Moritz's Blog

Friday, September 22, 2006

How to Spend Money.
I've been pondering a question that was posed to our department about spending district money on technology. There has been discussion about possibly adding a portable computer classroom/station that teachers could check out when needed. We've talked about getting new mice for our C17 lab. But that has been all of the discussion we've had.
Although I think having a portable computer station would be awesome, I am concerned about how we would maintain it. I am not sure that the computers would be taken care of as they should be. I am not being critical of my department members, I just worry that spending so much money on computers that would be moved around might not be the right way to go.
I've thought about possibly adding computers to the classrooms for student use, but the money we have would only go so far.
I've thought about software that could enhance particular classes, but how would that affect the greater good?
I guess ultimately, I want to see this money well spent. We just haven't had a discussion where people have brought their ideas to the table and I think this is really necessary before a decision is made.


At 6:34 AM, Blogger Sally G said...

Granted, I am an old dog.

(Although I am learning! I, too, used the power point vocabulary idea with the kids and they loved it!)

However, having never taught in a school where there were not enough literature books for all students, I am puzzled as to why we haven't found a way to address this discrepancy. Though a classroom set of laptops would be nice, I wonder how long it would be before the technology was (a) outdated or (b) ineffective due to wear and tear.

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Karl Fisch said...

I agree that a lot of discussion should take place before anything is spent. I did provide some dollar amounts for various options so that you would have data to work with, but please don't take that to mean I'm suggesting how you spend the money. It's just fuel for the discussion.

I think you guys need to look at all your needs and see how to get the most bang for your buck. As I indicated on the info I supplied, you can get a whole lot of "little" things with your money as opposed to just a few "big, expensive" things. That might be a better way to go (or it might not . . .).

At 11:35 AM, Blogger C. Makovsky said...

I'm a bit concerned about the future of our curriculum if we don't have any textbooks. I know that makes me sound old. But if we all begin grabbing any story or text off the internet, what continuity will exist? We need to keep track--somehow--of what titles are taught at what levels and why. We need to be sure that we offer good literature--and that the kids are progressing through a sequence of skills. Even though textbooks are cumbersome, at least they help us sequence and organize ourselves. As a department, we've never been completely dependent on textbooks--but I'm very nervous about abandoning them completely....

At 1:41 PM, Blogger lgaffney said...

The school where I interned in San Antonio had two class sets of laptops that anyone in the whole school could check out and it worked great! It made us all a little nervous, but it was a huge asset and the students were very respectful of having this priveledge. How great, too, to work within the comforts of your own classroom.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Ms. Kakos said...

Hmm...thanks for posting this, Maura. I have a lot to say about it, but I'll try to be brief.

First, I think we should entirely abandon textbooks. Any story that is read in a textbook is not going to be well read because (a) students don't want to drag their textbooks home, so they'll rush through their textbook homework during loud off hours in the cafeteria, and (b) the textbook format ruins stories with too-large pages, too-small print, and distracting pictures, footnotes, captions, etc. They're also preceded and followed by too much structure--prereading and postreading questions can be helpful at times, but too many of them become anti-constructivist. Shouldn't the focus and questions be coming from the students?

I strongly, strongly, strongly prefer individual books and small anthologies--just like the ones that real people read. I know that most of our students prefer these as well. I have also had much success with encouraging students to buy their own books so that they can write in them and start building their own libraries.

As for the laptops, I can't even begin to describe the benefits of having laptops in the classroom. Having a class set of laptops has kicked the door of opportunities with my students wide open. However, I still use books each day in the classroom, and I don't intend to replace them with laptops. I just want to be clear here that laptops are not replacing books or discussion in my class, nor in any of the laptop classrooms as far as I know. As far as the money goes, it's a tough call. If it were up to me, I would put it towards the laptops in a heartbeat. All of the arguments made here against the laptops could be made against textbooks as well--they also fall victim to wear and tear, they quickly become outdated, and they are far more likely to be lost than is a laptop. And again, although I understand the fear of books being consumed by technology, I don't think that's really the heart of the argument here. I have not sacrificed a single book to the laptops; we just use them side by side. The laptops are used to enhance some of the activities that we do to help understand the books, but books and students are still the absolute center of the classroom--not laptops.

We would have be organized in terms of managing the laptops, but it's not as hard as it sounds.

I did a poor job of being brief.

At 7:00 AM, Blogger Davis said...

I feel like Kristin does in regards to textbooks. I feel we do not need textbooks to carry on the torch of reading literature. And I agree that in fact, students tell us that they do exactly what she described: try to cram in the story before school and class. There are so many incredible collections of short stories, poems, short novels, etc. that I think we should have a team research this option. We could contact several publishers and make THEM do the hunting! I would vote to order collections of books over computers.

However, thinking about laptops is exciting, certainly. The only bummer is that in a few years, our computers we purchased become obsolete. Then what? Karl, could you address this issue??

I do feel that a traveling lab would be better than having computers placed in another classroom. Look at our issues with C17. I think part of the problem is, is that the computers aren't always used and are just left out. With the traveling computers, the ones that want to use them could, and when not in use, they would be "safe."

At 7:48 PM, Blogger Lary Kleeman said...

I'll be brief. I only use one textbook for three weeks for all of my classes--it happens to be the ninth grade anthology and I use it for The Odyssey excerpts (which are too incomplete and focus only on the "adventures"). I, personally, agree with Kristin in that textbooks are simply over-commercialized. Literature is not meant to be couched in so much busy-ness.


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