6 ways technology has helped me facilitate student growth

By Rita Platt, Library Media Specialist

Many educators remember the days (and sometimes long, long nights) before technology became a trusted tool. In those days, we did everything by hand and often from scratch. We developed curricula, assessed students, calculated grades, set up groups, and more all within the confines of our paper planning books. We did it and we did it well, but it was hard!

These days, when there is talk of teaching, the word “technology” almost always enters the conversation. As a veteran teacher, I for one am glad. Educational technology has helped decrease my planning time and stress while facilitating student growth at all levels in ways I never would have thought possible.

Below are six ways technology has helped me and countless others become better teachers in less time and with less stress.

1. Quicker assessments, access to data, and data analysis. The best assessments are often low-stakes, local, and quick. Computer-adaptive nationally normed reading and math tests can fit that bill. Our district uses Renaissance Star Assessments to track students’ paths to mastering grade-level standards. They take about 20 minutes, they can be administered as frequently as a teacher likes, and they provide easy-to-read reports.

2. Better systems for differentiation. It is increasingly easy for teachers to differentiate instruction based on need. Online assessments allow teachers to quickly decide on strategies that will increase learning and close gaps. Further, there are myriad user-adaptive programs, activities, and games available as apps or on the web for teachers to augment instruction while meeting all children at their own academic and interest levels.

3. Opportunities to increase student ownership of learning. The data we can gather thanks to technology can be used to help students monitor their own learning. Teaching students to set, monitor, and meet academic goals is a life skill that will serve them well. This ownership of learning and self-efficacy frees up invaluable time for teachers, as students become the primary drivers of their own learning.

4. Meaningful methods of motivation. When it comes to teaching and learning, motivation is the name of the game. The best teachers are good salespeople, but instead of selling goods, they sell ideas. Make no mistake—it is your job to motivate, persuade, and get children to believe they want what you’re selling them. If you want your students to learn from you, the key is to figure out how to make them want to learn from you. Technology can excite and engage students about a topic or subject. For more on motivation, check out the Motivation Toolkit at We Teach We Learn.

5. Targeted professional development options. Today, it is easier than ever to get the professional development we need to be better teachers. Online courses, learning modules, videos, professional websites, Twitter chats, and more all allow personalized professional growth. Check out this list of do-it-yourself professional development options for ideas.

6. Easier ways to communicate with families. Technology has doubtlessly made communication easier, which in turn can make relationships stronger. Teachers can harness the power of social media, text, and email to reach out to students, families, and the community at large in real time.

Effective teachers use three questions to guide their daily practice: What do my students know? What do they need to know? How can I get them there? Technology helps teachers answer all three questions, allowing quick, focused assessment, planning, and teaching for deep learning that helps all students achieve academic success. Whether you’re using one of the above strategies or all of them, the technology revolution is likely making your job easier and less stressful. Imagine what is next!

How has technology changed your classroom? How do you facilitate growth with technology? Let us know in the comments below, post on our Facebook, or tweet us at @RenLearnUS!

Curious to learn more about Star Assessments? Explore why educators nationwide trust Renaissance Star 360®.

Rita Platt, Library Media Specialist
Rita Platt, Library Media Specialist
Rita Platt is a Nationally Board Certified teacher. Her experience includes teaching learners of all levels, from kindergarten to graduate school. She currently serves as a library media specialist for the St. Croix Falls School District in Wisconsin, teaches graduate courses for the Professional Development Institute, and consults with local school districts.


  1. Rita Platt says:

    I enjoyed writing this!

  2. Laura says:

    I use technology the most to save planning time and to analyze student data.

  3. Christina says:

    1:1 allowed so many amazing things to happen in my classroom. My students took devices to all classes except with the science teacher. It was great to see them be able to do so many cross content tie ins especially with math. The classes they had acces to chrinebooks allowed them to truly connect with content immediately rather than having to wait to look something up.

  4. Laura says:

    I can’t wait to utilize these tips in my classroom this year.

  5. Andrea says:

    Technology allows us to use less paper and copies, quickly communicate with parents, and students are able to see their data and own their learning!

  6. Jody Steinhaus says:

    I love how technology allows for the students to be active participants in their own learning.

  7. Angela says:

    Being able to group/differentiate by using STAR 360 is great to reach all readers.

  8. P R says:

    I use technology to differentiate student learning as well as analyze data.

  9. Dvawn Hurd says:

    All good ways technology helps.

  10. Heidi says:

    I use it to analyze my data. Our school is not 1:1 at all so it’s not yet where I’d like to see it.

  11. L Q says:

    Great tips, I use Technology to analyze data.

  12. Carly says:

    Number 6 is a personal goal of mine this year. I plan to explore Class Dojo or some other technology that helps me network with my parents more efficiently.

  13. Deana says:

    Great tips. Technology makes it easier for me to communicate with students and parents.

  14. Angela Domond says:

    My school has limited technology. The last three years I had the opportunity to teach my 4th graders how to take their weekly ELA and Science tests on the computer which prepared them for 5-8th grade where they will be doing the same type of tests on their iPads.

    Also, using the Remind App is my favorite way to communicate with my students’ parents.

  15. RENEE P GRAHAM says:

    Technology makes it possible for me to communicate with parents and share what my students are doing, almost instantaneously!

  16. Krystal Dozier says:

    #5 is a my focus for this school year. I plan to use online professional developments to help me grow as a media specialist.

  17. Nicole Erwin says:

    Better differentiation. Both in identifying needs and delivering lessons

  18. Jennifer says:

    I love how technology makes differentiating instruction easier and more effective!

  19. janice raby neely says:

    I can’t wait use to 1:1 technology at my school. We should all be on board in September.

  20. Jason says:

    After analyzing data, technology can be used to easily differentiate instruction by having countless resources available for student use.

  21. Ann says:

    Technology assists staff, parents, and students to empower students in their world of ownership for learning and knowing their growth/results.

  22. Liana Ferrer says:

    I use technology as often as possible in the classroom. I think it is a great teaching tool as well as great for students to be more interactive in their learning process.

  23. Alecia Walkuski says:

    Our 1:1 Chromebook roll-out has really assisted in providing differentiation, personalization, and motivation for students.

  24. David Keech says:

    Technology is a collection of tools that makes our lives easier and helps us be more productive. Used properly by educators that truly want to help students accelerate learning beyond ‘average’ is the key.

  25. Lloyd Goldberg says:

    It just makes receiving and then disseminating the data so much faster.

  26. Ami K. Edwards says:

    Technology really helps with data.