Integrating Technology with Limited ResourcesAugust 11, 2010 | Mary Beth Hertz
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.
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.
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 - 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 microgrants for Flip video cameras to 5-10 teachers every few months. Teachers fill out a project description and winners are based on number of votes.
Grant Resources from ISTE - a list of funding sources from projects to larger initiatives.
Grants Alert - 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!