One thing I’ve learned as I transition from being a school librarian to being a teacher: I buy a lot more stuff.
Let’s see. First off, there’s the laminator. This is a godsend. I’ve used it to make copies of my roster that I can then write on it with a wet erase marker; then I can make notes as to how my students did in that particular class.
I note these things, transfer them to my grade book, and then run them under the water where the things I wrote wash away. Then I dry them off.
This makes me think about whether it’s better to use wet or dry erase markers. Things wipe off easier with dry erase markers, which always makes me concerned that I will put these things in my backpack, and that a lot of the things I wrote will be missing by the time I get home. At the same time, it’s a lot easier to clean things where I’ve used a dry erase marker.
I bought plastic white cards, a hole puncher, and 3M hooks. I put the hooks on the wall, and one on the back of each computer. I numbered them 1-25 to correspond to my roster, and punched holes in them so that they hang on the hooks.
The students come in, take their assigned number, and hang it on the back of the computer. That way, by just looking at my roster, I know their names. Considering that I see hundreds of students a week, it helps me in getting to know who’s who.
I need permanent markers for writing these numbers on the cards. Also, in addition to writing things on my rosters that I wash off, I occasionally write permanent things on them, such as a grid for my seating chart, and the correct pronunciations of student names.
I bought an amplifier and a microphone so that I could talk in class without having to raise my voice over the students who simply don’t stop talking when I’m teaching. Some of them clearly want to just disrupt my class, and if I raise my voice, it becomes a control issue. There’s just something different about an amplified quiet voice as opposed to borderline shouting.
Of course, then when I walk around to check on student work, these same students get out of their chairs, walk to the front of the room, and grab the mike. Then I have to drop everything, go to them, and gently ease the mike from their hand. This takes tact and calm assertiveness.
I buy gum and candy. Once a month, I hand out these things. There is far more enthusiasm for these things than there was back in my old school, where most parents dropped their children off in Denalis, Escalades, and Mercedes Benzes.
In fact, I notice that pretty much everything I give to students here just gets more enthusiasm. When I do card tricks, students whoop it up. When I hand out Tic Tacs at the end of the day, they run up to me (which is why I may need to stop this; it’s not that great having students run up to me when they’re supposed to be walking to their respective bus areas).
I’ve just purchased ten packages of green beads. I did this because one of my lessons, as I wrote about the day before yesterday, involves kindergarteners learning about algorithms by planting a seed in soil. Using soil with a kindergarten class is insane, so we’re going to plant Life Savers in a bed of green beads.
Then there are the binders. I’m using the Code.Org curriculum for my coding instruction, and there are lesson plans for each grade, K-8.
6-8 is one set of classes, but I need six separate binders, because there are six separate units of instruction. Then there are two separate curriculum guides for the K-5 classes (and one binder each for the lower grades). That’s fourteen binders.
Then there are the two oblong binders for the PDFS of the children’s books that come with the Code.Org lessons for the kindergarteners. Of course I laminated these pages.
I also need to laminate a number of pieces of paper to make paper marble roller coasters so that the kindergarteners can understand how to debug a program. They do this by constructing a marble roller coaster, and fixing the things about it that don’t cause the marble coaster to to work.
Then there are the gumdrops and toothpicks. One of the lessons involves younger grades learning about frustration, and how to persevere when things don’t work out the first time. They do this by constructing a support system out of toothpicks and gumdrops that can hold a book.
To avoid buying perishable gumdrops, I bought a one-pound blob of Silly Putty. Alas, this didn’t work out...the Silly Putty is too mushy. So now I have a one-pound blob of Silly Putty.
It is probably unwise to give out wads of Silly Putty to my students, who will no doubt learn, quickly, that you can turn a blob of Silly Putty into a bouncing ball.
Then there are the plastic containers for all these things. One of the activities involves the students cutting out manipulatives to learn the basics of a graphical coding program modelled after Scratch, a program designed at MIT. It would take forever for students to cut out these manipulatives, so I’m going to laminate the sheets, create the manipulatives, and then put them in separate plastic containers.
Then there were the binder rings I used when I made separate guides for students to do Scratch projects. I made hundreds of these. I had to laminate every page, punch holes in the corners, and then group them together.
It also was necessary to get two mini pairs of pliers to open the binder rings, and close them again.
This took time.
And I need plastic cups. I need these to hold those beads, and for another lesson, in which students learn programming by “programming” a partner to stack up plastic cups in a specific pattern.
There’s also aluminum foil. Another one of the lessons involves students learning about trial and error by making aluminum foil boats, and seeing how many pennies they can put in the boats before they sink. This also involves buying containers to hold the water, and the purchase of a large bucket that I will fill with water so that I can then fill the containers.
I will also be purchasing many, many towels from the local thrift store.
Perhaps I will scrap this lesson, as the idea of tubs of water in a tech lab makes me think that things stand a chance of getting seriously out of hand.
Amazon has, of course, become my salvation. I often wonder what someone who is collecting my buying history makes of these purchases, which seem to have little rhyme or reason to them.
Of course, there’s also the Chromebook I bought to keep a log of what’s going on during the day.
Need to get ready for work. Then I will stop by the drive through Dunkin Donuts, and buy a decaf iced coffee with skim milk, unsweetened, and two glazed stick donuts. That is a purchase that I look forward to every morning.
And that’s what I’ve bought so far. I’m sure there will be more.