Sometimes, all it takes is a dose of technology to make learning fun.
Medora Community Schools already had 10 iPad minis to share for small group instruction.
But now, teachers have an opportunity to rent a cart loaded with 20 new iPad minis so each student in a classroom can use one.
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The cart and new electronic devices were made possible through an Endless Bookshelf for Hoosier Family Readers grant, which is offered through a partnership between Old National Bank, the National Center for Families Learning and the Indiana Department of Education.
Representatives of those three organizations visited the school Feb. 13 to listen to fourth-graders in Adam Disque’s class read on the iPad minis.
“The first thing for me is just their excitement level with it,” Disque said. “They enjoy getting on them. They enjoy the different things they can go to and practice skills they have to have, that if it’s paper and pencil, they are not all that excited about. They are much more willing to do it on the iPad.”
Students use computers for a variety of things, from classroom lessons to the ISTEP+ test, so the iPad minis help them get comfortable with technology, Disque said.
“It’s one of those technologies they are going to have to get used to using, and a lot them have done really, really well with it,” he said. “There are just so many things you can have them do.”
With all of his students using the iPad minis, Disque can have them work on specific lessons individually or in groups.
“It’s very easy to find an app that can address that and give them a different way to see it,” he said. “As many different ways as we can teach different skills to kids, the better chance we have of all of them picking up on it and retaining it.”
Since launching in May 2006, the Old National Bank Foundation has allowed 501(c)(3) and 509(a) nonprofit organizations within the company’s geographic area to apply for grant requests online.
Janet Baas, foundation president and sustainability director, said the National Center for Families Learning helps Old National Bank determine areas with the greatest need.
Each year, Baas said she reviews approximately 350 applications. She uses a rating and ranking process to evaluate them and see how they are aligned with the company’s funding priorities — economic development, early childhood education, financial literacy and workforce development.
In 2014, the foundation funded about $1.3 million across Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and central and southwest Michigan.
The initiative included 1,000 Indiana public school students receiving the iPad minis.
“What we’re trying to do is make an impact on the next generation, whether it’s through education or teaching them good financial literacy tips,” Baas said. “If you think about it, we’re a bank, and that does kind of make sense that we’re trying to instill in the next generation those important attributes.”
Other Old National Bank representatives joining Baas at Medora were Mark Bradford of Bloomington, Zac Nelson of Columbus and Ray Eakins of Seymour.
“Coupled with our financial contributions, we also like to have the volunteerism hours committed to nonprofit organizations,” Baas said. “We are big on associate volunteerism, and last year, we had 99,000 hours reported into our database of volunteerism that was done throughout the company.”
Also at Medora were Leslie Fatum with the Indiana Department of Education and Patricia Lovett and Shea Coughlin with the National Center for Families Learning.
The classroom visitors enjoyed going around and listening to the students read and talking to them about the new devices.
Among the students was Kaitlyn Davidson.
“I like them because we don’t have to take turns, and you can have your own,” Kaitlyn said.
She said she likes the IXL program, which helps with math, language arts and reading comprehension.
“It’s not that hard,” Kaitlyn said of using the iPad minis. “There are a lot of apps you can get on.”