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Meet Michelle Negron Bueno

 Posted by on August 27, 2020  Reading Resources, Teacher Features  Comments Off on Meet Michelle Negron Bueno
Aug 272020

Hello! I am Michelle Negron Bueno and I love writing for StarrMatica!

From a young age, I have been enthralled with stories. It comes as no surprise that many years later, my whole life surrounds reading and writing. I was born and lived for many years in Spain, a place extremely rich with history. I also lived in Germany where I went to boarding school. Years later, after reading the Harry Potter series, I would remember how lucky I was to attend boarding school, but would also wish it could have been Hogwarts. I would have loved to have learned magic and known Professor Dumbledore!

In college, I studied anthropology. I wanted to discover stories from both the ancient past, as well as cultures in the present. In the years after college, my love for writing merged with my passion to make the world a better place. I joined the communications department of a non-profit organization specializing in community development in El Salvador, where I had moved to a few months after getting married. I began to write stories of people living in extremely poor communities and how they were courageously and creatively changing their lives.

During my time in Central America, where El Salvador is located, I raised three children who are now both Salvadoran and from the United States. In El Salvador, I also wrote for magazines and began to write stories of my own. Eventually, I completed a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Children’s Literature from Hollins University.

While I was at Hollins, I learned about StarrMatica. I began to write fiction stories for StarrMatica at first and then began to write both science and social studies texts. While I did not think I was particularly good at science growing up, I found with research and a little help from experts, I could learn amazing things! I also found writing both fiction and nonfiction was still all about stories.  

Even though I still work as the Head of Communications for the same nonprofit and am a writer for StarrMatica, I continue to research and write my own stories. My current project is a novel taking place in El Salvador in what is known as the Balsam Coast in the 1930s. The main character is a young woman who is both Maya-Pipil (two indigenous groups who still live in Central America today) and a descendent of the renowned profiteer, Sir Francis Drake, who spent time in the Balsam Coast region while on his voyages around the world.

I love that no matter where my life takes me, whether a new country or a new job, I can always read, write and discover new stories. It is what makes my life always new and always fascinating.

I’m on the left in this photo. The person on the right is my sister, Elizabeth Baldwin. She also writes for StarrMatica!

Teacher Feature: Jen Miller

 Posted by on October 20, 2016  Teacher Features  Comments Off on Teacher Feature: Jen Miller
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! 

Teacher Feature: Julie Ahern

 Posted by on November 5, 2014  Teacher Features  Comments Off on Teacher Feature: Julie Ahern
Nov 052014

Julie Ahern PhotoMeet Julie Ahern.  She teaches at Andrew Cooke Magnet Elementary School in Waukegan, Illinois.  Here is her StarrMatica story:

Our fine arts magnet school is located in a vibrant and diverse community where I have taught 3rd and now 2nd grade for 22 years. Although we are in a high poverty district, our school has been able to retain our fine arts magnet status. However, it has been a challenge to find the funding for technology and effective computer programs. Although we have a computer lab in our building, which the students visit once a week, I have worked very diligently to obtain laptops for all of my students so that we are a 1:1 classroom. Therefore, with my remaining available funds I wanted to make sure that I obtained the most effective research based programs out there.

Last year I submitted a DonorsChoose project for StarrMatica and found it to be everything and more that I needed for my students. StarrMatica allows me to introduce a new skill on our projector and then have my students go into the related interactive games and lessons on their classroom laptops. When needed, I can differentiate lessons by directing students to certain games/lessons in the K-2 section and even challenge others to work in the grades 3-6 section. I also value the included search option to find lessons and activities so that we can extend our learning.

My parents appreciate that they can have their children continue our lessons at home. At the end of our units, I have my students complete the assessments and then share that information with my parents. This is my second year of using StarrMatica.  After having such a positive experience with this program, I made sure to include it in our line-up for the school year 2014-15. Our district is asking us to implement the Common Core standards yet has not provided us with a reading or math curriculum to do so.

Therefore, I appreciate having access to StarrMatica as it has provided me with the reading and math Common Core content that I need. It also has saved me time searching for relevant curriculum because the StarrMatica program does an excellent job of offering content on so many levels. I will definitely seek a membership to StarrMatica next year as well!


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.

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.

Teacher Feature: Julie Paisley

 Posted by on January 4, 2014  Teacher Features  Comments Off on Teacher Feature: Julie Paisley
Jan 042014

Julie PaisleyMeet Julie Paisley.  She teaches at Whittier Elementary School in Clinton, IA.  She is currently in her second year as the LRC Director and previously taught 5th grade for 14 years at the same school.

Julie has used StarrMatica for the past three years—one year in her own classroom and two years training and assisting every teacher in her building as they utilize everything that StarrMatica has to offer.

