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In this new series, author and educator Aaron Quigley shows you how to stay up to date with the latest educational technology and classroom management techniques. Each week, he'll introduce you to a new tip you can use to be more efficient, and increase student achievement. Aaron covers concepts like the flipped classroom, Common Core Standards, and the role of social media in education. The series also covers a variety of productivity apps, learning management systems, and other technologies, using a project-based approach that simulates the real K–12 or university classroom environment. Check back often for new tutorials, every Monday with Teacher Tips.
If Donors Choose is the right choice for your classroom, then the best place to start, is by creating your first project. Here, I've logged into my wife's account with Donors Choose. She's created several projects for her students, and been successful in getting them funded. To get started, once you've logged in, you want to go to where your name shows up, and then click on Account. There's a couple of things I'd like to point out right away. Donors Choose works on a point based system. What this means, is when you first create an account, you have only one point available to you. You need to spend a certain number of points to create projects.
But then as you go through the Donors Choose process, you have opportunities to earn points. For example, my wife currently has ten points. I can also see that she doesn't have any draft projects, or live projects at this point. If I click on her Point Total, I can see that every project she's created, cost her a point. I can also see she's earned additional points for completing various stages of the process within a certain time limit. These can include things like having students write thank you notes to the donors that give you money for your classroom. These points become important, as you decide to start a project. To start a project let's simply click on the Create A Project button.
Here, when you create a project, there's several types of products that you can choose from. I'm going to click Get Started, so we can review these project types. The first one, which is most common, is materials through their vendor directory. This is where you get to go into the vendor directory, select the supplies you need for your classroom, and then create a project using the supplies as the funding point. Based on the total value of the materials you're seeking for your class, it'll cost you different points. For example, 1 to $400 of materials will be worth one point, where if you're going to have over two $2,000 of materials in funding, you need four points for that.
In addition to spending this points to create the project, you'll then have an opportunity to earn additional points back, as you complete various stages of the project itself. On the left side of the screen, are the steps that's going to walk you through creating a project. Now, Donors Choose is going to give you a very basic set of instructions, such as create a title. They're going to tell you to go shopping to find the items that you need. They're going to give you a summary of what those items look like, an opportunity to describe how these materials will impact your students, as well as provide details for the project. You also have the opportunity to quantify the impact in terms of how many total students these materials will benefit.
You select an expiration date for this particular project, and then you submit it. Now this process seems fairly straight forward, but there's a few tips and tricks to make sure the projects you create are going to be funded. As well as to make sure they're appealing to people that are looking to fund projects, on the Donors Choose website. From talking to educators that have used Donors Choose, I've come up with a few steps for success. The first one, is you need to have a strong title. You don't want to have a title such as We Need Binders. Instead, create a title that talks about what those binders can do for your students, such as creating student organization, or helping students organize their life.
These show that the funding is not just about the materials, but about the impact the materials will have on your students. It's also important to describe the need for your classroom. Maybe your school has a lot of activities going on right now, and students have spent a lot of money for trips, and so asking them to buy a lab binder might be an extraneous cost. It's important the donors understand why you're asking for their money. Don't just say, my students can't afford these, but describe the situation that has brought up the need in your classroom. Donors also connect a lot with photos of your particular classroom. However, if you choose to use photos, please be careful.
Make sure if you have pictures of students, that you have the appropriate releases signed by the parents of the students, so that you can put them on the internet. And once your project's created, even though Donors Choose is going to help bring funders to the website, it's also up to you to help spread the word. I highly recommend that you use social media sites to share your Donor Choose project, and help spread the word to as many people as possible. The more people that see your project, the faster it's going to get funded. And finally, it's important to communicate with donors. If you have a project and someone donates to that particular project, take the time to make sure students write thank you letters.
That you do that within the allotted time. As well as that you respond to those donors with a thank you, on the website itself. Because a donor has taken an interest in your class, and donated to a single project, it's important to build a relationship with that donor ,so that if you have future projects, they may choose to support you there as well. I hope you enjoy exploring the Donors Choose website, as that this can be a great tool to help get you and your students, get the supplies that you need for your classroom.
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