We’ve mentioned the web site DonorsChoose a number of times.  This is where teachers describe a project they are trying to fund, the things they need and how much it will all cost.  I highly recommend you taking a look at it.  You can search by state and by city and see what teachers in your area need.  I have helped with a number of these.

I just came across a write up by an Alabama teacher that especially caught my eye.  I do not know this teacher, but I know the very rural, south Alabama system she works in well.  Like many such systems, there are not many students and even less money for extras.

The teacher’s note struck me for its sincerity and for the fact that the supplies she needs are so basic.

I cut and paste some of what she wrote.

“My students need supplies in the resource room to help complete activities to broaden their receptive language, expressive language, articulation skills, and social interaction with peers and teachers.

I am the Speech Language Pathologist for sixty four amazing and wonderful children. I serve students in four schools, the Headstart, and the Child Count students (primarily preschool). I have eight self contained special needs (non – verbal, very limited speech, ID, ASD, and other syndromes) , fifteen related service students (SLD, ASD, and ID), and forty three primary students (apraxia, phonological processing errors, articulation -severe to mild, stuttering (fluency), and language delayed.

All of my speech students deserve a way to communicate and provide a “voice” that is understandable by most, when their words fail them.
I am seeking basic classroom supplies to provide the opportunity to use another form of communication. It has been my experience that children can draw to express things, when their words won’t come to them. It provides opportunities for children to express themselves more effectively. Drawings can have pictures of words with the targeted sounds which allow “carryover” practice. It allows a child the opportunity to practice conversational exchanges even if only answering yes and no questions. It will allow the student an opportunity to relay a story from their day at school. It is another form of communication.

These items will enable my students to have supplies readily available in the resource room to enhance language, articulation, fluency, and overall communication. Art projects enable them to employ their auditory processing skills by following directions to complete a project. They help build a better understanding of basic “direction” words and phrases by application. Most of my students learn better with hands-on activities. It provides the opportunity to enhance and broaden their vocabulary receptively and expressively. It provides opportunities for my to children to practice asking questions and making statements that are grammatically correct. Often non-verbal children and limited speech children can and do draw. Drawing allows communication to be enhanced.

These basic items will provide a wealth of opportunity to discover new experiences and ways to communicate with others.
The young ones will benefit from the large crayons to color their pictures and designs. It will enable them to work on colors, shapes, lines, and numbers with applied knowledge. The triangle crayons will allow the special needs students to work on their “pincer” grasp while coloring like their peers. The markers and index cards allow them the opportunity to make flashcards on the language and/or articulation skills to promote “carryover” outside of the Speech Resource Room. Art projects made from the construction paper will allow the students to know the sense of accomplishment in creating items, which will enhances their self-esteem. It also provides opportunity for the students to extend “carryover” of the communication skills; when they take their projects home. We all have drawn something at one time or another to enhance and clarify understanding of the topic being discussed. These basics are the foundation to begin working on their language, fluency (stuttering), and articulation skills to improve basic communication.”

And what are the “basic” supplies she needs.  Such things as index cards, colored paper, Crayolas, scissors, ballpoint pens, glue sticks, shipping tape and construction paper.  The kind of things most of us have stuck in cabinets and closets.

Total cost: $509.87

No electronics.  No robots to be programed.  No 3-D printers to hum and whir.  No software.  Just paper and things to mark with and clue to hold it all together.

This is the real world of education today in many, many places.  A very different world than the folks at the Alabama Policy Institute claim has all the resources they need.