- What We Do
- What We Provide
- Who We Are
How a new, free AI tool from IBM is supporting standards-aligned instruction in K-5 math
The embrace of “college and career ready standards” in states across the country reflects the growing realization by policymakers, employers, and educators that preparing future generations for the jobs of tomorrow requires a rethinking of our collective approach to instruction. Educators are increasingly focused on building conceptual understanding across grades in core content areas, and linking that growing knowledge base to the habits, mindsets, and skills needed to be competitive in the 21st century economy, and this work begins in the early grades.
For example, basic arithmetic, the base 10 system and place value, representing data points, and understanding fractional units are all first introduced to young people in grades K-5. Having students grasp these concepts early on is essential if we want them to have a solid foundation for things like algebraic problem solving, statistical decision making, and the critical thinking mindsets that are called for in our STEM-centric 21st century economy.
“A child’s development in elementary school creates a strong foundation for future academic abilities, leading to college and career readiness, engaged citizenship and lifelong learning.” (http://futurereadyma.org/elementary-school)
Looking at it from another angle, if we want our young people to be adept in solving complex problems and developing creative solutions in the middle, high school, and college years, we must help them develop a strong core of understanding in the elementary years. And the truth is that elementary teachers can more readily develop foundational competencies for college and career readiness in their students when they have support from coaches and administrators, professional development opportunities, and online resources to help them more effectively leverage their knowledge and expertise to bring college and career ready concepts to life.
To provide this support for teachers as they seek to build foundational college and career ready skills in the early grades, the IBM Foundation in 2014 embarked on a project that sought to leverage our company’s technology, expertise, and external partnerships to offer an online resource to help teachers more effectively align their instruction to 21st century standards. The result was Teacher Advisor With Watson: a free, fully standards-aligned K-5 math lesson planning and instructional support tool, which has benefited from a unique partnership between IBM, the AFT, UnboundEd, and several other key education stakeholders and philanthropic organizations. The goal of Teacher Advisor is to provide teachers with a curated platform for high-quality instructional content, so that they can efficiently find standards-aligned resources they need to effectively engage their students in meaningful mathematics work. With an intentional focus on leveraging quality, aligned resources from a curated and intelligent tool, teachers are empowered through Teacher Advisor to help their elementary math students become as prepared as possible for what lies ahead both academically and professionally. We’re excited to be moving into grades 6-8 later this year, while also regularly updating the tool with new features and additional OER content.
Teacher Advisor is perhaps most unique in its teacher-centricity. Engaging in discussions with, and eliciting feedback from, real teachers and instructional coaches, has been central to our mission. And this has guided us in everything from the design and layout of the site, to how we leverage Watson to recommend relevant supplementary resources. Additionally, the 5,000+ resources that we’ve made available on Teacher Advisor are always presented in context, with specific standards alignment information (including pre- and post-requisites where applicable); related lessons and activities; and supporting strategy videos.
The bigger picture lens on CCSS that Teacher Advisor affords, combined with the ease of access to quality resources that our site provides, enables sustained, informed and aligned instructional decision-making. Combining free offerings like Teacher Advisor with professional development on standards aligned instruction, and an increasing awareness of vertical alignment and coherence across grades will ultimately benefit students who are at the very beginning of their journey toward college and careers, and lead to better long-term outcomes for students across the country.
The Teacher Advisor team is excited to be partnering with CenterPoint this month to explore the topic of “Aligning Instruction to College and Career Ready Standards,” and we’re looking forward to engaging with the K-5 education community during an upcoming Twitter chat, to answer any questions participants might have about Teacher Advisor, or aligned instruction / curriculum options in the edtech era more generally. Join us with hashtag #AlignTeachLearn, on Thursday, March 29th from 4-5 p.m. ET!
Written by Cliff Archey, Manager, Education Programs, IBM Corporate Citizenship