Help! What do you have trouble with most when teaching?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by leelun, Nov 20, 2010.

  1. leelun

    leelun New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2010
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 20, 2010

    Hi everybody!

    I am a senior in industrial design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and I'd like to design something for elementary teaching for my thesis project. I've been scouring the forums here and learning a lot of about teaching in a short amount of time. I had great teachers when I was young and completely respect the profession, which is why I wanted to design something (a product of some sort) to help.

    What is the most difficult thing you encounter when teaching? It sounds like everyone is incredibly resourceful and flexible, but are there any opportunities for a better designed product that would make your job easier? One thing I noticed was that many teachers make their own teaching tools, for example a word wall. If you do, why do you make your own and what do you use to make it? What kind of products do you buy instead? Also, how do you feel about using technology in teaching younger kids, like kindergarten and first grade? Whether it's furniture or toys or learning tools or anything else, I am open to hearing ANY comments you have! :thanks: for your time!
     
  2.  
  3. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Messages:
    4,212
    Likes Received:
    8

    Nov 20, 2010

    Parents. When I think about every bad experience I have had so far, it's because of the parents. Helicopter parents, parents who don't want to hear about areas where their "perfect child" can improve," parents who don't care, parents who don't support what you're doing in the classroom, parents who don't understand that you have 20 other children in the classroom, etc.

    I make most things with my students, because otherwise they won't use it. If students make or at least play a part in making anchor charts and resources, they take ownership for it. They get excited about using it, and they actually do. Pre-made posters and materials look nice, but they aren't used as often by students. I make most labels, signs, anchor charts, and many other things. I usually just use poster board, construction paper, and cardstock. I laminate everything so it lasts all year. I buy alphabet lines, number lines, calendar time materials, and hands-on manipulatives.

    I use a lot of technology. I have a smartboard, document camera, and 6 student mini laptops. I use them so often I would have a difficult time teaching without them.
     
  4. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Messages:
    4,212
    Likes Received:
    8

    Nov 20, 2010

    I should add that I can't think of anything that would be helpful that isn't made already...I work part-time at the largest teacher story in my state, and we sell almost anything a teacher could want.

    One thing that I want but can't find is fun furniture that doesn't contain any fabric or cushions. It would have to be basically just plastic. Many schools (including my own) don't allow pillows and fabric because of fire code or the risk of lice. I'm having a difficult time finding fun, comfy chairs that don't take up a lot of room.
     
  5. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Messages:
    831
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 20, 2010

    My biggest issue is not what's not available, but the COST of it. Because the school I work for has-literally-NO money to spare, whatever they currently have is what we have to use, unless we raise the funds we have. So if my tables are wobbly and too high (which they are), what I need is to find tables of the right height for under $100 (my current fundraising capabilities, having used up most of the people I know as resources, and not qualifying for Donor's Choose).

    Doubt you can help with that! (Unless you're willing to donate a few thousand dollars :lol: . In which case, I'd gladly PM you the link to my Adopt-A-Classroom account!)
     
  6. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Messages:
    4,395
    Likes Received:
    7

    Nov 20, 2010

    I would love to be able to design my own overhead cart. It should have room for the overhead of course, but I would want that in some sort of recessed area so the rest of the cart was even with the screen of the overhead-does that make sense? It should also have an adjustable shelf big enough for a teacher's edition without having to hang off. Places for all of the overhead accessories would be nice, and shelves, drawers, cupboards below. Oh, and most importantly, it should be at a comfortable height so you don't have to bend over the write on it. And if you could figure out something so I have never ending clean overhead film...I have the roller, but it is a pain to roll and after about 2 or 3 times cleaning it, it makes the marker bubble like it is wet. How's that for a wishlist?? :D
     
  7. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,786
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 21, 2010

    Could you create a time machine? One that adds more time in the day, but then when school is out, it goes back to 3:00. My biggest problem is finding time to get to everything.

    I have very few "bought" items in my room. Most of our stuff is created together, or I've made it.

    The idea of technology is great. The idea of the cost of technology - not so great.
     
  8. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2006
    Messages:
    4,858
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 21, 2010


    :lol: Love it!

    My biggest issue is differentiation. You always have such a range of levels and it's hard with the time we have to hit all of them appropriately.

