G-R Elementary teacher earns national honor

Gladbrook-Reinbeck Elementary 4th and 5th Grade Reading teacher Sydney Kauten was named to the Elite 100 list by the IXL Learning technology company. The award honored teachers for their extraordinary efforts to recover unfinished learning, close achievement gaps and help students grow despite disruptions in education. – Contributed photo

IXL, the personalized learning platform used by more than 13 million students, announced its eighth annual Elite 100 list, which recognizes remarkable teachers who devoted the previous year to serving students and prioritizing personalized learning.

IXL selected the list of honorees from 800,000 teachers worldwide who use the program in their classrooms, based on usage during the 2020-2021 academic year. The Elite 100 reside in 33 U.S. states and territories, as well as in Mexico.

One of those teachers is fourth and fifth grade reading teacher Sydney Kauten from Gladbrook-Reinbeck Elementary School.

Following a year of pandemic-related disrupted learning, Kauten used IXL last school year to accurately identify students’ knowledge levels, personalize instruction to meet their individual needs, and recover unfinished learning.

“I needed a way to monitor the learning of my distance learners, while still helping the students that were face to face in my classroom,” Kauten said. “And I liked how the website gives assignments to both at home and in person, students. And so that way, I could measure their learning with an apples to apples approach.”

Another feature of the program Kauten found particularly helpful was a built-in tool that could instantly tell her and other teachers what grade levels students were operating at within the given subject they were working in.

“I had a student last year who had no idea how to count money,” Kauten said. “And so I would have never thought of that before because by the time kids get to fifth grade, they don’t need help with counting money. And so I was able to pull them to the back table and work one-on-one and gradually they were able to understand it and get up to speed. But without the program, I likely wouldn’t have known that they needed that help.”

Kauten is a 2011 graduate from the University of Northern Iowa and has been teaching for 10 years. Prior to coming to G-R she worked for six years in the Waterloo Community School District, working with seventh grade math and then with fifth grade.

She is now in her fourth year at Gladbrook-Reinbeck Elementary.

“We are very excited about the accomplishment that Ms. Kauten has earned through the IXL program,” Elementary Principal Shaun Lehmann said. ” It’s an honor to have our small school district represented on a larger platform and we’re proud of the initiative Ms. Kauten’s taken over the past year. We use IXL throughout the school at different grade levels and it’s been a very helpful support tool for us to fill in the gaps that are hard to find sometimes.”

More information about the IXL program and the Elite 100 honor list is available online at www.ixl.com/resources/elite-100.