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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

Kim Clapp's picture

Hi! I'm a Student Teacher and came across this blog for one of my Graduate classes. Thanks so much for providing some great resources of how to incorporate technology into the classroom, even if you don't have state-of-the-art materials. Kids these days are multi-media. They are born into a technological age, where they are basically speaking a different language, or "tech-speak". If we as educators are to have our students make real world connections with their learning, we need to know what those real world connections are - and that it the use of technology. With much chagrin, I had no idea all this stuff was available out there, but after looking at some of the resources you provided, I can see how they would be useful in the classroom. I hope to incorporate some of them into my own classroom someday. Thanks again for the great head start! :)

Jeff Fulford's picture

This is an issue that I have faced ever since I started teaching for the public school system. I started out by buying things for my classroom but it just became too expensive. I searched for grants but came up empty handed many of times. Something that has worked well for me and my classroom is digitalwish.org. This website allows you to start a wish list and accept straight monetary donations or apply for grants. My favorite feature on this website is the teacher only deals. I was able to purchase to flip cams for my class for only $120. Another program that we have used at my school is the technology recycling program. We collect all types of technology through out the year and we cash it in at the end of the year for cash! Thanks for all the resources!

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

Jeff,

I am so glad that you brought up Digital Wish. I've been looking at the flip cam deal. How did you manage purchasing them? I am planning on setting up a teacher profile. Did you just purchase them through your own profile?

Thanks again!

Mary Beth

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

I'm so glad that you ladies (Kim and Melissa) found the post helpful!

Jeff Fulford's picture

Hey Mary, it is so easy to do and is well worth it! I just signed up for a free profile and spent a little bit of time jazzing it up. I went on and clicked the 2 for 1 flip deal which is now 2 HD flips for just $150! I had to fill out some information and they called my school to make sure I actually worked here. It took about 2 weeks but it was definitely worth it! They currently have a deal on a Dell netbook bundle! Check out the stuff they have on there and try setting up your profile and getting donations! It's a pretty cool company.

Jeremie Spriggs's picture

I teach in a rural school district located in the region known as Appalachian. The school system is educating 1,242 students from Kindergarten through twelfth grade during the 2010-2011 school year. According to the U.S. Department of Education (2008), 14.67% are below the poverty line. This, along with our students whose families are among the growing working poor, enables the school system to receive Title funds from the federal government. When I think about technology, I am awed by its advancements and displacement. The technological advancements have taken our society to new heights in receiving and giving information. On the other hand, the displacement of such technology and its plethora of information within the classroom is, within its own rights, a barrier to advancing the next generation to the limits we have not yet explored. The information you have shared will be a useful resource for those of us with limited resources. I believe all students should have an even playing field when it comes to education. This belief does not exclude having the latest advancements in technology.

Carri's picture

Thank you for all the great ideas on how to integrate technology into the classroom. I have always felt this is an area that I struggle in and when others give me ideas it seems so simple. I work in a small school that does not have much technology. I actually have three computers in my classroom that are so old they only work half the time.

I especially like the idea of the audio books. Even though I teach Kindergarten they would still be able to do this to some degree. I also feel that my students would enjoy doing the share students voices idea. I do have my computers set up as a center, but every student does not get to work on them in a week's time. I have websites set up for them to use to reinforce what we are learning in class.

I cannot wait to get these set up in my classroom and to try new things. If anyone has any other ideas I am open to suggestions.

Suzi's picture

Gregory, what a innovative way to reach out to our neighbors and businesses. I have often thought about the companies who are still prosperous in these economic down days. I have been trying to get technology assistance from the school district and get the run-around. But, I have been thinking about getting corporate sponsers. After all, I am training their future work force. Maybe they can invest in early job skills. Thank you for the ideas.

Suzi's picture

Mary Beth, I have been practicing with creating a blog. I see that there are many opportunities to use this tool in the classroom. I like the idea of creating a class story. Thank you for the ideas.

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