Laura Bresko, CEO
Sometimes it seems like every aspect of our lives is moving online, from work to relationships to shopping. Yet when Laura Bresko, an educator and ed-tech entrepreneur, returned to the K-12 classroom in 2019, she observed that, even though interactive whiteboards and classroom computers had brought the trappings of technological advancement into the classroom, most teachers and students were still using paper. Whether it was paper worksheets, or paper supplemental materials, or student folders stuffed with homework papers, paper was everywhere. And so were the groans from the students as yet another paper assignment was handed out.
The reliance on paper seemed wasteful, both in terms of the environment and in terms of teachers’ time and energy. So Laura set about designing an educational app that would improve the workflow of any classroom while also positively impacting learning gains.
In early 2020 Laura and her partner Brad Smith started their fourth ed-tech company, Work on Learning, Inc., combining her innovative ideas about classroom efficiency, with Brad’s technological prowess as a software engineer. They started designing a web-based teacher tool—one that would turn the printed pages of any classroom into engaging digital activities. Their focus was on making sure the tool was both easy to handle for teachers and intuitive for students.
Mere months into the project, Covid-19 exploded into a global pandemic, and turned the whole world upside down. In the wake of widespread school closures and lockdowns, it was clear that teachers no longer had the opportunity to hand out paper worksheets for students to review and practice. They had to send and receive assignments in PDF format via email, which was becoming very tedious.
Laura and Brad realized that they had to fast-track their project and help teachers distribute their tried and true assignments to students through a cutting-edge platform that also maximized student engagement.
TeacherMade is the perfect app for Teachers to engage students through various intuitive digital learning activities while easing their own workload
Thus, TeacherMade—the perfect intersection between Teacher needs and student engagement—was born.
“TeacherMade is the perfect app for teachers to engage students through various intuitive digital learning activities while easing their own workload,” states Laura. Teachers can upload their pre-existing assignments in TeacherMade and share them with their students. They can also build activities from scratch. Once created, the assignment can be shared directly with students or through TeacherMade’s integrations with top learning management systems (LMS) such as Google Classroom, Schoology, and Canvas. With a wide range of tools available to the students for typing, highlighting, annotating, or drawing, they can access multiple ways to work on their assignments and attach annotations to their answers. It provides the teacher with a better view of the student’s understanding and a more efficient method for personalized feedback.
But the most amazing feature of TeacherMade comes after students submit their assignments. Immediately after a Teacher receives the completed digital worksheets, TeacherMade’s in-built auto-grading feature scores the assignments, saving copious amounts of grading time for the Teacher. Now Teachers can spend more time focusing on high-quality personalized instruction and feedback.
If numbers are any guide, TeacherMade has delivered on the promise of an easy way to create interactive digital worksheets: TeacherMade has accrued over six million users in just nine months. The number of users keeps growing, as does the list of features. TeacherMade’s 2021 road map includes a wealth of exciting enhancements that further incorporate deeper digital experiences into their classrooms. As of July 2021, students are able to incorporate video messages, images from their own Pinterest collection, MP3 audio clips, voice recordings, and project-based materials that demonstrate their understanding. “With TeacherMade, you are able to turn worksheets into more rigorous supplemental resources and make classroom and homework activities come alive—changing the whole impact of supplemental materials and practice activities on the learning process,” concludes Laura.