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'Teach To One 360' Software Program Revolutionizes Math Class At Northwest Side Elementary School

CHICAGO (CBS) -- "No human teacher could do it on their own" – that is how a Chicago Public Schools principal describes a software program revolutionizing math class.

CBS 2's Lauren Victory took us to Portage Park to check out the teaching wonder in action.

At William P. Gray Elementary School, 3730 N. Laramie Ave., students march into math class, grab a computer, and log on to learn.

It seems standard, but a closer look shows the school is operating a special program called "Teach to One 360."

"It's a gift. It's a gift," said middle school math teacher Teryn Kim.

Kim's glowing review of "Teach to One 360," TTO for short, comes from the software system's ability to sort students based on skill level - every day.

"I used to stay until 7, 8 o'clock at night on a daily basis analyzing students' needs," she said.

Now, end-of-class assessments do that. Yup, a quiz every day.

"It's actually kind of helpful because it makes you think about what you learned that day," said seventh grader Anael Ayivi-Ga Togbassa.

Quiz results determine what and how you learn the following day.

Big Board

In non-pandemic times, an interactive board directs kids to a certain part of the classroom and to a certain task.

Student & Board

To cut down on comingling with COVID still spreading, teachers are helping guide students to their daily assignment which winds up being taught through several different methods.

For example, some kids tackle a topic through small group work. A bilingual educator may step in to help a student struggling to learn in English. If you're working ahead of your classmates, the computer keeps you moving with individualized problem sets.

"If someone doesn't understand something that I already understand, I won't have to re-learn it and have to go through that process," said eighth grader Dariana Herrera, who added that she'll miss doing math this way in high school.

The different levels of learning all happen inside one mega classroom. Gray Elementary tore the walls down to fit the entire seventh grade in math lab at one time.

Principal Susan Gross said data show the system is working.

"Over a typical three years of growth that a student might have in sixth grade to eighth grade, our students actually go 4, 4.5 years' worth of growth," she told CBS 2.

Gross is proud of the solution that's been used at Gray for almost a decade. But there's another number to consider – $45,000.

That is the average annual cost for TTO, according to its parent company New Classrooms Innovation Partners.

"It would be very challenging," said Gross of Gray's ability to continue using the software without financial help.

In addition to the per-student costs that schools need to pay every year, there are also up-front expenses to launch this system.

They include hardware like TV monitors and possibly knocking down walls like at Gray Elementary to redesign the space.

Fortunately, private donations cover most of Gray's tab.

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