Friday, November 7, 2008

Class Full of Technology For Cheap

Twelve years ago I started on a quest to use technology to improve language arts instruction. I had one computer that worked a little bit, a little bit of the time. Fast forward to today, with a little investment each year by supportive administration, a good district Technology Coordinator, and we have a class where technology is fully integrated into the classroom.

Each student has one of a total of 24 Dell OptiPlexes at their desk. These refurbished machines were purchased for about $100 each. These are networked into our LAN, with internet access and a storage server. A networked HP4240 laser printer provides economical printing. These PC's are loaded with all free software. They use the Ubuntu operating system. This Linux based program eliminates the problems of spyware and adware that caused so many issues when we used Windows. For word processing, we use Open Office 3.0. This newest version works seemlessly, and will read and save .doc files from Microsoft Office. For internet access we use Firefox, the Mozilla based browser.

For instructional purposes, I have an Optima DLP projector. This is used for whole-class instruction so students can easily see what is being taught. I can project the computer's image onto the wall, making a six by six image. An Avermedia doc camera is hooked to the projector. The doc camera takes a picture and feeds it into the projector. I use this to show examples of students' work. I also have a digital camera that is used to, among other things, take pictures for the blog.

I have a desktop computer that I use to keep grades, write lesson plans, write the blog, and email/message parents and students. I use a laptop to bring work back and forth between school and home.

When you walk in the classroom, the use of technology is everywhere. Teachers often marvel at all of the equipment. The most amazing fact though, is the cost, or lack of. At the most, there is $5,000 invested. So for much less than $1,000/year, students can have computers to use as a tool, every day in language arts. I average about 60 students total each year in sixth grade. This means this technology-based classroom costs about $16/student/year.

I have to ask, why doesn't every language arts teacher have a class equipped with technology? This journey we started twelve years ago has sure paid off for the students of Laurelville.


Anonymous said...

Good for you for thinking out of the box! At my own kids' school, the principal is convinced every class needs a smartboard and the school council (which I am the secretary)should help pay for them! I have been trying to educate him to the merits of other technology that might be easier for teachers to use (when do teachers have time to learn all about smartboards????)and is much more cost effective. I will be sure to pass your ideas on to him (and my own principal). Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

Not only has this paid off for the students but I think it brings the parents and students closer. I feel like I'm more involved and I can interact better with Seth because I know whats going on in his class. It's so easy to become distanced from your child with things like video games and television. This is the new and fun way to connect. I wish this could have came along earlier.

Mr. McGuire said...


I agree that it helps parents keep up with what is happening in our class. I think that is absolutely the best asset of a class blog. I also really like how it helps me communicate with parents. Hopefully parents that read the blog regularly feel a part of the class and their child's education.

Thank you for taking the time to check in, and for commenting.

Anonymous said...

I think getting the computers was a great way for all of the students to learn.