IBM Foundation and NCLD Release Watson-Enabled Tool for Teachers

IBM Foundation and NCLD Release Watson-Enabled Tool for Teachers

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The IBM Foundation and the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) announced their collaboration on a suite of classroom resources focused on supporting teachers who work with students with learning and attention issues. Teacher Advisor With Watson uses machine learning to correlate and understand nuances within a curated content collection of over 8,000 Open Educational Resources (OER) including vetted, quality lesson plans, student-facing activities and classroom strategies.

"The strategies NCLD is providing through Teacher Advisor with Watson will not only help the one in five students with learning and attention issues succeed, but are actually effective for all students," said NCLD President and CEO Mimi Corcoran. "We know teachers are hungry for this information, and our collaboration with the IBM Foundation to infuse these evidence-based strategies into general education materials is a crucial next step to support teachers across the country."

The IBM Foundation and NCLD are adding custom math modules for grades K-5. These resources provide teachers with evidence-based strategies to help them more effectively meet the needs of individual students with learning and attention issues. For example, a third-grade math teacher can easily leverage hands on activities introducing fractions with manipulatives to a student with ADHD. The new content also helps to support the 70 percent of children with learning and attention issues that spend at least 80 percent of their time in general education classes, too often without the individualized support they need to truly thrive.

"Currently, there are over 1.8 million public elementary school teachers in the U.S. Unfortunately, too many of them do not always have the tools they need to support their students," said IBM Foundation President Jennifer Ryan Crozier. "Our partnership with NCLD enhances Teacher Advisor's machine learning capabilities so more teachers can effectively and efficiently meet individual students' learning needs."

Teacher Advisor aims to save teachers time planning highly effective math lessons for all students, which is also why IBM added additional instructional content to support middle math teachers for the upcoming school year. Research has shown middle school to be a critical time in students' development of a positive 'math identity,' which is the key to their continuing engagement with STEM subjects and career paths.

Teachers Advisor has been trained in machine learning by math experts at non-profit UnboundEd to better understand math terminology. With the average teacher typically spending 12 hours per week searching for or creating their own resources, this training from former educators saves teachers valuable lesson planning time by giving them targeted resource recommendations based on their search criteria.

Less than a year after its launch, over 12,000 elementary school teachers have embraced Teacher Advisor With Watson. Nearly nine out of every 10 instructional coaches who have used the tool said in a survey that they would recommend Teacher Advisor to other teachers. And the latest version of Teacher Advisor also enables teachers to find references best suited for English Language Learners.

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