    I also make a lot of things because it's cheaper that way. I'll see something in teacher supply like a workstation game that's $20 and make it myself on the computer for the cost of ink and paper. I agree technology is great, but it's always constantly changing and often schools can't keep up. We tried to get ipads with technology money we had leftover this year, but couldn't get it approved-I'm not sure the approvers knew what is was or what it could do yet.
     
  9. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Messages:
    4,212
    Likes Received:
    8

    Nov 21, 2010

    I just realized how "off" my response of parents was.:lol: It's seriously the first thing that comes to mind, though! So, maybe some sort of parent helper/coach thing? Hah, I don't know...
     
  10. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2007
    Messages:
    2,483
    Likes Received:
    204

    Nov 21, 2010

    Yeah. Parents. We need you to design a better parent.
     
  11. AnonyMS

    AnonyMS SpEd Para! BASE room aide! RTI Facilitator!

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2005
    Messages:
    840
    Likes Received:
    9

    Nov 21, 2010

    Storage, storage, storage... shelving, closets, etc.
     
  12. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2007
    Messages:
    2,483
    Likes Received:
    204

    Nov 21, 2010

    An LCD projector with a greater zoom capability. One that I can locate in the rear of the room and not need a 20' screen to fit the entire image. Or a lens that can go over the existing to to give this feature to any projector.

    Having this for an ordinary overhead projector would be great too.
     
  13. leelun

    leelun New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2010
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 21, 2010

    Thank you everybody! Pigeon and Sarge, haha unfortunately I can't redesign parents but maybe I could try to bring in some positive interaction there. It sounds like cost is a huge issue. Perhaps furniture design with smart manufacturing to reduce cost. Also, overhead carts and projection as well as storage and shelving. Some time management/multitasking. Anything else?

    Does anyone know from an administrator POV, what do they look for when determining what to buy or what to approve of?

    Another thing I was curious about is how much homework do you give? I was reading a report that said there is a lot more homework given to the younger kids nowadays. Have you ever experienced any problems with parents regarding homework? Or maybe when collecting it?

    Hope this isn't too many questions! Again, I really appreciate everybody's comments!
     
  14. Super2ndGrade

    Super2ndGrade Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2010
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 21, 2010

    Parents can be a big problem!:lol:
    Having to deal with them can be hard...:dizzy:
    I've had one who would always blame me when their son didn't do well on a spelling or letter test! I needed :help: so much I joined this forum... so congratulations to her for creating Super2ndGrade!:rolleyes:



    "Nothing is hard, it is challenging."
    -My third grade teacher:)
     
  15. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Messages:
    831
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 21, 2010

    Re: purchasing: I do all my own purchasing for my classroom, so here's what I look for: (off the top of my head, no specific order) quality, safety, price, functionality, ease of use, kid-friendliness, easy to clean and move...

    As a pre-k/K combined class, I don't give any real homework. I send home optional work that the students get a prize for completing. Believe it or not, the problem I have with parents and homework is that they want MORE homework, and believe that a lack of homework means a lack of learning. Collecting it is not an issue, because it goes in their communication notebooks, which my assistant removes from their bags if they forget to hand it in.
     
  16. wrice

    wrice Habitué

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009
    Messages:
    758
    Likes Received:
    1

    Nov 23, 2010

    I'd love to have a better water faucet and sink for my science lab! Currently the faucet is a tall goose neck that comes from the top, side of the sink. The kids put their hands under the stream of water, and the water is instantly diverted to the countertops. Large puddles always result.

    I think it would be neat to have a faucet within the sink- the water would actually squirt out within the walls of the sink. The kids would be forced to wash their hands within the walls of the sink, and there would be no diverted spills.

    Backpack hooks are a mess. Can you think of a better way to make 20 backpacks easily accessible to kids yet tidier and more out-of-the-way than a line of hooks? Cubbies just make for an additional obstacle and takes the kids forever. Maybe some kind of four-sided post so backpacks would be on different sides and less of a traffic jam?

    Elmer's school glue is definitely overdue for a redesign! That little orange top only works when the bottle is new! Dried, clogged tops are the unfortunate norm!

    Marker caps are too easy to lose and so we end up with dead markers. Sharpie makes clickable markers that retract into the case, but kids are noisy with those clicking all the time. Perhaps some kind of hinged marker cap that swings on and off?

    Kids can take miles of tape from the dispenser. Invent a tape dispenser that hands out little strips in doses?

