Seeming Struggle or a Need for More Challenge?

Sometimes, I focus my teaching brainpower on a single student. Trying to problem solve a tricky kid can make my job a lot easier if the student can change the dynamic in the class or help a group be more productive. Also, when I think about a single student, it can sometimes change the way I think about many students. I had such an epiphany this morning when I was thinking and writing about Remi.

Remi is a student who seemed to be doing great in his ELA practices.

By all accounts, Remi is doing great across the board!

By all accounts, Remi seemed to be doing great across the board!

However, when I looked at how he was doing concept-by-concept, I found some areas of glaring weakness.

Looking closely, there are a number of areas where Remi struggles

Looking closely, there are a number of areas where Remi struggles

To address this, I assigned Remi a number of concept improvement practices. Somewhat to my surprise, he showed no struggle at all with them. Despite being red in virtually all of the questions given on the improvement practices, he was getting them almost all right!

Seems like Remi has taken on the challenge!

Remi is rocking these improvement practices!

In fact, when I drilled down even more, I could see that on most of the questions, he’s been getting them right on the first attempt!

Remi is getting most of them right on the first try!

Remi is getting most of them right on the first try!

So now I am wondering, are these concepts truly hard for him, or are they simply ones he needs to take more time to read and consider as he rushes through what must be very easy questions for him in general?  Might his apparent “weakness” and “struggle” really be a sign that he’s ready for more challenge??

What do you think?

Cheers!

Dr. Michelle Anthony

Happy Holidays from ScootPad!

With the holiday season in full effect, we would like to wish everyone a relaxing break from their every day hustle and bustle. May everyone have a holiday break full of laughter, peace, and love.

holiday picture_blog

We’ve also compiled a short list of games to include in your holiday celebrations. Enjoy!

1. Charades–This one never gets old. Form two teams. Decide how many rounds will be played. One person from either team will act out a movie, book, person, etc.–holiday related– for their team members until the the timer (60 seconds) runs out. Then the next team goes. Whichever team has the most points at the end, wins!

2. Scavenger Hunt–Have the kids draw various holiday themed pictures, and have the host hide these all over the house for friends and family to find. The person who finds the most pictures wins a special prize!

3. Unwrap the gift–The host chooses a gift fit for any guest and wraps it in several layers of wrapping paper (6-10 layers). Ask your  guests to sit in a circle and pass around this gift. Similar to musical chairs, one person will be turning on and off the music as they please, and every time the music stops, the person holding the gift at that  moment will remove a layer. Whoever opens the last layer of wrapping paper, gets to keep that gift!

4. Holiday word-mania–Everyone will need a writing utensil and scratch paper for this one! The host either chooses or asks for a word pertaining to the holiday. He/She says it out loud and everyone has to write as many words as they can using the letters within that word, before the timer (60 seconds) runs out!

5. Draw & write–This hilarious game will keep your holiday events jolly! Each guest will need a writing utensil and scratch paper. Each person will now write a sentence (it could be anything) at the top of the page, and then pass their paper to the person on their left. The new person holding the paper will illustrate that sentence. Then, this same person will fold over the top of the paper–so that only their picture is showing–before passing it to their left again. This new person must write  a sentence describing the picture–fold the page to hide everything but their sentence–, and so on, until the original paper gets back to the first owner. Enjoy reading the hilarious document once it comes back to you!

There you have it! Wishing everyone a joy-filled holiday season!

Cheers,
ScootPad Team

For more games :
http://www.reunionplanner.com/latest-news/general/latest-news/fun-family-holiday-games/

ScootPad Alleviates Test Anxiety at North Country Elementary

Jolinda Smith’s students at North Country Elementary in Antelope, CA were pleasantly surprised after completing field testing for the new Common Core state tests. Students breezed through the test and found that all of their hard work on ScootPad had paid off! Jolinda was shocked to find that, by using ScootPad, her kids had not only become more comfortable with testing on a computer, but had also gained a new sense of confidence with Common Core content.

Jolinda explains what she needed to succeed:

“Our biggest challenge this year was getting students used to being on a computer to complete the new Common Core tests. I knew that my class needed a computer program that was able to not only help them adjust to taking tests on a computer, but truly focus on the change from multiple choice answers to a written answer/critical thinking format. As a teacher I have used Khan Academy, but the format is not as kid user-friendly as ScootPad and does not have the English/Language Arts Common Core focus my students needed.”

Jolinda stresses the impact ScootPad had on test preparation:

“Usually testing is an anxiety time for kids, and I thought this year would be especially difficult, because testing was all done on the computer. Instead, after we had finished our second day of Common Core testing, I was surprised to hear students say ScootPad was much harder than the test they had just completed.  Upon further discussion, all kids admitted that if they had not used ScootPad this year, the test would have been really hard.”

“Initially, my students were very frustrated when we started using ScootPad because the format was so different. The true success was my students’ initial frustration being turned into a sense of success. ScootPad has taught them that when practicing a skill, you learn from your mistakes by critically reasoning out problems.”

