The Gift of Technology

I didn’t always love technology. In fact, ours was the house where the kids watched zero TV and used zero electronic devices. Zero. I wanted my kids to touch and build and race and play.

I'd rather my kids play than watch TV

Until my oldest was in 5th grade, my kids (then 10, 7, and 4) didn’t even go to movies or watch videos, with long plane rides east to visit family being the notable exceptions. But my perspective on technology changed overnight when my 5th grader was writing a long Harris Burdick story. Over 5 single spaced pages to be exact, and she was just getting started. I loved it and was excited for her to keep going, but she didn’t want to, because this was just her rough draft, handwritten, and she would have to rewrite it all for her final draft.

lighting

Like a lightning bolt, it hit me. She was holding back her creativity and productivity because she did not have access to the tools that would enhance them. That very day, I typed up her story and gave her a laptop to take to school to work on it. Her writing blossomed as did my understanding of the power of technology to support kids’ learning. While my children still watch zero TV and rarely see movies, we do take advantage of the way tools like ScootPad enhance my children’s learning and thinking.

I talk to my fair share of parents with my initial beliefs. And on one level, I totally get it. I’ve been there. But when I talk to parents who are lamenting that their child is behind, or under challenged, or that they simply have no idea what abilities their child has or where their child falls in the spectrum of expectation for schools, I share my story with them. I show them the power of ScootPad to give them and their children exactly what they need in an instant, without the parent needing to do a thing. To me, it’s that simple: it’s like magic.

Sometimes ScootPad’s simplicity blows my mind and I’m so glad to have such a comprehensive platform to share with parents that can offer something so powerful so easily.

How has your journey been, with discovering what ScootPad can bring you?
Cheers,

Dr. Michelle Anthony

Designing a Blended Learning Program

Ryan ElementaryYour school brought technology into the classroom, now you should see amazing results and improvements in learning, right? Not necessarily. Many schools have experienced the on-boarding of technology into their classrooms with minimal student results to show for it.

Authors Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker explain in their book, Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools, a process to make blended learning work in your school.

Step 1: Identify a goal/problem –  Identify a school-wide goal, or problem that needs to be solved.

Step 2: Organize a team –  Involve a support team to help teachers design their blended learning structure in the classroom.

Step 3: Design the student experience – View education from the students’ perspective, to see what they want to learn, which experiences motivate them to learn, and how schools can pull together the resources to enforce this.

Step 4: Design the teacher experience – Provide teachers with more opportunities to grow in their field by offering them recognition, providing team teaching, and giving them more authority.

Step 5: Align technology – Offer technology and devices that cater to both the student and teacher experiences.

Step 6 – Adjust the physical environment – Should the classroom setting be more traditional or more  tailored for blended learning? Adjust accordingly.

Step 7 – Execute – School leaders should monitor the blended learning experience in their schools, and make adjustments and changes to improve the experience.

Both Horn and Staker believe in using a well thought out design process to implement blended learning in schools, in the most effective way so that students are absorbing knowledge and teachers are adjusting their teaching styles accordingly. They believe that this  design process will help schools transition from the traditional model to one that is more student-centered. At ScootPad, we  have  carefully designed our learning platform to be highly personalized and adaptive for each student and teacher. ScootPad is here to make the blended learning transition easy for both students and teachers, by offering many features including the common core curriculum, adaptive learning paths, assignments and homework, instruction, formative assessments, proactive intervention, eBooks, behavior tracking, insights and reports, games, and this is all accessible 24/7, on any device, anywhere!

 

Visit The Journal for more information: http://thejournal.com/Articles/2015/01/28/Designing-a-Blended-Learning-Program.aspx?Page=2

Remaining Open and Flexible

Finding the right level for kids is somewhat of an art. And when you find it, the context that makes it right may change. Therefore, keeping the lines of communication open with parents will be a big asset in supporting kids’ learning. As I was adjusting to my new school as the Gifted and Talented teacher a couple years back, I did not get to meet many of the parents of my students. My position had turned over for a number of years, and so many parents didn’t have much motivation to get to know the new-yet-again GT teacher.

I’m excited to be in this role at my school, to build some consistency with the kids and build relationships with the parents . Despite the limitations, there have been a few parents who have reached out to me to work with them in adjusting their child’s ScootPad content, and I am happy to do so. For example, over the summer, learning looks different than it does over the year. Kids don’t want to work as hard, and they often are in contexts that require less intensity.

Jomas' mom wrote to ask if he could do more review over the summer, as opposed to advancing.

Jonas’ mom wrote to ask if he could do more review over the summer, as opposed to advancing.

Take Jonah: his mom wrote me asking to adjust his unit, allowing him to review over the summer as opposed to advance. Perfectly reasonable request that I was happy to oblige. For Sanjay, he was in Nepal last summer with his extended family while his mother was taking a program. Thus, his 11-year-old cousin was supporting his work on Scootpad. Knowing this, his mother requested a change in his unit content to allow Sanjay (and his cousin) to be successful. Small requests allowed me to better connect with the parents, to better serve the students, and thus to allow learning to best progress, even in the months away from formal schooling!

