Teacher raises funds for new technology iPads could help teach reading

By Adelle Whitefoot

MARQUETTE – In an attempt to allow students to learn more when it comes to reading
and writing, a teacher at Aspen Ridge School in Ishpeming Township is raising funds to get iPads into her classroom.

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First-grade teacher Bonnie Koenig is asking people for help so she can get three iPad Minis for her students to use for word work. The iPads would be used for educational learning games that would get students engaged and learn without even knowing it.

“I went to an iPad training in Appleton, which is a nation-wide type training by someone who goes around to different areas, and teachers from all over are getting trained on how to use the iPads in the classroom,” Koenig said. “The problem was, ‘how do I get this technology,’ and Donors Choose was kind of the answer. A lot of teachers go there and get projects funded, so I thought that might be an opportunity for me.”

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Donors Choose is a website where teachers can list what they need funds for, what the benefit of having those items will be to the students, and exactly how much it will cost. Koenig is trying to raise funds to pay for three iPad Minis, three cases, three headphone splitters, and six pairs of headphones with the cost totaling $1,392.79.

“It’s difficult to keep up with technology right now in the classroom because of the lack of funding and the tight economic times everywhere,” Koenig said. “It’s expensive and this is why we don’t have the amount of technology we would wish for.”

According to Koenig, the way the guided reading groups are set up, there are usually never more than six students per group, so the idea is to have two students share each iPad. She said there are many reasons why having these iPads for the students to use would be a benefit.

“It’s beneficial because, for one, they are learning technology. Secondly it’s individualized (for reading level), and third, when they are not working with myself or an aid during guided reading time or intervention they can do some individualized work on the iPads,” Koenig said.

An example of an application that Koenig said she would use in the classroom is a game called Tic Tac Toe. The game is for two players and when it’s a player’s turn he or she can pick a card on the board, read the question and answer it to get that spot. One of the questions can be something as simple as which word doesn’t belong because of the sound of the vowels in each word. The games the students would play could also be programed to be at their reading level, Koenig said.

“They can play educational learning games, but specifically word games,” she said. “I would say they are mostly working on their phonic skills and their sight work. There are also grammar games, such as unscrambling sentences and stuff like that.

“(The students) are just so motivated and they can get through a lot more material more quickly on an iPad than they can on paper.”

To donate to Bonnie Koenig’s fundraiser iPads for Word Work, visit www.donorschoose.org/project/ipads-for-word-work/1209055. To see what other teachers in the area are raising funds for, visit www.donorschoose.org and enter in a zip code.