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Using Computers to Help Provide Individualized Instruction

Elementary teachers understand the need for individualized instruction; a classroom full of students often requires vastly different instruction in order for all to learn most effectively. Even though teachers understand the need for personalized learning they also are keenly aware of the challenge this presents. They may ask themselves, “How can I meet the needs of all learners?” or “What tools do I have to provide individualized instruction?” Finding ways to meet the individual needs of all learners requires teachers to be creative, resourceful, and diligent.

One tool that many teachers have at their disposal is the increasing availability of computers, learning software, and other technology applications. Because of the advancing technology, teachers are able to use computers to offer personalized instruction, immediate feedback, learning connected to current curriculum, and careful monitoring and assessment.

Personalized instruction Implementing individualized instruction isn’t just for struggling students. Differentiating to meet the needs of all learners, regardless of ability level, is a hallmark of a master teacher. Using the computer to offer additional challenges to students who have reached mastery is an excellent way of personalizing education. When a student demonstrates mastery of a standard or skill, the teacher can use a computer math program to increase difficulty or to help teach a new skill. This helps students to maintain rigor and ongoing mastery of more challenging concepts.

Immediate feedback Many instructional computer programs for math provide immediate feedback to students. Instead of completing a series of math problems and then having to wait for the teacher to provide feedback the computer is able to provide instant feedback about a student’s work. This helps the student address misconceptions and misunderstandings almost immediately. A computer program may also be designed to identify types of errors and to respond with specific feedback, such as “It looks like you added incorrectly.”

Curriculum connected learning The development and adoption of the Common Core State Standards has helped to elevate math curriculum nationwide and is creating more rigorous standards for students. Aligning all learning with these standards is essential for student understanding. Using computer software to enhance the classroom curriculum is a great way to reinforce the Common Core State Standards. When a student is struggling, a teacher can reteach or reinforce specific content or skills using the computer as a tool. Offering a struggling student another mode of learning may help unlock understanding.

Careful monitoring and regular reporting The only way for a computer program to successfully contribute to a student’s individualized instruction is if the teacher is able to closely monitor progress. DreamBox Learning provides teachers with reporting that includes a student’s proficiency by concept, standard mastery, ongoing misunderstandings, and overall progress. This reporting is done in real time and is updated at the conclusion of each activity session. Teachers can instantly adapt instruction based on feedback provided by the program.

What are other benefits that you’ve experienced from using the computer to personalize instruction?

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