Uncovering Hidden Struggles

I always find it interesting to see what areas my students struggle with in ScootPad. When I look at the results, I can see if it’s a specific area of struggle for a whole class, or if individuals are getting tripped up by specific kinds of problems. Sometimes the reason for the struggle is obvious (e.g., a student does not know their multiplication facts and thus is having a hard time with division). In such a case, the solution is also obvious–work on the area of weakness to improve skill knowledge and student performance.

But what happens if the reason underlying the poor performance is not so obvious?  Such was the case with “Colby.” Colby is a bright, eager first grader who is whizzing his way through the second grade math track. He almost always scores 100%, or close to it, on math practices.

Looking at the practice results, we can assume this student is doing perfectly.

Looking at the practice results, we can assume this student is doing perfectly.

 

So imagine my surprise when I was printing out his progress report and saw he was at 64% on something!

I was surprised to see this  red score amidst what looked like near-perfect practices.

I was surprised to see this red score amidst what looked like near-perfect practices.

Confused, I went into the practices themselves to see what was tripping him up. It was hard to find one worthy of exploration, but I decided to check out 2 of the 85% scores.  Seeing the kinds of questions he was getting wrong, I was more confused: the math was simple, the concepts not nearly as advanced as many I had seen him do without any issues.

Sometimes a child's struggle is more than meets the eye.

Sometimes a child’s struggle is more than meets the eye.

After sitting with it for a bit,the solution came to me: it was the wording that was throwing him off, not the math. And while this may seem relatively insignificant, it pointed to something worthy of my time and consideration: the new tests coming (PARCC in our case) rely a great deal on just such types of wording! No longer can students get by on math understanding alone: They must also be able to decipher the math desired through the veil of a great deal of language.  For students in schools such as mine, where many are second language learners, thinking about teaching students the language is as important as teaching them the math! Colby’s results reminded me of the great challenge that awaits me with my students as we prepare for PARCC in the coming months.

What new challenges have you discovered by looking at some interesting questions and student answers on ScootPad?

Cheers!
Dr. Michelle Anthony

Creative Ways to Track Student Activity

I love how ScootPad sends me weekly updates on my students. One of the first things I look at in my account is how many of my students have logged in that week. I work with a great number of students every week, some of whom rotate into and out of my class, depending on a number of factors. Thus, seeing the number of sign ins may not give me all I want to know in terms of who has signed in most recently.

Can you tell who's logged in just by their avatars?

Can you tell who has logged in just by their avatars?

So I have developed a little trick to allow me to easily see right away who has logged in and who has not. I give my kids a challenge: change their avatars when they log in each week. To add to the fun, I set guidelines:

  • Choose an animal
  • Choose something with the color green in it
  • Avoid one that has the color red
  • Remove the smiley face from your avatar.

I’ve even asked my students to choose a mood from one of 3 that I’ve given them to choose from. For example, have everyone choose either dancing, hypnotize, or whistling. Mix it up and make it fun.

mood

The kids love the challenges, and you can easily see who’s logging in, even before you check your dashboard for results.

Cheers!
Dr. Anthony

 

Helping Students See Strengths and Weaknesses

Each week I set up both Math and Reading practices for all my students to do at home. Not all students do the practices, mind you, but they are always available. In fairness, some of my students don’t have internet access. Also in fairness, when my students are in my GT class, they are missing work in their regular class that they will have to make up as homework. Adding homework to homework is often not the best way to excite kids for additional learning opportunities. So what can get them excited?

Students often have no idea what all those checks and X's add up to.

Students often have no idea what all those checks and X’s add up to.

 

One strategy that has worked well with my students has been to give them the tools to recognize their own areas of strength and struggle. For example, I have them log into ScootPad and go to their learning paths. They always marvel at how far they have come, looking at the number of units they have completed. They also love to see their “beehive” as they call it. While they chip away at a set of skills with each practice, they don’t notice or realize that each question builds towards something. And they rarely take the time (or realize the means) to see what they are building towards: proficiency and mastery.

What better way to see progress than a green “hive” staring back at you? It imparts a feeling of instant success! And what better motivation to improve than realizing there is a red “hive” in the mix? I have many students who stare at the red hexagon as if it were a black hole: their face reveals shock, and confusion. As if they had no idea that those little ‘x’s’ at the end of a practice over time actually meant anything.

“Ms. Anthony?” some will question, “I don’t understand. Why is this score so low?”