    I made a magnet board that I love, to tell kids what materials they need for the day. I cut little strips from foam core board and pasted words on one side (pencil, lab book, Homework- turn in, Homework- check....) and little magnets on the other side. I put the board by the door and as the kids come in they know right away what to do. I think you could commercialize that!

    Lastly, flexible lighting while using the projector has been an issue. Right now I have on or off fluorescent lights. Lights on with the projector and it's too hard to see the screen in detail, lights off and many times it's too hard for the kids to see their papers when writing notes off the screen.

    Thanks for thinking of us teachers!
     
  17. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Messages:
    4,395
    Likes Received:
    7

    Nov 24, 2010

    DITTO! My math classes are in interior rooms, which are pitch black with the lights off. I would love to have little clip on lights for student desks.

    Student desks with some sort of back pack storage device would be great.
     
  18. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2010
    Messages:
    1,150
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 25, 2010

    I would LOVE premade math and reading centers that are aligned with the curriculum and ready made and put together in a box. So like if I'm teaching Chapter One, addition and subtraction, I could just reach into the box and take out 5 - 6 premade, cute centers and stick them in the stations. Then, when I get to Chapter Two and we're learning shapes, there are several centers already set up wfor those.

    I absolutely hate centers because I never know what to have the kids do in them.
     
  19. Teaching Smart

    Teaching Smart New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2010
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 29, 2010

    I created my own classroom software.

    I created my own. First I took into consideration that Standards will never be carved in stone so in place of creating lessons that match standards my program allows you to attach as many standards as you want to the lesson. This makes more sense because when you develop your own lesson plans you can just step back, look at the objective, then just click on the standards the lesson is targeting. The program then notifies you of the standards you failed to target in a lesson. Then you make a new lesson to meet those standards and your curriculum is complete. It also charts the number of times each standard is hit so you can identify strong and weak areas of your curriculum.
    Next I wanted to know what I was going to teach the next day. So the program holds all my lesson plans, presentations, tests, quizes, weblinks, etc. in lesson modules in the order I teach. I just click the next row and all my materials print out for that days lesson and the projector plays the presentation. When I'm done I mark that lesson complete and it is date stamped and the row turns green to show I did it. Next day I just click the next row.
    It has other cool features but don't want to make this too long.
     
  20. teach'ntx

    teach'ntx Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    322
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 29, 2010

    Parents and students' home life. It is amazing what they bring to the classroom!
    As for homework, I give it bit I am not allowed to use it for a grade as my students do not have anyone at home that can assist them. (See top point).
    I would love a pencil tip that does not break easily nor does is smear into the laminate floor at the slightest touch. My floor is a mess 10 minutes into the day due to pencils and crayons, and the metal bottoms of the chairs and tables.
    Lastly - I would love the techmology but as in many schools, the funding is not there. We were suppose to have them this year and we have some of the wiring done, but we are trying to find the funding to finish installing them.....
     
  21. Teaching Smart

    Teaching Smart New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2010
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 4, 2010

    teach'ntx
    I may be of help with your technology issue. Do you actually need funding or can I just provide the technology?
     
  22. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Messages:
    2,842
    Likes Received:
    321

    Dec 5, 2010

    I have dreamed of differentiation software. In my vision, it is aligned with whatever standardized data you use. For example, my grade uses the NWEA test results to drive our instruction. You can spend hours just going through the bullet points of NWEA, figuring out where all your kids are, and grouping them according to strategy. But I would like some kind of device that produces the work for you. Like here's my regular/mid-level homework, scan it in, and the machine spits out a "lower" version and a "higher" version based on student data. Or I can select a group of students, click "word analysis" and it spits out some activities that would benefit them at their level.

    I will always do right by my kids and try to give them what they need, but it is extraordinary trying to meet their range of abilities, IEP requirements, etc. :yawn:
     
  23. BB0211

    BB0211 Companion

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2007
    Messages:
    206
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 6, 2010

    Ah ha! U of I alum here....

    Thank you for thinking of us teachers!

    Do you have any type of product you would like to design?
     
  24. teach'ntx

    teach'ntx Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    322
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 6, 2010

    Teaching Smart - Sadly it is the funding we are lacking right now. I am lucky enough to have two pc's for my students to use, but I do not have a smart board or a projector, or anything to use to help incorporate streaming video or anything else. I have the wires for the board, however the redo of the school cost more than they thought and we don't have the boards and the projectors installed like we were suppose to.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

Total: 312 (members: 2, guests: 291, robots: 19)
test