While I tinker with them, I’ve yet to code my own WordPress plugin. There are so many to choose from!

A few weeks ago I got an email from a guy named Joe who I had met at Northern Voice. He was developing a plugin that would connect blog posts automatically to related content in a site called DonorsChoose.org— I had never heard of it, but what a great concept. Teachers (and/or students) submit ideas for learning materials or activities they don’t have, and the site connects them with people willing to help them get what they need. Donors can choose which project to contribute directly to.

DonorsChoose.org is dedicated to addressing the scarcity and inequitable distribution of learning materials and experiences in our public schools. We believe this inequity is rooted in the following factors:

1. Shortages of learning materials prevent thorough, engaging instruction;
2. Top-down distribution of materials stifles our best teachers and discourages them from developing targeted solutions for their students; and
3. Small, directed contributions have gone un-tapped as a source of funding.

DonorsChoose.org will improve public education by engaging citizens in an online marketplace where teachers describe and individuals can fund specific student projects. We envision a nation where students in every community have the resources they need to learn.

According to Joe, the site has over 14,000 developed lesson ideas, and his concept was to create a system where blog posts would automatically by linked to relevant content at DonrsChoose.

I was a little curious since I really doubted the rants and whinges I post would have some correlation in a school project database, like when I use words like “cat piss”, but he said apost I made about the Learning 2.008 conference had a great amount of correlation.

What was interesting was he set this up as a project in a site called The Point that “lets anyone start a campaign to organize, fund raise, or persuade.” The DonorsChoose project was set up in the Point so that the plug-in would get done only if at least 10 bloggers signed up there and agreed to try it out on their blog.

What the heck? I said. So today Joe e-mailed that his project made his 10, so I was able to get the Possibly Related Classroom Projects plugin (as are you, it’s public).

Joe wrote today:

I can’t wait to see the plugin in action on your blog — and you’re def. welcome to share it with your readers. I wonder if this donorschoose campaign, which features “Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type” will be recommended for your most recent post :)

He is referring to my post on moo cards– so let’s see what was picked up. Hmm, no click-clack moo. But I got links to:

So at first maybe not a match. But the first project includes a request:

My students need 3 copies of a set of Favorite Transitional Book CD Read Alongs, and one Minnie and Moo Go To Paris CD Read Along Set.

And there it is in the second project– a second grade teacher in Arizona (hey I live there) is wanting reading materials that will act as magical literacy pills, asking for funds to help purchase:

My students need 17 different elementary level books from Harold and Purple Crayon to Click, Clack, Moo to Where the Wild Things Are in order to build upon their fluency and literacy skills.

More Heavy Reading
Bingo! Joe is right on target.

And ironically, earlier in the summer I bought myself a copy of Click, Clack, Moo since it is such a great story.

And Where the Wild Things Are was such a favorite book for me as a kid… now I am feeling an urge to contribute….

And the third project is also a match, no moo, but a speech therapist is asking for a card reader to help kids learn sounds– so that match works well for all the times I mentioned “card” in my post.

So Joe, I would say you have done this plug-in well. I was scanning the titles of the projects thinking the matches were as bad as the cuil web search, but when you read the projects the match is spot on.

Lastly Joe also shared an interesting Google doc that describes that happened in the development of the plug-in, which to me, as as much fun as watching the extras on a DVD.

What a great way to build software and what a great thing to do to bring people to a site that will help teachers.

Let me know what you find from the DonorsChoose links that now appear here.

The post "A Different Way to Make a Plugin" was originally squeezed out of the bottom of an old rusted tube of toothpaste at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2008/08/a-different-way-to-make-a-plugin/) on August 1, 2008.

3 Comments

  • Peter Deitz socialactions.com

    Hi Alan, Thanks for this positive response to our wordpress plugin. I agree with you that Joe Solomon (aka engagejoe) and his programming partner Eric Cooper have developed some powerful technology here. The nice thing about the hidden relevance of the recommended classroom projects is that it encourages people to clickthrough (if for no other reason than to identify the connection). Once people have clicked through, we hope that they will be that much more likely to take action. In any event, we’re excited that the Possibly Related Classroom Projects plugin launched, we’re thrilled to see it on your blog, and we’re very grateful for this thorough report. FYI, we have a whole slew of web apps on deck. You and readers are encouraged to help Social Actions figure what to build next, and how. The ideas are listed at: http://socialactions.wikispaces.com. All the best, Peter

  • Joe Solomon engagejoe.com

    Alan – Thank you so much for this awesome post! – it read like a suspense story! I’m happy that the classroom projects matched the Moo Cards post – it’s also a great coincidence that you recently picked up “Click, Clack, Moo.”

    I just read your Wikis & Pushups post (http://cogdogblog.com/2008/08/04/wikis-and-pushups/) – and this classroom project was recommended: “Physically Fit Or Physically Phttt?” Felt like a perfect fit!

  • Alan Levine aka CogDog cogdogblog.com

    Updated! I partly supported the Literacy Pills project and someone else stepped up to do the rest! The project is now funded
    http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=196879

Leave a Comment

All fields are required. Your email address will not be published.