Others will come over somewhat despondent, as if they have been “discovered” or “found out.” “Ms. Anthony, I know I’m not doing well on this, but I just don’t know how to do it.”

While it can sometimes be difficult for them to acknowledge a challenge, the opportunity it presents for me is well worth it: having kids own their learning and invest in their own outcomes.

succeed

Cheers!
Dr. Anthony

Fundraise to Get ScootPad For Your Classroom!

money_iconWe know how tight school budgets can be so we wanted to share some fundraising options to help you get ScootPad for your school or classroom. We recommend setting up a fundraiser through Donors Choose, through ScootPad, or through both!

 

donorschooselogoScootPad teachers have had great success raising funds through DonorsChoose, an online charity open to thousands across the world.

donorschoose

Ms. Mini (Imagine South Lake Charter School, Clermont, FL), for example, recently added a fundraiser for a ScootPad subscription for her students.

ScootPad Fundraiser

fundraiser_setup1fundraiser_share

You can also easily setup a free fundraiser on ScootPad!

You can share with your community through your school webpage, Twitter, Facebook or Twitter.

The securely donated funds are immediately added to your account!

 

To set up a fundraiser on DonorsChoose: http://www.donorschoose.org/

To set up a fundraiser on ScootPad: Click on upgrade in your teacher account and then select “fundraiser”

SP_Fundraiser

Cheers,
ScootPad Team

What to Do When Kids Say: I’m Bored!

As teachers, we work so hard to make learning interesting and engaging for kids. This practice gets harder and harder with the number of requirements that keep getting heaped on, with less and less time to do it due to increased testing. Knowing how hard I work to spark my students’ interest, there is no worse comment I could hear than “I’m bored.” I feel deflated, defeated, and defensive.

bored

This actually happened just yesterday when I was working with a small group on ScootPad. My student, Luka, was distractedly punching keys on his computer and then said to me, “Can I go back to my seat and do other work? I’m bored.”

“Bored?” I thought. “Oh no! Maybe ScootPad has run its course and it’s not engaging the kids anymore. Maybe the excitement has died down and it’s all “work” to them now. I mean, who has time in school to be bored?” I was ready to actually announce my last thought aloud when I stopped myself. There is so much to engage kids within ScootPad, I knew there was more to it than simply being bored.

“What’s boring you?” I asked.

“These math problems. They’re just really boring.” I came over and saw that he was getting a number of problems wrong in a row.

When problems feel hard, kids can get "bored."

When problems feel hard, kids can get “bored.”

Knowing Luka, a bright boy for whom most learning comes easily, I asked, “Does it feel boring to get the problems wrong over and over?” He shrugged.

I had deciphered the code! We sat and problem solved some of what had been tripping him up. I saw the light go on in his eyes and his energy picked up.

“Oh!” he exclaimed, “So THAT is how you do it!” Re-energized, he went back to work, newly engaged. I moved on to another student. “Ms. Anthony,” I heard him call over, “I got 20/20. Can I do another?”

So much for being bored!

Cheers!
Dr. Michelle Anthony

Win an iPad Mini!

ipad_mini

Sign up for a FREE Admin account for chance to win an iPad Mini!

(June 29th – July 12th)

ISTE_ATL

 

Going to ISTE? Stop by and we can sign up for you!

(Ed Tech Start-Up Pavilion booth #1826)

Good luck!

Cheers,
ScootPad Team

Avoid Summer Learning Frustrations with Balanced Assignments

I am excited to have a small handful of kids who have been using ScootPad since the school year ended. I have a weekly standing assignment for both reading and math for anytime a student happens to log in. But I want to make it more individualized for my students who are taking time from their summer to be on ScootPad. I’d like to power-punch the learning by making sure I am supporting the areas that will most benefit them.

math_reading_assignment

To do this, I am looking at their reports to identify both a strength and a weakness. If I give them practices with only their weaknesses, I might frustrate or discourage them. So to keep things balanced, I am creating practice assignments that are a blend of both their areas of strength and weakness. I believe like this will allow them to be successful while also being challenged to look at topics that are more difficult for them.

For example, “Terri” has done some work on ScootPad since school ended. While looking at her report for math, I can see she struggles with money multiplication, elapsed time, and a few others. However, she is rocking in the standard ‘comparing number using place value and lines and angles,’ among others. Thus, I am selecting 5 topics that will challenge her, and 5 I already know she is successful in (see image below).

