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Nonfiction for the Common Core

 Posted by on March 15, 2014  Common Core, Complementary Downloads, Content Additions  Comments Off on Nonfiction for the Common Core
Mar 152014

This month, we added to our growing collection of picture book guides.  50 new guides were added to StarrMatica this month for free online non-fiction texts.  With the Common Core’s heavy focus on non-fiction, these guides provide  treasure trove of resources to increase your students’ experience and confidence with non-fiction texts.

If you aren’t familiar, picture book guides help you to easily use our picture book resources by providing a ready to-go lesson plan developed by a fellow teacher. Content guides for picture books include digital connections, launching activities, example questions, enrichment ideas, answer keys, and standards correlations. You can check out one of our new non-fiction guides here: The First Airplane

All guides are included for free in StarrMatica’s Classroom Management system, or can be purchased individually by non-members in Emily Starr’s Teachers Pay Teachers store.  http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Emily-Starr


Teacher Feature: Ms. Marica Myrie and Ms. Kadijah Jeanty

 Posted by on March 8, 2014  Teacher Features  Comments Off on Teacher Feature: Ms. Marica Myrie and Ms. Kadijah Jeanty
Mar 082014

Ms. Jeanty MaricaMeet Ms. Marica Myrie, Math Intervention Specialist, and Ms. Khadijah Jeanty, Reading Intervention Specialist, at Samuel Huntington P.S. 40 in Jamaica, New York.  Here is how they use StarrMatica in their own words: 

Samuel Huntington P.S. 40 is in the process of a technological reform. In order to meet the needs of the Common Core our principal has begun transforming our 100 year old building into a state of the art “tech hub”.   Currently we house Promethean Boards in all of our 2nd through 5th grade classes.  In addition, students have access to our new Apple Lab equipped with twenty-four brand new 20 inch Mac computers. Laptops and iPad minis are also available for student use. Our principal encourages all of her pedagogues to infuse technology every day, throughout the day.  Her philosophy is that we prepare our scholars for being able to work independently using technology for the future.

This transformation has opened up countless possibilities for teachers and students, and the introduction of StarrMatica in our building has excited all.  We were introduced to the program in Fall 2013. Since that time StarrMatica has been such a dynamic tool that we are enthusiastic about using. This program has become the perfect co-teacher in all of our classrooms. Currently, we use StarrMatica through a variety of ways.  Many teachers use the StarrMatica videos for guided lessons when teaching a specific skill. When peeking through classroom doors you can find students engaged and tuned in.  The teachers also use skill specific games for whole group practice. This component adds enjoyment and brings learning to life for our students.

StarrMatica has also added a couple more minutes in our day.   In the past, we’ve dedicate countless hours skimming through the internet in search of appropriate materials.  Now, that we have StarrMatica, we can type in a topic, and like magic, a plethora of material from games, to activities, to videos appear; thousands of resources at our fingertips.

We all love and have taken advantage of the digital backpack component that StarrMatica provides. This has helped our school GO GREEN!  It allows us to assign students work that is geared specifically to improving areas of deficiencies he or she has.  The great part is that they can access their backpacks at home, and/or at the public library.  This aspect saves us from having to have work copied, and having students lose their assignments.   In addition, the digital backpack allows us to add outside content, so the options are endless.

P.S. 40 has fallen in love with StarrMatica.  We like to think that there is something for everyone. All of our teachers and students from PK-5 have been able to use it and have been able to navigate through it easily. StarrMatica has engaged our struggling learners, allows for academic intervention, provides enrichment for our advanced students, and has proven to be a great resource tool for our entire teaching staff. 

We are reaching for the stars with StarrMatica!!! 

Our teacher features are posted on our blog and are housed on the testimonials page of our website.

Want to be our next teacher feature?  Contact us.  We would love to hear about your experiences.

Common Core Shifts: Extended Responses

 Posted by on March 6, 2014  Common Core, Complementary Downloads  Comments Off on Common Core Shifts: Extended Responses
Mar 062014

This is the first in a series of posts dedicated to helping teachers understand specific changes the Common Core requires them to make in their instruction and sharing how StarrMatica’s content can help facilitate that transition.

One of the major shifts in ELA (and to some extent Math) is the requirement for students to write extended responses.  Rather than just answering multiple choice questions about a text, students will be asked to construct written responses so they can demonstrate not only a deeper understanding of a text but also their abilities to apply the higher order thinking skills of synthesizing, justifying, and evaluating when reading a text.

Here is an example of a typical standardized test question previously used:

Why were the Wright Brothers successful?

  • They didn’t go to school for airplanes or engineering.
  • They researched, made careful sketches, and learned from their mistakes.
  • They gave up when their first planes didn’t work.

Here is an example of a Common Core question:

Why do you think the Wright Brothers were successful even though they hadn’t gone to school for airplanes or engineering?  Use evidence from the story to support your answer.

Can you see the challenge for us as teachers?  The first question requires students to refer to the text to find an answer.  The second question requires students to refer to the text to construct an answer.

As teachers make the shift, it is important for them to have access to both fiction and non-fiction texts that allow them many opportunities to model constructing these types of responses and that allow their students to practice this important life skill.

In StarrMatica’s library, teachers have access to 150 fiction and non-fiction content guides to draw upon as they help their students learn to construct thoughtful responses that include evidence from the text.

Here is one example: