The New

It has been a nutty three weeks for me but when I head to school this morning, I'll have some shiny new Lenovo m90z touch-screen workstation-quality all in one machines awaiting me. They are touch screen and while Windows 7 has limited functionality with touch and a nagging problem with “fat finger” my friends on the inside at Microsoft say with raised eyebrows that I can expect some really cool touch stuff with Windows 8. These lovely machines came in at less than $1k a piece.

I used ninite to load quite a bit of the free and open source software that I use onto the one image that we'd then duplicate. I went ahead and set up the printers and had a very smart technological expert, David Cooper, one of our parents spend his parent workday installing my Lego Robolab software on simulated Windows xp. (My Windows 7 64-bit machines were not going to be compatible but using XP simulated mode you can still run legacy anything.)

Mounted on the wall and with wireless keyboards snugly fit in their custom built keyboard trays, this lab is a labor of love. I am the luckiest person on the planet in many ways in that I've always been fortunate to work with some of the best at what they do… snuggled in this tiny hometown of mine.

One of the leading furniture refinisher/ restorers in the world is just down the road and his wife is my daughter's cheerleading coach. They happened to be in-between celebrity / uber-rich refinishing jobs and agreed to build my cabinets for me for a steal. I have beautiful custom cabinets lining my walls and I have so much more room for the crazy filming we often do.

Our janitors at our school are incredibly responsive and hard working. They just worked and worked – they even figured out how to shampoo the carpet under my bookcase without having to take EVERYTHING off it. I know this seems small but it wasn't to me.

I have an amazing lead computer technician, Michael, from my tech support company, Blough Tech. He and everyone else there at Blough Tech have moved heaven and earth to help things happen. I went in last night at 6pm and Michael was still there in the front office helping our office manager with a problem.

You see, at my school a new computer lab trickles down. Although my original lab had dwindled from 21 to 16 working PC's those PC's are a lot better than the ones in place in many of our classrooms. Every PC has a new home. WE had just imaged the hard drives last year and they are in fine working order for word processing, internet surfing, accelerated reader, and a little photo shop. Just not the heavy duty filmmaking and HD film ripping that my students have to do in my class. When we replaced the old computers, only 5 of them were unusable – so the others stayed in place. Between my old computers and teacher PC's we've had a net increase of about 30 computers on campus. (Around 123 — and little old me full time teacher/ IT director and yet, it is OK.)

Through our MISBO pricing consortium deal that lets my tiny school get the same deals that big schools get, we negotiated a SITE license for Microsoft Desktop (a suite including Office and the OS) and Adobe CS 5.5 Design Edition and for the same price as individual licenses would be for my computer lab we have licenses to load this software on every computer on campus. So, it is a win for all of us.

We are also taking some of the old computers that are the same model and re-doing one of them perfectly and imaging those hard drives over to the others. I've found that it is possible to get 

We have a new Ken-a-vision Kena digital microscope that my Science department is ga-ga over. (You can hook this up to your projector and show what you're seeing through the microscope. I plan a review on this later here.)

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere