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Getting to Know You Back-to-School Ideas

 Posted by on August 5, 2014  Content Recommendations  Comments Off on Getting to Know You Back-to-School Ideas
Aug 052014

Back to SchoolIt’s back to school time, and StarrMatica is back to helping you find the best digital content resources for your classroom.  We’re kicking off the year with some ideas to help make it easy and fun to get to know your students!

1.  Students can create a comic of their favorite summer memory, something they would like to do or learn this year, or their favorite memory of last school year.




2.  Students can build their wild self and write a paragraph describing why they chose specific animal characteristics.  This allows them to be creative and gives you insight into who they are and how they think.


3.  Students can create an online journal entry about their summer vacation, goals for the year, classroom rules, or anything they would like to tell you about themselves.


4.  Students can create their own mock online profile all about themselves.


5.  While this activity doesn’t tell you anything about your students, it can be a fun first day interactive whiteboard activity that the students will think is magic!  Or, it could be a great way to get them started cooperating in a group at a center.


Need more cool ideas?  Check out last year’s blog post packed with even more back-to-school digital content fun!


New Social Studies Content: Ancient Civilizations

 Posted by on May 30, 2014  Content Additions  Comments Off on New Social Studies Content: Ancient Civilizations
May 302014

6748This month, we added new Social Studies content: Ancient Civilizations.  Content includes resources to help you explore the ancient worlds of the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Incas, Vikings, Anglo-Saxons, and many more!

To access these resources, login to your teacher account and choose the search button, or choose the links tab in your classroom management account. Under the topics search, choose Social Studies as your subject and Ancient Civilizations as your topic.

Digital Content and the Core Magazine

 Posted by on May 29, 2014  Common Core, Complementary Downloads  Comments Off on Digital Content and the Core Magazine
May 292014

core imageStarrMatica’s new magazine, Digital Content and the Core, has launched!

The creation of this magazine sprung from conversations with educators across the country faced with the challenge of implementing the Common Core.  Educators shared that they were overwhelmed by the largeness of the task of implementing the Core with fidelity and felt pressure to achieve immediate success.  Educators also shared the concern that they had a lack of knowledge about what role digital content should play in a Common Core classroom.

It is to address that concern and to provide a touchstone along each school’s digital content journey that our magazine was born.  The articles within are a culmination of 9 years of partnership with tens of thousands of educators we have worked alongside, extensive Common Core training, and targeted research.  It is our sincere hope that this information will help educators use digital content to assist in the success of their Common Core transition, and it will be a resource for years to come as they grow in their knowledge of effective digital content integration

Articles in the magazine include:

  • 5 Common Core Instructional Shifts to Master
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy for a Digital Age
  • Digital Content for STEM
  • The #1 Reason to Give Students Screen Time
  • 12 Must Ask Questions Before Investing in Digital Content
  • and much more..

You can access the online magazine by clicking the link below:


And for our Iowa members, here is the Iowa Core version:


And for our Virginia members, here is the SOL version:



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:


Digital Content for Common Core Standard K.OA.A.3

 Posted by on February 26, 2014  Common Core, Content Integration Ideas  Comments Off on Digital Content for Common Core Standard K.OA.A.3
Feb 262014

One of the most common questions we are asked is how our library of digital content supports the Common Core.  The easy answer is that our entire library has been aligned to the Common Core standards, so teachers can find resources related to each standard.  The more complex answer is that there are many pieces of content that can be used in flexible ways to support each individual standard, and it is up to teachers to choose the content that best supports their lesson and their students.

Here are five pieces of digital content a teacher might choose from our library to support and enhance the teaching of: CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.3 Decompose numbers less than or equal to 10 into pairs in more than one way, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each decomposition by a drawing or equation (e.g., 5 = 2 + 3 and 5 = 4 + 1).


Brilliant Beastring Rekenrek

You could use this virtual manipulative with students either on laptops/tablets/Chromebooks or using real manipulatives.  Activities can be developed that help students to visualize a number decomposed in different ways and to try to create all of the different ways a number can be decomposed.  ( A lesson plan with four activities to use with this resource is available for StarrMatica members.)


balanceCalculation Balance

You could also use this virtual manipulative with students either on laptops/tablets/Chrombooks.  This manipulative moves  your students from using objects to represent decomposition to using numbers.  Students could be challenged to find several ways to balance the scale for a given number.


starrmatica actMake A Number

You could use this animation to review how a number can be created in many different ways.  It includes a manipulative that allows students to separate blocks into two groups and record their decompositions.  (You must be a StarrMatica member and be logged in to access this resource.)


butterflyButterfly Ten Frame

You could use this simple activity with students to practice and record number combinations that equal ten.


wigBig Wig Sub Shop

You could use this resource to check for student understanding.  The game challenges students to find all of the number sentences that name the given number.

