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Kentite Fundraising to put iPads in Students' Hands

Jonathan Shaw, a teacher in Canton, wants to partner with Kent State students to teach third-graders

Jonathan Shaw's educational — and personal — roots are Kent through and through.

But his efforts to put iPads in the hands of his third-grade students is practically international.

Shaw, a Kent resident and teacher in the Canton City Schools, is in the midst of an online fundraiser to buy iPads for his classroom to, in part, foster collaboration with student teachers at Kent State University — Shaw's alma mater.

"There’s literally thousands of educational apps we can download and the students can work with on a day-to-day basis," Shaw said.

Among the possible uses of the iPads is a means for Shaw to create a virtual meeting space online so his third-grade students can interact with student teachers at Kent State to foster development of both student groups.

The iPads also give Shaw's students the ability to create reports that are more multi-media driven rather than simply produced on paper with pencil. The technology also gives his students the chance to interact with other students across the globe whether via pen pal programs or websites that facilitate cooperative learning in math and other disciplines.

"Pretty much the way I see education (it) is moving more and more toward technology," Shaw said. "And the reason I want to get the iPads is I want to put the technology into my students hands at an earlier age. And I want to give them the opportunity to work with the technology on a daily basis that they may not have."

He said many of the 30 students in his classroom don't have direct access to such technology outside of school. And school computer labs are often booked, thus providing limited access to the web.

Perhaps more important will be the opportunity to connect with student teachers at Kent State and create special projects.

That's where Anne Morrison, associate education professor, and her college students come in.

"This is a brand new layer for all of us, so it’s a great way for these teachers to have an experience of being at the ground level of working on a project," Morrison said.

Her students have collaborated directly, and in-person, with Shaw's in the past, but the addition of iPads would allow for much more regular contact.

Both Shaw and Morrison have grand plans for the partnership, which in the past has included an examination of the book Growing Season; The Life of a Migrant Worker, itself a collaboration of Kent State staff, as a means to introduce Shaw's third-grade class to the international world around them without ever leaving Northeast Ohio.

Next year, Shaw and Morrison want to write and apply for grants to target fundraisers at larger, corporate donors to try and get iPads and other devices into the hands of his entire school.

"Our students already know how to write grants," Morrison said.

For this year, Shaw's goal is to raise $5,000 to get enough iPads for every child in his class, by March, and to buy any additional technology if the money is available.

The fundraiser, which started in January, raised $2,600 in 20 days. As of Wednesday morning the class had reached $2,860.

"The students are excited about the possibility of getting the iPads and talking about things we want to do once we get them in the classroom," Shaw said. "It’s been an interesting process using social media and the internet to raise as much money as quickly as we have."

Karen A. Shaw February 15, 2013 at 12:52 PM
Jono is a great teache!. He trys to figure out ways to get his students excited about learning. Getting the Ipads in his students hands plants the seed in them to want to explore new ways to learn and enjoy it.

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