Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Make Your Own Opportunity

Yesterday, I wrote about Hannibal and how teachers of ELLs share some similar personality traits.  One trait is perseverance and another is creativity.

Several years ago, I read an article about how iPods were used in a class to help students improve their reading skills.  I was intrigued and wanted to try that out with some of my ELLs who were reading way below grade level.  However, I could not afford to buy a bunch of iPod Nanos on my own.

Serendipitously, I read in MATSOL Currents, the newsletter of the Massachusetts affiliate of TESOL International Association, about a grant opportunity for teachers called the ING Unsung Heroes Award.  This grant funded projects teachers wanted to implement in their classes or school.  At least one project from every state would be selected to receive one of the basic $2,000 awards; three teachers’ projects would receive additional funding.

This sounded great!  I researched the technology equipment I desired, wrote up how I would use it to benefit my students, and created a budget.  Then I submitted the application and waited.  In the summer, I was thrilled when I received an email notifying me I had won one of the awards.
Apply for a grant to further your teaching
Plaque for the award I won; source: The ESL Nexus

I excitedly went to my local Apple store to buy the iPods as well as additional technology.  The clerk I worked with was so impressed with my project that he gave me a really good deal on all the stuff I purchased.

Once school began, I shared the news with my students and they were eager to use the iPods.  We used them to create podcasts and videos, which students at that time had never done before so besides helping them develop reading, writing and speaking skills, the students were learning technology skills as well.  I was very pleased with the results and really appreciated being the beneficiary of ING’s largess.

The ING Unsung Heroes Award has been renamed the Voya Unsung Heroes Award.  Applications are currently being accepted for new projects and the deadline to submit is April 30, 2015.  I urge anyone who has a creative idea for working with ELLs, and other students, but who lacks the funding to implement it, to apply for one of these grants.  Click HERE to access the Voya webpage where you can download an application form.

I recommend you read about prior winners’ projects to get an idea of the kinds of projects they fund.  If you win, please come back and post a comment about your project.  Good luck!