“If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
-- Ignacio Estrada

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


I have heard a lot about the site Donor's Choose. I know several 'friends' (education connections around the US) who have posted projects on the site. I didn't have much time to explore the site until now…along with a little nudge from a representative from Horace Mann Foundation who spoke at a recent staff meeting.

Click HERE to visit our class Donor's Choose page.

Well, I have posted my first project as of 10:45pm 12/3/2013 and now we must wait to see if it will be approved. (If you click on the link before it is approved, you won't be able to read anything and the only option is to donate to a 'future' project.) After approval, Donor's Choose will allow individuals to donate to the project. It will be posted for up to 4 months, but figures crossed it gets funded before then. As I complete the form, I was bummed that I wasn't able to give a full picture of our great classroom and highlight the students in the way I would have liked. With the being said, I thought that I would post my full "tell us about your classroom and project" answers that I was forced to condense for the actual proposal.

Parents, do not feel obligated to donate. I am posting because I believe in sharing all aspects of the classroom with you and I want you to know the exciting things that are happening at Evendale.

If you are a visitor to our class blog, first of all, thank you for visiting and taking the time to read about us. Also, please consider taking a peek at our first project (hoping to make it projects, plural, very soon) and help support my wonderful students. If you have any questions, feel free to comment. I am still new to this and I am sure their will be a slight learning curve. Thanks for your patience and continued support.

12/4/13 ~ UPDATE: The project is LIVE!! Use code DISNEY and Disney will matching donated funds! Thanks in advance!!

Here is my non-condensed version:

Introduce us to your classroom

"If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we need to teach the way they learn." ~Ignacio Estrada
 All students deserve access to 21st century tools to prepare them for their future. Some students will use these tools to practice skills. Some students will use these tool to create and express what they know. Some student many even begin to use these tools as their voice. In many ways, increasing technology use within the classroom can provide these students with life long skills.

Take a peek inside our classroom. In many ways, our classroom is the same as an elementary classroom. We have reading group where we are working on identifying information from a text and understanding main idea. We play with our friends. We learn to write our name. We have math group where we learn how to count. What you might notice when you take a peek is that we are accessing the curriculum and school environment in various ways. Some of us need adapted seating, such as a wheelchair. Some of us need access to adapted writing materials, such a pencil grips or a keyboard. Some of us need access to technology to practice our skills or as a means of communication.

Tell us more about your students.

Let me tell you a little bit about my students. They are funny. They laugh when I make a mistake. They giggle when a friend gets in trouble. They will try and play tricks on me. They are loveable. They are always willing to give a hug or pat when someone is sad or hurt. They know when they need a squeeze and will ask. They are bright. They show the potential to learn and are exciting about learning.  They express curiosity and love to explore new things. They know what they want, they just need some help on how to express that. They often struggle with simple, everyday tasks such as walking, getting dressed, or expressing their needs.

Our school is quite a unique place. We are a small suburban school, which truly provides the best education for ALL students. ALL students as expected to achieve to their highest potential. Students are included with their grade level peers as well as provided a variety of intervention services. In our school, students are met were they are and pushed to reach their fullest potential. With this wonderful elementary school is an extra-special classroom that supports students with moderate to severe educational needs in Kindergarten and First Grade.

For some students within our classroom, this can be quite struggle as they have many challenges. Most of the students within the classroom are non-verbal and we are working on exploring different communication options to best meet their needs. Classroom activities and academic tasks are modified to provide the students ways to express what they know. Physical limitations are also seen within the classroom. Students require adapted seating arrangements and various fine motor supports. We work hard at balancing both the academic and personal skills of ALL the students.

Describe how your students will use the materials you're requesting.

With the many challenges my students face (limited motor skills, vision issues, hearing issues), access to technology and appropriate, meaningful activities has been limited. Since the increase of mobile technology, a new world has been opened for my students. The touch technology not only provides the students with immediate feedback, it also allows them to engage in activities that they may have been reluctant to try. With the advent of the new iOS7 operating system and the ‘switch access’ portion of the accessibility features makes the iOS devices even more promising for my students.

For this project, we are looking to gain an iPad mini with a protective case. This resource will provide so many possibilities within the classroom. Looking at the native applications on the iPad mini, such as camera, the students will be able to document things that happen throughout the school day and share with parents through email. The camera can also be used to add photos to our photo blog that we have for the classroom. We would be able to use the video function to provide video modeling opportunities to students who can benefit from that technique. The facetime feature (as well as skype app) can be used to video-conference with other classrooms.

In addition to the native apps, the plethora of academic apps available for the iPad mini can help provide individualized content to provide remediation, practice, and extension of various skills. Although academic skills are a focus, the iPad mini can also provide opportunities to support life skills such as calculator skills, using a daily schedule, or using the device to help communicate their needs. The protective case is a must add to this project due to the physical limitations of the students. The case included in this project provides protections from drops (which often happen with students who have limited motor skills), water-resistant cover (for some students who are challenged with oral motor skills and sometime drool on the device), ability to easily disinfect the iPad which is a MUST in a school setting as well as with students who also have medical needs.

Adding an iPad mini to the classroom will help support all learners from academic to daily living skills. The students will learn valuable skills that will support their academic growth as well as begin the foundation for skills to help them become productive members of the community.

Close by sharing why your project will make a difference.

Donations for this project will help improved classroom instruction by providing the students opportunities to practice and learn new skills in format that is accessible to all students. For some students, the use of this technology will provide them with additional support for their academic goals. For some students, this project will provide an avenue to show what they know, by drawing or taking pictures. For some students, this project could open up a world of communication for them by providing them with opportunities to explore various communication options.

We are living in a world of every changing technology. The experience of using an iPad mini will help build the foundation for the students in which other skills can be built. Can I say that it will totally shape their future? No, the students are too young and are always amazing me with their abilities. What I can say is that with a teacher who understands the appropriate use of technology as well as knowledge of her students’ strengths AND students who are willing to work 110% to achieve their potential, the completion of this project can be a small step into creating a better future for a class of amazing students.


  1. Hi Melanie! The community you have built on your blog is so lovely. I wanted to reach out because I am the community manager for the USC Rossier School of Education. Today is the last day to enter a blogger link up contest for classroom supplies. I see that you are raising funds for your classroom and I was wondering if you would be interested in submitting your post into our contest. We are looking for classrooms that have a genuine need for additional supplies, and I feel that your classroom is a fit for this contest. The reality is that the average teacher spends $485 out of pocket for classroom supplies each year. The #ClassroomProject gives a voice to educators who are spending money out of pocket. This is an exciting contest for K-12 teacher bloggers to win one of 30 prizes that total more than $3,000 to purchase classroom supplies You can click here for more information: http://rossieronline.usc.edu/the-classroom-project-classroom-supplies-for-teachers-contest/ or feel free to reach out to me directly at erika.phyall@usc.edu. Thank you so much for sharing about your classroom with us, and I hope you join The Classroom Project!


    Erika Phyall
    USC Campaign Manager

  2. Melanie,

    Thank you for giving DonorsChoose.org a try, and for writing this post! We loved reading about your students and what makes them special.

    Good luck on your current projects!

    All the best,
    Margie, DonorsChoose.org Marketing Team

  3. Margie, Thank you for stopping by our class blog!! I am excited that I finally have time to explore Donors Choose. I am extra excited that my first project has been funded!! Thank you for supporting teachers as well as bringing teachers together to support each other!