In the last few days you have probably been given a few hundred dollars for your class budget and a catalogue for some ordering.
Come the Back-To-School season, a Norah Ephron film would recommend a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils, but I personally am a paper-fiend. I am ashamed to admit how much I love the idea of ordering a shipment of paper in every style I can think of – A4, A3, coloured, white, butchers, thick, thin, circle, square, kinder, card, fluoro and, if I’m feeling crazy, maybe something metallic or corrugated. It’s not as though my entire budget is spent on paper but I have often allocated an alarming proportion to stationery.
Paper is fine… kids can do some great thinking and create great products using paper. The problem is that if all I order is paper, I’m making it pretty clear to my students that it’s the only thing we can use to think and create.
This year, I’m going to leave the paper in the catalogue and think outside the (paper ream) box.
I’m thinking about what else might be more valuable than paper (or stationery items) to create the learning environment I want to create – where students have a multitude of materials with which to think, design, create, play, experiment…
Maybe I’ll head to Resource Rescue and spend that budget on a range of open-ended craft consumables like boxes, containers, stencils, foam, icypole sticks, cardboard tubes and fabric. That way they can prototype and design solutions to problems they are working on or design mixed-media artwork.
Maybe I’ll spend it on some LEGO-style blocks so students are able to build their ideas into reality. That way they can build a model of a maths problem, design a home to suit a character they are reading about, or test their engineering when simulating an earthquake and measuring the impact.
Maybe I’ll buy some green paint to turn a wall of our classroom green so we have a greenscreen at hand. That way it’s easy for students to up the ante on the video creations they design.
Maybe I’ll save it for the time we need to pay for a guest visitor to answer the kids’ questions on their inquiry topic. That way they can access a real expert that can provide them with the time and expertise they need at that to continue their inquiry.
Maybe I’ll invest in some tools to get construction going: needles for sewing, hot glue guns, hammers, saws, a MakeDo kit and some tape. That way when students need to build we have plenty of tools ready to be deployed to get that project just right.
Maybe I’ll spend some of it on purchasing a series of books that a reluctant reader enjoyed the film version of. That way I get to buy paper but at the same time a student gets the chance to fall in love with a book for the first time.
In all likelihood, I think I’ll hold off on the order until it becomes obvious that we need something that is going to take learning to the next level. And somehow don’t think that will be a ream of coloured A3 paper.
What do you think is worthwhile buying with that class budget?