My very first teaching job was in the inner city. One of the class walk around reviews they did was to see how technology was being utilized in the classroom. The problem? The special education classrooms did not have any technology. There was no smartboard, no classroom computers, etc. The only thing I had was a classroom computer. Here are some ways I got creative in order to receive a good score on the walk through.
- I bought a cheap $35 projector from ebay. I made sure it was brand new. It allowed me to hook either my class computer up to it or put a USB drive into the side of it. I would download videos that corresponded to my lesson (school house rock type videos). I could then project them onto my white board. The kids actually thought this was so cool!
- I incorporated my teacher computer as a work station. During literacy, I would make the computer a typing center. The students would use it to type up stories they had written or even just to practice typing their name (I had a student who had to practice writing their name as their goal). This was a huge behavior motivator because everyone wanted a turn on the computer. I would have them type up their lesson and then they could play one game on a website like abcya.com or coolmath.com
- CD player: I had an old CD player at my house that I brought into school. I bought a few pairs of cheap headphones and then looked on ebay/amazon for stories on tape. I then used this to go with a lesson or as a reading center. I had some low readers who would request to take a break in my room to listen to the books on tape. They really enjoyed following along and I think it helped to increase their reading skills.
- I do have my own cheap tablet. I never brought it to school but I always kept in as an option in the back of my mind. I have it insured for something like $10 a month which covers any damage. I also asked the salesperson about internet safety and he said that if I felt like the kids could not be trusted with internet, I could put it on airplane mode or I could disable wi-fi. I was able to buy my tablet for $40 because Verizon sent me a coupon for being a valuable customer. I think that is reasonable and I would consider taking something of that value to school. I could download games that are appropriate and educational.
Teaching really is a ridiculous profession and one that requires you to move mountains. I remember the first time I was told that I would be observed using technology, even though none was provided to me, I just laughed at the craziness of it. I hope that this list helps someone else in a similiar situation. Unfortunately, a lot of teaching requires money out of our own pockets. Now that I have been teaching for a while, I often times swap items. My best friend, brother and I all have tapes on cd and will switch them when the kids start to get bored with the collection. Use the teachers around you for creative and fresh ideas. Good luck! What are some ways you have gotten creative with technology in the classroom?