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Paid for by AT&T: iPods for ELLs in Corpus Christi

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The Corpus Christi Independent School District in Texas is using a $25,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation to buy 50 iPods to use with English-language learners, according to a May 9 article published by a local Texas media outlet, the Caller-Times. (I saw the article first at TESOL in the News).

I called AT&T today to see what kind of grant money might be available for technology at other school districts. Dan Feldstein, a spokesman working out of Houston for AT&T, told me that the $25,000 that paid for the iPods in Corpus Christi was part of a $1.5 million grant initiative from the AT&T Foundation that paid for wireless technologies for educational uses. It was a one-time deal and the recipients have already been selected. (The Caller-Times article is wrong, he said, in saying that the whole $1.5 million went to projects in ELL classrooms.) But Mr. Feldstein added that the AT&T Foundation has just announced that education is the new focus of its giving.

Back in September 2007, I reported on an English-as-a-second-language teacher, Mercedes Pichard, of Fort Myers, Fla., who was given 36 hand-held computing devices by Intel Corp. to use in her teaching.

I have no idea how hard it is to land such financial support for educational technology, but if I hear of any other such opportunities, I'll let you know. I believe English-language learners deserve to have the same chance to use technology in school as other students do, and some activities with technology, such as practicing listening and speaking with podcasts, may benefit them MORE than other students.

2 Comments

ipods can help just like computer programs etc. but it is interaction with other people and reading at comprehensible levels which really helps teach English.

I do not think that companies which offer technology grants are either purposely excluding or purposely including schools or districts with ELL populations. Obtaining occasional special grants (educational technology or other) is extremely competitive, and many teachers or school districts do not have the time to write an excellent, competitive grant proposal. My own learning curve on grant-writing techniques happened to have been swift and very well-mentored, which was a confluence of good fortune for my classes of ELLs.

The few things I can suggest to budding grant-writers from classrooms: 1) Make sure you clearly mention and cite the state standards (and/or federal standards and/or subject-area standards and/or TESOL standards) which you are targeting in your grant proposal, should you win it; 2) Make technology support / resources / person-hours a part of your grant budget; and 3) Get a colleague to proofread / edit your grant proposal.

If your school district offers grant-writing training, take it! If your school-district has a cadre of grant-writers, don't be afraid to ask them questions; and once you have a track-record of winning smaller local grants, ask to be included in the e-mail group who receive the larger grant announcements. Also, be Zen-like about it: know that you won't win them all!

Mercedes

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