Classroom Crowdfunding 101: Crowdfunding Tips for Teachers

Summer has flown by, and teachers all over the country are preparing to return to the classroom. This means writing lesson plans, learning about incoming students, and creating welcome packs and letters. It also means buying classroom supplies, which often turns into an out-of-pocket expense. How can you as a teacher reduce, or even eliminate, this expense? Many teachers have turned to classroom crowdfunding.

If you’ve never heard of crowdfunding, have concerns about classroom crowdfunding, or are looking for tips on improving your next classroom crowdfunding campaign, this post will help you start off on the right foot.

 

What is Crowdfunding?

In a sentence, crowdfunding is the practice of raising money for a project through small amounts of money from a number of people. Typically, it’s done online. You may have seen crowdfunding campaigns for all sorts of projects from new inventions to businesses to paying medical bills to classroom funding. The goals of a crowdfunding campaign can change the nature of it slightly. (For example, inventions usually use rewards-based crowdfunding while businesses might use equity crowdfunding.)

Classroom crowdfunding, then, is the practice of raising money through donations for a classroom project through small amounts of money from a number of people.

 

Why Choose Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is one of many ways to save on classroom supplies, field trips, and other classroom projects. You might choose to crowdfund over other more traditional fundraising methods, or you might use two methods at once. As a teacher, you might choose crowdfunding for some (or all) of the following reasons:

  • You have a supportive and involved community of family, friends, and colleagues.
  • You have a specific project you’re looking to promote and get off the ground.
  • Your project requires a deadline.
  • You have several projects you hope to fund.
  • You want to teach your students about the elements of fundraising.

These are just a few of the reasons you might choose classroom crowdfunding. As you read about the basics of crowdfunding and the tips for a successful campaign, you may find more personal reasons, as well.

 

The Basics of Crowdfunding

Successful classroom crowdfunding campaigns require time and attention, but they do not need to be complicated. In order to start a classroom crowdfunding campaign, you only need to take three steps.

  1. Choose a crowdfunding platform.
  2. List your crowdfunding information.
  3. Share your campaign.

Let’s break these three steps down.

 

#1 Choose a Crowdfunding Platform

With the rise in popularity of crowdfunding among all industries, there’s a dizzying amount of platform choices out there. Some platforms cater specifically to teachers. The two most well-known platforms for teachers are Donors Choose and Adopt-a-Classroom. As you’ll see, there are reasons to use one of these platforms, and there are reasons to choose a different platform. Here are several other popular platforms.

When researching the different platforms, you’ll want to ask yourself a number of questions.

Do I need flexibility in the items I choose? Some crowdfunding platforms require you to choose from a list of items rather than choosing a total amount.

Can I reach my target goal once the fees are factored in? Each crowdfunding platform has its own fee structure. Make sure the fees aren’t too high to reach your goal amount while still asking donors for a reasonable amount.

Have any of the platforms successfully funded projects similar to mine? If you find a platform with several projects similar to yours that have been funded, odds are it’s a good platform for you.

Do I plan on running an all-or-nothing crowdfunding campaign? Some platforms work on an all-or-nothing basis. In other words, if the project is not completely funded by the deadline, you will not receive any funds.

Does my district have any rules or guidelines about crowdfunding? More and more school districts have guidelines in place regarding crowdfunding and which platform(s) teachers can use. Check with your district before choosing a platform.

Will I give donors something in return? Most teachers use donation-based crowdfunding, where donors give without expecting anything in return. Some platforms, however, require a gift in return.

 

#2 List Your Crowdfunding Information

Once you’ve chosen a platform, it’s time to tell your story. How much money do you need? Why are you raising this money? Who is it going to help, and how? Share how these funds will benefit your students without using teacher jargon. The tips section will give more details on how to share your information in the best possible way.

 

#3 Share Your Campaign

After you’ve crossed your T’s and dotted your I’s for your classroom crowdfunding page, it’s time to share it with everyone you know (and even people you don’t know). Successful campaigns build on their community first, so send your campaign to family, friends, colleagues, and your students’ families. Encourage them, in turn, to send the information onto others. You can send your campaign through email, social media, or through any websites you manage.

You may also find that there are organizations, businesses, or even strangers out there interested in your campaign. Reach out to any potential donors with a personalized message as to why your campaign affects them. Then, again, encourage them to share it with others.

 

6 Tips for a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

Now that you have the basics down, it’s time to go through your classroom crowdfunding campaign with a fine tooth comb to make it as successful as possible.

#1  Be specific.

What exactly will the money go towards, item by item? Some platforms even allow you to request money for specific items. Or, you could make a list on Amazon of the items you want rather than asking for the money.