 

 

North Country Elementary, and over 30,000 other schools, are using ScootPad. To see your school’s learning impact, click here:

https://www.scootpad.com/metrics

Cheers,
ScootPad Team

3 Ways to Use ScootPad in the Classroom

For many people, ScootPad is an at-home platform to extend learning in school. I use it this way at our house, with my own children. My son has been doing ScootPad for years, when none of his teachers even knew about it! Since I’ve returned to the classroom, I’ve brought the power of ScootPad with me.

While I use it as an at-home platform to extend learning for my own students, I am a GT teacher in a high poverty school where a number of families don’t have internet access at home. I’ve learned to implement ScootPad in many other ways.

1. Make your room available–I make my room available before school and at lunch for kids who want to come in and work. I talk to their homeroom teachers to get them permission to do ScootPad after finishing their required work.

2. Use ScootPad as a direct tool–When I use ScootPad during my students’ GT time, it takes many forms. Sometimes it’s a warm up, after 5-7 minutes, the kids save their work and we move on. I love that all their progress is saved so that kids can work at their own rate, and my class is not held hostage to let the last ones “finish” while the quicker kids sit there waiting.

3. Explore ScootPad for the day–I might be with a few kids, giving mini lessons for areas of struggle. I might have kids investigate their learning paths and what areas of a topic are harder or easier for them. I’ve even taken whole days for kids to find friends, do shoutouts, and adjust their avatar.

The goal is simply to help them build confidence with the platform and  feel successful, as this actually increases the amount of time outside my class they spend on ScootPad practices.

Although I feel I’ve done a relatively good job of introducing and maintaining ScootPad across the year, I am very mindful of the limited time I have with my kids, and I want to be sure I am maximizing every moment.  Thus, I am always revisiting my strategies to emphasize the program in balance with all the other things we do in my class.

I’d love ideas on how you use ScootPad in class, and how you might suggest I adapt or adjust the ways I do! :)

Cheers!

Dr. Michelle Anthony

Ready or Not, BYOD is Here to Stay

Not too far in the future, students will be bringing in their own devices to school. They will have the option to pull out their own tablets (or other devices) and log on to learning platforms at any place and any time. Sound familiar? That’s the ScootPad mantra! We recognize the need for students to have personalized learning wherever and whenever. Whether students are logging on to ScootPad at school, home, or anywhere else, they are trekking through their own adaptive learning paths and achieving concept mastery.

School districts are still working out the logistics (security and bandwidth) for BYOD. They will need to switch over to digital content and offer online tools available to all student devices. On top of that, troubleshooting all the various devices won’t be a walk in the park for IT operations personnel.

Even with all these future adjustments, this change will bring about many benefits for students. The takeaway of BYOD (aka BYOT–Bring your own technology)? Students will be doing more research on their own, inspiring critical thinking. They will also be able to learn in their own environment and at their own pace.

Visit the Center for Digital Education website for more information:  http://www.centerdigitaled.com/news/Ready-or-Not-BYOD-is-Here-to-Stay.html

5 Ways to Improve US Education

What does the future of US education look like to you? How about a potential plan of action, including costs and benefits of a better, more cost effective system? Forbes organized this very scenario, planning out an investment in US education to see how it would affect the nation’s GDP. With an initial investment of $6.2 trillion over 20 years, the outcome was outstanding–a payoff of $225 trillion (over 80 years).

File:Children in a classroom.jpg

Forbes had several education policy experts choose the top worldwide policies based on math scores and rates of high school graduation:

1. Teacher efficacy– Pay teachers a higher salary, which will pull in top college graduates to the profession. Monitor their performance and keep the best teachers around.

2. Universal pre-K– With only 52% of Pre-K aged kids attending school, children are not developing a solid educational base. Provide Pre-kindergarten for every American child.

3. School leadership– Raise principal salaries (to bring and retain top talent of course), have them attend training academies, and allow them to reform state laws and modify managing budgets–this would allow school principals to drive educational results.

4. Blended learning–We couldn’t agree with this one more! Provide computers for students and have teachers use digital media to enhance learning. Allow for differentiated learning so students can learn at their own pace. Facilitate training for schools and teachers to learn how to combine online learning with traditional learning.

5. Common Core/college readiness– We couldn’t have said it better–“Creating high national standards to ensure college-ready, globally competitive graduates.” Randall Lane, Forbes

At ScootPad, we directly enable two out of the five policies listed above. Based on the research done by Forbes, there is an enormous need for education reform in the US. Taking a few steps away from the traditional teaching style and bringing in digital media and creating a blended learning environment to support teachers, is where the future of US education is headed. With the support of a 100% Common Core aligned online platform like ScootPad, teachers, schools, and parents will see a huge improvement in their childrens’ learning abilities and achievements.

Seems like a good plan to us! What are your thoughts?

 

Visit Forbes for more information:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/randalllane/2014/12/01/heres-a-plan-to-turn-around-u-s-education-and-generate-225-trillion/2/

Intervention: Easy As Pie!

