Learn about the exceptional work of classroom teachers implementing best practices to support their students' academic language development with Speak Agent.
Dr. Genevieve Cromer
MIDDLE SCHOOL SCIENCE TEACHER | PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, MD
Q: What has been the impact of Speak Agent on student learning in middle school science?
A: The teachers saw a difference. I saw a difference. For one thing, the kids wanted to do it. And that to me is like 90% of your problems going away. Kids buy into it and they’re willing participants. And we did see gains. Last year we actually increased our MISA (Maryland science assessment) proficiency scores. So that indicated to me that the students probably understood [the content] a little bit better because they had Speak Agent to clarify some of those things that we might have missed.
Q: Why do you feel your students enjoyed the experience with Speak Agent?
A: It's self-led. The activities are engaging. They're different, more fun. With Speak Agent, my students could come in and just get started. They really didn't have to ask me anything because they could follow along the lesson and curriculum better and do their work independently.
Q: What led to teacher engagement?
A: First, Speak Agent really educated my teachers on the Science+Language program. And so they were more willing to use it. I didn't have any pushback. None! Next, we focused on how to integrate the program into our daily lessons. We would use it at the beginning of the lesson as a bell ringer and it would be aligned with whatever part of the curriculum they were working on. If you came into my classroom, the first thing I had students do on their Chromebooks was Speak Agent. Then, as part of our collaborative planning, we had two sessions a week where I put it on the agenda: "What's going on with Speak Agent? How did you use it?" It was an open dialogue where each teacher chose how they wanted to implement it in their classroom. All the teachers in my department really bought in. They really noticed that this was something that was very positive and it was helping the kids. Our science educators can see how powerful this program is if implemented correctly.
5th Grade bilingual science TEacher | stephenville isd, tx
Learn more about Speak Agent's success with bilingual programs in Texas here →
Q: What were you like as a student?
A: As a student, I was always the quiet, rule follower that enjoyed helping her teacher out. Coming from immigrant parents that didn't speak the language, my siblings and I had to learn english at school making me afraid to speak up in class and say something wrong. Thankfully I had amazing teachers that spent the time to help me graduate from the ESL program after 1st grade. I never really struggled academically so school always came easy to me. With math and science being my specialties, I would often help out my fellow classmates in those subjects and I always found such joy when they would finally understand the concept.
Q: What advice do you have for other Speak Agent teachers?
A: Advice I would have for another teacher implementing Speak Agent is to stay consistent with it. Using the program as a bell ringer helped me as I was getting prepared for class and I knew they were working on something educational and not playing games on their tablets. It was also great to use as a "I'm done with my work, now what?" activity. My students always knew this was our routine and the expectation was to complete all the activities for that unit before we got to our unit test.
Q: How has your students' learning been positively impacted by Speak Agent?
A: Working with the bilingual population, having Speak Agent helped them tremendously with their understanding of the science vocabulary. I would use it as a bell ringer every day to help reinforce the vocabulary from the unit we were currently working on. There were always the perfect amount of activities with different methods of learning for them to work through. It also helped with the speaking portion of TELPAS, a state assessment administered to English Learners in the state of Texas. My students were not as afraid to speak up in front of their peers because they were use to the My Voice activity that we would do with each unit.
4th and 5th Grade math & science TEacher | Lee County Schools, Florida
Learn more about Lee County Schools' successful partnership with Speak Agent here →
Q: What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
A: My favorite thing about teaching is watching my students grow, both academically and emotionally. They start the year as one person and leave differently; they have grown as a student and a person. Knowing that I played a part in those changes, is what makes teaching so gratifying for me.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Speak Agent?
A: My favorite thing about Speak Agent is the level of engagement and excitement it generates in my students. Many of them literally ask me if they can do their lessons, as soon as we transition to Science!
Q: What improvements in student outcomes have you seen since implementing Speak Agent?
A: The biggest improvement in learning outcomes I have seen in my students since implementing Speak Agent is a definite boost in their academic vocabulary. This translates into a better understanding of the concepts because they have a better understanding of the vocabulary. Often I assign the Speak Agent lesson prior to introducing a new science concept. The repeated exposure to the vocabulary greatly increases comprehension of content learning and provides prior knowledge for when we engage in the lesson.