It’s back-to-school time again, and the unsung heroes of the classroom — teachers — are deep in the trenches with one goal on their minds: make this school year better than the last.
Between teaching classes, attending workshops, completing lesson planning, grading assignments and organizing and decorating their classrooms, a teacher’s work truly is never done. However, one way teachers can make their lives easier is to purchase something that adds value to the classroom, especially when that item helps both the teacher and the students.
Here, five teachers reveal the best purchase they’ve ever made for less than $100.
Adjustable Height Whiteboard Easel: $59
“The best teaching buy for me was my adjustable height whiteboard easel,” said Janet Ecochard, an elementary intervention teacher and owner of Fishyrobb’s Teaching Ideas and Classroom Resources.
“The one I bought is made by Viz-Pro for $59. It has made a huge difference in the way I teach! Before I bought it, I had to stand in front of the room while teaching to use the big whiteboard. It’s hard to keep little kids engaged in your lesson when they are sitting in desks, and you’re way up in front of the room. The easel has allowed me to do almost all of my group instruction in our rug area on the floor. The kids can sit very close to me. I can sit in my chair close to their eye level. It’s easy to have them come up and participate by writing on the easel because the height adjusts and I can lower it so they can reach. The easel folds really easily and is very lightweight, so I can easily move it around the room. A+ purchase for sure! I use it every single day.”
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Are You Ready For Kindergarten? Game Show: $29.99
“This game has changed my teaching and helped me immensely,” said Elizabeth Fraley, M.Ed. CEO of Kinder Ready, who teaches students ages 3 and up.
“It is a great way to quickly track students’ skills and follows common core/state standards for each grade level. The game set includes 198 cards, a game stand, play money, reward coupons and a score tracker. To play this game, students answer a question card and place it in the correct or incorrect tray. From there, the teacher notes the standards or specific skill sets to be further improved. Students get rewarded with ‘money’ by answering the questions correctly. This is a game that helps keep students motivated and helps teachers to see if children are ready for kindergarten.”
Hi-Lo Books From Saddleback Publishing: $9.99 and Up
“We have so many students who don’t like reading or have below grade level reading skills in both middle and high school,” said Melissa Rowe, a semi-retired middle school teacher. “No matter what school I’ve taught at, there were never books that addressed the needs or interests of these students. It seems all the books available at their reading levels were also stories that were appropriate to much younger students. A 7th grader doesn’t want to read ‘Flat Stanley,’ even though it’s written at their reading level!”
Rowe added, “Purchasing these books helped me turn some non-readers into sort-of readers, and sort-of readers into confident readers. As a teacher, the more comfortable and confident your students are with reading, the more smoothly your classroom runs because students are more willing to be engaged in their work. The value added to my classroom was more engaged students, which all teachers hope for! It helped my career journey because it gave me confidence as a teacher once I realized that my students would read if I could provide books that covered age-appropriate topics but were written at a level they could enjoyably read.”
Logitech H111 Headset: $14.99
“In my school district, we have a higher population of kids who are deaf, hard of hearing, or could simply use a little extra support,” said Zach Horn, K-12 A/V technology specialist for Edina Public Schools.
“The Logitech H111 headset helped to create a more inclusive learning environment for students. For example, in a traditional classroom setup, teachers go about their normal lessons while using a microphone that records a live transcription into Google Meet. The headset added enormous value to all the classrooms I support and allowed students to hear and be heard clearly.”
Really Good Stuff Pencil Solution Pocket Chart & Organizer: $33
Amazon customer RaeATX had this to say about one of her best teaching purchases:
“I teach middle school and have tried for years to come up with a way to manage pencils,” she said. “Students frequently come to class without anything to write with, so I’ve always kept extras on hand. However, I kept running out because so many kids were borrowing but not returning. This year I started using this Pencil Parking pocket chart. Every kid has an assigned number and can borrow that pencil if needed. At the end of class, I can tell at a glance who hasn’t returned theirs. I still lose a few here and there, but nothing like previous years.”
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 5 Teachers Reveal the Best Purchase They’ve Ever Made for Less Than $100