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[Student Engagement] Extending Learning Over the Winter Break with Study Island

[Student Engagement] Extending Learning Over the Winter Break with Study Island

This winter break will be a much-needed opportunity for students and educators to get away from school, recharge, and spend time with family and friends. The last few school years have presented an added need for rest and relaxation, and here at Edmentum, we certainly encourage taking a break! But, if you’re also thinking of encouraging students to practice their skills while at home to combat any additional learning backslides, check out these strategies for using Study Island, Edmentum’s formative assessment and practice program, over the winter break.

1. Set a Blue Ribbon goal with incentives

Students earn Blue Ribbons when they meet the minimum passing goal for a topic, so one easy way to keep your students working in Study Island over the break is to give them a Blue Ribbon goal to work toward. A goal of anywhere from 6–10 Blue Ribbons for a two-week break or 9–15 for a three-week break is just enough to keep students practicing and still allow them plenty of time for rest and fun.

To keep things simple, let students choose the topics they want to practice over the break. If you have specific topics you want students to work on, assign content through Study Island’s new content search feature.

When students get back to school, be sure to celebrate everyone who met the goal with some special recognition.

2. Have fun with a friendly competition

To get your students even more excited about earning Blue Ribbons over winter break, host a contest to see which student or class can earn the most Blue Ribbons over the break.

If you are hosting the contest within your classroom, then allow individuals to compete against each other, but for a schoolwide or grade-level contest, allow classes to compete against each other in a team-based competition. No need to invest in large prizes—small trinkets, recognition, and bragging rights are all you need to get students excited.

Not sure how to get started when designing a contest? You’re in luck! Check out our step-by-step Study Island contest toolkit to start designing a unique and fun contest.

Tip: If you’re using Blue Ribbons to track your contest results, after the break, run a Blue Ribbon Report in Class Gradebook format, and filter the dates to only show the winter break timeframe. You’ll be able to see how many Blue Ribbons each student earned in each subject and use that data to inform your instruction once you’re back in the classroom. You can pinpoint where specific interventions might be needed and get a feel for which subjects that you should spend more time on with your class as a whole.

3. Provide writing practice

If you haven’t had the chance to utilize Study Island’s writing assignments, the winter break is the perfect time to give them a try. With writing assignments, you can create your own writing prompt, and students will simply type and submit their responses directly in Study Island. This could be a great opportunity to allow students to write and reflect on their school year thus far.. Whether students do formal academic writing, creative storytelling, or short journal entries, the more they practice, the more their writing skills will improve.

4. Go live!

If you really want to keep your students on their toes during the winter break, host a live race mode Group Session. Race mode is perfect for remote Group Session because all the teacher has to do is start the session, and then the students work at their own pace. To host a race mode Group session over the break, you’ll need to:

1. Schedule your sessions ahead of time with students so that they know what days and times to log on for the Group Session (I recommend just hosting one or two sessions over the break)

2. Assign the Group Sessions ahead of time so that when it’s time to launch the session, you don’t have to worry about creating an assignment

3. Launch the session at the scheduled time

4. Send out a quick note through email or the Study Island message center announcing the winners because students won’t be able to see the leaderboard once the session is complete

5. No technology? No problem!

Practice doesn’t have to stop just because students don’t have access to technology. You can generate a printable worksheet of any of the topics available in Study Island to send home with students for targeted, offline learning. Using the printed materials could also be a welcome break from screen time during the winter time off. Collect work on the first day back for an added incentive, or consider a class collective prize. Either way, your students will get valuable practice to keep their skills sharp.

No matter what format you decide to use for learning during the winter break, with Study Island, your students can continue to engage in meaningful mastery-building practice even when they are away from school. Looking for more ideas to help you get the most out of Study Island? Check out these five Study Island features that Educators Can’t Live Without.

This blog post was originally published on December 6, 2016 and has been updated.

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Brittany Voges

Brittany Voges currently serves as a Content and Social Media Specialist at Edmentum, and has been with the company since 2016. Before her time at Edmentum, Brittany studied Elementary Education, and eventually went on to teach 4th grade in Title 1 schools. Because of her background in education, Brittany is passionate about providing educators across the United States and the world with the tools and best practices to empower their students each day in the classroom.