"If you build it, they will come." - Field of Dreams
You've designed a nurturing learning environment, and have developed a dynamic library program, but you still haven't been able to connect with some of your colleagues. Most likely you've been told that these teachers don't have the time, but it could be that they aren't ready to leave their comfort zone. When I was a middle school librarian, I was fortunate that our school had study hall periods, and most 6th graders had study halls built into their schedules. This gave me the opportunity to work with students who wanted to visit the library on their own time. With a flexible middle school schedule, library visitations were with by student choice or scheduled by classroom teachers.
Each kit included a Flipgrid QR code so the students could record their reflections while using the hands-on activity and/or reading the book. In this way, many more students and their teachers learned about the library program and the other activities we had to offer. Here are some suggestions for creating your own interactive mobile STEAM and literacy kits:
Remember...if you build it, they might not come. So, go out to them!
Student Book Recommendations, Microsoft "Choose to Code," Earth Day, Virtual Field Trips, DonorsChoose
MY TOP TEN TRICKS
1. Always have a project up. You never know who might fund it.
2. Take advantage of matches, promo codes, and partner funding opportunities (student-led, financial literacy, environmental awareness, Quill). Pay attention to the details.
3. Prime times are at the end of the summer and December.
4. Check your email and the blog for new opportunities: http://www.donorschoose.org/blog
5. Promote your project, especially during the first week, for extra funding.
6. Donate to your own project first to get the ball rolling.
7. Don’t use too much jargon. Speak the language that a donor will understand.
8, Say “thank you.” Have your students write thank-you cards either handwritten or typed. Your thank you notes are a reflection of you, your students, and your school. Express your thanks through social media.
9. Be patient. Your first project will probably be funded very quickly. Your others might not. The more you market, the more likely it will be funded.
10. Browse through other teacher’s projects to get ideas for your own project.
CREATIVE MARKETING STRATEGIES
1. Twitter (add appropriate hashtags and handles: @donorschoose, #donorschoose, subject-specific organizations, companies)
2. Facebook groups, Remind101, emails, student learning management systems,
Back to School and parent-teacher conference flyers.
3. Donate to other projects. Become a part of a community of donors.
4. Share, showcase, and then ask for funding. Share some great teaching resources, links, or teaching ideas. Showcase what your students are doing in your classroom. Explain how donors can further support your mission.
5. Many teachers leverage the power of social media through Facebook and Twitter to share their DonorsChoose projects, but here ways that you can enhance your marketing.
a. One "old school" ways is to create flyers, but who has the time? Use http://printandshare.org to quickly and easily create flyers to send home with your students and to give to parents during Open House and conferences.
b. A "new school" way is to combine web tools. I like to use https://www.edu.buncee.com to create a digital flyer that I can share with parents and community members through https://www.remind.com. Then people who receive my message through their email or text can instantly visit my project page to donate.
c. A picture is worth a thousand words, so use more pictures! Create collages of pictures using the PicCollage app or kick it up a notch and insert video using the PicPlayPost app. If you don't have permission to share pictures or videos of your students, show pictures of the items you are requesting . For example, who knows what a Hokki stool is?
As I reflect on how my library program has evolved over the years, I must take a moment to thank visionary Charles Best, CEO of DonorsChoose. When I began creating the makerspace in my library two years ago, the only supplies that I had were yoghurt containers, cardboard, and bottle caps that I had saved over the summer. Now my students have access to iPads, Chromebooks, Dash and Dot, MiP, Ozobots, Osmo, a 3D printer, a drone, duct tape, a Cricut vinyl cutter, and supplies to transform trash into treasure. With your help I have also been able to transform our makerspace into a fun, inviting place for kids not only to learn, but to express themselves and to make friends. Here are some pictures of people who have visited our makerspace over the past two years:
I was so excited to have the chance to meet Katie Vallas at the DonorsChoose office in NYC. Having a tour of the office and meeting these wonderful people behind the scenes was a dream come true for me.
Kristina A. Holzweiss
Ed Tech School Librarian