How much will it cost my campus/district to convert a classroom?
The cost will vary depending if your campus is wireless or not. Also, please note that the process will vary from campus to campus and district to district. Please check with your networking people or administration before you purchase anything. With that being said, here is a comprehensive list of supplies you might need:

-Eight Port Network Switch, $60
-20′ Network Cable, $15
-15′ Six-Outlet Surge Protectors, $30 (2 @ $15/each)
-Cable Tunnel, $45 (15 feet @ $3/ft.)
-USB Extensions for Mice, $35 (5 @ $7/each)
-PS2 Extensions for Keyboards, $15 (5 @ $3/each)
Total Cost per Classroom: $200

A few notes on this list: First, this assumes that you already have five computers and five “extra” student desks. We also re-used the five short network cables that previously connected the desktops to the wall. We initially thought we would need the USB and PS2 extensions for the mice and keyboards, so they would reach across to all student desks. Looking back, we don’t really think these are necessary. Even without these extensions, everyone in the group gets easy access. No big deal, but this saved us $50/classroom on subsequent conversions.

If you are on a wireless campus, your shopping list will be much shorter. Assuming that the desktop computers are already configured with wirelss adapters, your only costs will be related to delivering power to the groups of computers. Buy two surge protectors and cable tunnel and your are set up.

Do I have to arrange my room in a “star pattern” to have an Inspired Classroom?
The whole reason we started arranging the desks in a star pattern is to deliver the power and network cables in the most effciant manner. Because we started this in a non-wireless environment getting all the cables/cords from the wall to all of the computers was a big challenge. By backing the computers up to each other only one run of cables from the wall is needed. Cords can be bundled together to avoid problems, hiding the cords and keeping them out of high-traffic areas. For more information on room configurations, click here.

Will this work in a kindergarten or first grade classroom?
Yes and no. Yes, primary students can cooperatively in groups and use the computers. It seems like even the youngest kiddos are coming pre-wired with mouse skills. The big drawback, however, is the reading and keyboarding skills required of the kids. Since the communication through the blog is read/write, this quickly becomes the roadblock. We are looking at uses of Audacity that will allow for teachers and students to communicate by speaking and listening rather than reading and writing. Just think of a microphone as a more approproate input device (instead of the keyboard) for children this age.

Why are blogs so important in an Inspired Classroom?
If the star patten arrangement is the “blueprint” of an Inspired Classroom, a blog is the “workflow” tool. The blog centralizes instruction, student responses, and internet resources. The blog also allows for instruction to become asynchronus. The teacher can deliver instruction and create activities that students can complete on their on own, whenever time allows.

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