Donors Choose Returns

I can’t say this any better than I did last year.

I really don’t want to have to do this.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Donors Choose is providing a valuable service. I want these kids to have what they need to get a rich education and discover the joy in learning in a way that old, worn out classrooms and materials will make more difficult. I want them to have things they can touch and play with and sometimes even break because there’s enough to go around. I want their educations to fit them for a modern world in a way their outdated books simply won’t. I want them to have every opportunity to succeed, for themselves and for the society they’ll be creating when they’re grown.

I just don’t want them to have to rely on charity to get it.

We should be funding education and poverty relief such that no teacher ever has to come to us and beg for our help. It isn’t just human and decent and all that, but it’s one of the smartest uses to which we can put our money. Asking most people to be smart, however, is apparently some kind of inhumane imposition. At least Donors Choose is here, and at least there are people like the readers of Freethought Blogs who understand the value of an education.

I have found a way to make me feel a little bit better about the start of this, though. Keep reading.

If you didn’t follow this last year, here’s how things work and why I’ve chosen the projects I have.

With that in mind, I didn’t pick local projects for my challenge. If you click on the widget at the top of the right column, you’ll see that I chose projects in red states, most of them highly religious. These kids are some of the most underserved in the nation. Not only are their schools and communities among the most deliberately underfunded, but they also live in a culture that undervalues learning. If we want to change things, this is where we start.

I’ll highlight projects as we go through the month. I’ll add more if we start to run low on choices. I’ll even remind you from time to time that Freethought Blogs is in a competition with some science blogging networks to see who can raise the most money through these challenges. For now, however, I’m just going to ask that you click on that link, find a project that suits your preferences, and help give these kids the education they deserve.

So here’s how we start things off feeling decent about what we’re doing. There are a number of projects that fit my criteria that are very close to being fully funded. If you like any of these, please help to push them over the top. I do mean help. Don’t feel you have to put in the full amount still needed to participate in any of these. The whole point of Donors Choose is to allow even tiny contributions to make a big difference. Also, these projects are all receiving matching funds, so your small amount isn’t so small.

Integrating Technology into Reading/Daily 5 Instruction!!

Grannemann Elementary School in Saint Louis, MO (only $44 left to full funding)

My Students: Do you remember what life was like before technology? My students don’t because they haven’t known any other way! I want to integrate technology into their daily reading instruction to get them excited about learning and help reading become more relevant to them.

My students want to get better at reading but lack the self-esteem and belief that they can become stronger readers. We are working on building self-esteem through daily reading practice. Listening to reading on iPods will get them excited about reading and help boost their self-esteem.

“Ms. Niewoehner, my dad said that times are getting better.” “Your dad is right!” “We have so many tools available to help us succeed in reading and in life.”

My third grade students are very energetic, eager to learn and hard-working. As we are a high-poverty school, sometimes we do not have all of the desired materials to enhance their learning.

My Project: Listening to reading on iPods will cut down on inappropriate behaviors during reading time because my students will look forward to reading each day. They will get excited about being an active part of their own learning and about using technology during reading. My students will be able to listen to much more and be able to choose what they listen to on these iPods.

It is tough to remember life before technology. My students can’t remember life before technology because it’s all they have ever known. iPods will make learning more relevant to my students and encourage their active engagement in their own learning!

My students need: 4 iPod shuffles to listen to reading during our Daily 5 reading instruction.

Hear ye! Hear ye!

Powers Ferry Elementary School in Marietta, GA (only $65 left to full funding)

My Students: The goal I have for my students is for them to use technology while trying not to disturb the learning of others. Our school computer lab is great, except it is missing the headphones to maximize the learning enjoyment for each and every student.

We are a Title One school with poor economic status. Our EIP class struggles with reading, writing, and math concepts. They need encouragement and mental stimulation to stay focused on their goals to be on grade level. Introducing one-on-one technology experiences with the use of headphones in a computer lab is a wonderful way to keep students motivated to stay in school and to become life long learners.

My Project: I am asking for headphones that reduce the need to increase the volume (protecting the ears) and helps keep students on task without the distraction of the students around them. It is ideal for classroom story-time, library, and computer usage to maximize the individuals’ one-on-one technology experience!

There are very few suitable role models in the lives of my students. If you choose to give to our cause, my students will realize that there are people on the outside that genuinely care about them and their future . Please inspire my students to reach their learning potential through the help of your generous donation.

My students need 18 durable, working headphones to use in our school computer lab.

Reading Corner Carpet

Cooper Elementary School in Tulsa, OK (only $93 left to full funding)

My Students: Help make our classroom library a colorful, comfortable, and inviting place to read!

My students attend a low-income elementary school in Oklahoma. Third grade is an important year, that will set them up for success in the upper elementary grades and beyond. It is my job to ensure that they master grade-level objectives and develop the attitudes and work habits necessary to achieve at high levels and reach their future goals!

My Project: I am requesting a small rug for our classroom reading corner and genre-specific labels for our books. These resources will help make our classroom library a more purposeful and inviting place to read and select books. The colorful rug has images of nine different genres of literature to reinforce the types of stories my students will read this year. The library labels will allow me to organize and sort our library by a variety of genres and topics, from biographies and non-fiction to animals and seasons. This will make it easier for my students to select books that are interesting to them and that are on their individual reading levels.

Our library is one of the most important places in our classroom. It is where students learn to love reading. A colorful rug and book labels will help my students become better readers by encouraging them to read a variety of different kinds of books for pleasure and enjoyment.

My students need a carpet and book labels for our classroom library.

None of those projects suit your fancy? Up for biting off something bigger? Check out the full page of projects.

Donors Choose Returns
The Bolingbrook Babbler:  The unbelievable truth is now at

One thought on “Donors Choose Returns

  1. 1

    Last year DonorsChoose funded a project in my hometown. I wasn’t following it closely for various reasons, but I was happy to hear that somebody was doing science with elementary school kids in Avon Park, FL

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