5 edtech tools that take personalized learning to the next level

In Putnam County Schools, students use a variety of carefully chosen digital resources to meet them where they are

2. Shmoop
One of our most versatile digital resources is Shmoop, which we use district-wide for ACT prep, AP exam prep, and blended-learning coursework. Students love the fun and approachable tone of Shmoop, and teachers appreciate the breadth of Shmoop’s resources, plus the built-in quizzes. Teachers have leveraged Shmoop for everything from helping students learn the essentials of Greek mythology to breaking down works of literature using Shmoop’s vast library of literature resources. Shmoop is also an important resource for differentiation and acceleration. Students who are struggling with foundational skills use Shmoop’s Math Shack while those who are ready to move at a faster pace access Shmoop’s various subject-area resources and test-prep materials to accelerate their learning. Importantly, many of our students are accessing Shmoop outside of school to help with homework and independent study, as well as to supplement summer learning. This school year, we’re also working to integrate Shmoop into our Canvas LMS for an even more seamless integration.

3. Edgenuity
Last year, Edgenuity bought Compass Learning, bringing together two of our favorite digital tools into one system. Edgenuity is a powerful blended-learning tool that we use for credit recovery and credit acceleration. It gives provides Putnam County students the ability to take courses not offered at their school, such as career and technical education (CTE) and various foreign languages. In addition, students in grades 9-12 use Edgenuity to recoup classes they may have failed in the traditional classroom, giving them a clear path to recover recredits with minimal lost time. This year, we’re piloting UpSmart from Edgenuity. This tool allows teachers to differentiate instruction by giving them the ability to determine exactly where their students are for any given content strand and help them focus on the specific content they need to master in order to move forward.

4. MATHia by Carnegie Learning
We input our MAP data directly into MATHia to help us further develop personalized-learning pathways for students. A math-learning engine powered by cognitive science and research-proven instructional design, MATHia continually learns and adjusts, making sophisticated pedagogical decisions and providing ongoing formative assessment every step of the way. For instance, MATHia will rephrase questions for students, redirect them, and home in on the parts of the problem that are proving difficult with the understanding there are often multiple ways to do the math correctly. MATHia doesn’t just tell students what they got wrong, it tells them why they got it wrong and provides them with more opportunities to practice those skills on similar problems.

5. IXL
Teachers use IXL to help students refine their skills across all four subjects offered by the program (math, language arts, science, and social studies). Students enjoy the game-like aspect and the opportunity to earn rewards. The targeted, interactive practice on specific content strands helps build confidence and foster engagement, while giving students the requisite skills for higher-level work. IXL gives students practice that aligns with both national and state-specific standards. It also includes a data tracker, so teachers can see what students are working on in real time and identifies trouble spots for teachers to target through small-group or one-on-one instruction.

Commitment is the key to success
Recent research demonstrates that a successful transition to personalized learning is supported by a firm commitment by district leadership, as well as widespread buy-in and a shared plan of action among district staff. In Putnam County, we have experienced all of these components and look forward to the continued expansion of the VITAL program as we continue to refine and improve our district-wide personalized learning implementation. Our instructional design has proven to be highly beneficial for our middle school students, and we expect to see even more student agency, self-directed learning, and high levels of engagement as we continue to innovate and expand personalized learning across all of our schools.

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