USATestprep Blog

Archive for December, 2011

Quick Tips: Student Results

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

When your students do work for you on USATestprep, you can always find their results under the “Student Results” tab on your Home page.
Or can you?
What if you get a notification that there are no results?



The system automatically loads the first 10 results over the last week, so if it has been more than seven days since students have completed work for you on the site you will not see anything. Just click, “See More Results” for searching options.



You can search for results in a myriad of way: by student, class, activity, test, current or archived, and- perhaps most importantly- by date. You can choose a predetermined time frame- last month, 3 months, etc- or within a specific date range. Once you have made your choice, click the “Go” button.



You will then see the results for the students/activities/date range you have chosen. Still don’t see the result you’re looking for? Note that at the bottom of the results you can see how many result pages there are. You can change the number of results you see per page, as well. And if you want to manipulate them further…


Clicking the heading of any column will sort the results by that category. Of course, you can View assignment results and Archive ones that are old and you want hidden from view. (Don’t worry: you’ll still have access to them.) At the bottom of the results are two more options. You can choose to have all results sent to you in a nightly email simply by clicking the box to the left of that option. And you can also download Student Results by clicking the blue “Export to Excel” button.

These options should help you keep a better track of your students’ performance in your classes. Let us know if you have any suggestions or comments.

In Focus: Social Studies Websites

Monday, December 12th, 2011

In doing some Social Studies authoring this summer, we ran across a few interesting websites. We kept tabs of them and even found a few more along the way. Here are a few of them that represent some of the disciplines.

US History and Government
The Annotated Declaration of Independence
Just as the name implies, the text of the Declaration is interlaced with links to explanations about key passages. This could provide some welcomed insight for students reviewing for tests, either for class or for the end of the course.

US Presidents: Lists and Records
Even though this is more of a “laundry list” of facts, it can still be rather engaging for students. It covers such potential trivia- or bonus point- questions about the birthplaces, religions, military experiences, occupations, and “firsts” for all of the Presidents.

World History & Geography
Modern Internet History Sourcebook
Ok, so this isn’t really anything new. Yours truly used this for most of his years in the classroom, but this treasure trove of primary sources is a must have for any history teacher. And don’t forget: you can access other historic eras and topics at the top of the home page.

National Geographic- The Urban Clan of Genghis Khan
The Mongols are a fascinating, often poorly characterized empire. This article from a recent issue of National Geographic bridges the Mongolian past with the present. A great read with, of course, some amazing photography. And since we’re on the issue of Mongolia…

National Public Radio- A New Beat Gives Young Mongolia A Voice, Identity
If you’re like us, you can’t get enough of modern Mongolian techno-rap music. What? You haven’t heard? Well, not only does this NPR article tell you about the movement- if you can call it that- but you can hear the interview and the music, too. Students will probably find this pretty cool.

Economics
The Inflation Calculator
So this one is just for the teachers, really. This site allow you to input a dollar amount for a source year and compare it to any other year. This is absolutely perfect if you wanted to put a dollar amount in US History in a contemporary context. $3.5 million for the Louisiana Territory in 1803? How about that same land costing $50 million in 2010 dollars? Still a good deal, even if you wanted to pay that for a condo in New York City.

Global Rich List
With all the talk of the “1%” and “99%”, this website puts things in a world perspective. Enter in a yearly income in Dollars/Euros/Pounds/Yen and see where that stacks up on average with the other billions of people in the world. If students want to see perspective, this site can do it.

This is a tiny list, but we feel there is some darn good stuff on it. At the very least, these links can get a conversation going. Let us know what you think, or share some links of your own.

In Focus: USATestprep Game Philosophy

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

When we created the site back in 1998, we always wanted to create a tool for teachers to help their students.  One way to encourage students was to introduce game play into the practice question environment.  Our first game was titled “Head of the Class.”  It involved students answering questions correctly to be able to advance through different levels of the game.  There was no arcade game play element, but it was a nice alternative to traditional practice.

Head of the Class

The rudimentary game was popular with students and teachers, so we began adding more games.  Both students and teachers let us know that future games needed more excitement, so we added arcade bonus rounds between questions.   If you notice, most game scoring is weighted heavier to question performance over bonus arcade play.  We didn’t want our high score boards to only reflect skilled gamers:  you must be skilled and do well on the questions.

Our latest game to be released, Arrrrrmagedddon, is a brand new type of two player game.  It may be played by two students at different computers.   So one player may make a move, then player two can respond next period, during lunch, or when he/she gets home.  Again, our goal was to create an engaging game with the #1 goal of getting students to participate in meaningful question practice.

Arrrrrrramageddon

We hope you and your students enjoy our games, and keep an eye out for more.  We have a lot of ideas on the way.

Quick Tips: Message System

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Don’t forget about the Message System which is new to USATestprep in 2011. We sometimes use this to communicate important messages or information about the site.



But you can use it for your students, as well. Teachers can compose messages to students in their classes. You can use this to remind students of upcoming tests, schedule changes, or to offer words of encouragement. But remember: you MUST have classes set up in order to do this. To create a message, simply click on the “Create New Message” link. Then, give your message a Subject and type the message to your students.



If you leave the “Allow Students to Reply” button clicked, students will be able to respond to you and only you. Our system does not allow students to create their own messages to you or to other students: they may only reply to your messages, and only if you choose that option.

You then choose who will receive the message. Clicking on the box next to each class will allow you to send it to all students you have placed in your previously created classes.



But, if you want to send it to an individual student or a select few students, simply click “Uncheck All” then check the specifics students who will receive the message.



When you are finished, click the green “Send Message” button, and your work is done. Now, when the student logs on to USATestprep, they will see the message you sent.



Students can see the message and reply to it (as long as you chose that in the creation process). If a student does reply, you will then see it on your Home page. You can Remove it or any message with a red circle and “X” by simply clicking on the X. Sometimes USATestprep may send a message that we consider to be critical to your usage of the site: in that case, you may not be able to close Remove the message.

As with other parts of the site, you can always search for older messages you have sent or that you have received. Simply click on the Filter Messages link and begin your search.



We hope you have found or will find this new feature useful in keeping open the lines of communication between you and your students.

Quick Tips: Videos

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Sometimes you may pull up a video that won’t work for you. When this happens, it is really best to check things on your end. Here are a few tips:

- If this is on a school computer, check with the IT department before doing anything.
- Make sure you have updated your web browser (Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, etc.) to the latest version.
- Check that you have the latest version of Adobe Flash on the computer.
- If you are attempting to use this on a mobile phone or iPad the videos will not work because they do not support Adobe Flash.

Please let us know if you are still having problems.

Quick Tips: Your Account Information

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Looking for information about your school’s USATestprep account? Its all right there: from your Home page just click on your school’s name to the right of your avatar.



Here you can look at many aspects of your school’s USATestprep account. You can view your school’s School ID and Activation Codes and your total usage, for this year an the previous year.



You can also see which tests are being used most often.



Your renewal dates are at your fingertips, as well.



And you can view who your school’s primary contacts are for USATestprep. If you are an Account Admin at your school, you can also edit these from this page.

We hope this helps you locate important school-wide usage data quickly. If you have any questions, please email or call us.

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