask me how I keep getting projects funded on DonorsChoose.org and why I continue to put new projects up. To be honest, it’s not that difficult. You just really need to know what you want for your students and be able to write about it in a way that persuades people to donate to your classroom. It takes some time, but it is well worth it when I tell my students we won a “contest” and people choose us to get cool stuff. The kids really enjoyed writing thank-you letters to the donors, telling them great it is to have the new resource our classroom.
So I’ve been thinking about what I want to ask for this year and I have three new projects in mind. I would like to create a section in my classroom library that has books about or written by people with disabilities. There are so many great books out there and I think it’s important for all students, even those with disabilities, to read and learn about people who have different challenges.
I also want to create a math manipulatives section in my classroom to better help my students understand math concepts. What little I have works great, but I often find myself borrowing from other teachers.
The last item that I would love to have in my classroom is a SMART Board. This past year I used my LCD projector and my white board to fake one, and it was successful with my students. I can only imagine the benefits of having an actual SMART Board in my classroom.
Be sure to check out DonorsChoose.org, whether it is to get resources for your own classroom or to help out another teacher.