Sunday, September 13, 2015

DonorsChoose...Tips and Tricks!

All of my teaching career has been spent in Title 1 schools. Unfortunately, most of the schools that need the most, have the least. I found out about DonorsChoose in 2011 and have had 25 projects funded, totaling over $14,500! It is insane to think about everything my class has received and the difference it has made in their learning. As teachers, we spend so much of our own money on things from pencils and paper to iPads. It is nice to have something like DonorsChoose to help offset what we spend as teachers and still get amazing supplies for our students.

About Donors Choose is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom projects requests on the site, and anyone can give any amount to help fund the project. You can create a project for things you and your students need. Anyone (including businesses) can donate to your project. Once your project is funded, your materials are sent to your school. Remember, it is completely free for teachers! Click HERE to learn more and see how to sign up!

My Experience with DonorsChoose
As I stated before, I have had 25 projects funded and they totaled over $14,500. I have received items for classroom supplies, Leap Frog items, tons of books, a globe, math and reading center games, 4 iPads, and even a Chromebook. My highest funded project was $1,430 and it included pretty much everything I would need to teach Science that year.

Tips and Tricks
Since I have completed over 25 projects, I have found out the basics of Donors Choose and have accumulated some pretty good tips.

1. Title- When you create your project it is important to put a catchy title. I like little phrases to draw readers in to my project. It is just like what we teach our students for their writing! Some of my favorite titles have been, Leap into Reading, Show Me the Money - Learning About Finances, Creating STEM Scholars, and What is Financial Literacy? Titles are important, it is the first thing a reader will see when looking at your project so draw them in!

2. Opening Sentence- Another important part is the starting sentence for your project. DonorsChoose suggests quotes or questions... I agree. I will normally asks a question or use an educational quote. It gives the reader an idea of what your project will be about and once again, it draw them in.

3. Cost ($500)- It can be so exciting shopping for your project but it is important to remember the statistics. The average cost of a funded project is $673 and the average donor gives $58. I recommend keeping your project around $500. I have had larger projects funded but it is difficult and doesn't happen often.

4. Take Your Time- When you are writing your project, take your time. People donate to projects that they feel are from the heart. They want to help projects that they truly see that students need. It is important to write from the heart and check your spelling errors!

5. Realistic- This kind of goes along with cost, but remember to be realistic. A project over $2000 probably won't be funded. A project asking for a bunch of iPads will probably be overlooked. However, you can ask for an iPad along with other things like books or supplies. People are more likely to donate to things over than technology. Projects relating to books, music, art, math, and science are funded most often.

6. "PIMP" Your Project- I linked my DonorsChoose account to my Facebook. Anytime I post a project, get a donation, or get a project funded, it automatically posts to my Facebook. This has helped me get countless donations. Family members and friends see the need in my class and want to help out. Sometimes it is $5 or $50 but it doesn't matter, any amount helps! If you are in a school with high parental involvement, share the page with your parents. They can send it out to their friends and family as well!

7. Quality Thank Yous- After your project is funded, you are required to write a little thank you (online) and post pictures. When I first started, I was so heartfelt with my letters and wrote way more than required. Due to this, I had the same people fund more and more of my projects because they saw how much it meant to the students and me! Unfortunately, I got busy and my letters weren't as good as they good have been and I saw the change with my projects getting funded.

8. *MY BIGGEST TIP* Match Offers- When I first started, I tried to get projects funded without Match Offers. It isn't impossible, but it is really difficult! Match Offers are companies or foundations partner with DonorsChoose to give 50% off of your project! So if your project is $500, the Match Offer will take it to $250. There are rules you have to follow to get this, but they are simple. You can see the current offers by looking at the Partner Funding Opportunities page and looking for your state. I live in Florida and right now there are 6 Match Offer opportunities currently available! Out of my 25 projects, 24 have been funded with Match Offers!
There used to be Almost Home Offers where your project would drop from whatever cost to $90 if it met the qualifications. However, I haven't seen any of those since 2012.
Also check out for match codes, these codes are what people can put it in when funding your project. The codes normally double the donation up to $100.

