Brandi Snead, Negley Elementary first grade teacher, has been using Dreambox and Prodigy Math with her students for about a month. Today, she kicked it up a notch. After learning how she could assign specific concepts aligned to her current math unit, she created an assignment in Prodigy Math for next week. She then started thinking about the needs of specific students in her class and realized, based on the data she had already accumulated, that not all of her students actually needed practice on the standards she assigned; two students had already demonstrated mastery of those concepts. She then created a separate assignment for those students that would extend their learning at the next conceptual level.
Brandi is discovering how to leverage technology in a blended learning model to efficiently differentiate learning for individual student needs. It is now possible for a teacher to deliver varying content concurrently to all students while efficiently gathering and disaggregating achievement data in real-time. This data in turn can help teachers make informed decisions to accelerate or remediate learning on a daily basis.
Prodigy Math is free and motivational, but Brandi’s primary digital math tool is DreamBox. Over the past several weeks, students have been enjoying engaging activities in Dreambox during math stations. Dreambox is an adaptive program that automatically adjusts the content in response to how students engage with the program . Each student learns math along a learning path specific to their needs.
Although Dreambox will deliver the content students’ need at the level they need it, teachers can also assign lessons to target concepts aligned to the district curriculum timeline.
Brandi assigned two lessons for next week that engage students in math concepts covered in the current unit. She will be able to review data at the end of each day to determine who has mastered these concepts and who may need more concrete experiences that include use of manipulatives and teacher directed instruction. We also explored the long-term assignment functions in Dreambox that can be used for RTI progress monitoring.
There’s no quick fixes; tech is just a part of the equation.
I have seen online programs come and go. Each has it’s promises and statistics about effectiveness and student achievement. Technology is not a panacea for education challenges nor will it replace excellent teaching. We can’t plug kids into a program and think we can keep doing what we’ve always done while the technology works it’s magic. In the blended learning model we use technology to do what it does well; provide students access to engaging content while gathering, and organizing data in a way that allows great teachers to quickly respond to individual student needs.
As Brandi becomes more familiar with the differentiation features of both of these programs, she will be able to use them and the data she receives daily to further increase the customization of instruction. She is not only excited to share what she learned today with her blended learning partner, Christy Thomason, but also the entire first grade team. We are confident that the blended model along with the power of adaptive software and talented teachers will help our students excel in their understanding and enjoyment of math!