Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Donorschoose.org - How did I ever teach music without it?

I'm currently right in the middle of my 13th year as a music teacher 10 years at my first school and  2.5 years into teaching at my current school.  And Ya'll I wish that I had found out about donorschoose.org a long time ago!

I FINALLY discovered donorschoose.org 2.5 years ago when I moved to my current school.  Everybody knows that any time you move, there are things that you loose from where you've been and things that you gain where you are going.  Well, at my previous school, I was seriously attached to my easel.......My easel was the focus of just about all of my teaching and since it had wheels, I would just drag it along behind me as I moved around the room....... it was GREAT!  When I moved, I wanted to take it with me so badly, but since I'm not a thief, my easel and I said our goodbyes and I went on my way.

Boy!  Did I miss that easel!!!!!
I'd find myself in a teachable moment and I'd look around my room for an easel that was only in my imagination..... it was just dreadful..... I felt like I was experiencing easel withdrawals.......I was also new enough to the school that I didn't want to be pesty with my requests for materials.  I wanted to save my requests for the real important stuff and since it was "just" an easel, I held my peace.

Until finally over Spring Break of that year, I did some research on my district website and found out that donorschoose.org was approved by our grants department.  YIPPEE!!!   (now what?)

Well, I found the website and started reading...... I fully explored the site so that I could get an idea of how things worked and then I submitted my first project.  I bet you can guess what I requested!!!!!

You are right!  AN EASEL!!!

My request for an easel was fully funded within 48 hours of posting!

Since that first project I have requested multiple projects.  Compared with other grant opportunities, the "extra" work is minimal.  All I have to do when I am blessed enough to have a project funded is to provide thank-you notes to the donors created by my students and provide photographs of my students benefiting from the materials.

Donorschoose.org is especially attractive if you are a music teacher like me who seriously dislikes the added responsibility of fund raisers.  My favorite part is that through donorschoose.org I never ever never ever have to deal with the money or purchasing.  Donorschoose.org handles everything.

Donorschoose.org requires that potential projects use vendors that they have partnerships with.  However, if materials that you are requesting are not available through one of their vendors, you can still request the items by creating a "special" project.  

My best advice for people considering submitting a project to donorschoose.org is to plan ahead.  There are tons of items that would benefit your classroom at any time.  If you are at an older school, chances are that you are still relying on equipment that is super old...... some of my instruments were rusted and virtually ruined by decades of lovingly hard use in the music classroom.  

Here are some pictures of some of the projects that have been funded for my classroom.... all in less than 2 years!  

1 grade level set of recorders

Music teachers need school supplies too! Folders, pencils, crayons

unpitched percussion instruments

recorder stands

recorder method books

gathering drums

hand drums

music staff lap boards, dry erase markers and erasers

1 years subscription to Music Express Magazine

2nd set  of recorders....
now I can teach recorder to two grade levels at once

book bins for our growing class library

classroom guitar for the teacher

guitar song book for the teacher

composer biographies

mallets galore! 

several sizes of cymbals

lots and lots of headphones and headphone splitters

For more information about donorschoose.org or to check out my classroom's project page, please feel free to visit......http://www.donorschoose.org/bmcspadden


  1. I'm going to have to give that a try! Our school needs new xylophones!

  2. I've got a project up right now for a bass xylophone. Ours was very old and the last time we used it before Christmas a very careful student tried putting it away and it toppled. It was totally broken to bits and un-repairable. We are already half funded.