The strategy lessons housed within this unit provide ideas and resources for lesson planning and managing a classroom. They include resources such as websites I’ve found useful over the years, activities that have improved my classroom environment, and tools that engage students while assisting with planning. It is my hope that you will find them to be just as helpful in your own classroom!
I first found ScootPad on Pinterest (talk about the Mecca of idea sharing!). I signed up for my free account and tried it out with one class. I quickly found it to be perfect for reinforcing concepts learned, piquing student interest, and keeping them engaged. ScootPad is a web-based service that provides students with Common Core aligned practice in math and language arts. Standards for kindergarten through fifth grades are available.
ScootPad has gone through several changes since I first started using it and there now are various levels of membership from which to choose. I created a proposal to use the service building-wide and last year my district purchased premium memberships for each classroom teacher in the building. This strategy lesson will detail how I use the premium level membership in my classroom.
(Attached file is the document I created to present a proposal for the building. It gives an overview of ScootPad’s benefits and how to get started.)
- Classes. You pay for every class you create. Teach more than one class? No problem! You can have unlimited number of students in every class. So - create one class (pay one fee) and put all of your students there.
- Placement Tests. After students take the test, you can use the data to set up specific learning paths, assignments, or to guide other classroom instruction.
- Learning Paths. You can create an unlimited number of learning paths, which are self-directed sets of 10 units that are either premade by ScootPad or custom designed by you. Students begin with unit one, complete activities until they master that set of standards and then are automatically moved into unit two. You determine what “mastery” means - the number of questions per lesson, the number of practices per unit, and the percentage of accuracy students must achieve before moving ahead.
- Assignments. Review result data from learning paths and create practice assignments for individual or small groups of students. See that a group of students needs short vowel review? Set up an assignment about just this skill and just for those students. Have students complete homework here too: reading log entries, type and practice spelling words, or other special projects. Leave feedback for students' work or notes of encouragement to keep up the good work.
- Typing skills. I don’t know about your state, but in Ohio, we are talking about moving towards the PARCC end of year assessment in the next year or so. If you’ve seen this, you know that it is heavy on technology and requires students to type. This is a little scary to me considering students don’t receive instruction in typing until intermediate grades. One thing I love about ScootPad is that students must type certain answers. Yes, there are some multiple choice questions, but many require students to type words in blanks and others have them type sentences complete with capitals and periods. I love this! I’ve been amazed at how quickly they are able to pick up typing skills just by practicing on ScootPad.
- Differentiation. I’ve not found a better program that allows for such differentiation of instructional practice and review. You literally could set up separate activities and assignments for every student in your class that are perfect for their individual needs.
- Reports. I’ve really been impressed with the amount of data you can access from the site. Pull reports on individual practices, days, or weeks. Better yet, pull progress reports that show parents how their students perform on every CCSS standard they've practiced. It’s a great report to attach and send home with quarterly grade cards.
- Incentives. Students earn coins for every question answered completely and bonus coins for correctly answering all questions in a unit. Students redeem coins for rewards you create. For example, in my classroom, 100 coins = a pencil, 500 = lunch with me, 1250 = free computer time, etc. Kids love checking their piggy banks to see their coin balances and plan how they’re going to spend their cash.
- Engagement. In addition to the incentives, there are a few other features that draw students to ScootPad such as personal avatars, mood settings, games, finding friends, and shout outs.
- Character education. Every class has a wall where successes are announced and students can write messages to each other. As part of their ScootPad station work, my kids must find someone who did something well that week and write a positive note for him or her on the wall. Students are overjoyed when they log in and see that someone not only noticed their accomplishments, but also left a note just for them!
- Leaderboards. There are several boards that show the math and language leaders of the week. Leaders are tracked by classroom, grade, school, district, and overall. It’s exciting enough when a student makes it to the top of the class leaderboard, but I can’t tell you what a big deal it is when one makes it to the overall grade level board or better yet, the overall board! Kids love competing with each other and themselves to improve their skills and make it to the top.