Tech-Less to Techie
Technology in the Classroom
Friends! I am so excited to bring you this new segment called Tech-Less to Techie written by my dear friend Katie Martin. Katie is ROCKING it in the classroom technology world and I love seeing each new thing she brings to her students weekly. I asked her to share some of her insight so we could all try and catch up with what she is implementing! For the next four weeks I will be posting different tips/tricks and other advice from Katie and hope you are able to implement some of this in your classroom going forward. If you have any questions PLEASE let me know. I can pass them along to Katie and possible have a follow up Q&A session.
Part One: Getting Started with Technology in the Classroom
I love technology! I have loved technology since I was a little kid and played Oregon Trail with my brother on an Apple IIe. I have always craved the latest and greatest in technology trends, i.e. the Apple iPod vs the Microsoft ZUNE, iPhone vs. my ever trust worthy Nokia, Kindle vs. Nook, the list can go on and on. The point is I LOVE technology.
So this is my journey of a “tech-less” teacher to a techie teacher. For the past 4 years I have taught in a 1st grade self-contained special education class. Prior to that, I was an Interrelated Resource Teacher (IRR). As an IRR teacher I never really had a classroom “home” if you will. I was constantly popping in and out of classrooms all day long. When I became a self-contained teacher and got my own classroom “home,” I was super excited … and then my excitement died. I literally had a projector, a Mimeo that didn’t even stay attached to my white board, and one desktop computer for the students. WHAT!!! This KILLED my technology-loving heart. I had officially become “Tech-less”. One thing I knew about my students was that I was going to need a lot of different ways to engage them in my instruction, and a broken Mimeo and a desktop computer were not going to do it.
The first piece of technology I added to my classroom was a SMARTBoard. I LOVE SMART products, and the SMARTBoard was exactly where I needed to start. I was able to involve all my students in interactive tasks all day long. In order to get a SMARTBoard for my classroom however, I had to write a grant. Seriously, a grant? I had never written a grant in my life. Luckily, technology is my passion, so when I wrote my grant that passion shined through. I was award a grant for full funding for the latest and greatest (at that point in time at least) SMARTBoard for my classroom.
Independent Student Technology
As the year progressed I really wanted to give my students the technology they could use independently. For that I chose the Barnes and Nobel Nooks; the big ones that were color, WIFI compatible, and touch screen. Between my mom and myself (YES, we paid for these with our own money) I was able to get 6 Nooks for my students! A traditional Listen to Reading center didn’t work for my students. They struggled with understanding when to turn the page, and because they came to me as non-readers they weren’t able to track the words in the book.
The Nook was excellent for transitioning my students to a technology integrated listening center. Since the Nook has “read to me” books, my students are now able to see the words as they heard the words. They can make the connection with how reading should sound and increase their word knowledge. The Nooks are capable of having Apps. I was able to create a math and word work profile so my students are now able to use the Nooks during word work and math center times.
Where does the money come from? Teachers are BROKE!
Funding for technology that didn’t come out of my own pocket came in the form of completed Donors Choose projects. Among the many things generous donors have funded for my classroom are Leap Readers, Samsung digital cameras, and an Apple iPod. My students absolutely love the Leap Readers, and so do I. They are interactive and have built-in games for the students to check their skills as they go through the book. The cameras are great for documenting the new things we are doing in our classroom, and the iPod gives us a chance to have music, take videos, and snap pictures.
My Nooks have held up AMAZINGLY for the past 4 years, but technology gets old FAST. Bless the Nook’s hearts but we need some technology that has more efficient apps we can start using to produce projects. This is where the iPads come in! For the longest time I tried to avoid needing iPads in the classroom. Honestly, they are just too expensive. I tried alternative tablets like the Nook and Insignia, but when it came down to quality, performance, ease of use for teacher and students AND the abundance of apps and tools available – the iPad won out by far. My students and I have grown SO MUCH with the use of iPads in the classroom. We have made movies, completed PBLs, done research, made collages, and shared our learning with others.
Now, I know you’re wondering how I got iPads for my classroom; and I know if you’re a teacher you’re going to hate my answer. I bought the first iPad for my classroom myself. I didn’t have a choice. I wasn’t going to get one any other way, and investing in an iPad for my classroom was investing in my students’ learning and futures. The next iPads I got were older versions that were donated to my class. Old or new iPads hold their quality excellently. Although I would love to be a 1 to 1 classroom with iPads, I am currently holding steady at 4 and will slowly build on that on my own. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take too long.
I hope you have enjoyed the first part of my journey from Tech-less to Techie! Stay tuned for the next episode of Tech-less to Techie when I will share how I implemented these pieces of technology into my classroom. I will also be sharing our daily routine as well as different ideas for what YOU can do with various elements technology in the classroom.
Note from AC
Friends! I am so excited that Katie has agreed to be my guest author for the next few weeks to share a little glimpse in to her classroom. She is constantly sharing the activities her students are creating (with technology) and I am blown away. I cannot wait to give you the inside scoop so that you can use some of these elements in your classroom! Are you already using technology in the classroom? Share below and tell us what is already in place!