Social and emotional learning and coding are among the top classroom trends that teachers needed help funding last year, according to an analysis of 2018 project requests from the DonorsChoose platform.

Teachers dip into their own pockets to fund classroom projects and buy supplies, and as it turns out, others are happy to donate, too–to the tune of more than $170 million last year. Since its creation in 2000, more than 3.5 million people and partners have donated an astounding $780 million through DonorsChoose.org to help teachers pay for the projects and experiences they want to give their students.

In 2018 alone, 52,000 schools–more than half of all U.S. public schools–received classroom project donations through the giving platform. Seventy-three percent of project requests on the site are from schools where more than half of students receive free or reduced lunch. Overall, in 2018, more than 600,000 donors gave $171 million to fund 274,000 classroom projects.

DonorsChoose analyzed its 2018 teacher requests and needs and identified trends in an effort to shed light on ways education spending could be smarter and more efficient.

Books were the most commonly-requested resource, followed by computers and tablets, educational kits and games, reading nooks/desks and storage, instructional technology, and flexible seating.

Top findings about 2018 classroom trends and project requests include:

1. Project creation in rural areas increased.​ In 2018, DonorsChoose.org saw a large spike in teachers posting projects for the first time, particularly among teachers in rural areas. Schools in rural areas saw a 53 percent growth in teachers creating their first projects, compared to 37 percent growth among schools in urban areas. This demonstrates how rural teachers are often faced with limited budgets or funding sources, and how they’re using the online resources available to them and thinking globally as they fund local school projects.

2. Teachers are increasingly interested in STEM education and computer science. Mirroring the increasing focus on STEM education nationwide, requests for applied science projects have continued to trend upward. Applied Science projects accounted for 13 percent of all requests in 2018, up from 10 percent in 2016. This trends reflects a growing sentiment that computer science is a critical component of STEM education, not just for coding and programming skills, but for the soft skills it imparts, such as problem solving and creativity. Maybe these teacher requests indicate a boost in national computer science participation–across 24 states, just 35 percent of high schools in the U.S. teach computer science. Minority, rural, and economically disadvantaged students are even less likely to go to a school offering computer science.

3. Teachers and donors are focused on supporting the “whole child” and school climate enhancement. ​Social and emotional learning is recognized as an increasingly important part of students’ education, and projects mentioning this topic increased by 100 percent in 2018. It is such a major focus these days that many schools outline important steps educators can take as they implement social and emotional learning, while others say it is important to involve parents in social and emotional learning, too.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura


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