Sanjay's 11-year-old cousin was his math support in Nepal while his mother was away. Thus, she requested an adjustment to the content he was working on.

Sanjay’s 11-year-old cousin was his math support in Nepal while his mother was away. Thus, she requested an adjustment to the content he was working on.

How do you support your students from afar?

Cheers!

Dr. Michelle Anthony

 

ScootPad’s Fun New Features!

We have exciting news for all our ScootPad users! We’ve added some exciting new features for your students to enjoy, including Games, Wallpapers, Color Themes, and Animated Avatars. Teachers, if you’d like to restrict certain features, you can do that under your classroom settings.

1. Games – We’ve added 11 education-focused games. Each game invites students to have fun and learn at the same time. Your students can play each game free for the first time, but playing any game after will cost them 10 coins from their piggy bank.

addon     sudoku      memory      Minesweeper

tictactoe     maze     hangman     chess

2048     picturepuzzle     hextris

2. Wallpapers – We’ve added 50+ wallpapers for your kids to choose from! Students can choose their first wallpaper free, and then it will costs them 10 coins to change.

wallpaper

3. Color Themes – We’ve included 25+ color themes for your kids to really personalize their ScootPad experience. Students can use one color theme for free, and then it will cost them 10 coins to change it up.

color

4. Animated Avatars – Your students can now browse through our  50+ animated avatars. Again, it will be free to choose their first animated avatar, then each avatar will cost them 10 coins.

avatars

Let the fun begin!!

 

The Difference between Assessments and Practice

online learningI had an interesting experience with my daughter and ScootPad once. She had  just finished 5th grade and was going to be evaluated for placement in advanced math classes in middle school. I decided to get a pulse reading on what her skills were for 6th grade math standards. Thus, I set up a series of assessments through ScootPad, based on the ConceptBank.

My daughter is no stranger to ScootPad, but she really balked at doing the assessments. When I asked her why, she told me that she hated that she couldn’t see right away if she was getting things wrong or not, as that was how she often adjusted her learning along the way. She had come to associate ScootPad with practice, not evaluation, and did not like the differences in expectations that set the two apart.

This struck me, as her experiences in school are mostly offline, meaning there is not instant feedback from the teacher for her work. In fact, she often waits days or weeks to get back worksheets or projects. She often is beyond thinking about the learning points when she does get the work back, and the opportunity to grow or advance as a result of her mistakes, is lost. Fortunately, ScootPad’s assessments give instant feedback!

She can see instantly what she has done right and wrong, and thus can adjust her thinking as she does the practice. Even when doing the Scootpad assessments, she simply needs to wait until the end, to find out what she might have benefited from in the course of her work.

And I realized, that while she loved doing the practices, the ScootPad assessments were just as significant to her learning, to see what she had mastered and which concepts she still needed to work on. My question is, how might we motivate stronger performances for students while they are doing assessments? What are your thoughts on the ways that practices and evaluations differ?

Cheers!

Dr. Michelle Anthony

 

Top 5 Education Policy Issues in 2015

classroom1. School readiness for all – In order for children to be ready to begin attending school, it is important that they have mastered their motor skills, socialization skills, and other educational skills. State leaders are looking for high quality early learning programs for younger kids.

2. Experiential and work-based learning – In order to attain career-readiness, students must be in environments where they are using their critical thinking and communication skills. Internships, community service learning, and paid work opportunities would all be ways to connect  students to the workforce.

3. Academic success for at-risk populations – Supportive instruction along with continuous assessments are vital for at risk students. Individualized/personalized education based on students’ will enhance learning.

4. Innovative state accountability systems –  The main point here is to have systems in place that focus on preparing graduating students for college and their future careers. This includes focus on closing skill gaps, and having interventions for low performing students. With more focus on systems and standards, graduation rates could also increase.

5. Advance attainment of degrees, certificates, and high-quality credentials – By 2018, about two thirds of jobs will require a post-secondary credential or degree (Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce). Policymakers and education officials will be focusing on providing first-rate post-secondary education for students.

These five education policies are geared toward giving students the best education in order for them to be prepared for their future careers. A few points that these policies hit on were helping students at risk, by offering personalized education based on their needs. ScootPad’s platform is designed to offer completely personalized education to all students based on their specific needs.

The article also mentioned providing a form of intervention for low performing students in order to resolve their educational issues. At ScootPad, we reinforce proactive intervention in order to have at risk students master the concepts they’re struggling in before they fall too far behind.

 

To learn more, visit : http://www.eschoolnews.com/2015/01/20/education-policy-2015-908/2/

ScootPad for RTI

As an Assistant Principal at a K-8 charter school, my husband recently mentioned that there is a block in their middle school schedule for RTI (Response to Intervention) with students struggling to be proficient. He asked me what I would recommend for helping the teachers structure this time, as the educators who run it take it on as an additional responsibility, added to their already full teaching load. He wanted an easy means by which they could engage the kids and build up the necessary foundation for the students, without needing to add on too much additional planning and prep time to these already overloaded schedules.

