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A Little Guidance, Please

 Posted by on December 31, 2012  Content Additions, Content Integration Ideas  Comments Off on A Little Guidance, Please
Dec 312012

As a company founded by a teacher, we understand how incredibly busy classroom teachers are. That is one of the reasons StarrMatica was created. In Emily Starr’s fourth grade classroom, she didn’t have time to search for digital content and wished a library like StarrMatica were available.

But now that we’ve put quality digital content at your fingertips, we also want to help you use that digital content effectively with less time and effort. That’s why we have created new content guides for some of our library’s virtual manipulatives. Not only are we helping you to quickly find targeted tools, but we are also assisting you with how to integrate those tools into your classroom instruction.

Content guides include manipulative directions, ideas for using the manipulative in different settings, and example questions.

Currently there are 6 pdf content guides available. You can find them by choosing the topic groups, topics, and titles listed below:
Tables and Graphs—Bar Graph—Create A Bar Graph II
Algebra – Writing Equations – Equation Mat Explorer
US Measurement – Customary Linear – Interactive Ruler
Probability – Probability as a Fraction – Spinners
Place Value – Identifying Place Value – Sticky Numbers
Geometry – Measuring Angles – What’s My Angle Explorer

Click the + expander next to the title, and click the link for the content guide at the bottom of the description to download a guide.

Check out the content guide for Create A Bar Graph II by clicking here.

We have started this enhancement with six guides and will be adding additional guides if we receive feedback that they are of value in your classroom. So, let us know–are these guides helpful in your classroom?  Do you have suggestions for other ways we can make using digital content easier for you?  Leave a comment or drop us an email with your feedback!

Bloom’s Taxonomy for the Interactive Classroom

 Posted by on December 11, 2012  Content Integration Ideas  Comments Off on Bloom’s Taxonomy for the Interactive Classroom
Dec 112012

We have had the privilege over the past seven years of observing interactive technologies being used in hundreds of classrooms. Through my observations, by reading blog posts, by viewing interactive lessons shared on manufacturers’ sites, and by talking with teachers across the country, a shared question has emerged that needs to be addressed: How do I use this technology to encourage higher order thinking skills?

There is a large amount of digital content that addresses lower level thinking skills, so it is easy to understand why some teachers may assume that is the case with all digital content.  Most of the interactive lessons we have observed and see on lesson sharing sites are basic skill building activities using matching, drag and drop, or multiple choice questions. Those activities do have a place in the classroom–particularly during center time when students are completing an activity that has been designed for independent practice, during guided practice, or when you are conducting a formative assessment to see which students require additional assistance.

We encounter interactive lessons that are built to encouraging higher order thinking skills much less frequently than their skill building counterparts. Part of the reason may be that at first glance, it seems more difficult and time consuming to plan an interactive lesson that encourages higher order thinking skills. But, it doesn’t have to be!

StarrMatica’s library includes content that addresses all levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  This is the first in a series of six posts dedicated to sharing digital content examples at each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy for YOUR Interactive Classroom.

Level One: Remember
This level includes the skills of listing, writing, telling, naming, describing, matching and labeling. These are the basic skill building types of activities that many teachers utilize on their interactive whiteboards. There are several benefits to using interactive online content at the remembering level.
  • It saves time. As a teacher, you don’t have to spend time creating an activity in your interactive whiteboard software.
  • An online activity can add colorful graphics, sound effects, and animations that will get the attention of your students and motivate them to participate.
  • Some online activities keep a score record so you can review results.
  • Some online activities provide several levels of difficulty, two player modes or competition versus students in other locations.
Here are four examples of digital content for remembering:

K-2 — Bubble Burst

This activity encourages students to name odd numbers by quickly bursting bubbles labeled with the correct answers in a game environment.





K-2 — I Spy Colors (StarrMatica Member Content)

This activity encourages students to identify primary and secondary colors in StarrMatica Land. (You must be logged in to StarrMatica to access this content.)

3-6 — 2-D Shapes Evil Robots

This activity encourages students to identify 2-D shapes by placing them in the containers labeled with the correct names before being caught by the evil robots.





