Since StarrMatica members can now add any content to a collection via a weblink. Some of our members have been asking how they can create a weblink for documents on their computer. One popular resource for generating these links is Dropbox. Dropbox is a program that can be downloaded to your computer that allows you to store up to 2GB of information in the cloud—documents, photos, videos, you name it for free. Once you have downloaded the program, you can move the files you would like to share into the Dropbox Public folder on your computer. In the folder, you can right click on a file, choose Dropbox, and choose Copy Public Link. That link can then be pasted into your StarrMatica collection. Students who you have shared that collection with can click on that link and access that file from your Dropbox storage. When you download DropBox they include in the installer a handy .pdf that will answer your basic questions and help you get started with the program. If you have any questions about using Dropbox with StarrMatica, leave a comment or drop us an email and we would be happy to help!
We have upgraded our share feature yet again to allow teachers to add their own links found outside of StarrMatica to a StarrMatica collection. While we have a huge collection of content for you to choose from when creating collections, we realize there may be content you have found that doesn’t fit in one of our categories. That’s why we have added a new feature where you can add your own content to a collection and add your own comment to that link. Anything that can be shared via a link can be added. For example if you have posted a Word Document, a pdf Document, an image, a song, or a video via a weblink, it can be added to your collection and then shared with your students. So…what cool content are you going to be adding to your collections?
With the growing amount of digital content available, we as educators have to be prepared to evaluate the quality of resources that we allow into our classrooms. To assist with this evaluation, StarrMatica has created a content evaluation guide of the top ten questions you should ask before investing in digital content. We even included a handy side-by-side checklist to assist with your evaluations. You can download a personal copy by clicking the link below. Enjoy!
As educators, we know how important it is to collaborate with colleagues. So, we wanted to help you assist each other with StarrMatica in Professional Learning Communities and during Common Planning Time. We have spent the last month enhancing our “share” feature to allow teachers to share collections with each other. This means a fourth grade team could “divide and conquer” during math planning. Someone can create a collection for place value and someone else can create a collection for fractions. Then both teachers can share those collections with each other and with the entire team. You can modify a collection someone has shared with you to make it your own, or you can share the collection “as is” with your students. Now, you can collaborate as a team to create collections that meet the needs of students in multiple classrooms without having to spend time “reinventing the wheel.”
In our Common Questions series, StarrMatica’s CEO, Emily Starr, answers some of the questions we are most commonly asked.
How are your standards aligned?
In one sentence: They are aligned the hard way! Instead of relying on an automated alignment system like most software and publishing companies use, StarrMatica’s standards are aligned line by line by educators. We go through each benchmark (or essential skill, or whatever the most narrow category is called—because it is different for different standards sets) line by line and align StarrMatica content to each benchmark. This is a long and tedious process, but it results in content that is more closely and accurately aligned to standards than what is possible with an automated system.
Our textbook alignments are similarly thorough. We obtain the teacher manuals for each series from the publishers and go through page by page to align StarrMatica content to each lesson.
While this means it may take a week to get a new state aligned or a month to get a new textbook aligned, we know it is worth your wait time and our work time to produce alignments of the highest quality.
As we work with teachers during professional development sessions, we often share web tools that support many curricular subjects. Many teachers haven’t heard of these web tools, and frankly, there are so many out there, teachers just don’t have time to search for them.
StarrMatica is committed to putting quality digital content in the hands of elementary teachers. Part of that content includes best-of-the-web resources so StarrMatica teachers never have to do a Google search for content. That’s why, in August, we added Web Tools to our best-of-the-web collection. These additions included tools for Teaching, Collaboration, Presentation, and Creation.
Teaching tools help teachers to instruct using technology. For example, a teacher may use Wordle to help students analyze a text for main ideas.
Collaboration tools help teachers encourage students to collaborate on projects. For example, a teacher may use Wall Wisher to encourage students to respond to each other’s work or to brainstorm ideas.
Presentation tools help teachers provide students with different ways to present their learning. For example, a teacher may show a student how to use Primary Source to create a movie using Primary Sources.
Creation tools help teachers give students ways to use technology to create projects to showcase their knowledge. For example, a teacher may show a student how to use the Zimmer Twins to create an animated movie highlighting grammar rules, a book they have read, or a topic they want to share with others in a creative way.
120 web tools can now be explored in our grade level, subject, and topic search. Do you know of a great ad-free, no-signup required web tool we haven’t included? Leave a comment or drop us an email and we’ll add it to the collection!
We know how important it is for you to find standards aligned content—particularly with the switch to the Common Core. That’s why we have refreshed our standards search to better meet your needs. For classroom management members, we have moved our standards (and textbook) alignments under the links tab. This allows you to search by grade level, subject, and topic; standards; or textbooks in the same location, and an improved search structure helps you to more easily navigate each type of search. Furthermore, now when you find content aligned to a specific standard, you can add that content to your favorites or add it to a collection to share with students from within the standards search. Videos demonstrating how to navigate these new searches are found on our professional development page.