RIVERVIEW — For most people, an iPod is the portal to their music collection.
For Rebecca Hosick, a language arts teacher at Giunta Middle School, it's a teaching tool.
Hosick, 27, recently won a $2,000 grant for being one of the nation's most innovative educators in the 2008 ING Unsung Heroes awards program. She will provide Giunta students and teachers with 12 iPods to stimulate interest in language arts. The idea: Use an interactive media format that kids know best to draw them in to language arts learning.
"It's a good way to deliver the message in another form besides regular textbooks," said Hosick, noting that students are more comfortable with computers than textbooks. "They show a lot more pride when their work is media related."
As part of what she dubbed the 21st Century Literacy project, Hosick will also buy the Webster's dictionary and some audio books that can be used on the iPods to attract students who lack motivation and interest in reading.
Although $2,000 won't put an iPod in every student's hand, Hosick says it's a start. She will now compete with other winners for one of the top three prizes, an additional $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000. If she wins one of the big prizes from financial services company ING, she'll buy more iPods, Apple computers and specialized training on teacher-related media.
It would be, she said, a great supplement to Giunta's $3,000 budget.
"Teachers give so much of their own money to make different things work in the classroom. It's just all part of teaching. At least it is for me," she said. "I probably spend way too much, as do most teachers, on different things for the classroom. So many teachers have great ideas, but not enough funds to get the materials they need. Looking for such grants ... is one way to find the funds to make these ideas come to life."
For now, small groups will use the iPods with connectors so several students can use them together.
"Rebecca has some great ideas," said ING's Audria Benn, noting that Hosick competed and ranked in the top 100 among 1,400 applicants.