It wasn’t until high school that I heavily started using technology in the classroom. I’m glad I did have the opportunity to learn about technology though, as I use it constantly in college. Here are the items I brought to high school with me daily. Note that I had an IEP with approval to use any technology.
At my high schools, students were allowed to bring their backpacks from class to class, as long as they fit certain dimensions. I received special permission my senior year to use a rolling backpack, since I had back problems. Before that, I used a backpack with a laptop sleeve that could hold up to a 17″ laptop and had several pockets.
I got approval to use a laptop in school starting the second semester of ninth grade. It was rare to see technology in the classroom, and assistive technology was unheard of. As a result, my first high school did not allow students to connect to the internet. I frequently used Office applications such as OneNote to take notes, Word to type assignments, and PowerPoint to follow along in class. I also was able to read textbooks and complete digital assignments, which were given to me by flash drive.
I have an entire post about how much I love my eReader here, but I wanted to include it here because it really did help me a lot in school. Being able to quickly get books in large print, and being able to fit an entire library in my hand, was extremely helpful when I had to read books in class.
Because of the lack of internet services, I didn’t start heavily using my iPad (purchased the summer before my sophomore year) until my junior year of high school, when I transferred to a new school- read more about my second high school here. I started heavily using different apps in the classroom (read my post on different apps here) and used my iPad to research information, work on virtual classes, and complete digital classwork with the app Notability. I had some textbooks on my iPad, but not many, since my virtual classes did not require textbooks.
My Android phone was one of the first technology devices I ever used in the classroom. I used it as a magnifier and simple calculator, as well as a camera. I made sure to notify my teacher before I used my phone, so they would know it was for an educational purpose.
I had a small magnifier that I didn’t like using much, since the magnification would make my eyes hurt a lot, plus it was difficult for my eyes to focus. I still carried it anyway, but it was not very helpful.
One day, I went to school very sick and found that my normally excellent hearing wasn’t working very well. Weirdly enough, I aced every quiz and test I had that day, because I was tuning out a lot of the background noises that normally bothered me. After that, I started using ear plugs for assessments and found that it was easier to concentrate.
Instead of leaving class when my materials were not enlarged, I decided to try and make my own accessible materials. My mom bought me a portable scanner that hooked up to my computer, and I would scan in the inaccessible materials into Microsoft Word, and then make them accessible. This didn’t work very well if the page had anything other than text, and it took a long time to scan in, but it was a temporary solution to an ongoing problem. I now recommend the ScanMarker Air instead, as it scans much faster and more accurately. Review here.
These were written in as an accommodation to my IEP, as students were normally not allowed to use pens in the classroom. I like the extra fine Sharpie pens in a variety of colors, and never had any issues with them leaking or breaking.
I received all of my paper assignments on colored paper, because it is easier to read text on a colored background- read more about that here. This was written into my IEP as well, and I had slightly different print accommodations for each subject- read about my accommodations for print materials here. It’s worth noting I did not use folders, due to the size of the paper.
Even though my school district had limited technology resources, I’m grateful that I was able to use all of these different devices, which helped prepare me for college tremendously. Read about what’s in my bag at college here.