10/19/2010 12:24 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Integrating Technology -- and it's Cheap too

Parents, students, and teachers agree, technology should be incorporated into language arts education. Unfortunately, in most cases one-to one computers are seen as a dream, instead of the reality. The cost involved stops most schools before they begin to even attempt to achieve this.

In a Web 2.0 classroom, students are engaged. Their writing has an authentic audience. They are motivated to produce high quality work because it will be seen by friends, teachers, parents, and others with Internet access. Knowing the value, schools are intimidated by what it might cost for classrooms where technology is fully integrated into the curriculum?

If schools would explore their options, technology for students can be attained without breaking the bank. This is how my sixth-grade language arts classroom is equipped.

Each student has a Dell GX520 on their desk. These refurbished machines were purchased for about $150 each. They are networked into a LAN, with Internet access and a storage server. A networked HP4240 laser printer provides economical printing.

There is no cost for software. The PCs use the Ubuntu operating system. This Linux based program eliminates the problems of spyware and adware. For word processing, students use Open Office 3.2. This newest version works seemlessly, and will read and save .doc files from Microsoft Office. For Internet access students use Firefox, the Mozilla based browser. Students write online on their Wordpress blog.

An Epson Powerlite 83 LCD projector is used for whole-class instruction so students can easily see what is being taught. An Epson DC10 Doc Camera is hooked to the projector. The document camera takes a picture and feeds it into the projector to show examples of students' work.

A digital camera is used to, among other things, take pictures for The Reading Workshop blog. A Flip Video Camera is used to record students' work, and for book talks.

When you walk in the classroom, the use of technology is everywhere. Teachers marvel at all of the equipment. The most amazing fact though, is how little it actually costs. At the most, there is $5,000 invested. So for less than $1,000/year, students can have computers to use as a tool, every day in language arts.

Why doesn't every language arts teacher have a class equipped with technology?