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The Madison Record

Boston conference lauds Bob Jones alumnae Kaitlyn Ashley

Don’t bother telling Kaitlin Ashley ‘it can’t be done.’ Her diligent research recently took her to the National Collegiate Honors Conference in Boston.

Kaitlin Ashley qualified as a presenter at the National Collegiate Honors Conference. (Photo contributed)

Majoring in elementary education, Ashley is a senior honor student at the University of North Alabama (UNA) and a 2009 graduate of Bob Jones High School.

“Kaitlin is the first UNA student to win at this conference,” Bob Jones Principal Robby Parker said.

To graduate with honors, UNA requires a senior capstone project. “My project was on the impact of iPad apps in literacy workstations in the kindergarten teaching and learning environment,” Ashley said. Using that project, she submitted a proposal to the National Collegiate Honors Conference.

“My research was selected to be presented at the 2012 conference in Boston,” she said.

In her research, Ashley selected four apps — Doodlecast, StoryKit, Toontastic and Puppet Pals — and “found that students were completely engaged and motivated to learn while using iPads. These apps built student awareness of story structure. Students were even using the chosen apps at home.”

Furthermore, students used grammar and language arts skills during iPad sessions that greatly exceeded kindergarten level. “Students were taking iPad activities to levels we did not even expect to see — personification, similes, metaphors and other skills explicitly taught in older grades,” Ashley said.

Today, “students are encouraged to not just spit back facts but also explain ‘why.’ These children could without teacher assistance by the end of semester,” she said.

Ashley promotes use of technology in lower grades. She applied and received a grant from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics to purchase iPads for an entire classroom involved with her project. She received her iPad by directly emailing Apple’s president.

“No matter what the financial situation, it’s possible to supply children with technology,” she said. She has won dozens of honors and scholarships at UNA.

Her parents are Brian and Gina Ashley. Brian works as a software engineer at Raytheon. Gina is library media specialist at Horizon.

For information, visit nchchonors.org.

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