by Emily Starr (President/CEO StarrMatica.com)
I always knew I wanted to be an elementary teacher. I idolized my creative fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Burnett, who inspired my love of writing with outdoor journeys to sit under trees and journal. I was intrigued by my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Campbell, who designed fantastic labs for us to experiment using the scientific process. I loved school buildings with colorful bulletin boards, clanging bells, squeaking shoes in the gym, and loud conversations in the cafeteria. So it was no surprise when so many of my peers were struggling to decide their future careers, I declared elementary education as my major and never looked back.
Emily Starr and her fourth grade student in 2005.
I taught fourth grade for five years, first at Briggs Elementary in Maquoketa, Iowa, and then at Ekstrand Elementary in DeWitt, Iowa. I had fun using technology in my lessons, which also came as no surprise. My mom was a business education teacher, so I grew up learning to type with Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing on the first IBM computers. (And playing Snake Byte when my lesson was finished!)
My first year I won Iowa’s Spotlight on Education Technology Award for my use of technology in the classroom. So you can imagine how excited I was when at Ekstrand, I was one of the first teachers to receive a projector. I saw it as a window to the world and an exciting new possibility for engaging my students. But my excitement quickly turned to disappointment, and my disappointment to frustration, and my frustration to dread.
I searched the internet hours at a time for quality interactive content to visually explore math concepts and apply reading comprehension skills. I should have been developing engaging lessons using interactive content during all those hours, not simply searching to find it.
Much of my school’s software collection was out of date and what did work only covered a small portion of my curriculum. I investigated new software, but it was sold in pieces and parts, and the comprehensive programs were ridiculously expensive. I was tired of searching and angered by the lack of a solution.
What I really wanted was a library of digital content that covered my entire curriculum and allowed me to select the resources that were best for my lessons and my students. That library simply didn’t exist. So in 2005, I decided to create it myself so other teachers wouldn’t experience the same frustrations I had.
From its classroom roots, StarrMatica has grown to be an award-winning library of online digital content for interactive whiteboards, tablets, response systems, projectors and computers. Teachers and students benefit from 4,800 K-6 reading and math simulations, animations, activities, games and assessments searchable by grade, topic, state standard, National Core Curriculum, and textbook curriculums.
Classroom educators design and review our research-based content, making StarrMatica like a friendly colleague with digital content expertise. Just as I had envisioned, educators who partner with StarrMatica quickly locate targeted content for specific lessons and for specific students, so they can spend their valuable time planning effective lessons that leverage technology so every student can shine.
Now you know why I say StarrMatica is “Your Digital Content Teaching Partner”.