Each classroom has a SmartBoard and at least 5 student computers to use individually or as centers.  Every classroom also spends 90 minutes a week in the computer lab for activities required by the district.  Here is how she uses our content in her own words:

 It was as a 5th grade teacher that I used StarrMatica the most.  I found the Reading and Math practice activities extremely helpful with all of my students.  StarrMatica is a tremendous tool for differentiating in the classroom.  I assigned each student different activities and levels, based on their needs.  I was able to keep track of each student’s progress, so I knew their successes and weaknesses. 

 I am very excited about sharing everything that is new on StarrMatica this year with all the teachers at Whittier.  Having Science, Social Studies, SmartBoard activities, and Common Core connections added to the site is a tremendous resource for all the grade levels as they plan their instruction.


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

Teacher Feature: Tararra Babaz

 Posted by on December 5, 2013  Teacher Features  Comments Off on Teacher Feature: Tararra Babaz
Dec 052013

tararra babazMeet Tararra Babaz.  She teaches at T.S. Cooley Elementary Magnet School in Lake Charles, LA. She teaches 4th grade Social Studies and ELA to two classes totaling 50 students Tararra has been using StarrMatica in her classroom since the beginning of this school year, and has presented a break-out session about how she uses our content in her classroom at a regional conference.  Here is how she uses our content in her own words:

I have really enjoyed using this resource thus far. We have only skimmed the surface of all StarrMatica has to offer us. 

I use StarrMatica in a whole group setting with my students when I am introducing a new skill to them.  Together we will watch the video and teaching lessons as well as completing a practice or enrichment together which allows me to see how well the students are understanding. Students also use StarrMatica individually in our computer lab. There, students work on practice and complete assessments to reinforce the current skill.

StarrMatica solves the problem of searching for resources and keeping my students engaged.  I am easily able to look for a specific skill which in return cuts down on extra planning on my part. 

StarrMatica lessons and practice allow for me to replace the use of workbook pages and worksheets therefore keeping my students engaged and involved. 

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

Teacher Feature: Carol Broadnax

 Posted by on November 9, 2013  Teacher Features  Comments Off on Teacher Feature: Carol Broadnax
Nov 092013

CarolMeet Carol Broadnax.  She teaches at Highland Catholic School in Saint Paul, MN.  She works with small groups of students in grades K-6 to provide math and language arts enrichment for advanced students. She has an interactive whiteboard, classroom laptop and iPad, as well as a set of student response clickers. She also has access to the school’s computer lab, mobile computer and iPad carts. She checks these out several times a week for various groups.  Carol has been using StarrMatica in her classroom for the past five years.  Here is how she uses our content in her own words:

StarrMatica is extremely helpful in allowing me to quickly locate content that relates to specific state standards. This is very useful since I do not use textbooks in my classroom and I typically present content that is a grade level or two above the students’ actual grade. I am able to locate engaging materials and target them directly to my students’ skill levels.

My students love the interactive lessons which I use to introduce new concepts. I follow this up with the practice and resource activities during the units I teach. I also use the virtual manipulatives quite a bit.

StarrMatica helps my students extend and broaden their learning and it is very efficient for my needs. I am always confident that the materials are of the highest quality.

Teacher Feature: Billy Strickler

 Posted by on October 10, 2013  Teacher Features  Comments Off on Teacher Feature: Billy Strickler
Oct 102013

StricklerMeet Billy Strickler.  He is in his 8th year of teaching 4th grade students at Washington Elementary in Fairfield, Iowa.  Billy has a great group of 19 students this year.  He has a Mimio interactive whiteboard in his classroom, access to the school’s computer lab twice a week, and access to two MacBook computer carts with 25 computers each that he schedules to use almost daily.  Billy has been using StarrMatica in his classroom for the past six years.  Here is how he uses our content in his own words:

StarrMatica allows a more kid-friendly approach to concepts, especially ones that might be a little difficult.

I use it to lecture in a more engaging way than me standing at the front and talking.

I can place activities and games in individualized backpacks that my students can work on to better their skills in areas they need to improve. Students can do this on their own during center time, free time, or even at home.

Kids enjoy the games and activities and I never have to worry about engagement. I have kids taking more ownership of their learning, because they will work on things at home using StarrMatica.

I have started to use StarrMatica in every area, as they have a great search and find component built in. It is a quick way to find engaging activities for my kids, using technology. Instead of having to go out and just search and search for things to fit all of my areas, I can go to one website and do it all in half the time. Teachers are always struggling for time, and this helps alleviate that stress. And I know that all of these activities and games are aligned to the Iowa and Common Core. StarrMatica just makes things easier for the teacher.

This is a website that I trust my students to use.  I know the activities and games are going to work and will be there the next time I want to use it. It gives every kid, no matter their skill level, a chance to succeed. It gives teachers a chance to differentiate without having to search on their own to find websites that meet each students’ learning abilities. I fully support StarrMatica and highly encourage everyone to use it.

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