3-6 — Batter Up! (StarrMatica Member Content)

This activity encourages students to determine if a sentence is a simile, metaphor, alliteration, onomatopoeia, or personification.  The more quickly they answer, the farther the ball is hit.  (You must be logged in to StarrMatica to access this content.)

To learn about more activities for remembering and to discover resources for understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating, sign up for StarrMatica’s free Webinars: Bloom’s Taxonomy for K-2 and Bloom’s Taxonomy for 3-6: CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Need to Expand Your Vocabulary?

 Posted by on December 3, 2012  Content Additions  Comments Off on Need to Expand Your Vocabulary?
Dec 032012

StarrMatica’s K-2 Lesson on Vocabulary launched last week.  The lesson focuses on helping students to understand synonyms, antonyms, compound words, contractions, homonyms, homophones, and homographs.  Students learn about each vocabulary type through camping adventures with Sean and Jess.  A few highlights of the lesson include:

Teacher Tool:  Vocabulary Wheels–Challenge your students to find pairs of compound words, contractions, synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, homophones, and homographs.

Vocabulary Baseball–Knowledge of homonyms, homophones, and homographs is put to the test in this one player or two player matching game.

Campfire Compound Words–Students select words that can be used to create the compound words pictured.

To access these resources, login and choose K-2 Lessons.  Then choose Vocabulary from the Reading menu.

Common Question #3: Does StarrMatica automatically choose content for students?

 Posted by on November 28, 2012  Behind the Scenes of StarrMatica  Comments Off on Common Question #3: Does StarrMatica automatically choose content for students?
Nov 282012

In our Common Questions series, StarrMatica’s CEO, Emily Starr, answers some of the questions we are most commonly asked.

First of all, research supports teacher selected instructional materials.  While at first glance it may seem easier to have a computer program choose activities for students, research has shown that technology, specifically instructional software, has been proven most effective when integrated into classroom instruction by a teacher.  Students who experienced teacher-led standards-based instruction with technology showed higher overall gains than students who experienced the same curricula and technology in an isolated lab setting.  This is because teachers have the ability to match computer instruction with a child’s development, the curriculum sequence, and the needs of particular groups of students.

Secondly, when students use individualized software programs, and the program assigns activities, these activities are typically limited in number, are skill and drill based, use the same strategies over and over, and offer little learner choice.  If computer selected interventions are not effective, then teachers are once again searching for alternate resources.

With StarrMatica, teachers are presented with up to fifty digital content resources for a concept, so instead of relying on a singularly focused activity, teachers can try several interventions until a student succeeds. In addition, choosing interventions from multiple activities with multiple strategies allows teachers to match interventions to a student’s learning style, interests, strengths, and weaknesses.  A teacher knows that:

  • John would like this activity because he has an interest in cars and this activity involves racing problems.
  • Shoney is distracted by sounds, so I’m going to choose this soundless activity.
  • Mason just completed two multiple choice worksheets and he guessed on every answer so I’m going to choose an activity where he has to think of an answer and type it in.
  • Alex is a visual learner, so I am going to choose this learning animation that uses graphics to explain place value.
  • Scott needs to work on his test taking strategies, so I am going to choose this multiple choice activity.
  • Joaquin understands multi-digit multiplication problems using the grid method, so I am going to choose practice that allows him to use that strategy.

The bottom line is that teachers know their students best.  So, we strive to put the best digital content choices at the fingertips of teachers so they can choose what is best for their students.


Virginia SOL Technology Enhanced Items Assistance

 Posted by on November 19, 2012  Complementary Downloads  Comments Off on Virginia SOL Technology Enhanced Items Assistance
Nov 192012

Are you an educator in Virginia looking for technology enhanced items assistance?  You are in luck because StarrMatica’s is a library filled with technology enhanced items!  After analyzing the practice test items on the VA DOE website, we prepared a guide to illustrate the multiple ways in which StarrMatica can help with each of the five types of technology enhanced items.  Download your personal copy of StarrMatica’s Assistance for VA SOL Technology Enhanced Items by clicking the link below and leave a comment or send us an email for further information.


PS—If you are going to be at the VASCD Conference in Williamsburg, VA, November 29th and 30th, stop by Proven Learning’s booth to meet our CEO and see StarrMatica’s library in action!

