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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Integrating Technology with Limited Resources

Mary Beth Hertz

K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

OK, so you know about all of these great tools out there that can transform teaching and learning in your classroom but all you have is an ancient PC in the corner of your room. How can you effectively integrate technology with this dinosaur?

Hopefully this post will help.

Use your computer as a center

Create a class wiki or website (click here for ideas for where to go to do this) where you can set up links for your students to access easily. When they are at the center they are allowed to access these sites for reinforcement of classroom lessons. Assign a specific website that aligns with your lesson or the skills that your student(s) may need more practice in.

Create audio books

You can purchase an inexpensive, quality microphone for about $20-30 at Best Buy or a similar store. Set this up to the computer (usually they plug into a USB port like a mouse). Have students read a story into a program like Audacity (a free download). They can then listen to each other's stories while at the computer as a center or share their stories with other classes. The stories can be shared either through being uploaded to a website, to iTunes or by burning a CD of the stories to be given to another class.

Collaborate on a story

Create a schedule by which your students rotate on the computer -- 5-10 minutes per student. Provide a topic or guidelines for the story, preferably one that aligns with daily or weekly learning goals. Each student sits at the computer and adds to the story that was started by a classmate. Of course, with one student at a time this may be time consuming, so also consider having two students at a time sitting down together to add to the story. Each student or student group could choose a different color to write in to keep track of the edits.

You can have a document saved on the desktop for students to open or you can use a Google Doc or use TypeWith.me to allow students to add to the story. Both online options allow for you to export the file as a printable document. This would be the best option if you don't have word processing software installed on your computer or if you want to share the story easily online.

Student blogging

Set up a schedule for your computer. Use Edublogs or Kidblog to set up blogs for your students. They can spend 10-15 minutes a day or just 15 minutes a week working on their blog posts. Both of these sites require that posts go to you first for approval. Topics could include an explanation of a concept they learned in class, a short story, their favorite comment or idea that a classmate had, a reflection on a book they are reading, or a reflection on a political stance or social studies theme.

You can then allow students to leave comments on each other's posts as well as parents and family members.

Share student voices

Have student work you want to share? Take photos of the work and upload them to a Voicethread. Then have your students come to the computer while they are working independently to record their voice describing or reflecting on their work.

This work can then be shared with other classes, other schools and parents/family members.

Create screencasts

When students are working independently on the computer, how do you make sure they know what they're doing? Screencasts, or short videos that capture what you are doing on your screen, can help you teach students how to use a tool or site or explain what you want them to do while at the computer. Students can watch the screencast as many times as necessary so they don't need you to sit at the computer with them while they complete tasks you assign.

Funding tech in your classroom

The following places are a great place to start when trying to fund technology initiatives in your classroom.

Donorschoose.org is a crowdfunding site. Create an account and set up a project. You can then send the link to your friends and family and anyone else to help get your project funded through donations.

WeareTeachers.com provides a list of grants and contests to help teachers get the resources they need.

Grants Alert is a regularly updated database of grants and their deadlines.

Donations are always acceptable too! Many companies will donate their old computers when they upgrade their offices. Makes some contacts at large companies in your area. They can write it off as a charitable donation!

Please use the comment area to ask questions or add any resources or ideas I may have missed!

Comments (30)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Kandi Kopel's picture
Kandi Kopel
Center Based DCD teacher

I like the idea of creating audio books for my students! I work in a center based DCD classroom and many of the students that I work with would greatly benefit from this idea. I can't wait to try it out!

Ellie Hallquist's picture
Ellie Hallquist
Kindergarten Teacher from Otsego, Minnesota

I know some teachers who use DonorsChoose.org and have received some very nice donations for their classroom. It might be time for me to check it out and ask for money towards an ipod touch or an ipad and then work towards apps!

Sonja's picture

Thanks for helping me find some ideas to help integrate technology into my classroom. I do use technology, but I tend to stick with what I am comfortable with. I might give some of this technology a try.

Kim M's picture
Kim M
K-5 Visual Art Teacher

I like the idea of my students creating a story together. They also each could create a picture about their story and then I could take a picture of each of their artwork. Which then could be added into the story.

Pete's picture
Pete
3rd Grade Teacher

The idea of creating audio books is a great way for students to practice their fluency too along with giving the students an audience for their work.

Andrea Deschamp's picture
Andrea Deschamp
First Grade Teacher from Fargo, ND

I would like to have my students to create a Kidblog and Audio books. I could have them as options for our Daily 5 activities.

Matt M's picture
Matt M
West Fargo

Many of the students that I work with don't have access to a lot of technology. Many of our activities we that we do do not require the use of a computer. However, after reading this article, I do think that I could use some of these tips just to bring more technology in the classroom. Write arounds is something that I use. I did like the idea of instead of doing it by hand having students do it on the computer by taking turns. This would also help with students who do not have the best hand-writing. I also liked the idea of student blogging. I could use this as I make my government and economics class do a current events story each week. Instead of turning in a written sheet, they could just blog it to a wiki.

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
Blogger

Great ideas! We'd love to see/hear your students' work!

Brianna Hartman's picture
Brianna Hartman
8th grade math teacher from Ohio

I am willing to admit that I am not a blogger. I am contributing to this blog about integrating technology with limited resources as part of my master's program. Although you all have offered great ideas about how to incorporate the use of technology into the classroom , and have even shared ideas about how to get technology supplies donated to your classroom, I still find the use of blogs, pod casts, and other virtual classrooms useless to me in my math classes. First of all, I have a hard enough time getting students to do 8-10 math questions for homework, let alone to blog about what they have learned. How would I accommodate my students who do not have a computer at home? Maybe with some persuasion, I can be convinced that blogging is beneficial. What would be an appropriate topic to blog about in math class? I understand that I can have my students create blogs about the math concepts that are being learned, but how does blogging help students understand the concepts, especially in math? Many students need pictures and diagrams to comprehend math. I do see how blogging can be very beneficial in many areas on many topics. I just can not figure out an appropriate way to integrate into my classroom. Please help!

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