Funding, Grants & Awards
Florida School Raises Thousands with Readathon
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Readathons could replace jogathons as the new school appeal if an online fundraising platform gets its way. Learn2Earn lets students raise money for their schools by reading books. One success story, Sabal Point Elementary School in Florida, raised more than $23,000 in 17 days, and its students read for 155,720 minutes. (As an extra bonus Principal Christina Benitez dressed up as Taylor Swift and performed "Shake It Off" for her K-5 students.)
Learn2Earn provides the functionality that allows students to track and log their reading online or on paper forms. After logging their minutes, they're prompted to answer a question aligned with learning standards to demonstrate their comprehension of the story. Students have owl avatars for which they may buy accessories with the virtual coins they earn as they read and write reviews. A school's fundraising arm posts information about the event in social channels to be shared by students' families. Funders pledge to pay a specific amount for every book a child reads. The company keeps 20 percent of what's raised; the school receives the remaining 80 percent.
According to an online article about the Sabal Point effort, the school kept students motivated through a series of challenges. On one weekend, kids were spurred to get $40 in pledges; those who succeeded were allowed to participate in an event to duct tape the school's vice principal to a wall. Another motivator for students who raised a final $10 was being allowed to have their name added to a drawing; the winner would be allowed to throw a pie in the principal's face.
Learn2Earn also offers an online reading and review platform tied to Common Core standards. Whooo's Reading lets teachers track student reading comprehension skills from a smart device, post questions for specific books their students may be reading and run a class review newsfeed to allow students to share their book critiques with each other. The program is available in a freemium edition for a single teacher without scoring capabilities or premium editions for class or school with scoring functionality.
"I honestly don't know where we would be without this site," said Lorie Barber, a fifth-grade teacher from Schiesher Elementary School in Illinois, in a press release. "It has inspired my students to share their love of reading and it has given them a platform to share what they know. In an education world where we're constantly looking for real-life applications, it doesn't get more real than Learn2Earn."
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.