Also, if there’s something unique about your project, highlight it. Similarly, if your campaign aims to fill a specific gap, highlight that as well. For example, if you’re a science teacher who wants art supplies because your school cut art classes, this story will draw donors in.

Finally, make sure to focus on the students, as donors want to help kids above all else.

 

#2  Share pictures and videos.

Make them as high-quality as possible. Donors won’t necessarily expect professional camera work (especially if you’re raising money for technology!), but it should show a clear picture of what you’re aiming to do and tell a clear story. If your students appear in any of your pictures or videos, make sure you have permission from their parent or guardian.

 

#3  Look at other crowdfunding pages.

Examine how other teachers set up their crowdfunding pages. What do you think makes them successful? Do you find yourself motivated to give to any of them? Why or why not? This information will help you strengthen your own campaign.

 

#4  Ask for less.

Some teachers have found that by asking for less money, they’re more likely to reach their goals. These teachers recommend asking for $100-$200 for your first project.

When you ask for less, it also makes it easier to always have a project up. Some teachers point out that corporations or individuals will sometimes fund the projects of every teacher in their area. Having a project up might pay off in unexpected ways.

 

#5  Identify your donors.

While the basic message of your campaign will remain the same, how you posit that message may differ according to who you’re appealing to. Parents will give different amounts and for different reasons than alumni or colleagues, for example.

 

#6  Use your campaign as a teaching opportunity.

Transparency is key when it comes to crowdfunding campaigns, and that goes for your students, as well. By teaching them through the process, you’re not only involving them in the classroom; you’ll also be able to show your donors every single benefit of giving to your campaign.

 

The best way to know if classroom crowdfunding is right for you is to try it out! The risks are minimal, but the potential rewards are great. Within a short amount of time, you can launch a classroom crowdfunding campaign that will take your classroom above and beyond.

 

Kristen Seikaly began writing on topics in education for her website, Operaversity. Now, she primarily writes about educational games for Crossword Hobbyist and My Word Search. This is her first guest post for Teacher Habits.

 

5 Ways to Integrate Videos Into Your Classroom Routine

Illustrative, graphic, and engaging—videos are among one of the most used forms of multimedia in the classroom. Whether it is a K-12 public school class or a college setting, videos can add an element of wonder and inquiry, but how do you utilize them in a way that engages students rather than distracting them from the lesson? There are several ways to integrate videos into your classroom routine and be an influential educator for your students.

1 — Add value to lesson plans with pre-made video materials

If you are an educator then you know that planning instructional materials and lesson plans can be a challenge, whether you are a first-time teacher or you have just hit a roadblock with your lesson planning. The advancement of online curriculum providers and higher-education online institutions has expanded the availability of materials teachers can use to provide up-to-date resources that meet the status quo. On Study.com, for example, self-paced guided courses give teachers the option to follow pre-built syllabi or simply pick and choose resources that support their lesson and provide real-world imagery and examples to their students. Their video resources help students grasp and visualize the lesson in an engaging way.

2 — Get students interested in a career path

Another great way to integrate videos into your classroom routine is to introduce students to career options they may have that are connected to your lesson. For example, rather than just exploring disciplines in a traditional manner, teachers can showcase videos of engineers, doctors, software developers, and more to create an understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and how they apply to the real world. Research has shown that this approach can increase independent inquiry when students can connect the real-world to the lesson. This can also pave the way for students to get a head start on planning for their future careers. Once they are able to know what career path is the best for them figuring out what necessary additional skills and requirements will be easier than compared to those students who graduate that are still not knowing what the best career path is for them.

3 — Give students access to career advice, job search tips, and more

Giving students access to videos in order to figure out what careers exist in different discipline areas (such as STEM) helps students figure out what career path is the best for them. Giving students additional video resources to achieve internships, job-shadowing, or class credit is even better for students that are in high school getting ready to graduate or trying to incorporate a job into their everyday lives. Study.com, for example, gives students access to instructional videos on searching for jobs along with many other tips. Integrating these types of materials into a classroom not only showcases your lesson, connects them to the real-world, but also gives them a chance to hear first-hand how it all comes together full-circle in the end and truly see the connectivity between learning and career building.

4 — Give students access to college credit

A big added bonus to any video platform is the ability to not only share resources, but to be able to give students the ability to gain access to college credit. Incorporating the importance of college in your classroom can easily be done with many providers and provides students with opportunities to earn college credit while still in high school. Many students are able to reap the benefits of up to two years of college credit earned while gaining the necessary understanding to be successful once they transition from high school into a real university or college classroom. Videos help this transition as they make clear connections in the lessons to the real-world, explore higher learning discussions and questions, and learn more about the requirements needed to obtain the degree of their choice. As an educator, offering these types of videos to students can help enhance the overall dual credit experience and prepare them to enter a college or university classroom with all the necessary tools.