Digital Content for Common Core Standard 5.NBT.7

 Posted by on February 20, 2014  Common Core, Content Integration Ideas  Comments Off on Digital Content for Common Core Standard 5.NBT.7
Feb 202014

One of the most common questions we are asked is how our library of digital content supports the Common Core.  The easy answer is that our entire library has been aligned to the Common Core standards, so teachers can find resources related to each standard.  The more complex answer is that there are many pieces of content that can be used in flexible ways to support each individual standard, and it is up to teachers to choose the content that best supports their lesson and their students.

Here are five pieces of digital content a teacher might choose from our library to support and enhance the teaching of Common Core Math Standard 5.NBT.B.7:  Add, subtract, multiply, and divide decimals to hundredths, using concrete models or drawings and strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction; relate the strategy to a written method and explain the reasoning used.

base ten blocksSubtracting Decimals with Base Ten Blocks

You could use this virtual manipulative with students either on laptops/tablets/Chromebooks or using real manipulatives and spend time using the base ten blocks to develop the concept of regrouping to add and subtract decimals.


number line

Subtracting Decimals on a Number Line 

You could give your students decimals to add and subtract via mental math and use the number line to demonstrate counting up and counting back strategies as the students share them.


rope tug


Rope Tug 

You could use this activity as a center activity because it requires the students to use their number sense and strategies to determine what decimals will yield the greatest difference.



decimals castleAdding and Subtracting

You could use this animation to review the traditional algorithm after the students had come up with it on their own, but I wouldn’t have them just sit and watch the animation. I would use it on my SMART Board and pause at points and question the students. Why do you have to line up the decimal points? Why is it important to have numbers in the correct place values? What is the relationship between a number and the number to its right and left? I would have the kids evaluate if the steps given are a good method or if they would add steps or remove steps.  (You must be a StarrMatica member and be logged in to access this resource.)

decimals testDecimals Basics Test

At some point, I would use the open response test as formative assessment to see which students are able to add and subtract decimals and which need more assistance.   (You must be a StarrMatica member and be logged in to access this resource.)

Keyboarding Digital Content

 Posted by on February 13, 2014  Content Recommendations  Comments Off on Keyboarding Digital Content
Feb 132014

As we work with media specialists and technology integration specialists in schools across the country, one of the most common requests we receive is for recommendations for online typing programs.  Growing up, StarrMatica’s CEO, Emily Starr, spent her weekends in the typing classroom, and eventually the computer lab, of her business education teaching mother.  Emily learned to type at an early age and believes that typing is an essential life skill no matter what a student’s chosen career path may be.

In recognition of its importance in an increasingly technological society, it often falls to elementary educators to begin to lay the foundations for later typing success in a world where students are used to using only their thumbs for texting!

While typing isn’t a curricular focus of StarrMatica, as your digital content teaching partner, we are glad to provide these typing content recommendations in the hopes they will help you make learning to type an enjoyable experience for your students.

Typing Tutorialstyping

Please Note:  The first two recommendations contain advertisements, so please preview content before using it with your students.  Some of the games do not load in Chrome. 



Typing Orchestra


Type for Your Life


Typing Olympic Games


Meteor Game


Typing Chef


Typing Chameleon


Typing Balloons


Keyboard Climber



Typing Ghosts


Star Keys




Key Bricks




Key Tower



Keyboard Ninja


Tommy Q


Baron Von Typesfast


Type A Balloon


Type Toss


Fire Typer


Magic Library


Typing Monster


Air Typer


Type Revolution


Cup Stacking


Dance Mat Typing


Keyboarding Basics (Thanks, Zander for the recommendation!)


Teacher Feature: Jill Joos

 Posted by on February 10, 2014  Teacher Features  Comments Off on Teacher Feature: Jill Joos
Feb 102014

Meet Jill Joos.  She teaches at Newark Charter School in Newark, Delaware.  Jill teaches the core subjects (ELA, math, science, and social studies) to 24 third graders of varied abilities.

She has an interactive whiteboard in her classroom and two student computers that are used every day for many subject areas.  She also has access to a mobile laptop cart that she checks out at least once a month.
Her students go to a computer lab once a week for technology instruction given by one of their specialists.

This is Jill’s 4th year using StarrMatica– mostly for math and reading instruction. Here is how she uses our content in her own words:

We view many of the lessons whole class on our interactive whiteboard and then students practice the concepts on our classroom student computers.

I always have the access information in my weekly classroom news, so students can take advantage of StarrMatica at home.

I also use StarrMatica to search for science, social studies, math, and reading resources. There I find resources beyond StarrMatica making it easy to incorporate a variety of technology into my lessons. 

StarrMatica solves the problem of having to search for quality resources appropriate for my students.  It is quick and easy to navigate.  The lessons present concepts using multiple strategies.  The quality of the lessons keeps students engaged. And it also provides a means for parents to revisit concepts and practice at home.

All schools should have StarrMatica as a resource to supplement instruction in the classroom.  Giving students multiple strategies for math understanding and varied reading lessons levels the playing field for students.  In today’s high stakes world of standards and assessments, this resource is the place for fun, engaging activities to help students find success in learning.

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.