Finding the balance between challenge and success

Finding the balance between challenge and success

What are some ways you seek a balance between challenge and success?

Cheers!
Dr. Michelle Anthony

 

Problem Solving in All Forms

ScootPad is a platform for reading and math learning; however, it hosts a number of other possibilities. One benefit that I stumbled upon quite recently was by accident.  I was helping my students connect socially on ScootPad, to help foster engagement before summer vacation. One aspect of this was to encourage them to send each other shoutouts. At first they were frustrated that they couldn’t type whatever they wanted. They were also dismayed at the limited number of text options available. They immediately came to me to “fix” the problem.

I explained to them that I could not change the program and these were the limitations they were going to have to work with. I was interested to watch their problem solving at work. Some simply complained and gave up. They sat sullen, having no idea what to do with the time allotted, feeling as if  they could not accomplish their objective. Some remained that way for the rest of the time. Some, still dismayed, asked if they could do a practice instead of connect with friends. While not my original intent, this seemed an appropriate solution for them, so I said yes.

Other students, however, were not deterred. They, too were frustrated at the limitations, but they chose a different route of coping. Instead of giving up, they got creative. They began putting together simple sentences, sent them along, and used them as a launching off point. For example, when Francis sent Adam a “super job” shoutout, it initiated an in person conversation about what each was doing well on in ScootPad.

Instead of me telling them they were doing a great job, they were telling one another!

Problem Solving can come in all forms.

Problem Solving can come in all forms.

What hidden ways have you discovered to foster student connections on ScootPad?

Cheers!
Dr. Anthony

The Social Side of ScootPad

As the end of school approaches, I continue to set up experiences to engage my kids’ learning activities and to help launch them into summer motivated to continue learning.  This is a tricky proposition with my students, as most of them come from disadvantaged backgrounds where Science Camp is not likely on the agenda. But my students are eager and are often looking for opportunities to connect with learning. One way I am doing this is by helping them make social connections on ScootPad.

Being the GT teacher, I work with students in various classes across the grades, and not all the students are in the group across the year. Thus, many of my students are not physically in the room together at the same time, even though a number know one another or are friends. So to help make connections and get some conversations going, I invited them to extend their circle of friends on ScootPad.

Hearing how students select their friends gives me valuable social information.

Hearing how students select their friends gives me valuable social information.

Kids had a blast doing this, and it was equally useful for me. I got to listen to how they decided who to be friends with, and why. As a teacher, especially of GT students, it’s important for me to understand the connections my students are making to one another and how I might help foster that in class.

Are there ways you have discovered emotional understanding through ScootPad?

Cheers!
Dr Anthony

Are You Psyched for Summer?

Like most schools, we are in wind down mode, getting ready to finish off the year. It’s also a time of reflection and planning, as we look ahead to planning for next fall (“Already?” you may ask…yep, already). Knowing the year is coming to a close, I know how important it is for my students to continue to work towards their learning goals, even as May turns to June. One issue is that, as much as teachers are beginning to close out the year, so are students. They know summer is coming and their investment in their learning processes is beginning to reflect that.

Knowing the shift that is happening, I decided to re-ignite interest by making a ScootPad fun day. I invited the kids to spend the first part of the class altering their “how I feel today” icons, choosing new avatars, adding some friends, sending a few shoutouts, etc. They sparked up immediately! While the hum in the room started out completely social, I noticed as the time went on it shifted.

coin_exchange_friends

Making it fun re-engages the learning!

Making things fun re-engages the learning!

“Which practice number are you on?”

“I’m on practice 3, but it’s for unit 7, what about you?”
“Ms. Anthony, if I’m doing unit 8, how many more until I get to the C unit Rodrigo is doing?”

Game on.

I will admit, I had an ulterior motive in doing this. Of course I wanted to spark some increased interest in continuing to learn through the remaining days of the school year. However, I wanted more. I know the statistics: most kids lose up to 2 months of learning over the summer. While the Summer Slide is not good for any child, children from low income homes are more at risk for even higher levels of loss.

Knowing this, my ultimate goal is to prime at least some of my students to continue using ScootPad over the summer. I plan to keep my class set up so that my students can access the learning throughout June, July, and August. As I have told them, I don’t want their brains turning to marshmallows over the summer, and what better way than by continuing to keep their learning active with our class ScootPad account?

What ways have you tried to keep your students learning over the summer?

Cheers!
Dr Michelle Anthony

 

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