Using a Crowdsourcing Platform to Fund Listenwise Premium
We know there are many of you who are using Listenwise’s free features but would LOVE to move to Premium with the additional literacy supports, the student accounts and the ability to make assignments. But your school just doesn’t have the budget. We thought we’d share with you the story of one teacher who used a crowdsourcing platform to bring Listenwise Premium to her whole school!
Kara Nierman, a 7th grade ELA teacher in Woonsocket Rhode Island started using Listenwise because she was looking for resources that would make literature and poetry come alive for her students. Kara first used Listenwise for free. Her students loved Listenwise for its engaging non-fiction stories, which connected course content to their own lives. While Kara knew she wanted to upgrade to Listenwise Premium, her school didn’t have the budget.
Listenwise spoke with Kara Nierman to discuss her experiences funding her Listenwise subscription for the 2015-2016 school year. Kara chose to raise money through the platform, Pledgecents, which makes it easy for teachers to fund educational initiatives by leveraging their social networks through crowdfunding.
LC: Where did you first learn about Listenwise?
KN: Last year I joined a professional group called Teach Your Students to PARCC Close to Success on Edmodo, a social media platform for education. This Edmodo group includes teachers from around the country who want to be in communication about resources and strategies to help students tackle the Common Core standards and the PARCC test. The teacher who runs the group promoted Listenwise as a “site to behold.” His brief description of the resource peaked my interest, so I clicked on the link. I was immediately captivated by the site and its rich and rigorous educational content.
LC: How does Listenwise empower you to reach different types of learners?
KN: Listenwise reaches both auditory and visual learners as they can hear and read the story transcript as they are listening. I also recognize how much it improves students’ visualization skills because the sounds of the story are authentic. The sounds provide rich descriptive material for students to imagine and bring them closer to the facts and knowledge.
I am a teacher who thrives on intellectual pursuits, teaching to the multiple intelligences, and distracting reluctant students into learning by providing impressionable material that captivates their attention. I also want my students to connect with real life on a local, national, and global level so they can feel a civic duty to make the world a better place. Listenwise provides students with informational stories that they can form strong opinions about or reflect deeply upon so their consciousness’ may become heightened. I believe that is the goal of every teacher for his or her students: listen, think, reflect, express, and grow.
LC: What advice can you offer to teachers who are grappling with how to fund Listenwise in their schools?
KN: First contact a point person at Listenwise to identify the logistics of the membership that works best for their schools. (Contact Adam@listenwise.com) Everyone there could not be more kind, understanding, and thoughtfully strategic about the challenge of finding the funds. Then, once they know how much they need to raise for their membership, go onto PledgeCents and sign up for free and design their Listenwise cause.
LC: What kind of support did Pledgecents offer throughout this process?
KN: PledgeCents takes you step-by-step through the process of effectively designing a cause and offers nearly 24/7 help throughout the process. They also preview your cause before you launch it and then approve it once it is sound. Once the cause is launched, they provide incentives to share your cause through social media and offer opportunities for them to match funds raised through those promotions. During the donation period, PledgeCents sends immediate notifications when someone has donated and they remind you to send a note of thanks. They create a spreadsheet for you to keep track of the funds raised, the names of donors, and their email contacts. Once the funds are raised, they promptly send out a check to your school.
LC: What lessons did you learn from this process? Looking back, are there things you would have done differently?
KN: I learned that one should never be too shy to put a cause for public education resources out there because there are many generous people willing to donate what they can. I also learned how gratifying it is to raise the funds and know that I successfully found a way to enhance the education of the students at my school.
LC: How do you plan to use Listenwise in your classroom this year?
KN: This year I will utilize our premium membership to capitalize on the engaging lesson plans that are available to use, and I plan to sign up at least one of my English classes on the site so that they can listen to stories at home and complete assignments online. I am anxious to see how they react to assignments designed like this.