KGE teacher wins $3,500 tech grant

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Today’s children seem to be born tech savvy. Right away, they grasp some of the latest technology. In this digital age, that’s important.

JoDee Sanders, a Katherine Gallegos Elementary School kindergarten teacher, won a grant that will allow her to purchase five iPad Minis for her kindergarten classroom. The grant was awarded from the CenturyLink Clarke M. Williams Foundation’s Teachers and Technology program.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Thanks to a $3,500 grant from CenturyLink awarded to Katherine Gallegos Elementary kindergarten teacher JoDee Sanders, center, iPad Minis will be used to enhance education at the school. Pictured from left, are Shelley Bailey, CenturyLink market development manager, Sanders, center, and Principal Victoria Baca, right,

It awards grants to schools in CenturyLink’s local service areas on behalf of teachers who have developed specific, creative plans to integrate technology in their classroom.

More than 70 teachers applied in New Mexico for the dozen grants that were awarded.

Sanders won for the innovative technology projects she plans for her students, and was presented with a $3,500 check at the Los Lunas Board of Education meeting April 22.

“I was surprised,” Sanders said. “I thought we were attending the board meeting to represent our school.”

Winning the grant was particularly important to Sanders because her school doesn’t have iPads. A lot of her students never had access to the technology and don’t have Internet at home, she said.

“My kids love technology, they love their computer time,” she said. “They do a computer lab once a week, and they absolutely look forward to it. I think it makes it much more engaging.

“That’s why I wanted to (use iPads) in my reading groups, because I feel like if each one of the kids in a reading group has an iPad, and we’re doing it together, I’m going to keep their attention better, because they love technology.”

The students will be able to record themselves while reading out loud and listen to themselves afterward. This will help them with speech development, phonics and word pronunciation, Sanders said.

“They’re still developing their motor skills and there’s ways that iPads can help with that,” she said. “I have a student who has a physical disability, and so a lot times she can’t use the traditional supplies that we have. An iPad could help her in a lot of ways, too.”

With the small computer devices, the class will also have access to a larger selection of eBooks and audio eBooks.

The iPad is an interactive, multi-media learning tool that provides students with pictures, sounds and graphics as well as written material. There are a variety of instructional apps for iPad as well.

One of the educational websites Sanders likes is “Starfall,” and it has apps for iPads with several activities the kids can do to improve their reading skills, Sanders said.

“I think there is a sense of independence with it, too,” she said. “They build autonomy and lifelong skills.”

Sanders learned about the grant from the KGE principal Victoria Baca, and one of the assistant superintendents, Ron Williams, who is in charge of instructional technology.

Applicants had to write essays about what specific technology they wanted to bring into their classrooms and describe how they would the use it to develop curriculum, instructional lessons or multimedia learning content.

“We are very pleased to be a part of providing innovative technology in the classroom,” said Valerie Dodd, CenturyLink vice president and general manager for New Mexico. “It is exciting to see teachers implement creative teaching techniques that assist students in hands-on learning.”

The iPads encourage engagement and make learning fun, Sanders said.

“The possibilities are endless with all the apps,” she said. “We live in the digital age and the kids are ready for it.”


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.