Want free stuff for the classroom, but don’t know where to look?
Experienced educator Penny Woods can help. She taught for 15 years in a Florida public elementary school as a media specialist and technology specialist before starting Penniless Teacher, a wonderful blog that compiles freebies for educators.
“It’s always been an issue for teachers to try and find the money to pay for things. Teachers know that there are opportunities out there to get money through grants or sweepstakes, or contests and all that stuff. They just never have time to find it,” said Woods.
She said this was exactly her experience while teaching.
“I thought to myself, ‘You know, I just wish someone would do this for me. Just find these [freebies] for me and tell me where to go so I don’t have to do the research.’ So that’s how I came to be a blogger [later on],” she explained.
Many educational supply companies give away freebies on a regular basis, Woods said, and her readers are reaping the rewards. She hears teacher success stories constantly—followers message her, post on her blog and connect over social media when they get supplies, money and the other available freebies.
“I had a principal who won a [Glidden] contest to paint the entire school, which I thought was just really cool,” Woods said.
She said that while grants cover the K-12 spectrum, company-sponsored giveaways are typically geared toward elementary schools. Woods also partners with companies and organizations to do giveaways of her own on her blog.
“I did a giveaway with Carson-Dellosa at the beginning of the summer, and it was all Common Core stuff that we gave away. We had a tremendous amount of teachers [participate during] this...Facebook party kind of thing.
We were swamped with the amount of teachers who were trying to get in to win the Common Core materials. We all know a lot of states are implementing that this year.”
Woods noted that with mail-ins and other offline promotions waning, every educator giveaway she knew of was online. Given the combination of Web 2.0 technologies that have made Penniless Teacher’s mission possible, she believes the results she sees now wouldn’t have been possible seven years ago when she retired from teaching.
“Even if a teacher sends me an email about winning a set of new markers, that [cheap] set of markers is just as important as the $500 item that somebody else won,” Woods said.
“What keeps me going [are] the teachers I hear from. It’s all about the mission of helping teachers who are educating our future.”