By Jessica Hamman, CEO of Glean Education
Each year, new edtech tools appear on student screens promising to help teachers in their quest to support learners with increasingly diverse needs.
But there is a well known disconnect between tech adoption and tech use in the classroom. Recent data from an EdWeek Teacher Survey shows that while over half of teachers reported district adoption of new technology, less than 50% of teachers reported receiving the training they needed to properly implement those tools in the classroom and 15% of teachers reported receiving no support at all.
Why is this problematic? Because many tech tools are carefully designed, research-based programs that can help teachers differentiate and intensify instruction to better meet individual student needs. But without proper training and implementation support, many teachers don’t use the tools at their finger-tips. In a recent study by Education Next , researchers found that nearly 70% of software licenses purchased by districts go unused. This is truly a missed opportunity.
In an effort to build awareness about some of the impactful tech tools available to teachers, I’ve compiled a list of five tried-and-true computerized intervention programs that can be used in the classroom to improve student learning outcomes. They are also programs that demonstrate a commitment to teacher training about their product and relevant content areas. With such support, teachers may be more likely to put these helpful tools to use their classroom.
Lexia Core 5: Lexia Core 5 is a reading instruction software that supports emerging and struggling readers. Lexia provides a highly personalized learning experience that touches upon all the 5 components of literacy: phonological awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Lexia can be used in the general education (or Tier 1) classroom in tandem with direct, systematic, Structured Literacy instruction to provide practice opportunities for previously taught concepts or in the intervention classrooms (Tier 2 & 3) to provide targeted, differentiated instruction. For Lexia to be used most effectively, teachers should always supervise students to be sure they are truly engaging and not just pushing buttons. Teachers should also use analytics collected by the software to track student progress and provide intensified in-person lessons when students are not progressing. Teacher training is supported through a resources page on their website where they host articles, webinars, and white papers on using Lexia effectively.
Read Naturally Live: Read Naturally is a computer-based reading intervention that focuses on oral reading fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. Designed with reading fluency best-practices in mind, Read Naturally Live (and their app One Minute Reader) guides students through repeated oral readings of rich non-fictional content. Read Naturally is not adaptive like Lexia Core 5, so teachers must stay on top of student placement and monitor settings to ensure progress is begin consistently made. One great aspect of Read Naturally is the way the company fosters the school-home connection by encouraging teachers to set up their student’s families with ReadLive to use over the summer. Teacher training is a key aspect the Read Naturally strategy. Training opportunities include video tutorials, live expert-led webinars, and full-day in person seminars to train teachers on best-practices.
Dreambox Learning: Dreambox Learning is an adaptive, gamified learning platform provides an excellent complement teacher-led instruction. Dreambox Learning provides Common Core Standards aligned enrichment and intensified instruction in math. Teacher training is supported through an impressive collection of resources including white papers, videos, guides, and webinars on their website. They’ve also host a Blended Learning Community on EdWeb.com featuring webinars on topics relevant to using Dreambox to support instruction, providing an opportunity for administrators and teachers using the tool to connect.
Prodigy: Prodigy is a gamified math learning program that is personalized, adaptive, and seriously fun. Students work their way through increasingly challenging math concepts while their gravitars face battles and earn points. Administrators, teachers, and parents can track student use and progress. Teacher training is encouraged and available in the resources section of their website.
Learning Ally: Though technically not an interactive intervention program, this list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Learning Ally. Learning Ally is an organization that provides human-read audiobooks for students. Audio books are a powerful accommodation for students with text-based learning disabilities like dyslexia, but can also be used as interventions for building the vocabulary, comprehension, and background knowledge necessary to succeed in school. Learning Ally works with 16,000 schools and districts across the country, so it’s quite possible your school has access to Learning Ally already and use of audiobooks in the classroom can be a total game changer that levels the playing field for students struggling with text. Learning Ally also has a growing resource bank of articles, courses, and videos to support teachers teachers to use audiobooks more effectively in their classrooms.
Pop into a K-12 classroom on any given day and you can see the challenge teachers face to meet the learning needs of all their students. Using edtech tools that prioritize teacher training enables teachers to be more effective and consistent in their use programs which, in turn, enables them to better support all students.