Tullahoma school uses robots as teaching tools - WSMV Channel 4

Tullahoma school uses robots as teaching tools

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The coolest classroom gadgets on two wheels are making a difference and teaching Tullahoma City Schools students to read.

A group of third graders at Tullahoma’s Robert E. Lee Elementary School are taking part in a groundbreaking reading program now in its second year with the district.

Reading specialist Dr. Joanne Coggins is new to the program.

“This one helps students that have difficulty with reading words accurately and decoding words they don’t know,” Coggins said.

And with a new program comes a steep learning curve, even for the teacher. That’s where Jessica comes in.

More than 1,200 miles away in Denver, Jessica watches the reading group through cameras connected to a robot, which she controls from her keyboard.

“They don’t even think about it being a robot. It’s just another person in there for them,” Coggins said.

For Coggins, the robot is a second pair of eyes and ears observing the students and the instructor, providing tips and feedback when it’s requested.

“If I need something specialized, have a particular question, they’ll find somebody in the network that can answer the question,” Coggins said. “And they’ll pop in on the robot and have a meeting with me and talk to me about exactly the best thing for my student will be.”

The students were tested before and after the program was implemented and their results show improvements across the board in accuracy, fluency and comprehension.

“Social studies, science, math, it impacts everything,” Coggins said. “They see gains there, too. The teachers supporting them all the time across grade levels are excited to see the kids growing.”

The school district initially paid for the program with a grant from the state last year, but it was so successful the school board decided to fund them again this year.

The district is also looking at using the robots for other subjects besides reading in the future.

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