DonorsChoose.org is a Web site that lets teachers seek donations for classroom or project supplies. The site made news last week when Stephen Colbert announced he would help fund all 1,000 requests from his native South Carolina - about $800,000 in all.
Boston teachers currently have 103 requests in the system.
A special-needs teacher at the Curley School in Jamaica Plain is seeking $876 to purchase devices to help her autistic first-time students learn to communicate:
The student's in my classroom have difficulties with communication. They are considered to be nonverbal and are working on increasing their communication skills. We are already using picture exchange communication systems through out their educational day. I would like to start adding voice output devices to assist in my students' development of language. Using these devices allows my students to become active members of the educational environment. The devices I have selected are all part of the Go Talk series. It pairs a visual with a vocal. This will help my students to build their vocabulary. Using a device with an auditory output provides another form of sensory feedback for my students. The device will help develop both receptive and expressive language skills. Using the Go Talk deices allows my students to “talk” and experience the reciprocal relationship of communication.
Several teachers are seeking help to buy challenging books for their students to read. Several are seeking Chromebooks - in a system that announced last year it was buying thousands of the devices.
One teacher at the Martin Luther King Jr. School in Dorchester got some Chromebooks through an earlier campaign on DonorsChoose.org, but is now seeking help to buy computer mice and earphones for them:
We are in an urban district where technology is hard to come by. My students love learning, and now that we are using computers everyday, the participation has increased. We spend about 75% of the day on the computers researching, typing papers, and even doing our math problems. When my students need a synonym, they google it. When we are reading about an animal they have never heard of, they google it. One student is even making a PowerPoint presentation on the John Hancock building just because he was interested in it! ...
Since the students are new to technology, the mouse on the computer is difficult for them to use. I would like them to have the experience of using a mouse and learning all of the functions of right clicking! We are also in need of headphones because the PARCC end of year test requires students to learn from videos. Having the headphones would also allow students to listen to peaceful music while they are doing their work. Having a calm classroom environment helps learning so much!
Some of the requests seem surprising - like the one for help obtaining papers, pencils, crayons and glue from a fourth-grade teacher at the Ellis Mendel School in Roxbury:
We have minimal resources for supplies but our teachers work extremely hard to give our students everything we can. Our school has a warm and welcoming community and strives to cultivate a positive and safe learning environment for all students. ...
My students will use the pencils, crayons and glue everyday to complete work and projects.
A music teacher at the Quincy Upper School would love some help obtaining a Swiffer WetJet and a Dirt Devil vacuum:
We play instruments in our room and with that comes numerous students entering and exiting and the dreaded emptying of spit valves. Our room is rarely swept and mopped, and the salt and sand (thank you New England Winter), mud, and spit from instruments is beginning to take a toll on our floor. It definitely isn't sanitary and makes it difficult for children with asthma to breathe.