High-Tech for a Low-Tech Teacher

I am a low-tech person trying to keep up with an ever-changing high tech world.   I’ve only owned a smart phone for five months.  My friends rejoiced when I finally started texting (which I now find way too convenient to do throughout the day).

Schools are over the technology spectrum when it comes to being current. Personally I will always believe that it is the teacher and not the technology that makes the difference, however, even if you are slow to play the game, once you do, you will uncover amazing ways to enhance what you teach.  Then you wonder why you hesitated for so long.

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A lot of money is coming to help schools get up to speed for the Smarter Balance assessment. In addition, they want to make sure our students are prepared to handle the technology expectation of the future (which any first grader will master long before I will).

Now is the time to make sure you have some basics covered in your classroom (and I am talking 101 basics). If you don’t, ask your principal for the equipment. For tech gurus move on because you are pass my skillset, for newbies like me, keep reading.  Note the levels indicated in this posting refer to levels of technology to meet the same general needs.

Desktop computer (level 1), Laptop (level 2), Tablet (level 3)—This applies to both teachers and students. We hope that schools are providing this basic need to teachers AND students but chances are many educators have machines that are at least 7 years old and therefore are very outdated and painfully slow to operate.

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Updated equipment is necessary for the teacher so he/she can not only enter grades or take attendance but access programs and sites on the Internet.  Students will also need machines that have the capacity to use the latest versions of programs and resources.  A printer in your classroom is also a reasonable expectation to have your school provide (as well as ink and paper).

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Whiteboard or SMART board—A whiteboard is simply a very large dry erase board, which may seem behind the times to some but not folks who still have to use chalkboards.

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It is less messy than chalk and allows you to add color and ease of clean up to your day.  Get a magnetic one if possible to hang posters and other visual aids. This can also be the area you project images from your LCD projector.

A SMART board is an interactive board that will project items from your computer.

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It allows the students to respond to questions or activities on the projection as if it were directly using it on a computer.  It also allows you to save and print what you have done on the board.  Usually classrooms have only a white or smart boards so make sure you understand what you need before asking for one.

Document Camera—This replaces overhead projectors and the need to make endless transparencies.

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It projects a live image of a picture, page from a textbook, actual object, or any other item you place under it.  You can also freeze an image of let’s say a worksheet and then write on its projection on the whiteboard without marking up your original copy. It needs to be connected to an LCD projector to show the image.

LCD Projector (with a board to project onto not a sheet or piece of paper)—This allows you to magnify whatever image you want to display to your students.

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You can hook it up to your computer to access videos, power point presentations, games and other online resources.  You can also have it connected to your document camera.

OPTIONAL RESOURCES

Digital Camera/Video Camera—This allows you or the students to make visual recordings of projects and activities.  In upper grades students may use their smart phone to do this.

Student Clickers—With some data entry by the teacher you can play games, give quizzes, and check for understanding of the class at the same time.

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Students respond to questions and their answers are recorded both on an individual and group level for both active and accurate comprehension of a topic.  It is a very engaging may to present information.

Once you have decided what you need approach your principal about updating your equipment.  We want our students and ourselves to be ready for the 21st century.

See next week’s posting to see how to ORGANIZE all of this technology.

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