The 21st Century Supply List

The 21st Century Supply List
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The 21st Century Supply List

Before you go out and buy your child’s homeroom teacher that 24-pack of Kleenex and 10 reams of paper for the first day, double-check: Those longtime staples might not be what they’ll actually need for a successful year.

A recent survey (check out the infographic) by PBSLearningMedia found that many teachers, hoping to better engage their digitally-reared students — for whom the iPod has always been on the market and who likely have a cell phone by the second grade — would love to get more technology to enhance their classrooms. 

Only 1 in 5 teachers believed they had the right amount of technology to support learners in the classroom, three-fourths wanted more, and more than 60 percent of them attributed the gap to the cost of purchasing those tools.

Technology can be a valuable educational resource if used properly (whether or not it’s simply promoting rote memorization is still up for debate). It’s long been a part of the classroom — try to imagine calculus without calculators or biology without microscopes — but the explosion of the Internet and the rise of the connected kid has made it all the more necessary. 

Computer programs like WISE (part of the STEMWorks Database) and technology like Classroom Clickers and SmartBoards allow students to see and participate in science and math in new and exciting ways — think Skyping scientists or touring engineering marvels on the Smartboard or allowing teachers to immediately know how many students understand fraction multiplication with clickers.

Obviously, buying a classroom a SmartBoard, a set of clickers, or any of the latest snazzy devices requires you to reach further into your pocket than that 24-pack of Kleenex does. 

One option is to band together with other parents on the roster: A new iPad is $800 for one parent, but only $40 if all twenty families chip in — much more wallet-friendly. And — since low-income and minority households are less likely to have Internet access, increasing their need in school — Donor’s Choose will help you donate to a project of your choice in a classroom with a verified, identified need.

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