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7 Tips for Success Using Study Island Practice

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 -- Madison Michell

What does Study Island standards-based practice look like in your classroom? Are students rotating through short 15 to 20-minute classroom stations? Maybe your entire class checks out a set of laptops for 45 minutes of dedicated practice time? Or perhaps, encouraging at-home practice for additional reinforcement is common? These are just a few of the many ways we see our customers use Study Island as a standards-aligned practice tool. For whichever method you choose, we’ve got you covered. After all, practice is what we do.

For 15+ years we’ve supported classroom teachers, specialists, school leaders, curriculum and technology directors, and district administrators as they have identified effective ways to implement Study Island with their diverse populations. Just this year, we released an effectiveness study that confirms when Study Island is used regularly just 30 minutes a week, per subject, the program produces significant growth outcomes for students. So, how can you make results like this a reality for your learners? Here are seven things you should know to ensure success using Study Island for practice.

1. Practice sessions level the playing field.

From Washington to Florida and California to Maine, for each of the 50 states (and Washington D.C.) Study Island has practice content built to their unique standards. This practice, organized by grade level and subject is divided into topics. Each topic includes several practice options, but today we’re going to focus in on the classic practice session format.

This practice mode is set at a fixed 10-questions per session. When each student is completing the same number of questions in a single session, you can make informed decisions at the perfect time—before they become disengaged, but after they have had adequate opportunities to show what they know. Below are several examples of how you might interpret student results:

  • For Eleanor who quickly finished 10 questions with 100%, she’s ready to move on to more challenging content.
  • For Jeremiah who squeaked by at 60%, you have the data recorded to decide right then if he should keep practicing that topic one more time with fresh questions.
  • For Melissa who struggled to earn a 30%, she’ll be automatically remediated with a Building Block topic before revisiting this content again.

Improve student tests scores with Study Island for year-round practice and assessment. Join us for a live best practices webinar!

2. Practice formats are flexible.

For many students, 10 questions provide plenty of information to make a fair determination on your next steps in instruction. But, we know that sometimes you need more control over how many questions your students answer. That’s why we built Study Island practice to be flexible, and give you options.

  • Ask students to complete a topic multiple times: We know many of you choose to use simple oral instructions to help students get started in the right place. Working on more than 10 questions can be that easy too; simply instruct learners to continue practicing with a second launch of that topic (no need to worry about seeing the same question twice—we’ll speak to that in a minute).
  • Create multiple assignments that cover the same topic: Many educators enjoy the control that a Study Island assignment can offer—from the way it appears on a student’s home page to the availability and expiration dates you can set. Use this helpful feature to ensure students complete the 20 or 30 questions you expect.
  • Use Built Tests to fully customize your question count: For those that want complete control over practice, this is the feature for you. Customize and assign a test, quiz, or daily assignment with any number of questions you like across the variety of standards-aligned topics you hope to cover.

3. Blue Ribbons allow you to celebrate mastery.

Since Study Island’s inception, we’ve used Blue Ribbons as an indicator of mastery. Historically, when students completed at least 10 questions and met the required passing goal (set at 70% by default, but educators have the ability to adjust this) students earned a Blue Ribbon for that topic. With fixed 10-question sessions in place, this still holds true. Blue Ribbons earned are then reflected on a student’s Topic Tree, which serves as the main student dashboard, and of course in reports (available for both students and educators) to motivate learners on their path toward proficiency.

But, the power of Blue Ribbons doesn’t stop there! Over the years, we’ve heard countless stories of educators crafting their own classroom and schoolwide incentive programs tied to Blue Ribbons. So, what about the student who struggled on a topic early on in the year, but come spring is ready to take another pass at mastery; should their previous attempts count against them as they work to raise their overall passing percentage? This was a side effect of cumulative scoring, which we addressed with this summer’s scoring model evolution. Now, each 10-question session offers a fresh chance at mastery, so all learners are motivated to succeed.  

4. Students can save their work and return later.

So, the bell rings and you still have a class full of students working away at different points within their Study Island practice. Some haven’t finished their set 10-question session, but the next class is already making their way in. Sound familiar? Not to worry. In Study Island, we don’t penalize in-progress work. Students can simply save and exit, and any sessions they have yet to finish will pop up front and center on their student homepage the next time they log in.

5. Practice content comes from a large item pool.

Practice has the power to ensure students develop understanding of a topic so deeply it becomes a part of their long-term memory. In turn, they’re able to more easily access that information later on and apply it to unlock even more complex learning. As you might expect, getting to this level of knowledge takes concerted effort. You simply can’t do this without a robust item bank. Study Island includes over 600,000 unique items and more than 10,000 technology-enhanced items to ensure you have the depth and breadth you need. Rest assured students can practice the same topic multiple times with fresh questions at their fingertips.

6. Straightforward sessions minimize loopholes for students.

When students look for clever ways to avoid answering tough questions, it doesn’t just hurt their learning—it affects your ability to make data-driven decisions regarding who needs additional intervention and who’s ready to move forward. We've taken steps to make sure the quality of your practice stays intact. In Study Island, when students launch a session, the questions delivered in that fixed 10-question set are the questions they will answer. So, what does that mean for the student that tries to end their session when a troubling question comes up, hoping they can start again with something they’d prefer to tackle instead? Exiting simply saves their progress, ensuring that same challenging question is waiting for them when they’re ready to return and show what they know.

7. Practice meets students at the right instructional level.

Practice sessions don’t just help you ensure students can master on-grade level standards in preparation for end-of-year summative tests, they also help provide just-in-time support for your struggling learners. In Study Island, when students score 40% or below in a practice session, they automatically receive a Building Block topic to help provide necessary remediation. Building Blocks focus on providing instruction and practice on a prerequisite skill so students can address any gaps in learning before they make a second attempt at mastery on any grade level topic.

With these seven tips now in your back pocket, we hope you’re ready to make the most of Study Island practice this school year, and remember, classic practice sessions are only one of the ways you can engage students in meaningful learning. Explore two other valuable practice options found within Study Island—collaborative Group Sessions and customizable Built Tests and start unlocking all of what this rich program has to offer!