Tuesday, February 26, 2013
What would YOU do with $500 for classroom supplies?
For hosting a student teacher this semester, I recently received $500 to spend as I wish on classroom supplies. It's such a small, but extremely motivating way to encourage mentor teachers to participate in a college's teacher prep program that I would love to see done more often. As I have my Masters + 30 Credits, receiving a tuition voucher, as I have in the past, has not been useful. I host student teachers because I think they will shape the future of education and my students benefit from having another set of knowledgeable hands in the classroom. Money for classroom supplies could help reluctant teachers, who are already stressed with their regular teaching duties, become more interested in hosting student teachers.
Spending this money has made me giddy, as I've never had a set amount that I could spend as I like. At my school, we usually get the bare minimum, and then sometimes even less. Here's what I bought:
- 48, yes 48, Colorful and Exciting, Easy Reader Books, from the Step up to Reading, Ready to Read, and I Can Read series, to supplement the small collection I have and the somewhat boring materials I print from the Internet for my emergent readers. At Booksource.com, you must spend at least $100, but get a 25% discount and free shipping.
- 6 Talking Brix Communicators from Boundless Assistive Technology (Best price and free shipping!), which I have admired from a far since an Ablenet workshop I attended last year. I'm excited to use these small, connectable communication devices during phonics lessons and to make additional 2-cell "Yes/ No" switches. (Right now I only have one iTalk2, but 3 students who use it)
- Apple Camera Connection Kit to connect a USB Switch device to our classroom iPad (yes, I don't get regular supplies, but our school bought iPads...). I also learned this at an Ablenet workshop, see this site for the directions and feel free to email or comment with questions about it. This is one of the most exciting things I've seen with the iPad for kids with multiple disabilities and emerging communication skills.
- Apple VGA - iPhone/ iPad Adapter to connect to my classroom's Smartboard (yes, again, I have a Smartboard, but no regular supplies...), this will allow me to stream video, music, and important speeches, like Dr. MLK's "I have a Dream" from YouTube that's currently blocked at my school.
(As far as I know, it's not against DOE policy, since some schools don't have it blocked, its just that our building happens to prevent kids from searching it on their own)
- Basic Supplies - Markers and Notebooks
At Staples, I was able to buy boxes of 10 Crayola Makers for $2 a piece and this literally made my day. I've given up on the whole "washable" thing since they were $3 more a box! For some reason this year's group of students love making full page rainbows when coloring, which eats up markers faster than you can believe. I've successfully taught them to put the caps back on their markers and have intimidated my paras to check the marker bin before putting it away, but I'd feel evil telling the kids they can't make rainbows anymore, so yay for $2 boxes of markers!
Also for $2 each, I snagged a bunch of composition notebooks, so we can finally do so more consistent journaling, hopefully with the help of my student teacher since my students will need lots of assistance to "write." (Using key words, simple pictures, stamps or picture symbols)
Its amazing how feeling prepared, rather than always just making do, has breathed new energy into my teaching this week. I'm grateful to a creative teacher prep program for thinking outside of the traditional mold on how to support mentor teachers!
Just in case you're wondering why I haven't used a charity like Donorschoose.org in the past for supplies, I have always had mixed feelings about it because I think its gives public schools the excuse to not properly supply classrooms and puts teachers in a position of begging family and friends for support. My feelings on this come from my first day as a NYC public school teacher, before even seeing my classroom or meeting my students and being told to sit in a room and write a Donors Choose proposal. Our school's tenure checklist even includes whether you showed that you support your school by setting up a Donors Choose page.
I will say though that this fall after several family members asked if they could donate to my classroom, I did set up a successful Donors Choose page and my classroom is grateful for the beautiful puzzles and sensory toys that we received. Their newer funding model doubled what I could get friends and families to donate. If my school wants to take credit for how great my class looks, I guess I can live with it if my students are benefiting.