Wednesday, January 29, 2014

This Works, but I don't lately

It is a frigid Wednesday in southern Michigan. I am home for the ninth day this school year due to cold or snow. The only thing worse would be stuck at school with children over night like some schools were in the south. It never ceases to amaze me the vast differences in how snow and ice are handled in other parts of the country. We really only cancel when our students have dangerous conditions in which they must ride buses, or for that matter wait for the bus. This can be extremely challenging in a rural district like mine when winds empty farmers' fields onto the roads. There is no safe place to stand and the drifting snow makes it dangerous for all drivers.

What do you do when you miss one full week of school after vacation, and three days just two weeks later? I use my "school issued" webpage to set up links for students to practice skills. There are so many free sites out there that reinforce common core standards, that it is easy to find relevant activities. I use my paid subscriptions to Sumdog, Spelling City, Scootpad, and now MobyMax to differentiate the lessons.

(More links are below those shown, but not visible to you)

Students need to log in to the sites, but I have simplified that by putting links in one location, and when possible I use the same user name and logins for them. They always have that information with them.
As an incentive, I have offered "credit" for skills practiced online. They don't need to do anything on the paid sites because it logs their practices, but for the other sites they can print the certificate or print a screen shot of their scores.

I know I have written about Sumdog and SpellingCity before, so I won't get into those sites. Scootpad is a relatively new site for our district, although I used it as an individual teacher before. The nice part is it is easy to align to common core. It does the work for you. You just choose the standard you want students to practice. You can even give rewards (no homework, computer time, etc.) for students that complete the work.

Our district was able to get the license for our elementary teachers with our tech department paying $20 dollars, and teachers kicking in the other $20. It was "voluntary", but I did it any way. I love technology and integrate it when and where I can. Students like the practice it gives in a game like format (once you get through with the "testing" phase). They like earning rewards and unlocking levels. I like that it is common core aligned, so I don't have to search for relevant practice.

How will you "make up" missed time due to snow and cold this year? I would love to hear!


  1. I have downloaded Scoot Pad but haven't really checked it out fully yet. Now after reading this I want to see what it's all about! We haven't had to miss much due to weather yet this year, but they are talking about a snow storm coming in next week, so we will see!

    Life As I Know It

    1. This program has reading, math, spelling, and even writing. I have used all but the spelling. I love spellingcity and use it almost exclusively for spelling and vocabulary practice. The writing allows you to share the rubric and offer suggestions for improvement. Students can correct the writing and seek more input. It doesn't work well when all students are sending the stories at once! They get impatient! For less than $2 per student, it is cost effective.

  2. We're on our 4th snow day on the beach in NC today. I used Remind101 to encourage my students to get on MobyMax and many did so! We love it. Hopefully you thaw out soon.



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