Today was my first day back at school from winter break! Actually, it was more like a half day for me. Yesterday, my 8-year-old Maltese, Mia, had to have 7 teeth removed because she wore them down by chewing on her metal crate (we will be getting a plastic one this weekend). The vet actually had to pull all those small ones on the bottom and top in front of her mouth along with one of her top canine teeth. She was groggy from the anesthesia yesterday, and I wanted to make sure she was feeling better this morning before I left for work. She’s feeling better and actually ate and drank this morning, which she didn’t really do at all yesterday. Taking this morning off made me feel better about leaving her home alone. I included a picture at the end of the post of a cute picture of her back in the time where she had all of her teeth. 🙂
Anyway, back to the purpose of this post. Last year was the first year I have used Study Island to help students prepare for our Ohio state testing. At the beginning I struggled with finding time to implement it throughout the year. We teach our own computer classes at school, and I usually use that time to embed technology use into my curriculum. It turned out being that the students only worked on completing the assignments when, or if, they finished their work early. This almost never happened. Towards the end of last year, I was better about assigning time for the students to take the assessments, and a few actually were intrinsically motivated to pass as many tests as they could. Over the summer, I thought that I would take the intrinsic motivation a few of my students had and combine it with some motivation from me!
This year, I started Study Island within the first few weeks of school with the benchmark test and showing the students how to navigate the website. Third grade is the only grade level in my K-3 school that does Study Island, so this was a first for them. They were instantly excited about the games that the program offers, but less excited about taking the assessments. To help the students feel motivated, I created this uber-incentive chart in Excel. Down the side, it has all of the students’ names and along the top is each assessment they have to pass. There is one chart for math and another for reading. I began giving the students stickers for every test they passed, which is 70%. Soon, the excitement exploded and the kiddos wanted to do Study Island as much as they could. Obviously, I have other things to squeeze into the day, and still only had the same amount of time in the computer lab. Many students volunteer to stay in for recess to work on it. I’ll only let them do this once per week because I want them to go out and play. We have a rotating schedule for the students who would like to use the classroom computers at recess. I also have many students working on it at home on their free time. Within about a month of using the incentive chart, I am just blown away by the success of my students. I have already had 3 finish all of the reading tests, and as a reward, gave them each a cupcake. This is really working well to use this wonderful product that my district subscribes to, without letting it go to waste due to a lack of time to properly implement it.
I would love to hear of other who use Study Island, how you use it in the classroom, and how you get your students excited about it!
Oh…almost forgot! Remember to go to my collaborative blog, All Things Upper Elementary! We now have it up and running with an intro of our first blogger, Jennifer Smith-Sloane. There will be 14 bloggers contributing to this blog, and for the next 14 days, you will find each of us introducing ourselves. My date is on January the 15th and I’m already preparing for it!