As a secondary teacher in an underfunded district, I get paid very little money for the time and energy I put in to my teaching. I am totally cool with this, I never got into teaching for money, I enjoy a minimalist life style. However, there are certain implements that are very well suited to instructional goals but cost a decent amount of money and therefore I always drag my feet to spend the money (whether the school's or my own) to purchase these implements. I have been able to manage some hacks that I have found to be very useful in my classroom that cost little to no money to create. They include:
- using jelly beans and toothpicks instead of the heavy duty plastic sticks (we call them D-sticks, not sure if that is an official name or what) to create geometric solids and/or molecular structures
- Using webcam hardware/software on a laptop and a projector instead of having to purchase a $1000+ document camera (just have to make sure the software supports inverting the video image or else everything displays backwards)
- Using old folders for lots of uses including double sided straight edges of arbitrary width, rulers using printouts like this, backing for using nets to build geometric solids, framing for student work, etc.
- Buying sidewalk chalk and a plastic chalk holder (about 12 bucks for a pack of 20 sticks and two holders) instead of the pitiful chalk my school buys. Sidewalk chalk doesn't break, the holder keeps you hand from getting dusty, they write nice, fat characters that are readable even from the back of the room, they last forever (I have been using the same piece for over two months)
What are some other DIY/hack things that you all have done to create an implement/demo/etc that has been effective for instruction?