Teacher Testimonial: Anna Goldman
Anna Goldman has been teaching for ten years in New York City but it's only recently that she's been able to differentiate her instruction and personalize learning for each student.
"Asking me to differentiate a classroom in the past with no tools to do so was very, very challenging. I can now do my job better, there's no question about that," she said. "So when I give a unit assessment on perimeter and I see three groups of children – those who definitely have it, those who have some misconceptions and those who aren't there at all, though the online vendor Compass Learning, I can make groups and assign appropriate work to each. There's no way I could create those kinds of lessons on daily basis with just pencil and paper."
Ms. Goldman is a third grade teacher at P.S. 154 Harriet Tubman in Harlem whose classroom uses Netbooks for students and CompassLearning's Odssey program as part of the iZone. "It's a huge resource for developing research skills. We have 25 students and 20 Netbooks so some students walk around and assist each other. I'm one person and I don't want to teach them that the first thing they should do is ask the adult. They should use themselves and their peers and try to do as much as they can," she said.
One way she's put that mantra into action is by empowering students in small groups. "The children are now much more motivated to help each other with the technologies," she reiterated. "I will teach a small group of four students how to use the software to complete a project and then ask those four students to then each teach another group of four students how to do it. The technology can really level the playing field to provide opportunities for all students to be leaders."
And it no doubt facilitates her job, too. "We researched populations by looking online at census reports and interpreting charts and graphs which are readily available. A lot of times as teachers we are asked to do something but are not given the tools that we need to do it. That's very frustrating. Having these online tools enables me to do my job," she said.
Though she believes it's crucial to teach kids to be web-savvy early on. "I can say confidently that the children have real awareness about technology," she said. "The internet is amazing, but it's also full of inappropriate and inaccurate information and they won't know how to use it responsibly if we don't teach them."
These resources are new to Anna but she's embraced them whole-heartedly. And she hopes parents will, too. "It shows parents that this is what the caliber of your child's education should be and this is your expectation. Your child should have this access."