Tips from Teachers - Josh McMillen and Katie McCrary

May 29, 2019

This article is part of a series in which teachers experienced in using ASSISTments are asked about tips for new users and how their classrooms changed.

Me:  Now that you have used ASSISTments for a year, what advice would you give to new users?

Katie:  Try not not overwhelm yourself with all of the different features.  Find components that work for you and gradually increase implementation over time.

Josh:  Reinforce the purpose of ASSISTments early and often.  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.

Me:  Did you find that you had to help students adjust to caring more about progress than scores with ASSISTments?

Katie:  I noticed that advanced students would make mistakes and immediately request a reset on the problems so that they could have a chance to get a 100% score.  Ensuring that students understand the difference between ASSISTments scores and letter grades in key to students’ productive engagement in the platform.

Josh:  Initially, students had difficulty moving beyond their scores and taking their time to answer questions.  To overcome this, I have addressed the concerns directly in conversations with students, which has yielded success.

Me:  In what way has your classroom changed using ASSISTments vs. when you didn’t?

Katie:  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.  I really got into PLACEments tests and Skillbuilders, using these to formatively assess taught skills as well as to review and remediate in preparation for the EOG test.  

Josh:  ASSISTments increased my willingness to engage with high-quality textbook material, Big Ideas Learning, in planning for student activities.  Big Ideas includes many awesome interactive activities, but I hadn’t used them in class because students didn’t have access to their own textbooks.  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 Google Surveys and Google Classroom.

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