Thursday, August 6, 2015

Crazy About Chromebooks

So much has changed since I began teaching ten years ago. I can’t imagine how I ever taught without my Promethean board and document camera.  I saw an overhead projector the other day and actually chuckled to myself.  It was so much easier to identify other teachers out in public back when we all had permanent Vis-à-vis smudge on our thumb and index finger.


I also can’t imagine how I prepared for each day without wireless Internet for my personal laptop that I lug to school each day to peruse the endless resources available online.  Even the infamous Common Core curriculum has been a positive change for me as it’s so much easier to find resources that I know will match what I’m teaching that day. 

Unfortunately, one of the things that hasn’t changed in the past ten years is the computers available for student in my classroom.  I know it’s on the priority list for our district and our school has done a phenomenal job over the last several years raising money to get interactive white boards installed in all of our classrooms, so I’m not complaining.  What I am saying is that it’s difficult to use desktop computers that take ten minutes to boot up and may or may not work consistently once they’re booted up, especially with ten-year-olds who aren’t used to waiting around on technology these days. 


Every minute wasted in a classroom is a precious minute wasted.  Having reliable technology in my classroom would be the best way to improve efficiency and productivity for my students, as well as communication with my parents.  I took a workshop at the end of last school year on Google Classroom and the possibilities that Google offers for free for a technology-driven classroom are amazing.  (Check it out if you haven’t: http://classroom.google.com)  Google also features many free apps that will do just about anything.  My students and I used Powtoon at the end of the school year to create this animation of a book we had just read called My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian that features animation.  We had a blast!

Throughout the workshop I just kept thinking of all I could do IF I had the hardware available to support it in my classroom so this summer I wrote a proposal on Donors Choose for eight Chromebook laptops.  Chromebooks are great for classroom use because they’re lightweight and have long battery life and fast Internet speed.  The only thing they lack is storage space, which isn’t needed for shared classroom computers anyway; we’ll use memory sticks or Internet-based storage.  I chose to try for eight laptops because in an ideal year, that’s about one-third of my class and the number works well for centers and taking turns.  These laptops would change the way my classroom runs in amazing ways!

When my project went live yesterday, I found out anyone who donates in the first 7 days (by August 12th) will have their donation matched (dollar for dollar- up to $100) if they use the promo code SPARK.  Teacher friends: this code is available to anyone for up to two projects per school year.  This is a change I didn’t know about since the last time I’d used Donors Choose, and I thought the same might be true for some of you.  What a great incentive to write proposals and to donate!

If you haven’t heard about Donors Choose, you should check it out whether you’re a teacher or not.  Their story is amazing and they’re doing incredible things for public schools throughout the country every single day.  It's free for teachers to use, and donations are tax-deductible and every dollar truly does count.  This will be my third Donors Choose project since 2012 and it’s been a smooth and enjoyable experience every time.  When the project is funded and the materials are in use in the classroom, the teacher takes photographs and both she and the students write thank-you notes to the donors.  It’s a win-win; everyone ends up happy!







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