For Southwest Allen County Schools in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a focus on closing learning gaps meant adjusting instruction to give students more opportunities to use and apply mathematics. Recognizing that shifting math learning toward a more personalized approach was necessary, the district strived to find a solution that empowered both educators with in-depth knowledge of each student while also providing individual students with learning opportunities adapted to their level of readiness.
District administrators, principals and teachers decided that a digital program that enables differentiation and personalization was required. Any instructional resource they used would have to effectively address learning gaps, enable enrichment, and provide individualized, curated instruction.
The district reviewed a number of different programs, including Dreambox Learning Math. Through the evaluation process, the district found that DreamBox was the most effective tool to empower their teachers to differentiate instruction and personalize learning for each student. DreamBox reports also allowed the district to easily track student learning growth and proficiency against standards.
Recognizing that using adaptive learning technologies would be new for many teachers, the district spearheaded a pilot program for teachers interested in trying DreamBox in their classroom. Over 100 teachers participated in the pilot. What immediately differentiated DreamBox from other programs was clear to Simmers and the teachers. “Students are constantly assessed through the math play and are then delivered lessons that are appropriate for them, at their individual level of readiness. It’s not about memorization or repetition, but deep understanding of mathematical concepts. It’s about learning,” says Simmers. With unanimous positive feedback during the first year of implementation, DreamBox became a key component of the district’s math instructional framework during the 2015–16 school year.
Southwest Allen County Schools have a one-to-one ratio for students and technology so the expectation to utilize technology in and out of the classroom as a means of growth and development is both encouraged and expected. Because the success of any program is dependent on it being used with fidelity, Dr. Simmers and a DreamBox Learning Professional Development Specialist created a customized professional development plan for teacher enrichment focused on the practical application of effectively leveraging technology as a key element of their math instructional framework and how to use the valuable insights and information about their students to further customize their own instruction.
Once they were up and running with the program, educators used DreamBox during one-on-one and small group instruction in the classroom. Additionally, they used it as way to continue the momentum of math learning when school was closed to inclement weather. “The one-to-one initiative coupled with the highquality curriculum offered by DreamBox allowed us to continue the momentum of math learning during days when schools were closed due to inclement weather,” says Simmers. “During these eLearning days, students are expected to sign into DreamBox and complete lessons that support what would have been covered in class or as part of their small group instruction.” The added benefit is the teachers can see which lessons students have completed, and how they are progressing.
After a successful pilot year and subsequent first full year of implementation across all 114 Southwest Allen County Schools classrooms, DreamBox will continue to be used to support core math instruction.
“Our students’ overall growth in math as measured by a variety of assessments (i.e., NWEA, classroom assessments) has increased based upon our usage of DreamBox, the implementation of a guided math framework and quality core instruction. Teachers know and are able to talk about their students as mathematicians with the use of formative data from DreamBox as well as use this information to scaffold and personalize instruction to help ensure the growth of all students.”