For the past two years, I've attended the annual CUE Conference in Palm Springs, California. I came back both times with many great ideas for using technology in the classroom, but I was always stymied by the limited technological resources I had to use with students. I had started to utilize the students' smart phones in class for things like flashcards and dictionaries, but to do anything with any real substance or relevancy, I had to book computer lab time, and that is not always possible.
After my last visit to the CUE Conference, I started to feel compelled to do something. There were so many great ideas from the conference, and other professional developments, that have encouraged the use of technology, but the problem was that my students and I didn't have ready access to the technology that was needed to really grab ahold of it. Well, sitting on my rear and just waiting for the technology to appear was not going to happen. I couldn't just transfigure computers or tablets into my classroom (I keep applying to Hogwarts, but my application keeps getting denied. They keep saying something about it not actually existing. They lie. I've read the books; I've seen the movies). I could, however, try my best to get the technology into my classroom myself.
I sat down one Saturday and did a little research on what would be the best and most cost effective technological tool for me to try and obtain for my classroom. Ultimately, what would be best for an English classroom would be something that could word process and had access to the internet. My students have district-bestowed Google Apps for Education accounts, so Microsoft Word is not a must for what we are going to do in class, so a full-fledged computer would not be needed. But, we would be doing a lot of word processing (writing essays and such), so we did need something that had a keyboard. After all my research, I decided that what would work best in my classroom would be Chromebooks. Amazon had some as low as $199, at the time, which made it affordable to get at least a few to have in class.
So, in April, I posted a project to DonorsChoose.org for 8 Chromebooks. Why 8? My seating in class is set up in 8 groups of 4-6 (see photos of the empty room
That would get me 11 Chromebooks for my classroom. But...during the time that I had been trying to get my DonorsChoose projects funded, I had been buying one to three Chromebooks a month myself. So, shortly after the school year started this year, I had 20 Chromebooks in my classroom. This was enough for every two students to have one.
While I was trying to do all this, I had applied for a few grants, trying to get funding to get these Chromebooks, my ultimate goal was to eventually have a full class set. I had put the grants out of my mind when I got notice from the NEA Foundation that I was being given a grant that would get me the rest of my class set. I'm anxiously awaiting the funds for that now.