A few days ago, I was thrilled to see that one of my Donors Choose Projects, The Flipgrid Studio part 2 was fully funded. Allowing me to get the needed materials to start giving students more of a voice in my classroom through Flipgrid. The plan for the recording studio was to be the start of what I’m hoping will lead to students to be more creative in the classroom. In Sparks in the Dark by Travis Crowder and Todd Nesloney, the two talk about giving students new learning opportunities that are not available to them. Using resources such as Donors Choose and other school funding when there are limitations. Most of the time those limitations are placed on ourselves when we don’t think outside the box. I started using Donors Choose almost three years ago when a fellow teacher and I wanted to start bringing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art & mathematics) to our art curriculum. Something that was unheard of and we didn’t have the budget to get the needed items to start using drones and spheros in the classroom. We went with Donors Choose and while we had a high goal we had to accomplish. We were able to do it with a few weeks left in our project and our student and school were better for not giving up. It lead to many of our fellow teachers working their own Donors Choose Projects and through a lot of networking and hard work. We usually got them funded. However, there were still nay sayers going: “What do you have to prove, sometimes kids just can’t get the resources they want or need.” That was a challenge I took to heart.
For the last couple of years, I have succeeded in getting ten projects funded and eight that never made it past one or two donations. I have helped to donate to many other teachers’ around the country and had up to 28 projects make full funding. I have also helped other teachers get their first projects started after they were told by others: “You will never get funded.” I get why they are told this, they want to protect others from getting hurt feelings if they can’t get funded. Many times, they don’t want others to look like they are begging for money because they don’t have the funding or resources to give their students new opportunities to learn. Many times teachers are asking for the latest robot or glue to make glitter slime in their classroom. Many times they want to provide literature to their students through books, graphic novels and writing prompts. Other times they are trying to get seating because they want students to be more flexible in their learning. I had one project not reach funding when I was trying to get graphic novels and Funko Pops to help with their creative writing and give them a richer source of books because the school I worked for at the time didn’t really have much of a library. I wanted my students at the time to have more opportunities to read and explore their creative writing and why I worked hard to get them the needed books and writing activities. Did it work out? Not that time, but it did start with a new interest in ideas that my fellow teachers decided to explore and as Trevor and Todd said in their book: “It just takes a spark to get things going.”
Donors Choose has been very good to my students in the last few years and I hope to continue to provide new learning and creative projects and opportunities to my future students as they walk into my classroom. It’s never easy and there isn’t always a guarantee that a project will be successful, but for my students I am always going to try and give them new ways to learn and find the resources needed to make their learning magical. If you are wondering how you can support a Donors Choose classroom, check out their website or check out my teacher page for ideas for projects.