Challenging My Students & Seeing Results

Those of you who have been following my blog know I am super excited that I have many students who are practicing on ScootPad and showing concept mastery. Remi is one of those students. As I also wrote about in another post, I discovered some hidden challenges for Remi when looking at his ability by concept breakdown.

To begin to address this, I assigned some concept improvement practices for him.conceptimprovement

Each week, I assign 2 reading and 2 math. But because I wanted to target almost 10 skills with Remi, and the ELA practices are only 10 problems, I knew I’d need more practices to allow him multiple opportunities to work on the different concepts. As a result, I made him 6 assignment over more than one week. I don’t love doing this, as I’ve had students freak out when they look at their dashboard and see so many practices, as they don’t realize I’ve also extended the due date so it evens out.

To try and compensate for the “extra” work, I gave the practices a special name: Remi Challenge. I was hoping when he saw something personalized just for him, he would be inspired to take on the challenge.

Based on the number of practices he’s done so far, I’m encouraged. I’m even more excited to see the attention he’s paid to the questions which are a collection of concepts that are clearly harder for him than what he faces in most practices!! He’s doing great!!

What are ways you encourage students to take on challenges?


Dr. Michelle Anthony

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.


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?

Dr. Michelle Anthony

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?


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.


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.


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.


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?


Dr. Michelle Anthony


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!


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?

Dr. Michelle anthony


Wishing I Were an Octopus

It’s not that I think I’m such an amazing teacher. I hope I’m a good teacher. I work hard at it and I’m deeply invested in it, but wishing I was an octopus is not about tooting my own horn…it’s about wishing I had more hands and arms to reach more kids.

octopusFor those who are new to my blog, I am a GT (gifted and talented) teacher at an urban Title I school in Denver Public Schools. We are a TNLI school (Transitional Native Language Instruction), which means that for every grade level, we have one class that is taught entirely in Spanish. I have been at my school for several years now and I love it, and more and more students are clamoring to get into my GT classes.

I am one person. I work part time. I work with K-5. In fact, this year, with my 4th graders, I have a full group to service but also a number of “one data point kids:” kids who are more advanced in one area of learning. It’s not enough to qualify to work with me, but still enough to warrant additional attention and services.

But since I’m not an octopus, I am instead trying to leverage the power of ScootPad. I can’t work with all these kids directly, but I can supply impact virtually. I can put the additional students in my portal and keep them not only advancing, but also feeling like they are part of the group via the bells and whistles on ScootPad.

It’s one of the best solutions I’ve found!

How do you deal with your need to be an octopus?


Dr Michelle Anthony


Rewarding my Over-Achievers

In my classroom I run a gamification platform. It’s not that we play games all the time, it’s just the framework I use with kids to help motivate them. In my classes they are not given a grade. And they don’t get homework. So how do I keep them wanting to advance and put in the effort I demand from them?

I have a “level up” system whereby they earn XPs for behaviors and work they do in class that will allow them to literally move their “avatar” (aka clothespin) up the ribbon hanging in my room. In fact, most of my teacher rewards they can earn on ScootPad are XPs they can “purchase” with their coins. My thinking is that if  they  are willing to go above and beyond the class requirements, practicing ScootPad at home, or when they finish their other work in class, then they deserve to move up in the ranks, so to speak.

So how do I reward my students who go the extra mile with ScootPad ? I’ve had a few that really excelled and kept challenging themselves, even when school was not in session. While of course they earn coins for doing the work (and they can purchase rewards), I want these students to know that I recognize their extra effort and their achievement.

One thought I have is a pizza party for those kids. Another is to give  a “power up” and move them up the ribbon first thing…to let their extra ScootPad efforts advance them within the class in a way that is visible to all their peers. Maybe it will set up a healthy competition between them. :)

Other ideas or suggestions for how I can reward and recognize my over-achievers?

Dr. Michelle Anthony

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?


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