I hope this helps you get started with DonorsChoose or get more projects funded for your classrooms. If you have any other questions, just ask!


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Back to School Sale on TpT!

I can't believe it is that time already.... back to school is just around the corner!

I have been working on things through out the summer but now it is crunch time. It is time for the Back to School Sale on Teachers Pay Teachers. My entire store will be discounted up to 28%! Yes, everything!! The sale will run from August 3 - August 4. You can get some great things for the new school year. It is a great time to get some of those things you have been eyeing or have been saved on your wish list!

You can see all my products HERE!

- Kate

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Moving On Up.....

So, I am moving up to fourth grade!
This blog has been Anchoring Down in Second, Third, and now Fourth Grade!
I am going to be looping up with my third graders so it should be fun. I have never taught fourth grade but I am excited for this new adventure.

In honor of moving on up, I created a new product for myself and my TpT.
I hate having my standards on 12 different pages so I created all the 4th grade LAFS and MAFS on 4 pages (2 back to back). I color coordinated it and it will be so much easier to read and find the standard I am looking for. I added the complexity level as well!

Here is a preview of what it looks like.

You can find the product HERE!

Friday, July 3, 2015

TpT Seller Challenge: Week 3

I am so late posting this week. I have been so busy with online PD classes but I have finished my masterpiece for this week.

I had been working on Science Fusion vocabulary cards and I finally finished them. They are specific to 4th grade but can really be used in 2-5. I think they look really good and I am excited for how it turned out! You can check out my product HERE.

Check out my masterpiece HERE


Go ahead and check out what other teachers have done for this week! 


Follow my Blog on BlogLovin!

Follow me on Pinterest!

-- Kate

Monday, June 29, 2015

Erin Condren Deluxe Notebook

So, I posted about my Plum Planner here and it wasn't exactly what I had hoped for. I thought it would be what I wanted but it ended up being too thick and it just wasn't for me. I went on the hunt again. I knew I didn't want an Erin Condren Teacher Planner because I had it in the past and I didn't use it enough due to my school's policies for lesson plans. I looked at the Life Planners and it just didn't seem like what I needed.

I found the Deluxe Notebooks while browsing through Erin's website. I was hoping this would be exactly what I wanted. The notebook has so many pages for PLCs, Data Meetings, PD, etc. I knew it would be perfect for keeping all my notes in one page. However, I needed a calendar. I realized I didn't need a subject and day by day calendar but a simple overview of each month would be sufficient.

The Deluxe Notebooks have some options you can add. I got a Deluxe Notebook and added a calendar option. Before the calendar add on, the price of the notebook is $35 or $40 (depends on the size). If you choose to add the calendar, you add $15. All of the notebooks come with interchangeable covers. You can pick the cover you want and then create new ones in the future and just switch them out. You have the choice between two sizes - 7" x 9" or 8.5" x 11" (I got the 8.5 x 11- add $5 for $40 cost of just the notebook). The notebook also includes a folder, zip pouch, snap in ruler, and 2 sheets of blank stickers.  I also added two section dividers. The dividers were key for me. I got one for school and one for personal. I split the notebook up and kept about 1/4 for personal and 3/4 for school. This was key for me. I wanted something that I could use for at home and at work. The dividers have a wipe off back which are great for checklists.

Overall, I think this is what is going to work best for me for home and work.

- Remember everything from section dividers to covers can be customized at Erin Condren!

-- You can save $10 on your first purchase from Erin Condren by signing up using THIS LINK! 

Now onto the fun part - pictures!!

Front Cover

Inside the Front Cover with ruler

Example of the Calendar Spread

Example of the Notes page after each monthly spread

My two Section Dividers -  Personal with a quote and School with grade, school name, and year

The back of each section divider is a wipe off board 

Back two-sided pocket folder 

Other side of the pocket folder and a little clear pouch

Back Cover

*Remember: You can save $10 on your first purchase from Erin Condren by signing up using THIS LINK! 


