As educators, we’re well aware of the need for better technology in the classroom – technology that not only improves learning but also makes our jobs easier. There is a growing list of challenges we face as educators: the endless grading of papers, the search for teaching resources, the need to tailor lessons to each student’s learning style.

As technology continues to change, the role that technology can play in K12 education is also quickly changing.  We’re not talking about replacing teachers with robots!  We are looking at how educators can leverage technology to better support our teaching efforts. Here are five methods educators are using, nationwide, to improve student achievement while reducing the time demands placed on themselves.

1. Instant Grading and Feedbackscreen-shot-2017-07-07-at-3-14-51-pm
Many teachers are finding the ability to autograde assignments on a curriculum practice website to be one of the most useful enhancements made possible with technology.  Hand-grading is antiquated, since most practice and curriculum platforms can assess multiple choice, short answer, true/false, and many other question types.  Alongside the score, students can also receive an explanation as to why their answer was marked incorrect. This immediate feedback is crucial in the learning process, as these students are accustomed to a fast-paced society that provides instant gratification. Instant grading and feedback can be done on USATestprep’s platform.

2. Self-Directed Learning
Students learn at different rates, with various learning styles, and in a variety of settings. Their backgrounds and level of required support also vary.  Online learning platforms allow each student to interact with the content at his or her own level and speed.  Many websites, including USATestprep, offer assistive technology features to increase student achievement, such as word prediction, screen readers, closed captioning, and highlighting tools.  Online content is readily available at all times, which is great for students who need extra time to complete assignments or those who want extra practice.  

3. Assessment-Based Differentiation
Facilitating formal and informal assessments on a web-based platform can provide educators and students with results and easy-to-use data upon completion.  These results help evaluate student mastery of the standards and domains, and allow students and teachers to develop plans of action and remediation.  Many educators then choose to assign students practice work to strengthen their foundations within the standards.  Differentiation is easily implemented on sites such as USATestprep, by providing one-click entry to resources specifically designed to focus on the subject matter.

4. Supplemental Instructional Resources
As educators, we are constantly adding resources to our toolboxes.  Websites such as Pinterest and internet searches can flood our minds with sample lesson ideas and downloadable templates for the classroom.  Often, we can waste time recreating the wheel when it has already been made for us.  There are websites designed to be a one-stop shop for us.  These sites include resources that supplement instruction throughout the learning cycle.  Look for websites that include videos that can be used for introducing a concept, vocabulary terms that can reinforce the lesson, performance tasks that encourage the students to interact with the content, and an open test bank of questions to build assessments. To see how these practice items can work in your lessons, request a live demo.

“Even the students that struggle the most find something that catches their attention in USATestprep.”

screen-shot-2017-07-07-at-2-02-48-pm5. Engaging Content
While many websites may provide resources for the teachers, we must also consider the level of engagement for students.  Today’s students need stimulating colors and graphics, interactive content, lively videos, and real-world application questions. Carla Devereaux, at Babb Middle School, has found that, “Even the students that struggle the most find something that catches their attention in USATestprep.” Some websites offer a token-based reward system for games that allow students to take brain breaks between questions or assignments. Other sites may provide content-based games that allow students to progress as they continue answering questions correctly.  Students can also use technology to study abroad in the global classroom with students in other parts of the world, via video or streaming sites.

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