5 — Prep students for the standardized tests

Integrating videos into the classroom is also a great way of helping students prepare for their standardized tests. For example, the SAT and ACT exams are requirements for acceptance into colleges and universities across the country, and having the access to videos that demonstrate necessary criteria to excel will support students as they plan for their futures. As an added bonus, integrating prep resources like Study.com’s into your lessons means that you can spend more time preparing content for your curriculum, rather than focusing all of your time on preparing your students for their exams.

In addition to their standard test prep materials, Study.com also offers a suite of preparation materials for common teacher certification exams to help you excel as a teacher in your classroom. From national exams like Praxis to state-specific exams like TExES and FTCE, their resources are perfect for aspiring educators and current teachers alike. Whether you are looking to pass your initial certifications or add additional qualifications for new subjects/grade levels, they have the materials you need to succeed.

 

The above article is a sponsored post from study.com.

 

The IKEA Effect of Lesson Creation

The following is an excerpt from my new book, Leave School At School: Work Less, Live More, Teach Better. It’s available in both Kindle and print forms on Amazon.

I eat in the teachers’ lounge, and almost every day someone brings in one of those Lean Cuisine frozen lunches and pops it in the microwave.  You can trace the origins of such convenience foods to the years following World War II. The military had developed MREs and other foods meant to withstand long periods of storage and allow for easy preparation on the battlefield. After the war, several commercial food companies had leftover manufacturing facilities, so some of them created new freeze-dried and canned food products for domestic use. They pumped out boxes of fish sticks, canned peaches, and even ill-fated cheeseburgers-in-a-can. Jell-o introduced new dessert flavors throughout the 1950s. Sales soared.

With so many new products to sell, advertisements swept across the amber waves and purple mountains, reminding Americans again and again how busy they were, how hectic their days had become, and how desperately they needed quick meals. “If you’re a typical modern housewife, you want to do your cooking as fast as possible,” wrote a columnist at Household magazine who was promoting instant coffee and canned onion soup. Kellogg’s even created cereal that could be served faster. Their ads claimed that busy moms loved their presweetened Corn Pops. Because who had time for the laborious task of sprinkling on a spoonful of sugar?

TV dinners. Minute rice. Instant potatoes. “Hot breads—in a jiffy!” All were peddled to harried housewives who just didn’t have enough hours in the day to cook like their mothers had. “It’s just 1-2-3, and dinner’s on the table,” exclaimed an article in Better Homes & Gardens. “That’s how speedy the fixing can be when the hub of your meal is delicious canned meat.” [1]

But the faster the cooking, the less it felt like real cooking and the greater the potential for guilt on the part of the homemaker. That was the problem with instant cake mix. Intended to save busy housewives time by simply adding water to a mix, stirring, and popping in the oven, instant cake mix seemed like a fantastic idea. But sales fizzled after a few years. It turned out that TV dinners or the kids’ cereal were one thing, but a cake — well, that was another matter. Any homemaker worth her salt wouldn’t make a generic cake from a box that couldn’t be distinguished from a cake baked by the guests she was serving it to.

When marketers dove in to uncover what went wrong with cake mix, they discovered that it was too easy. The solution was simple: Have the baker add an egg. Once the powdered egg was removed from the mix, sales recovered and instant cake mixes became a mainstay in nearly every home in America. By adding one step to the mixing process, homemakers felt they were really baking again.

The cake mix lesson has since been repeated many times over. Build-a-Bear sends you the raw materials and the directions, but it’s up to you to actually build the bear. Cooks at “patron-prepared” restaurants like Mongolian Barbecue will cook the food for you, but only after you select the ingredients. City-dwellers take “Haycations,” where they pay farmers to do their work for them. And of course, there’s IKEA, which sells furniture at a discount because buyers have to build their own bookcases, cabinets, and tables. In each of these instances, people seem to place more value on items to which they have contributed some labor.

With this in mind, three psychologists, Michael Norton, Daniel Mochon, and Dan Ariely, conducted a series of studies to find out whether consumers would, in fact, pay more money for products they themselves assembled. The research consisted of three different experiments.

In the first experiment, researchers found that participants were willing to pay 63% more for furniture they had built over furniture that came pre-assembled.

