Friday, August 2, 2019

DonorsChoose.org Is A Teacher's Best Friend

DonorsChoose.org logoIf you're like me, you're always looking for ways to fund exciting new lessons for your students, buy basic supplies for the classroom, or fund your own professional development.

Since 2014, I have raised over $10,000 for a variety of projects using DonorsChoose.org. Some failed to reach the finish line but over all I've had ten projects for my classrooms and five projects for professional development funded.

This back to school season (August 2019), DonorsChoose.org is giving you another reason to stop procrastinating. From August 18th until August 25th, any new teacher that creates an account AND posts their first project will get a $50 donation. I'm personally going to add to that. If you use my ambassador referral link (http://share.donorschoose.org/lThFC) to sign up, I'll give you back your referral credit towards your project.


So how do you get started? Here's the process broken down into seven steps. If you need help, reach out to me via email or Twitter. I'm here to help because when you succeed, your students succeed.
  1. Sign-up and fill in your profile. You'll need to select your school.
    • Donors can search by general location, school, or teacher.
    • All funded projects are required to be shipped to schools for accountability.
  2. Check for promotions.
    • There are constantly promotions being offered by a variety of charitable organizations. Always start here because you never know if there are special words that will help you raise funds faster. 
      • Example: If you're buying a 3D printer for a Makerspace, there might be a promotion for STEM but you're required to select "Applied Science" as your category instead of "General Science" or "Art". Same project but a different classification can make all the difference.
  3. Go Shopping.
    • No seriously, go shopping. Select one of the approved vendors and add items to your cart. When you "check out" it'll bring you back to DonorsChoose.org
    • Try to keep your request under $500 for the first time. There is a $100 minimum so keep that in mind.
    • Need something special that you can't find through a vendor, you can make a special request.
      • If you're planning a trip, guest speaker, etc. you can upload price quotes.
  4. Write your rationale.
    • Be honest. How will the requested items help your students and the classroom. Be sure to check your spelling and grammar. Once it's posted, you can't edit the request.
  5. Promote.
    • Post on social media
    • Include a link in your class newsletter
  6. Watch the funds come in.
    • You may need to continue promoting your project a few times.
    • Remember to thank each donor. You can reply to the "you received a donation" email to make it easy.
  7. Receive your project and make sure to follow-up.
    • This last step is just as important as the rest. After you receive your project, make sure you follow the steps to close it out.
      • Post pictures so they know it reached the students (block student faces or take the back of heads)
      • Send student thank you letters if required (I make it extra credit)
      • Write an impact statement.
If you need help, send me an email or look me up on Twitter. Good luck!





Monday, June 17, 2019

Does SAMR Truly Exist or is it the Still a Theory to Explore?

I am about to write down my views on a buzz term in education. Please remember that this blog post is my personal feelings on the matter and may be different than your own. That's alright. In fact, that's the fun part of education pedagogy. It's always changing/improving. 

Image Source: Wikimedia
The concept of SAMR has been around for a few years now and there are tons of articles, workshops, and conferences focusing on bringing classrooms into the future with modification and redefinition. SAMR is a great way to help hesitant teachers see the benefits of technology in their classrooms. It shows that even small steps can make a huge impact on student learning.

Even the most experienced and mimicked teachers will climb up and down the SAMR ladder to meet different students and goals. Sometimes, substitution is required at the beginning of a new unit and there's nothing wrong with that. Other times, teachers will give the students a vague(ish) task and send them off on their own to collaborate, explore, and determine the best method themselves.

Most teachers start with the S, Substitution. Instead of photocopying worksheets, share them as a Google Doc and let students complete them on a computer. Is this changing the lesson at all? No. Is it changing the delivery? Yes. Therefore, it's substitution at it's simplest form.

One small level up from substitution is A, Augmentation. This is where teachers can start exploring making small changes to their substitutions. A good example of augmentation would be for counting money. Students can copy and paste an infinite number of images of bills and coins to represent values, rather that literally cut and paste photocopied money on paper. This slightly changing the assignment from the original paper version.

When we move to the next level M, Modification, we really start to see changes in the student's learning. Perhaps instead of having students write a research paper, they can create a multi-media presentation including video and music. Modification is where I feel many classrooms are currently located.

To me, R, Redefinition is the great white whale. Is it there? Yes. Will it happen eventually? Yes. Are we there yet? No. Every time I see someone give an example of redefinition, I think to myself that it sound almost identical to modification. A simple example of this where people might say "but we couldn't do that before" is 3D printing. Sure, students couldn't load a computer generated model and print it before but they could still make 3D models using tools such as cardboard and duct tape.

Image Source: IMG Flip Meme Generator
To clarify, I'm not saying that SAMR is a bad thing. On the contrary, I think it's a great concept and a simple way to demonstrate the path technology is taking our classrooms. I'm just saying parts of it are still being explored and redefined. As technology improves, as teachers collaborate, redefinition continues to move farther out. It's that goal that keeps getting pushed slightly farther away.