Math_LPScootPad immediately came to mind! More than any other online program I have seen or used, ScootPad is simple to “set up” and get going. While teachers CAN individualize the learning path for any student or any concept, they don’t HAVE to. They can simply put in the student’s grade and the child can get going. Instantly, they are learning without the teacher needing to do, well…anything! Add to that the back end simplicity of being able to run reports by student, by concept, by pretty much anything, and you have an ideal situation.

Math_reportOf course I am not saying that ScootPad should replace teacher-student interaction, nor be the only means by which kids get learning input. Once you know you can provide the necessary foundation and remove the time and energy previously necessary for constant analysis of skill advancement, suddenly your teachers have the time and energy to add the other elements of great programming, with the total confidence of knowing they are giving students an individualized program that provides exactly what they need!

Cheers!

Dr. Michelle Anthony

Wake Up Call

sunriseGetting ready for school in the morning is such a busy time. Especially if you have 3 kids in 3 schools and you and your husband are both also educators. Do the math…that’s 5 people in 5 schools with 5 different schedules! Yikes! So, needless to say, I’ve not been exactly on it with our family ScootPad practices these days.

But sometimes, a midst these busy moments something magical happens, as happened in my house the other day. My son was very focused on getting ready for school and I wondered why. Usually, he likes to mill about until I let him know it’s almost time for school, then he’ll throw everything together at the last minute. This morning, he was all business, so it caught my attention in that quiet way, and I did not want to interrupt it and ruin a beautiful thing.

When his things were organized by the door and his shoes on, a full 25 minutes before it was time to go, I knew something was up.

“Mom?” I heard him call from the office, “What’s my password for ScootPad again?”

Ummm…what? I thought to myself. Did he just ask how to log in to ScootPad? Was his rush to get ready so that he could have more time on ScootPad? How did he even think of it? We are always in such a rush in the morning, so I was confused, but never will I be one to stand in the way of learning. I reminded him of his password and marveled in the silence of self-initiated learning.

What ways have your children surprised you with their desire to learn?

Cheers!
Dr. Michelle anthony

 

E-learning on a Snow Day!

Instead of making up snow days at the end of the school year or by extending school days, how about engaging in E-learning at home instead?? This is exactly what the Frontier School Corporation School District called for.

snow_dayWednesday, January 7th,  classes were canceled in many school districts in Chalmers, Indiana, due to the extreme cold temperatures.  Frontier Junior Senior High School  students experienced their very first day using E-learning, at home. There were two support staffers at the school to answer calls for any technical questions the students had while using their rented Chromebooks.

A senior at the high school, Jacquie Chitty mentioned how the E-learning system assigned more than just busy work, but it implemented the state standards, “It’s faster, and I can get right to the point instead of having to listen to the lecture, but it would also be nice to have the lecture just in case I get lost.”

ScootPad uses 100% Common Core Standards, so students like Jacquie Chitty can learn at their own pace and gain deeper knowledge in the Common Core concepts. However Jacquie mentioned the need of having a resource for when she “gets lost”. ScootPad has a remedy. For the moments when students get confused or don’t entirely know how to answer a homework question, they can click on a “Scootorial” (engaging audio-visual explanation assigned to each homework problem) to receive the appropriate instruction and to wash away any doubts.

Both students and parents alike saw the value in E-learning. (Plus, one less snow day to make up!)

For more information, visit: http://www.wthr.com/story/27785328/schools-use-cold-day-to-try-out-e-learning

Shortcuts to Deeper Learning

Parental confession time: I don’t always interact with my children when they are doing ScootPad. For me, it’s time to get other things done around the house, with my child wonderfully engaged in thinking and learning. And the point of ScootPad is to provide independent practice across multiple areas. I love that about the platform, but as a mom who limits screen time, I still feel guilty for “plugging in” my children and not interacting with them.

ELA_blog_picture

As much to lessen the guilt as to enhance learning, I make a point to sometimes stretch myself beyond the usual “great job,” or “uh huh” reply they often get when they announce they have done well on a practice. So at times, I come over and look at the fireworks, or sit with them and review together what they got wrong, and why.

assignment_review_picture

But sometimes, I don’t want to walk over to the other room where they do the practices. I want to sit in my chair and still enhance their thinking. Call it parental exhaustion, or summer laziness, or both. But to allow me this flexibility, I am starting a list of “across the room questions” to be able to ask them that will start a conversation and extend their thinking, without me needing to go anywhere at all. Interaction enhanced, guilt lessened, learning extended: win-win-win!

Beginning ideas:

  • What was easiest about the practice?
  • What was hardest?
  • What new vocabulary did you come across?
  • What questions did you have while reading one of the passages?
  • Did any of the passages teach you a new fact or make you think in a new way?
  • Ask an inference question about one of the topics in the reading passages.
  • Was there a new math skill that was introduced this practice?

I’d love ideas for others!

Cheers!

Dr. Michelle Anthony

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