In the second experiment, Norton, Mochon, and Ariely asked subjects to make origami frogs or cranes. They then asked the subjects how much they were willing to pay for their own work. Following this, researchers gathered another group of volunteers who had not created any origami. These new subjects were asked how much they were willing to pay for origami built by the participants. Then the researchers asked how much they were willing to pay for origami built by an expert. These people, who had no personal connection to the creations, were willing to pay more for the expert’s products, which is exactly what one would expect. The participants who had made the origami frogs and cranes were then shown a display of origami that consisted of one set they had built themselves and one set that had been built by the experts. They were asked to bid on the different origami. The builders perceived the origami they had created as being of equal quality to those created by the pros.

The results of these studies suggest that when people construct a particular product, even if they do a cruddy job of it, they will value it more than if they had not put any effort into its creation.

Participants, wrote Norton and colleagues, “saw their amateurish creations as similar in value to experts’ creations, and expected others to share their opinions.”

The psychologists dubbed this the IKEA effect.

Two Problems For Teachers

There are two problems the IKEA effect creates for teachers. The first is that what you make is likely not nearly as good as you think it is. Your rubric is not better than another teacher’s. You just think it is because you made it. Same goes for everything else you’ve created. You would almost assuredly be better off using a product made by someone else. And as much as you don’t want to hear it, you’d be best off using products created by people whose job is to create those products. So while it may offend your sensibilities, stick with the program your district spent thousands of dollars on because it’s probably better than anything you’re going to design.

The second lesson is that there is a cost to spending time creating stuff. If you spend an hour making a magnetism unit because you tell yourself it will be better than anything you currently have in your filing cabinet or that you can find online, then you’ve lost the opportunity to spend that hour doing other things. You could have used the time on something that will make a difference for your students. You could have spent it doing an activity you enjoy. You could have even taken a nap during that hour and gone to work the next day better rested. The science is harsh but clear: If you’re a teacher who creates his own materials, you’re wasting your most precious resource making stuff that isn’t very good, in spite of the fact that you can find better resources with a few clicks of your mouse, or even more simply, by opening your teacher’s guide.

For the teacher looking to improve his effectiveness while spending less time working, the IKEA effect gives you permission to stop making stuff and steal (or purchase) from others.

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[1] Shapiro, Laura. Something from the oven: reinventing dinner in 1950s America. Penguin Books, 2005.

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Math Game: Build a Polygon

As we get closer to Christmas, things can get a little stale in the classroom. Teachers are tired, students are less tolerant of each other, and everyone has at least one eye aimed at the coming break. Many teachers look to spice things up a bit. They might show a movie, design a STEAM challenge, or set aside time for a holiday craft.

For some awesome ideas, check out John Spencer’s article 10 Creative Alternatives to Showing a Movie Before Break. Or just look at his graphic:

If you like your fun activities a little more closely aligned with the standards, you can have students play a math game. The game described below, “Build a Polygon,” comes from Education.com.  I like it because it gives students the opportunity to practice precise measurement, requires them to accurately read a ruler, introduces concepts of polygons, involves problem-solving, and provides practice in finding the perimeters of shapes. It’s also easy to play, easy to set up, and doesn’t require you to go out and buy stuff. It’s perfect for second through sixth-grade classrooms.

Game: Build a Polygon

polygon

This geometry  game will make your child a master of the polygon! He’ll compete against other players by measuring and drawing out shapes with playing cards determining the length of each line. Careful though, the measurements of lines will need to connect in order to close a polygon. If the card drawn doesn’t give the number he needs to finish his shape, start the line out or draw the line in another direction and wait to turn the next card. Whoever completes the most polygons wins!

What You Need:

  • Playing cards
  • Metric ruler
  • Pencils
  • Paper

What You Do:

  1. Announce the point system to all of the players as follows: Face cards= Wild (players can assign whatever value to the card that they want), Aces =1.
  2. Shuffle the cards and place them face down in the center of the table. Each player needs a pencil, ruler and a piece of paper.
  3. When his turn comes, each player should draw one card and use the value of their card to draw a line in centimeters.
  4. In order to determine the length of line needed to complete their shape, players will need to use their rulers, as long as the value is not too large they can begin drawing the line. Make sure to write the measurement number on the line.
  5. For the second round, everyone draws a new card and traces another line which stems from one end of the first line.
  6. Each player tries to make a complete polygon by closing their figure with the next turn. If they can’t finish their polygon with the card value drawn, they have two options. If the number on the card is less than the length of line needed to complete the shape, they can either start on the line that will eventually close the shape, or they can start a new shape stemming from either end of the shape they’re currently trying to complete.
  7. When a player finishes a polygon, they need to state its perimeter. For each correct answer, they receive 5 points. Then, they can start on the next polygon.
  8. Whoever earns 50 points first, wins!

