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Teacher Feature: Jen Miller

 Posted by on October 20, 2016  Teacher Features
Oct 202016
 

jen-millerMeet Jen Miller.  She teaches first grade at Eagle Heights Elementary School in Clinton, Iowa.  Here is her StarrMatica story:

As a long-term substitute I was able to attend a StarrMatica training offered in the Clinton District about six years ago.  Ever since the training, I was hooked.  When I taught 4th grade for a year, I used the program extensively to differentiate instruction.  As I moved into teaching 1st grade, it was a necessity to bring StarrMatica with me. 

We don’t have student textbooks.  We follow the Common Core Standards.  Unfortunately, it is up to us to find many of our own resources.  Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers are great, but it takes time to find appropriate resources that fit the standards in addition to usually costing an additional fee or requiring prep work.  StarrMatica takes the time issue off the table.  It is incredibly user friendly, even for teachers that don’t feel like they do well with technology integration.  On average, I feel that by using StarrMatica I cut my planning time down to almost half.  StarrMatica provides my focus lesson and opportunities for small group, whole class, or individual work. 

StarrMatica allows me to not need a textbook or worksheets for students to practice skills and show proficiency at mastery of these skills.  I appreciate the ability to look at the content available in other grade levels.  This allows me to go back to skills from the previous year or advance to another grade level to meet student needs.  In addition, I appreciate knowing that if I have a concern, question, or comment regarding anything with StarrMatica content I can send an email and get a response quickly.

I use StarrMatica in whole class and small group with my first grade students, and I will be using it to differentiate instruction in the near future.  StarrMatica is generally used to hook the students into a lesson, as an introduction, on my interactive whiteboard.  Then I move into students using the program to play some of the many games and practices offered.  In addition, I have utilized many of the virtual manipulatives the program provides.  StarrMatica also has great webinars and trainings.  I have participated in quite a few of these and have found them to be very helpful.

StarrMatica content is AD free!  It is evident that content is gone through on a regular basis to ensure content meets Common Core Standards and doesn’t have pop-up ads that are sometimes not appropriate for students or are distracting.

I would encourage both tech-savvy teachers and those who are not to use StarrMatica.  Being uncomfortable and nervous about trying a new product is ok, but you won’t get out of that discomfort if you don’t push forward and try something new.  With the technology of today, educators need to embrace the new and not hesitate to ask for help.  StarrMatica is easy to use and provides free training to educators.  There may even be experts within your building or someone that is willing to jump in and try it with you.  Then there are the students — no matter their age they can probably help you as well as you work through using new tools.  It is a learning experience for students to see you try something new! 

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