Help Uplift And Engage My Students

My name is Iris Nevins and I am looking for financial support from willing donors so that I can uplift and develop students in my 8th grade U.S. History Class. Before I explain exactly what resources I would like to purchase and the reasoning behind them, I would like to preface with a little summary of my students and how I have chosen to work with them.

I work at a Title 1 school which means that more than 40% of my students come from low-income families.

It would not be fair to suggest that students from low-income families are automatically disengaged from school or the learning process–or to suggest that my students’ parents don’t care about their children’s education. What I can say is that the average reading level of my 13 and 14 year old students is below grade level with some students reading below a 6th grade level.

Basic spelling and vocabulary is underdeveloped and so is comprehension. This means that everything from short readings to clips from films are difficult for my students to comprehend because they do not understand the vocabulary that is being used. When it comes to writing, most of my students have difficulty writing clear and legible sentences using basic grammar rules. All of this makes it difficult to teach higher-level thinking skills like critical thinking and analysis because so many basic skills are missing.

In addition to these basic skills being underdeveloped, many students have an apathetic attitude towards school. Most put in as little effort as possible and some put in no effort at all. With writing assignments, I struggle to get more than one or two paragraphs out of them. When I ask students to share their thoughts out loud with the class, most either put little effort into what they say or refuse to speak at all. I rarely give homework assignments but when I do, many students refuse to do it. And when my students begin to get low grades their parents don’t seem to be very concerned or aware.

Now, these generalizations are not entirely accurate because the students in my advanced classes do not have these issues. Most of my “advanced” students are highly engaged and put in great effort. Even those who aren’t fully engaged are at least reading, writing, and comprehending at OR above grade level. I have two “advanced” classes and three regular classes but I will focus the majority of this post on my regular classes.

In summary

  1. Issue #1 is that many students are lacking basic reading, writing, and comprehension skills.
  2. Issue # 2 is that these same students lack the motivation, organization, and self-discipline necessary to be able to improve their reading, writing, and comprehension skills.
  3. Issue # 3 is that they do not value “learning” or “growth” which makes it difficult for them to LEARN the important historical information that I am teaching.
  4. Issue # 4 is that grades have very little impact on motivation UNLESS they are in danger of failing the 8th grade.

It’s going to take time for my students to fully understand why learning is important. That is something that cannot be learned overnight. But I have found that games are a great way to motivate and inspire students to be engaged in the “learning process.”

These games require the students to complete “challenges” in a specified amount of time. They compete against each other in groups and in the process they both practice important skills and learn about history.

I have tied these games to an “Excellence Program” that rewards students for positive behavior or achievement. Students receive tickets when they make certain accomplishments and then use these tickets to make purchases (at the bottom of the page is a chart that gives more details about the Excellence Program).

The excellence tickets AND games have engaged my most difficult and challenging students in ways I had never seen before. When they get their tickets they are so excited. there’s this air of accomplishment and they look forward to the next game. For a few moments they are able to stop being disruptive or distracted. But most importantly, they are learning and they enjoy it. The excellence program is able to incentivize students in ways that grades do not but providing the prizes that the students really want costs money and that is where I need your help.


  1. Prizes: End of quarter lunch parties, Snacks, and desserts.
  2. Binders & Folders: My students struggle with organization. They don’t keep their notes or assignments organized, they forget about deadlines, and they lose assignments. When they lose assignments they’ve already started working on they give up and settle for a zero. So I am having them create “Interactive Binders” that stay in the classroom at all times. These binders will have all of their notes, reflections, and assignments in them along with a table of contents. I will also be helping them design special folders to keep track of due dates and assignment instructions. For over 4 weeks I have been asking my students to bring a binder to school so we can setup their Interactive Binders but only my advanced classes have followed through. Thus, I need to buy binders for the remaining students.
  3. Flip Chart Markers: Many of the “games” we play involve writing on flip chart paper which requires special markers that don’t run out very quickly. These markers are expensive and I need enough to last the entire school year.
  4. Excellence Tickets: I have been printing the excellence tickets myself but it is requiring a lot of paper, ink, and cutting on a WEEKLY basis. So I have decided to get 2,500 tickets made by a local printing company which turns out to be much cheaper than purchasing ink and paper.
  5. Films for After School Enrichment Program: I have asked my most challenged and under-performing students to stay after school once a week for “enrichment” activities. This program is film-based but many of the films I need have to be purchased.

The total amount that I need to fund-raise is $689.82.

Please click here to donate to my gofundme!

If you would rather donate physical prizes rather than money below is a list of things you could donate! If you need an address to send them to, shoot me an email at


  1. Gift Cards For the Students: Google Playstore, Starbucks, Game Stop, Chick-Fil-A, Chipotle, Bath & Body Works, Claire’s, Olive Garden, Golden Corral, Benihana, Cici’s Pizza, Amazon, Red Lobster, Outback, Chili’s. (based on students’ requests)
  2. Gift Cards for me to use:
    1. Publix
    2. Tiujana Flats
    3. Subway
    4. Hungry Howie’s Pizza in Lighthouse Point Florida
  3. Food/Snacks: anything you would like to donate


Below is more information on the excellence program as well as an outline of the specific things I will be using the classroom fund to purchase!

School Demographics My Classroom Demographics
Regular Advanced
55.1% Black 67% 49%
21.2% Latino 24% 24%
18.6% White 7% 24%
Many of the white & Latino students in the “school demographics” are unaccounted for in my “classroom demographics” because of the IB program, a rigorous academic program with a special curriculum and an admissions process. Total # of Students in my class: 92




60 Binders $80 for two boxes of 40 binders
92 Folders $36.76 for 4 packs of 25 folders


2500 Excellence Tickets $83.90 (from local black business)
4 Semesters worth of snacks (20-30 snacks a semester x 4 semesters) $40 x 4 semesters =$160
4 End of Quarter Lunch Parties (includes food and drinks for 10-20 students) $50 x 4 semesters = $200
Flip Chart Markers $19.97 for 2 packs of 8 markers
Trash bags (for when students have lunch in my room) $12.25 for 2 packs of 30


Purchase of TV shows, documentaries, & films Roots TV Series   $15.99
Underground Season 1   $24.99
The Fog of War $15.99
13th (FREE)
Freedom Writers $14.99
Coach Carter $14.99
The Great Debaters (FREE)
When the Drum is Beating (FREE)
Crips & Bloods Made in America (FREE)
The Hip Hop Project $9.99
Total $689.82


Receive _______ Tickets for. . .



80% Grade Average at the end of the week

85% for Advanced Classes

3 tickets 1 extra day to submit late work
Assisting teacher during lunch 5 Tickets Homework Pass
Winning group of a group activity or game 1 Ticket Bring 2 friends to have lunch in my room
Finishing work early and help a student who is having difficulty. 12 tickets End of Quarter Lunch Party


Student of the Week 3 tickets Small Snack
Significant improvement in behavior for 4 days in a row (students choose 2 behaviors that they will focus on improving and I assess throughout the 4 days) 5 tickets Large Snack


Top Scoring group on a group project
Stand up in front of the class and explain a concept in detail.


Make a current event presentation (Only available to students with less than an 80% grade average)

Please click here to donate to my gofundme!


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