The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Building A Different Kind of Classroom Library

At this point of my life, my career, and my blog, anyone who doesn’t know how deeply passionate I am about reading probably doesn’t know me at all. When I look at all of my blog posts over the past several years and compare the categories, reading is by far the most populated, although personal reflections are right up there. I love reading, I love sharing my love of reading, and I love watching as others develop a love of reading.

But I am passionate about many different things. There is a reason that I call myself a geek of all trades; I love everything! (Well, okay, not everything, but quite an awful lot of things!) That being said, I would imagine that the second most common thing people may associate me with is my passion for technology. Our building librarian is also our technology specialist, but I am the assistant technology specialist and it is not uncommon at all for a friend, family member, colleague, or even boss to come to me with questions about different types of technology.

Which is why I knew, in a general sense, what I would be doing with the majority of the money I received from Dairy Queen as a prize for write an awesome short essay about needing classroom supplies. Not, as my students assumed, new books, which we have aplenty (and will still get more of before the year is out), but new technology, specifically tablets. I already had four iPads and four iBooks (old laptops used for word processing), but I wanted to expand this collection. So I spent weeks researching different options, comparing prices, capability, features, sizes, and customer reviews. I also spoke with friends and colleagues who used different tablets to get first-hand accounts.

I finally decided on the Nook HD+ tablet that is sold by Barnes & Noble. While Nook does not have cameras like the iPad or the Samsung Galaxy, there were enough other features to make the purchase seem worthwhile. After selecting the device, I had to decide on the size, both in terms of dimensions and storage, and determine the quantity. I spent a few more weeks agonising over this before finally deciding to purchase five tablets with basic covers and one HDMI adapter cable. (The adapter will let me connect the tablets to interactive whiteboards, televisions, and projectors.

I was able to pick up the tablets yesterday evening and spent several hours configuring them with the assistance of my wife. We also explored apps, features, and eBook availability. I brought the tablets in this morning, got them configured for school, and then decided to have some fun with the class. I showed them the bag from Barnes & Noble and told them I’d made some purchases with the money from Dairy Queen. Then I said, “Oh, but it is 10:30, so it is time for recess! I guess I’ll have to make you wait until after math to see what I got!”

There were many protestations, but I made them wait until after recess. When we came in, I brought the bag over to the carpet and talked about rules and expectations for using my books, such as being safe, taking good care of them, and putting them back where they were found. Then I told the class that I did not, in fact, buy any books this time.

They were confused; what else would I, the teacher known for reading, buy from a book store?!

I made them all close their eyes and then I took out the collection of five Nooks and showed them to the class. I shared some of the features, talked about taking care of them and being safe, and reminded students to tell me if they know of any apps that they would like me to get for either the Nooks or the iPads. They were all very excited about the latest additions to our classroom tech library!

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We didn’t get a chance to use the Nooks today because I am still setting them up, but we will start tomorrow. With the nine devices in the room, students will have much better access to web-based resources, such as SpellingCity, XtraMath, and Wonderopolis. They will also be able to do more research on the sites we have on our Destiny Catalog, and they will have more opportunities to expand critical thinking skills through cognitive games and activities. I am really excited about this purchase! I am sure that there will be a million things I never even think of doing with them, but I am also sure that building my classroom’s library of technology is just as important and building our library of books!

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