Elementary School Teachers Help Students Tackle Math with Help of Teacher Advisor


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This is a guest blog post by Cliff Archey, manager of education programs at IBM Corporate Citizenship, and a former teacher.

IBM has a longstanding commitment to innovation and helping improve educational outcomes for all students, particularly in science, technology and math (STEM) fields – disciplines that underpin some of the nation’s fastest growing industries.

In response to educators around the country who have expressed a critical need for easy-to-use, well-designed math resources and ongoing support, the IBM Foundation, in collaboration with the American Federation of Teachers, national education leaders, math teachers and IBM technologists, developed a free online resource for teachers called Teacher Advisor With Watson.

Teacher Advisor uses Watson cognitive computing technology that has been trained by leading math experts to recommend targeted, high-quality math resources. With more than 2,000 “best of class” math lessons, proven teaching strategies and videos, Teacher Advisor helps teachers deepen their math expertise and strengthen instruction for their kindergarten through fifth grade classrooms.

Teacher Advisor version 1.0 reflects the input of more than 1,000 teachers in dozens of states. Time and again, in workshops we convened with teachers in cities and towns, we heard from teachers expressing their desire to spend less time searching online, and more time focusing on building their own expertise and helping students learn. Teachers can visit the website whenever they need high-quality resources, instructional strategy ideas or information to boost their content knowledge.

The philanthropic tool is already in use by thousands of teachers across the United States. For example, Christine Manna, a math coach from New Jersey who piloted it, noted, “The Watson capability in the tool recommends targeted resources to help save you time to plan and implement highly effective strategies, and all of the information is in one place.” She also noted that, “You don’t have to spend hours hunting around on the internet” for appropriate resources. Many teachers see the value of accessing recommended content across grade levels, enabling them to meet the diverse learning needs of their students.

This was a true team effort with the education community. We’re excited to collaborate with district superintendents, curriculum experts, schools of education — and of course teachers — to continually improve this tool. By training Teacher Advisor to more effectively respond to teachers’ needs, and by listening to our teacher users through ongoing feedback, we believe this tool will evolve to be a trusted, effective resource that teachers can rely on for supplementary guidance. Teacher Advisor will save time and allow teachers to do what they do best – bring math instruction to life and plant the seeds for lifelong learning.

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