Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Class Goes International

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I use a mini-economy system in my classroom.  (If you want to read a post that explains this, click here.)  It not only teaches my students fiscal responsibility but it also helps me manage my classroom.

At the end of each school year, my students write letters to local businesses asking for donations for our end-of-year class auction.  The kids learn about writing persuasive, informative business letters and then get to spend their hard-earned Boyd Bucks on lots of fun merchandise. 

Some of our donations for this year's auction included a $25 gift card from Wal-Mart, free hats and t-shirts from Caterpillar, a $10 gift card from Dairy Queen, coupons for lots of free menu items from Arby's and Wendy's, discount coupons from Red Mango (a local frozen yogurt shop), books from Barnes & Noble, lunchboxes full of goodies from the Children's Place, passes to Arrowhead Bowl, and free games at Monster Mini-golf.  It's seriously good stuff, and I'm often bummed that I'm not allowed to bid.

This auction is the one big event that my students look forward to all year long.  The frugal ones save their money for 180 days just for this.  But because of her trip to London, Kinley would not be with us for our auction. 

She was really disappointed until Josh came up with a solution.  A few weeks before, every classroom in our school had been updated with ENO interactive whiteboards.  Many of the teachers in my school were wary of this new technology since we had been provided with little training and because a school system budget crunch made it hard to justify this new technology spending to parents and tax payers. 

But the boards had appeared overnight, as if by magic, so we may as well use them.  Besides, our school-issued laptops easily connect to them so that anything on my computer screen can be seen on my ENO board by the whole class.  With the help of Skype, Kinley would be able to see and participate in the class auction, and the whole class would be able to see her while she bid.  I wouldn't have to think about how sad her empty little desk and chair made me feel; I would have her larger-than-life smiling face projected right in front of me!

It worked out perfectly.  Below is a picture of Kinley sitting in our London flat bidding during the auction.

We started at noon (Indiana time), so Kinley had to log on at 5:00 PM in London.  She convinced her daddy that she ought to be able to share in the class pizza party, too, so she ate a supper of take-out pizza in London while we lunched on Papa John's in Lafayette.  The picture below shows her watching the auction and eating her pizza.

She ended up getting the DQ card, some almonds donated by Bradley Farms, a cap from Caterpillar, an insulated bag, a camo necklace and bracelet, several Red Mango coupons, a free taco from Taco Bell, and a $20 gift certificate to Spageddie's.  Bidding in a real auction from 4500 miles away would involve import taxes, foreign currency exchange rates, and expensive auctioneers' fees.  But we'd made it work for our class economic system without any of that red tape.

At one point during the bidding, Kinley asked me to adjust my computer's camera so that she could see her classmates better. I thought it was pretty sweet that she wanted to really feel as if she were there in the classroom with everyone else.  But the sweetest part was the way that the rest of my class responded.  They were quick to notice Kinley's bidding, even when I was focused on the bidders who were actually in the room with me.  They would yell, "Mrs. Boyd!  Mrs. Boyd!  Kinley's trying to bid!" so that I would acknowledge her.  A couple of times, kids even stopped bidding early so that Kinley could win an item.  It was precious.

And I was really grateful for that new classroom technology.


Sue said...

Wow, first to comment... This is a story where we marry technology & parents' love for their daughter. The fact that this you took time to record this event from last spring says a lot. (from Sue)

boyd2 said...

Sue, first I have to credit Josh for taking the pictures and encouraging me to blog about the auction. I went through a blogging slump this summer and just wasn't "feeling" it. But Josh encouraged me the other day and gave me ideas for how to catch up on the end of last school year plus the summer so that it wouldn't be so overwhelming. Second, my motivation to start using the technology was decidedly un-educational, but at least it was a start. I had been using my ENO as just a very expensive whiteboard before this! :)