Finding Joy in the Small Things

School has officially ended for us. And like me, I think the kids need and deserve a break. But I am also aware that things like reading and doing learning activities often are practices of habit as opposed to activities that easily pop into or out of a schedule. Especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, where habits will dictate how they spend their time this summer. I worked hard to try to motivate my students to want to continue to think, learn, and expand their abilities over the summer. But even my own children have told me they want time off from all that to just play outside. And, really, how can you argue with that?

So imagine my excitement when I got the below email from one of my students the Monday after school let out for summer!

School finished on Friday...imagine my surprise to see this email the Monday after!

School finished on Friday…imagine my surprise to see this email the Monday after!

Knowing that one student was looking to log in, maybe others had as well…I decided to go check it out and this is what I saw:

Seeing two more students had logged in to Scootpad already made me smile!

Seeing two more students had logged in to ScootPad already made me smile!

Believe me, I see all the 0/3’s on there. That notwithstanding, I was so pleased for several reasons. First, at least 3 students had been thinking about practicing during the very first days of summer, when everyone is most excited to have no school anymore. Second, one student even did all 3 of the math practices I had assigned. When I went to look at her ELA practice, she had done all 4! Knowing that this had been a student I had struggled to get onto ScootPad at all during the year made it even more exciting. The other student who had logged on and done 1 math practice is so close to graduating a grade, I think he can taste it. He’s the kind of kid who loves a challenge, and I’m hoping that being so close to the opportunity to graduate a grade officially will motivate him to continue working.

Then, the next morning, I saw a post on my class’ Google+ account from a student. Granted, because my students all share my account, I’m not yet sure who this student is. But, less than a week after school was out for the summer, I had a nice handful of students continuing to challenge themselves on ScootPad!

This clever student connected with me through our class Google+ account.

This clever student connected with me through our class Google+ account.

It’s all about finding joy and success in the small moments. What small moments of success have you experienced recently?

Cheers!
Dr. Anthony

 

Evidence of Summer Learning

As anyone who has read my blog posts recently knows, I have put a great deal of effort into helping my students get excited about continuing to use ScootPad over the summer. I have no idea what to expect as summer goes on and their memory of my encouragement wears off, but I was pleasantly surprised the first week by the fact that 13 students of mine had logged in over the past 11 days. For me, that alone marked success, in that keeping kids engaged in learning in June is a near impossible feat!

But of course, I want more than simply to have students log-in. I want students learning! With the give and take in the classroom, and the opportunities I set up for my students to come in at lunch or recess to do ScootPad, I have a number of chances to interface with them about what is easy and hard for them. But with so few opportunities to do that over the summer, I have my eyes peeled for evidence of advancement.

Happily, I saw some today. “TJ” as I will call her is a good student, but one who has not been on ScootPad much over the year. Either she didn’t have access at home, or didn’t want to spend her free time at school adding on more learning…whatever the reason, she did not do more than was allotted in the times she had in class, and even then she was often behind in her work in general. Yet she is the one student who  did all 3 math practices and all 4 reading practices that I assigned for week 1–the first week school was out for the summer!

TJ's math practices for the first week of June

TJ’s math practices for the first week of June

Her scores were interesting: She did well on the last practice of Unit 2, but then took a nosedive for the first practice of Unit 3. I took a look at what was tripping her up in the new unit. Below was more-or-less what I saw across the board for the types of mistakes she was making: word problems, rounding, and measurement.

Mistakes TJ had made in the Unit 3 Practice 1 assignment

Mistakes TJ had made in the Unit 3 Practice 1 assignment

 

Normally, when I see this type of drop in scores, I do a check-in with the student. Not possible in the summer. But, to my delight, it is clear she persisted through the frustration of not doing well, and she applied what she learned from her mistakes to the very next practice. Take a look at hew new ability in the following practice:

TJ not only showed persistence, but also evidence of having learned from her mistakes!

TJ not only showed persistence, but also evidence of having learned from her mistakes!

For TJ to independently log in to ScootPad, challenge herself with a new unit and then persist with a difficult and frustrating practice shows tremendous growth for her from the beginning of the year. Happily, being the school GT teacher, I see a number of my kids over a number of years, so I will get to continue to work with TJ in the fall. She’s a great candidate for our Summer ScootPad-ers Pizza Party I am already planning for our return to school!

How do you measure growth when your students are no longer with you?

Cheers!
Dr. Michelle Anthony

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

  • Recent Updates

  • Archives

  • Share ScootPad on Pinterest

    Pin ScootPad

    Pin ScootPad

  • Twitter Updates

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 18,076 other followers

%d bloggers like this: