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What 1 Million Classroom Projects Reveal About What Teachers Need Most


The DonorsChoose.org community hit a huge milestone recently: Funding our first million classroom projects. That means a million times teachers opened boxes of new supplies for their students, and a million times compassionate supporters stepped up for education. It also reveals a lot about what teachers need for their classrooms.Here are five ways education has changed since 2000, as told through DonorsChoose.org project requests.

Technology: Meet The New Classroom Essentials

Graph of technology projects on DonorsChoose.org

We asked teachers about the most critical resource needs for their classrooms. Their top answer? Technology.Since 2008, requests for technology have skyrocketed, now making up 20–30% of all projects on DonorsChoose.org. Teachers cite a few common reasons why laptops and tablets have become the new classroom essentials:

  • Giving individual attention to students who are struggling
  • Reaching disengaged learners through a medium in which they are comfortable
  • Supporting students who don't have access to technology at home
  • Making sure kids are ready for the modern, tech-centered working world

Reports of Books’ Demise are Greatly Exaggerated

Growth of book projects on DonorsChoose.org

People declared the print book dead long before the digital age, and once e-readers came onto the scene, it seemed like they might have a point. As the graph above shows, e-books might make headlines, but print books still dominate their digital counterparts in America’s classrooms.Looking through the historical DonorsChoose.org “bestseller” list, it’s clear that teachers are the real trendsetters. Before The Hunger Games was an international phenomenon, it was the top-ordered book on DonorsChoose.org. And before Wonder hit theaters, it was in classrooms across the country.

The Rise (and Wobble) of Flexible Seating

Growth of flexible seating projects on DonorsChoose.org

Take a look at a list of recently funded DonorsChoose.org projects, and it’s hard to miss evidence of the flexible seating boom.But wobble stools and bean bag chairs aren’t just a fad: Getting kids moving during the day in one form or another has positive outcomes for both health and learning. Teacher Kayla Delzer writes in Edutopia: “Simple in-class activities can boost performance. Studies suggest that children who participate in short bouts of physical activity within the classroom have more on-task behavior, with the best improvement seen in students who are least on-task initially.”

Did Smartphones Kill the Classroom Camera?

Decline of camera requests on DonorsChoose.org

Why did the number of teachers requesting classroom cameras decline dramatically starting in 2010, from 6% of all DonorsChoose.org projects to under 2% now?In this smartphone-saturated era, it’s hard to remember that it was only a decade ago that having a separate camera was the norm. Teachers used cameras for all sorts of classroom activities, from yearbooks to photo lessons, or just to show parents what their kids were working on at school. But as smart phones took over and everyone suddenly had a quality camera in their pocket, the dedicated classroom camera lost its place.

Teachers Meet Basic Needs

Growth of warmth, care, and hunger projects on DonorsChoose.org

An incredible 84% of teachers in our country’s highest poverty schools have bought essential items like warm clothing, food, and hygiene basics for their students. So it was no surprise that these projects have become more and more popular on DonorsChoose.org.The educational benefits are clear: Students who have their basic needs met pay more attention in class and have higher self esteem. That’s why we created a new category of projects, “Warmth, Care, and Hunger,” to help donors find projects that meet these basic needs. Now anyone can help teachers make sure their students arrive to class fed, clothed, cared for, and ready to learn.Special thanks to our data science team for analyzing 1 million projects worth of information! Discover these trends for yourself by looking through teacher's current requests.

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