Behind the Scenes: The Voice of StarrMatica’s K-2nd Grade Content

 Posted by on November 6, 2012  Behind the Scenes of StarrMatica  Comments Off on Behind the Scenes: The Voice of StarrMatica’s K-2nd Grade Content
Nov 062012

Polly Peterson started out with aspirations to teach. Many of her relatives are teachers and principals, and although she has taught communication courses at her local community college, her radio career and voice over work takes center stage and has for the past 30 years.

When StarrMatica began looking for the voice of our K-2nd grade content, our recording specialist at Attica Recording Studios suggested we have Polly do a test recording of some of our content.  Once we heard her read the line from our cause and effect lesson, “The dominoes falling caused the spider to be squished.” we were hooked.  We couldn’t believe she could make a spider being squished sound so cute.

Polly’s favorite part of recording for StarrMatica is being able to help kids!  With her teaching background, she really appreciates the writing of the lessons.  “The online teaching technique provides a relaxed and fun playground for kids to soak up valuable learning lessons,” Polly shares.

And although Polly looks forward to every recording session, she quips that singing a modified version of BINGO in the Numerals lesson was quite a challenge.  “All kidding aside,” Polly shares, “I feel honored to be a part of this.”

Polly’s work outside of StarrMatica includes radio, tv, online, and training projects for major corporations.   But, Polly likes to stay busy with voice projects because she believes, “If you love what you do then it’s not work!”  And you can hear that enthusiasm in her work with StarrMatica.

Common Question #2: Doesn’t it take teachers a lot of time to use StarrMatica effectively?

 Posted by on October 30, 2012  Behind the Scenes of StarrMatica  Comments Off on Common Question #2: Doesn’t it take teachers a lot of time to use StarrMatica effectively?
Oct 302012

In our Common Questions series, StarrMatica’s CEO, Emily Starr, answers some of the questions we are most commonly asked.

Yes and no.  As with any curriculum resource, yes, of course it is going to take time to choose content that fits best with your lessons and for your students.  However, think about the amount of time teachers are currently spending:

  • learning to use new programs such as SMART Notebook, designing lessons, and creating those lessons using the software
  • on interactive whiteboard communities sifting through other teachers lessons, downloading lessons, and modifying lessons.
  • on Google searches trying and find interactive content that fits with their lesson, that doesn’t have ads, and that was designed for education
  • searching for resources to help individual students and photocopying worksheets and creating independent learning activities

And after they have done all of that work searching for content, teachers have often run out of time to plan how to use that content effectively within their overall lesson.

StarrMatica actually saves teachers time by providing multiple search functions so teachers can find targeted content and quickly make content choices.  Then they have the time to plan how to use that content effectively within their lesson structure or with specific students.

The overall structure of StarrMatica’s search and share features are intuitive and easy-to-use which also streamlines the process.  One of the most common comments we receive from our members is that they can tell StarrMatica was designed by a teacher.  The library is structured the way teachers typically think about and organize content, which makes finding the content they are looking for a snap.

Videos to Share

 Posted by on October 24, 2012  Behind the Scenes of StarrMatica  Comments Off on Videos to Share
Oct 242012

Having trouble describing to colleagues exactly what StarrMatica is and how it helps your students?  We’ve created two videos that can help.

In this video, Pekin principal, Jeff Eeling, shares how StarrMatica helped his teachers meet individual student needs:

Click here to watch the video

In this video, Superintendent, John Dotson, shares how StarrMatica helped his teachers use technology effectively:

Click here to watch the video

Want to star in your own StarrMatica video?  Drop us an email and we might just visit your school with our cameras rolling!

StarrMatica and STEM

 Posted by on October 10, 2012  Complementary Downloads  Comments Off on StarrMatica and STEM
Oct 102012

As schools increasingly implement STEM initiatives and focus on preparing students for futures in STEM careers, we have put together a complimentary guide to StarrMatica and STEM.  The guide describes how StarrMatica supports and encourages STEM critical thinking skills and gives specific examples of content in our library for each STEM area.  You can download a personal copy of StarrMatica and STEM:  An Introductory Guide by clicking the link below.  Enjoy!  www.starrmatica.com/siteresources/docs/StarrMaticaAndSTEM.pdf