Getting Students Excited to Learn

May 29, 2019

We asked teachers: what recommendations do you have for teachers introducing ASSISTments into the classroom? Read on for middle school math teacher Mr. Josh McMillen and Ms. Katie McCrary’s tips and tricks! 

Getting students excited about classroom material is critical in instilling a love of learning. Mr. McMillen and Ms. McCrary, 7th grade math teachers living in North Carolina, have spent the last couple of years using ASSISTments in their classrooms and finding what works. As participants in an efficacy study on ASSISTments in North Carolina study, these teachers receive frequent support from ASSISTments staffer Brian Story. 

Ms. McCrary has been most excited about the implementation of PLACEments tests and Skill Builders. “It has had a positive impact on student progress because it has provided me with the data I need to appropriately intervene with students who need the most help.” 

For his part, Mr. McMillen’s teaching practice has changed most because the curricular content, specifically Big Ideas Learning, gives him flexibility in his classroom. “ASSISTments allowed me to bring these practice problems to students and more holistically implement the parts of this curriculum that work best for my students. Incorporating this technology use also helped expand my horizons on using other tech tools in class including and Google Classroom.” (ASSISTments is fully integrated with the Google Classroom and Canvas learning management systems!)

These two teachers have found ASSISTments to be helpful in focusing their class on formative assessment, or scoring that seeks to help students improve over time. At first, Ms. McCrary noticed some of her students were very concerned with their score. “My advanced students would make mistakes and immediately request a reset on the problem so that they could receive a 100% score.” To address this, she says, “ensures that students understand the difference between ASSISTments scores and letter grades while engaging with the platform.”

Mr. McMillen experienced a similar hurdle at getting his students to think in terms of progress rather than grades. “Initially, students had difficulty moving beyond their scores and taking their time to answer questions,” he said. “To overcome this, I have addressed the concerns directly in conversations with students, which has yielded success.”

And what do the two recommend to new ASSISTments users? Ms. McCrary recommends that teachers take it slow and steady, rather than getting “overwhelmed with features.” She advises teachers to “find components of ASSISTments that work for you and gradually increase implementation over time.” 

Mr. McMillen recommends that teachers help students get into the ASSISTments mindset. “Reinforce the purpose of ASSISTments early and often,” he says. “One key aspect of this is preparing students to be willing to make multiple attempts on questions even if they’ve gotten them wrong on the first try. Perseverance with this kind of practice will help students gain a better understanding of key math practices.

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