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Elementary School Teachers and Students Can Benefit Greatly from the Teacher Advisor Tool


I remember my early days of teaching. I was committed to making sure all of my students would learn all the things required within the school program. I stayed up late every night trying to find ways to engage all of my students in ways that worked for them and motivated them to learn. I had a bunch of books with teaching activities and would often talk to my peers about my ideas. I would create games, projects, charts and worksheets. Sometimes it all worked out. At other times learning just didn't happen and it left me with many unanswered questions.

There was no Internet or e-mail communication channels when I started out as a teacher, so, for support, I turned to peers at teacher sharing sessions where I learned that I was not alone. My peers, too, were struggling with questions about the best ways to teach to a specific competency or standard. We were hungry for information about proven, research-based practices. We all wanted models or, if not models, an opportunity to see how other teachers approached specific content or issues. We wanted to know what worked and didn't work for which learners and why. We wanted to meet our students where they were and be effective.

Today things are different in many ways. The pressure on teachers has increased. As teachers, we face the challenge of making sure that all students can meet or exceed an ever increasingly rigorous set of content standards. We are judged by often imperfect or single measures of student achievement that not always capture the rich and deeper learning of our students. We are expected to make our teaching research-based but often lack the time to learn about that research. We are expected to find ways to make learning happen for all students and, honestly, we don't always know how to best do that.

With the Internet and recent advances in technology, as teachers, we are in a much better place. Content is everywhere and accessible in a second. There is a copious amount of teaching ideas, just do a quick Google search. I must admit, this is great but it also has created a new challenge. How to judge whether these ideas are indeed research-based or classroom proof?

This is why I am very excited – as a teacher and former program and policy leader - about a new resource called the Teacher Advisor Tool with Watson. The Teacher Advisor Tool is a free, web-based instructional planning tool that will help save Kindergarten through 5th Grade math teacher’s valuable time in planning effective and aligned lessons. The Teacher Advisor Tool with Watson is built for teachers, by teachers. It speaks directly to real teacher needs, as it was developed based on input from teacher-users. The Teacher Advisor Tool allows teachers to explore standards-aligned content connected to the larger elementary math progressions. It provides personalized, targeted search results and personalized content recommendations from IBM® Watson™, aligned to your search terms. It includes the highest quality instructional resources. It only includes the most effective Open Educational Resources lessons, student activities, videos, and supporting documents, so that everything teachers choose is quality. And, it is accessible anywhere anytime and always 100% free. The Teacher Advisor Tool was created with funding from the IBM Foundation and other funding partners, so teachers will never have to pay to use it.

Thousands of elementary math teachers have already signed up and are now building their planning and instructional expertise through Teacher Advisor. Perhaps more importantly, tens of thousands of students are now receiving lessons that are informed by research and effective practices in teaching elementary level math content.

I wrote this statement to ask you if you are an elementary school teacher to take a look at this powerful tool and try it. If you are not an elementary school teacher, I encourage you to share this resource with an elementary school teacher you may know. Perhaps you are a Superintendent, Principal, or parent. If you are, tell teachers about it. Our goal is to make sure every teacher in elementary community schools - and all elementary schools for that matter - know about and try this new resource for teachers by teachers. The tool may validate what you do or it may give you new ideas. Either way students will benefit greatly. You can explore and sign up at


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