I admit, I was feeling pretty intimidated to try and “figure out” how to use the intervention feature on ScootPad. As anyone who knows me knows, I hate change. New things involve change. I know they bring new opportunities, but I am the kind who wades very slowly into the water.

Such was my plan here: I clicked on some buttons to see what it was all about. But much to my delight and surprise… that was all it took. I clicked on “Math…Intervention” and this is what I saw:

Looking at how many concpets my student's don't need intervention on has me feeling pretty good!

Looking at how many concepts my student’s don’t need intervention on has me feeling pretty good!

And I was intimidated. Until I hovered over the image and realized that it simply was showing me that, overall, my kids are doing pretty well. I mean, take a look! My kids are doing fine on 324 concepts. 324! Ok, so there are 21 concepts I can work with small clusters on…that’s doable (remember, I teach K-5, so I am working with kids doing Common Core across 6 different grades). And as far as individual kids go, only 23 individuals need concept improvement work. I’m feeling pretty good about this!

Assigning interventions happens with just a click!

Assigning interventions happens with just a click!

So I waded in deeper: I clicked the ‘review’ button for the 21 concepts that groups of kids need to work on. And simple as anything, I checked a box by a concept that a group (of already identified kids!) can work on. Then I clicked “assign Concept Improvement” and it auto-generated the intervention practice. That was it! Easy as pie!

I wish all my lesson planning were this easy! How are you taking advantage of the intervention feature on ScootPad?

Cheers!
Dr. Michelle Anthony

The Test of Time

My son has been using ScootPad for a number of years now. I think we may have been one of the first people who signed up for it, as my son’s name was available as his username without any numbers or additional letters. I won’t say he uses ScootPad everyday, but he does use it consistently. It ebbs and flows with the pace of our lives, but it’s been a touchstone for learning for us for the last 2+ years.

math_ELA_practice

All this to say, he has certainly done his fair share of practices on it. And he’s pretty good at it. Generally, I have him one year advanced in his math and reading practices to keep him challenged and engaged. He works hard, but he’s not perfect. Neither is ScootPad nor any learning platform for that matter. Believe me, I always hear about it when my son sees a question marked wrong when he thinks it should have been right.

That reality notwithstanding, he’s seen his fair share of fireworks at the end of practices. He looks for them. Counts on them. If he doesn’t get them, he’s severely disappointed. Sometimes I explain that new things can be hard to learn and master, and then we sit together and figure out what is making things hard.

fireworks

 

When it clicks, he says, “Mom, you can stop helping me now…I get it. Let me earn my fireworks, please.”

Even after several years, it has not gotten old. I love that! ScootPad really has stood the test of time for us!

Cheers!
Dr. Michelle Anthony

Anticipating Future Excitement

Not all the kids I work with are equally excited about the work I give. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the content I teach and the means by which I teach it are pretty engaging. But some of my students simply engage in different means or manners. One thing I am excited about with ScootPad is the opportunity that it provides to reach more students around their area of interest.

More specifically, I am eagerly awaiting the upcoming release of the spelling and eBooks leaderboards. Just say the word “spelling” and I have 3 students who come to mind who ask me for extra spelling work each week. These are the same students, by the way, that I cannot get to do the weekly practices independently, despite the fact that they are eager, bright students who have ready access to the computer at school and at home (a luxury many of my students do not have). But mention the word “spelling” and I have them at the ready. I would love to be able to reward their eagerness and industry with a leaderboard that taps their strengths and promotes their engagement.

spelling-image

I’m equally excited for the eBooks leaderboard! I have some avid readers in my group: kids who would rather read than do anything else. What better way to acknowledge that than a class eBooks leaderboard? For those who go above and beyond, this is a way to help them visually see the accomplishment and be recognized for their efforts.

eBooksDash

What new features are you most anticipating?

Cheers!
Dr. Michelle Anthony

 

The Quiet Wow of ScootPad

Those of you who follow my blog know that I have been using ScootPad for years with my family. Long enough that my son’s username is his first name without any numbers. One might say he’s as much an expert on ScootPad as I am. :) And although I have mentioned the platform to a number of his teachers at his school, none have ever followed through.

So I was interested when my son came home from school the other day and told me he’d had free time in his technology class and so he asked the teacher if he could log in to ScootPad and do some exercises. I was impressed at his initiative, impressed at his independence, and impressed at his work ethic.

I was even more impressed when he told me the reaction of the other kids in his class. As he was doing a practice (a practice mind you, not a game or looking at the leaderboard or posting on the class wall…simply doing a practice), the other kids all gathered around him.

ELApassage_practice

“Wooow!” they oogled. “What are you doing?”

‘ScootPad’ my son said matter-of-factly. After all, it’s nothing so amazing for him. But it was to them.

And it reminded me that we are at the start of a fresh new year school year and we have fresh new opportunities to offer this simple but ‘wow!’ platform to our students for fun while learning.

What ways have you rediscovered the WOW of ScootPad?

Cheers!
Dr. Michelle Anthony

 

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