I’m listening in (so to speak) to this week’s educhat on Twitter about the effectiveness of Interactive Whiteboards. IWB…HA! I’m happy because I’m finally getting a projector that doesn’t require me to throw a cable across a student’s desk. I know that some day I’ll get a IWB, but by then we will be discussing some other must have tool and IWB’s will be passe. While I am not really tech deprived, I’m also not on any list to get a 1:1 classroom, a set of handhelds or any type of interactive anything. I teach in Florida…we’re broke. We make due.
So in defiance of the creed that tech is here to stay, I offer 8 indispensible tools that every classroom needs.
- Post-it Notes– These are the best invention ever. Give them to students to use make notes in texts. Put private notes on them then discretely place on a student’s desk as you walk around. Have students write their names on them as they check out books from the class library and put them on the board. Tons of uses.
- Highlighters-Again a multifunction tool. Have students highlight key words in directions or key phrases in their reading. Have students highlight a certain word or phrase in their writing to show exactly how often they use it. Have them highlight confusing passages in each other’s writing. But make sure you remind them to not write with them. Reading an essay written in hightligher is hard!
- Note cards- Exit tickets are my biggest use of these. The stiffer paper helps them stay whole as the students rush out the door. The 3.5×5 ones help more wordy students edit down their thoughts. The small size also makes writing more accessible for lower level writers…they don’t see all the white space they have to fill up. Plus, they are great for grouping. Ask students a question and use the note cards to divide the groups.
4. Clipboards-These help students become more mobile. I have great desks in my class,but most students still prefer to sit on the floor. They just grab a clipboard and find a spot. Helps with group work too; students can pass it back and forth without tearing up their paper.
- Personal white boards– I don’t really know why these are so effective, but whenever I break them out, my students go crazy. You can buy a set, or you can go to a local home improvement store and buy a piece of shower board. They will usually cut it into whatever size board you want. Have students write a word on their board them get together to create a poem. Have them draw a picture of their reading. Have student complete a sentence then hold up the boards so everyone can read everyone else’s.
An Easy Button or other goofy desk toy- There are only two real uses for a desk toy. One to give students an excuse to come to the teacher desk without having to act like they want to talk to me. The other is just to make me happy. Happy teacher=happy class.
- Large platstic tubs – Work ten times better than milk crates for holding files, clipboards, art supplies, magazines, book sets, whatever. Helps with organization too, especially if you are like me and organizationally challenged.
- Cleaning supplies – Kids can be dirty. Enough said.
I’m not saying that some of these couldn’t be replaced by web programs or tech hardware. I would love to have a set of tablets in the class to replace my personal whiteboards. I have used Wallwisher before in the same way that I might use Post-Its. And if I were in a 1:1 school, I would have no need of clipboards; they would have the laptop in front of them. But that isn’t possible now.
And personally, one of the best things about being an old school teacher is that I can teach anyone anywhere with anything. It isn’t the device; it’s the desire…and I’ve got plenty of that.