Monday, June 22, 2015

TpT Seller Challenge: Week 2

Week 1 of the TpT Seller Challenge is over and now it is on to Week 2! Week 1 was a lot of fun. I redid one of my best selling products.

Week 2 is all about dreams - Dare to Dream.

I was super excited about this week's challenge. Here are my hopes and dreams for my TpT business!

Pay Off Our Wedding- Josh and I are getting married in November 2015. We are paying for the entire wedding ourselves. Our goal is to have the entire thing paid off before the wedding. I am hoping that TpT can help us do that. 

Travel- I love to travel. I grew up in a household with a teacher and we always traveled during the summer. Josh and I are continuing that with each other. We want to travel to Europe especially. 

Debt- While we do not have much debt, we do have car payments and my student loans. My goal is to get my car paid off and all my student loans. We would be much happier without these large payments each month!

Save- Josh and I have a new house but we want to save money for some home improvements. There are some must haves we want to do in this house. We do not have kids yet and I am not sure if I would want to stay home permanently once we do, but I would love the option. 


Check out my fellow blogger's dreams!  

Peppy Zesty Teacherista


Follow my Blog on BlogLovin!

Follow me on Pinterest!

-- Kate

Monday, June 15, 2015

TpT Seller Challenge: Week 1

I was somewhat apprehensive about taking the challenge. I don't have a Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter... I just have my simple blog and my personal Pinterest. However, I am excited to see the outcome!

Here is the challenge breakdown:

Here is the challenge for Week 1:

I decided to revamp my best seller - Root Beer Float Science Inquiry Lesson Plan! 
I am super excited about how it looks now! 

If you are interested in this product, click here. 
You can also check out how I did the lesson in my class by clicking here.


Go ahead and check out what other teachers have done for this week! 

Peppy Zesty Teacherista                                    


Follow my Blog on BlogLovin!

Follow me on Pinterest!

-- Kate

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

STEM Day - Building a Catapult

Before the end of the year, my students participated in STEM Day. The whole day was dedicated to this STEM activity. I will give you a brief overview of the day and how it incorporated reading, math, and science. The kids had a blast and was overall a great experience.

We started the experiment by brainstorming what a catapult was and reading an article. We watched a video of different catapults that people built and launched for a pumpkin launching contest. The kids really started getting intrigued.We went over the Engineering Design Process and then did a little brain teaser to get them ready.

Marshmallow Shooter- I gave each student a cup, ballon, and scissors. I told them to cut the bottom of the cup. Here is when it got interesting. Some students cut the whole bottom off and some just cut the inside. The whole point is for them to do it on their own and make mistakes. Then the cut the top off the balloon and attached it to the cup. Here some students realized they cut the balloon to big or cut too much off the cup. It was a great thing for them to see how one little mistake can change the outcome. I gave them marshmallows and they launched them. Some went far and some didn't go at all. I gave them time to discuss with their groups why some people were more successful than others.

Here are some pictures of the students creating and launching their marshmallow shooters.

After this, I explained how they were going to create their own catapult with different materials. I showed them their materials and explained that they would have $500 to spend on materials. All the materials had different dollar amounts. Before they worked with a group, they designed their own catapult. After the individual designs were completed, they shared as a group and then decided on the best design to go with. Once they agreed, they had to decide on the materials needed and add them up. I gave them $500 in play money to help with this. Most groups spend under $400 in case they needed more. I gave them no direction in this, they just decided on their own. 

Here are the available materials and some pictures of their designs. 

Once I approved their design and they paid for their materials, it was time to build their catapult! Their goal was to build a catapult that could launch a marshmallow the furthest. 

Here are their final products.

Now it was time to launch the catapults! The groups didn't have much success. After launching a few times, they went back to the drawing board to fix why their catapults didn't work very well. They could use the same materials or buy more if they had any remain change left from the $500. Once they redesigned and launched again, all catapults went further! The students learned so much and more importantly, learned that making mistakes is ok and a part of life.

Here are some videos of the catapults.


You can truly see how much fun the kids had!

-- Kate