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Project Inspiration

How Teachers Engage Reluctant Readers with Classroom Comics

“Comics are a gateway drug to literacy.”Art Spiegelman Comic book, graphic novel, sequential art. Whatever you call it, this ancient medium is in the middle of cultural resurgence. Superhero movies are breaking box-office records, literary authors like Margaret Atwood are writing comics, and publishers like Image and Marvel have made headlines with increasingly diverse and critically-acclaimed offerings for all ages. But comics have a lingering bad reputation and aren’t considered “serious” literature in many circles. Many teachers are pushing back on this stigma, finding new and creative ways to use classroom comics. Comics provide a great opportunity to engage students
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Everything You Need to Know to Start Your First Student Life Essentials Project

A good education starts before the school bell rings, when students have nutritional meals and warm, clean clothes, which allow them to focus on learning. Teachers often see firsthand the impact of poverty and homelessness on their students, but not every community has resources for teachers to address these unique needs. That’s why we’re helping teachers start a new type of classroom project on DonorsChoose.org: Student Life Essentials. To help you get started, we’re also releasing a new match offer today: every dollar donated to qualifying projects will be doubled thanks to our generous partners. What is a Student Life
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Classroom Recipes: Team Sports Ideas for Under $1,000 (and a match!)

Whether you’re a seasoned coach or a teacher looking to start a new athletics program, your sports team could probably use some fresh equipment. And we know funding can be tough: $2.5 billion was cut from school sports budgets in 2009-2011 alone. That’s why we’re so excited to partner with The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation! While funding lasts, they’ll double every single donation to qualifying team sports projects. Even better: All day on 10/23/18, they’ll triple donations to eligible projects! Playing sports has a big impact on students. According to the US Department of Education, student-athletes are four times more likely to
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3 Ways Teachers Engage Families in Classroom Life (and How You Can, Too)

Ali Austerlitz is a former Pre-K teacher and current DonorsChoose.org Partnerships Director. As teachers, we rarely have the chance to watch one another in action, to learn from colleagues innovating in their classrooms. That’s why we’re excited to work with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create space for that collaboration. This past fall, we worked with the Gates Foundation to launch the Teaching and Learning Engaging Families innovation challenge, a call for educators’ very best ideas to connect parents with their students’ learning. Thirty judges from our teacher community rated every submitted project, and their frontline wisdom helped
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How Learning to Code Brought this Math Teacher’s Class to the Next Level

As a 6th grade teacher, Takia Toomer spends a lot of time speaking at the front of the classroom. Last fall, she got a chance to speak in a very different venue: The White House Computer Science for All Summit. How did Ms. Toomer end up in Washington D.C.? Her story begins with a DonorsChoose.org professional development project, matched by our friends at Infosys Foundation USA. She shared the full tale on their blog, and we’ve pulled out our favorite quotes below. We recently launched a new match offer supported by Infosys to help 6th-12th grade teachers attend computer science
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Professional Development Funding Helps Teachers Soar

“It’s amazing, even when you’ve taught for as long as I have, how much new material there is to learn!” That’s Melissa Hunt, a first-grade teacher from Blackfoot, Idaho, remarking on her experience creating Professional Development projects with DonorsChoose.org. The Professional Development project category is an opportunity for teachers to request professional development funding for tools and experiences that focus on supporting their growth as educators. While standard projects request classroom materials for students, the goal of a Professional Development project is to equip teachers with the training, materials, and resources needed to hone their craft. For Melissa and teachers like
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Get Inspired for Your Next Preschool Project

“These youngest explorers of our world thrive in environments filled with thought-provoking materials.” – Ms. Anna, NYC Preschool Teacher However excited they may be on the first day of school, new preschool students can’t quite understand the importance of the year ahead. But the significance of this moment certainly isn’t lost on their pre-K teachers. Early-childhood educators know that they have just 180 days to build a foundation that sets these students up for a lifetime of learning. If the (over 40,000!) preschool projects created on DonorsChoose.org so far prove anything, it’s that teachers are more than up to the
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How Teachers Use Flexible Classroom Seating to Help Students Succeed

The flexible classroom seating craze has swept the nation’s classrooms, and for good reason: teachers know that getting students moving during the day sets them up for academic success. We’ve seen teachers from all grade-levels and subjects excited about the benefits of flexible classroom seating, from Kindergarten to Middle School to High School. Experts are excited too. Writing in Edutopia last year, Kayla Delzer cites academic research that supports this kind of classroom setup: “Simple in-class activities can boost performance. Studies suggest that children who participate in short bouts of physical activity within the classroom have more on-task behavior, with
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Top 5 Classroom Resources Requested by Teachers This Month

Want a glimpse into classrooms across the nation? Curious what teachers need most? Looking for project ideas? Look no further. We’re counting down the top five classroom resources requested on DonorsChoose.org this month. 5. Bouncy bands Teachers tell us these flexible footrests help kids stay focused at their desks. Texas teacher Mrs. Hawk posted a project for a class set and quickly noticed the positive effects on her students. “The Bouncy Bands have been a hit since day one,” she says. “The students are still raving about how much they love the sit in their chairs and use the bands.
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Inspiration for Your Next Elementary Literacy & Language Project

What do Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and so many other famously successful people have in common? They’re all voracious readers. And who deserves credit for those awesome reading habits? We’ll lay the praise at the feet of their elementary teachers. There’s plenty of research that shows the importance of reading at a young age, but this OECD report sums it up well: Reading is a prerequisite for success in life. A lifetime love of literacy starts in elementary school, as those young readers go from sounding-out the words in picture books to processing complex young-adult novels. Whether it’s
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