Budget Cuts Can Bring Creativity Into the Classroom

If you type in “education” into Google News, you find article after article on funding and budget cuts. The economy is still far from “reformed”, and everyone including our children, are feeling the effects. Teachers now need to be more creative in their classroom to keep their students engaged.

Incorporating new and fresh ideas isn’t a new tactic. Teachers have been evolving their craft since the first person started teaching. With that said, what can we do to keep student motivation and participation up when budget cuts are looming in the air? There are many cost-effective ways to include technology and fresh tactics into your curriculum.

Energy
Being energetic doesn’t cost you or your school board any money. It might be hard to put on a smile and be energetic some days, but if Ellen can do it—you can do it. If your teaching style is more serious in tone that doesn’t mean you can’t be energetic. We aren’t talking about jumping up and down and being a cheerleader for your kids, but it’s the way you stand, talk and give out information.

Smiles are contagious—how many of you could not smile at someone who smiles at you? Frowns are also contagious, so make sure you are setting the example for your students. You have to be 10x more energetic than your students to keep them engaged. Another way to get them energized is by INVOLVING them with the lesson. Have them work in teams, create a learning game, anything to get them up moving and motivated.

YouTube
What if your next English assignment was inspired by a video of the Tempest you showed your class? Hooking up your computer to a projector is inexpensive, and brings the world of YouTube to your students. If you have a video camera you can have your students submit videos via YouTube for a video book report.

There’s an App For That!
If you have an iPhone, you can send your students text messages to remind them of an important test, or even home study tips in the evening.  Thinking of new teaching tools such as mobile apps can be extremely beneficial. The app Mozes is a great tool to reach your kids via text message.

Get Involved
Going to sporting events to support students who are participating is an excellent way of building a sense of trust with your students. Juliann Frangella, a teacher in Illinois told us on our Facebook Page, “I have been doing this for years…the kids get such a kick out of it!”

Parent involvement is important, and sporting events is a great place to meet them outside of the classroom. Interacting with parents in a different environment than your classroom can really make the bond between you and the parent even stronger.

What have you done to get more creative in the classroom? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Credit: http://education.byu.edu/n

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  1. #1 by Catlin Tucker on April 20, 2011 - 1:36 pm

    I love reading articles that talk about the innovative ways that teachers can deal with crippling budget cuts without sacrificing what they love. Cuts to education create myriad challenges, but teachers have access to technology that can help to alleviate them. Those willing to get creative with today’s education technology can be more effective and efficient.

    After integrating Collaborize Classroom- free discussion centered online learning platform- into my curriculum to engage students online in conversations to replace much of the pen and paper homework I had assigned previously, I realized how freeing it can be to adopt a blended learning model (on my own terms).

    10 Ways Integrating Online Discussions Can Save a Teacher’s Sanity in the Face of Budget Cuts:

    1. Save Money:
    Copy machines, paper and repairs cost school districts thousands of dollars annually. Most school sites spend between five to nine cents per copy. My school district currently spends seven cents a copy, which means one handout for each of my 164 students costs $11.50. Teachers can save money and paper by posting assignments, directions, notes, reading materials, etc. online. In addition to saving money, it also eliminates the chance that students will lose or misplace important materials.

    2. Save Time:
    Teachers spend hours each week copying, collating, stapling, and hole punching handouts, assignments and activity sheets for students. Much of this time is eliminated when a teacher transitions to an online discussion tool where handouts can be uploaded and attached to questions, topics and assignment descriptions.

    3. Spend Less Time Grading Paperwork:
    Online discussions free teachers from their role as the only source of feedback. When students engage in dynamic online discussions, they become valued resources for one another. They ask each other clarifying questions, compliment strong ideas, provide suggestions for improvement, and offer alternative perspectives. This allows for improved student engagement and immediate peer feedback.

    It is easy to eliminate worksheets that have limited potential to inspire, when students are actively participating in dynamic online discussions related to the curriculum.

    4. Spend More Time in Class Doing What You Love:
    With less time spent in copy centers and grading paperwork, teachers can focus on designing innovative student learning opportunities that use the limitless resources available on the Internet.

    5. Increase One-On-One Interactions with Students:
    Teachers can use online tools to engage in conversations with students they may not normally have. Some students are shy or anxious about speaking with a teacher in class; however, online discussions allow students easy access to teachers. They can post questions and get answers outside the confines of a normal school day, and in a setting very familiar to them.

    6. Provide Students Opportunities to Practice Standardized Exams Online:
    Most teachers do not want to spend valuable in-class time practicing standardized exam questions with their students. Teachers recognize test preparation as necessary in this era of high stakes standardized exams, but most can’t afford to spend much precious class time on test prep activities.

    Instead, they can use online discussion tools that offer multiple question types providing realistic test practice for students, plus a means for them to work together at developing stronger test taking skills.

    7. Facilitate Group Work That Works:
    Any teacher who has facilitated a group work assignment in class knows the frustration of time wasted. Online collaborative group work allows students the flexibility to participate when they have free time, but also eliminates wasted time in class.

    8.Communicate More Effectively with All Students:
    Collaborize Classroom and other online discussion tools have built in message systems, which allow teachers to communicate with individual students or groups of students easily. Teachers can make announcements, amend assignments, change due dates, and address questions using the message option – without having to wait until the next school day.

    9. Build Community and Relationships:
    Teachers can use an online discussion tool to build student relationships. Online icebreakers are a fun way to get students talking and using each others’ names. These conversations translate into a stronger in class community.

    10. Have Fun:
    The Internet gives teachers access to more information than ever before. The multimedia capabilities and variety of free online education tools makes this an exciting time to be a teacher – if you know how to take advantage of what is available.

    Leveraging the technology that students bring to the table is crucial to beating state budget cuts!

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