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B-A teacher among ‘Elite 100’

Bellwood-Antis student Isabella “Izzy” Caracciolo talks with teacher Christine Gonder about a math problem.

BELLWOOD — Bellwood-Antis fifth grade teacher Christine Gonder is among the “Elite 100” teachers who use an integrated, personalized learning platform called IXL Learning.

The sixth annual Elite 100 list recognizes teachers who have demonstrated the highest commitment to personalized learning with IXL during the 2018-19 academic year. IXL selected the list of 100 from the 400,000 teachers worldwide who use the program in their classrooms, based on usage.

The Elite 100 reside in 31 U.S. states as well as Australia, Canada, Mexico and Venezuela, according to company officials.

“I wasn’t even aware there was an Elite 100,” she said. “I was shocked.”

Gonder is the first Bellwood-Antis teacher to be named to the Elite 100, said Principal Donald Wagner. Teachers discovered IXL when doing research into ways to integrate technology several years ago.

The school district invested in iPads for each student, said Wagner, but individual teachers have discretion when it comes to how often and how extensive they use the technology.

“We are always looking for ways to use technology and to engage the students in learning,” he said.

“I love that students are doing a lot of math at their own level and at their own pace,” Wagner said. “Christine uses any tools she can to reach her students. She is really conscientious and wants kids to understand and be comfortable with numbers.”

“I use IXL to support the skills that we are learning in the classroom,” Gonder said. “The students have an in-class IXL assignment daily. The students love the program and use it on their iPads. … When I tell them they may use the time during the class period to work on their IXL assignment, they are excited. I have 100% engagement by my students.”

In January, IXL rewarded the students with certificates because they had answered 85,000 questions and spent 800 hours practicing their math skills.

Monday, students were working an IXL lesson that allowed them to practice their understanding of fractions and apply them in the “real world” through recipes. Problems prompted them to triple the amount of flour or double the sugar.

The teacher has the ability to preview the problems. As the students complete a problem, the program checks the answer and, if in error, provides an explanation.

“That’s how we learn,” Gonder said. “We learn through our mistakes.”

IXL allows Gonder to remotely observe the students in real time whether they are working on problems in class or at home.

“It tells me how many minutes a student worked on a problem, when they worked on it, what they’re percentage correct is,” she explained. “If there is an area to be addressed, I go back and pick up that lesson and review the concept with the students.”

The repetition students receive via IXL helps them understand math concepts, said parent Elena Caracciolo, mother of Isabella “Izzy” Caracciolo .

“I think the extra practice with IXL has helped Isabella,” Elena Caracciolo said. “I see her improving every day in math in her ability to complete math facts automatically in her head. At the beginning of the year, she needed paper and pencil to complete math facts and now she is more fluid and faster … and able to complete problems in her head.”

Mirror Staff Writer Patt Keith is at 949-7030.

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