Helpful Hints: Remind your little one throughout the game that a polygon is a closed plane figure bound by straight lines, whereas the perimeter is the distance around a two-dimensional shape.

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What are your favorite math games for the classroom?

What are some fun things your students do during the lead-up to the holiday break? 

Share in the comments and share this post on Facebook and Twitter so more teachers can read your ideas! 

Top Tips for Teaching Kids With Dyslexia To Read

Guest post by Laura Buckler

Top Tips for Teaching Kids with Dyslexia to Read

 

Dyslexia is a learning disability, but it is not a disease.

Kids with dyslexia simply process language differently from those without the condition. They have a problem with turning heard words and sounds into written form, and have a hard time remembering and reading words in isolation, such as on flash cards, or in sequence, such as the days of the week. Most people with dyslexia are of normal to high intelligence, and cope with their difficulties by accessing higher language learning skills.

Many kids with dyslexia reach adulthood without a proper diagnosis, and this can lead them to think they are not as intelligent as they actually are, simply because reading is a basic skill they have failed to master. They are scared that something is wrong with their brain, when in fact they simply learn differently.

While no one really knows what causes dyslexia, researchers believe it is hereditary. Because they learn differently from others, traditional methods for teaching them to read are not very effective. In many cases, the undiagnosed dyslexic child will use context to “read” without actually recognizing individual words to keep up with other children.

People with dyslexia can learn to read just as well as other people with the proper attention, methods, and tools. It is therefore important to diagnose the problem as early as possible to help them now and in the future. Here are the top tips for teaching kids with dyslexia.

Show and Tell (and Feel and Smell and Taste)

Kids with dyslexia learn to read best by engaging all their senses in the process.  This helps the brain create more associations with a particular word. This is the basis for the MSL, or Multisensory Structural Language, approach, and it works well with all language learners, not only people with dyslexia. Learners are encouraged to see, hear, smell, feel, and taste a word using various tools. Here are some ways to use the MSL approach with your child:

  • Use flash cards with a picture and the word printed together on it, and have the child hold it as they read the word. This gives them something to hold and look at as they say the word. Have them trace each letter with their finger as they read the word.
  • Use actual objects. Whenever possible, have the student hold the physical object of the word being taught. For example, if you are teaching the word apple, have them hold one, and encourage them to smell, feel, and eventually, taste it!
  • Use sand trays. Fill a flat, shallow tray with sand or beans in which the child can spell a word repeatedly. This engages their sense of touch and sight.
  • Use music. Songs, rhymes, and chants can help the child remember spelling rules and sequences.  For example, you can teach the child to spell “Mississippi” by chanting MIS-SIS-SIPPI!
  • Use color to classify different types of words and numbers. Use different colors for nouns, verbs, and other parts of speech. Use a different color to distinguish whole numbers from decimal numbers, and so on.
  • Use reading games. Games are always a good way to teach anything. Check out these links for some MSL games and activities to help your dyslexic child.

Start big

Some people with dyslexia see letters all jumbled up, and they have a hard time seeing subtle differences. Lower case p and q, for example, look the same to them. The same is true for b and d. To help them distinguish similar letters, write them big and bold, and put plenty of space between words. As they learn to recognize the letters, you can gradually make them smaller and closer together.

Just to be clear

Kids with dyslexia need a lot of reinforcement when learning to read. Do not assume that the student has any familiarity with the lesson. When introducing the letter B, for example, you should tell the student that it is letter of the day. You then clearly sound the letter out and ask the student to repeat it several times before introducing words beginning with the letter B.  Make the student say each word aloud several times before moving on to the next one. You can also use other strategies such as games and songs related to the letter or word.  

Repetition is the Key

Make it a habit to repeat everything several times to help kids struggling with short-term memory, which is common among those with dyslexia. Instructions, concepts, sequences, and words have a habit of slipping off into forgetful land. Encourage the student to write them down to help them remember, and make sure to correct any spelling mistakes.

An important aspect of teaching kids with dyslexia is connecting concepts when building new skills. Whenever you introduce a new lesson, make sure to connect it to an old one. If you must, refresh his or her memory by reviewing old lessons. A kid with dyslexia will learn something new better if they can associate it with something they already know or experienced.

Conclusion

Teaching kids with dyslexia to read is not hard if you accept and understand that they learn differently from other kids. Accommodate their learning styles and difficulties and give them practical coping skills using these tips and other teaching strategies. You will soon have them reading with the best of them.

 

BIO: Laura Buckler is a great writer, always making the best out of her articles. Her belief in life is that anything can be done with an amount of perseverance, so she puts an effort into all her duties. She teaches people to be aware of their potential. Check out her twitter.