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Tips & Tricks :: Getting Your Donors Choose Project Funded!

Donors Choose 2If your school’s like mine, the amount of money you’re receiving from your district to buy materials for your students keeps getting smaller and smaller (if you get any at all!) And unfortunately, it’s not looking like that’s going to change in the next several years. Luckily, DonorsChoose makes it easy for teachers to request the materials they need for their students!  All it takes is a bit of time and creativity and you can get funding for anything from materials to technology, guest speakers, and field trips! If you like to donate to other DonorsChoose projects too, here are various free tax calculators online so you can see if you can find a way to save money that way too. Through getting several projects funded and donating monthly to other projects as well, I’ve learned several things I wish something would have told me in the beginning!

Look For Matching Offers Before Posting

MatchingThis one tends to be a bit frustrating for me. If you scroll to the bottom of DonorsChoose.org and click on “Partner Funding Opportunities,” you can see which companies are willing to help fund projects that meet certain criteria. Unfortunately, it isn’t often for me that companies are looking to fund what I need, but maybe you’ll have some good luck! In addition, it might be a good idea to “prewrite” several project ideas so if you see a match opportunity, you can post the project right away. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a few days to write and list my project and by the time it gets posted, the match opportunity isn’t valid anymore. SO sad!!

Keep it Under $200

Under $200This is huge! Obviously, it’s a lot easier to get a project funded when you only need $175 rather than $800. Also, as a donor, I can say that it’s more fun for me to see the money I give make a big impact. I usually don’t feel super motivated to give $25 if the teacher still has $700+ to go!

Sell It!

ProfileAs any successful business knows, image is everything. Choose a picture for your profile that is engaging and personal. While clip art of an apple may be cute, it doesn’t tell me anything about your classroom! Pick one that conveys the smiles, excitement, and energy found in your room. I want to see the kids I will be helping! Then, clearly describe the items you are requesting and how your students will use them. Explain any challenges faced by your students, but don’t bog prospective donors down with sob stories. Keep it positive! Lastly, make sure your project is free of spelling, punctuation, and grammatical mistakes. Nothing turns me off more than the prospect of donating money to an English teacher who doesn’t proofread their own work!

Link DonorsChoose to your Facebook

FacebookI love that DonorsChoose allows you to connect your teacher page to Facebook. While you may feel strange asking for money from family and friends, often it opens up a really good discussion about what DonorsChoose is and shows how dedicated you are in getting what your students need. It’ll also get you brownie points with any administrators who happen to come across your Facebook, which can be a nice added bonus 🙂

Get your Project Started

MH900314327At first, I used to think it was frowned upon to donate to your own project. However, I quickly realized that not only is it allowed, but many people do it! By donating to your own project, other people can see your dedication when you’re willing to personally financially contribute (even though you probably already do privately)! It also looks nicer on DonorsChoose’s main page to see that a project is already partially funded. Donors often like to fund projects that are already on their way. When I donate to my own projects, I often just write something like, “I donated to this project because my students deserve the best I can possibly give them,” or something like that. Also, don’t be afraid to use a matching code if there’s one available (a quick Google search can often give you some ideas!) Then all of a sudden, $10 becomes $20 or whatever!

Share the Love

MH900411800Along with giving to your own project, I highly recommend becoming a monthly giver. No, I’m not being paid by DonorsChoose or anything to say that. The reason is, that in addition to giving you good DonorsChoose karma, you earn badges on the site for being a monthly giver or supporting other projects. As a donor, I personally look to fund teachers who make the sacrifice of supporting other DC projects as well. I just kinda feel like what goes around should come around. Plus, it makes you feel good knowing that you’re helping hundreds of kids besides your own. What could be better than that!?

Good luck with your projects and have fun!

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Fun Freebie :: You’re a Smart Kid: Multiple Intelligence Posters for Kids

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I don’t know about you, but I find myself talking to kids all the time who feel like failures because they don’t think they’re as “smart” as their classmates or siblings. In these times, I often talk about how some kids are really good at some things and other kids are really good at others, but I always wish I had some sort of visual or other “proof” that I’m not just making something up to help them feel better!

Then I recently came across this awesome freebie on Pinterest. It was created by Susan Morrow and is available in her TpT store. It includes 9 posters based on Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. Here’s what Susan says about them:

“Every child is smart in a number of ways, but they often only think of kids who excel in academics as smart. Refer to the posters often in the classroom when doing different types of activities. It’s fun when you are studying biographies of famous people to talk about the different types of intelligence they demonstrate.
I hope you enjoy these posters as much as I enjoyed making them. Keep ’em Thinking!”

Thanks for an awesome product, Susan. I’ve already printed them all out and can’t wait to laminate and hang them in my room!

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New(ish) Product :: Anger and Coping Skills Bingo Game

One of the lessons I find myself teaching constantly is about coping skills. Whether I was working with kids who had difficulty managing stress or kids who got into trouble frequently for fighting with others or arguing with teachers, the common thread was that these kids didn’t have the tools to deal with frustrating or stress-invoking situations. I also found that many of these kids needed lessons to be really interactive or fun for them to really invest in learning how to manage their stress or anger.

This was my solution! It is designed to help students learn many different coping strategies in a fun, interactive way. The strategies they learn can help them handle stress and anger in safe, appropriate ways. This game is great for those groups or students who tend to resist “traditional” coping skills lessons. There are 2 versions included, a shorter one and a longer one depending on the attention span of your students!

Several times, my kids have actually come to my room and specifically requested to play this game. It’s pretty crazy, actually! The download includes several different ways to deal with anger or stress and provides everything you need for students to create their own bingo cards and play the game!:

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If you’re looking for more activities to help kids deal with anger, check out my Dealing with Anger Activity Pack.

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