Eighth grade ELA teacher, Lex Menz, was one of two teachers at Wilkinson Jr. High School to receive a grant to bring USATestprep to the classroom.
Menz, a former news reporter, discovered the “Grants 4 Great Ideas” through the Clay County Education Foundation in Green Cove Springs, Florida. The foundation is a non-profit organization that supplements what a school can’t afford or their budget isn’t able to accommodate. “Grant 4 Great Ideas” awards up to $500 per teacher and $1000 per school.
Menz had previously used USATestprep in her first school where she was delighted to discover it was a total classroom tool with puzzles, games, bell work, assignments, remediation, and more. When Menz approached her administration about applying for the grant, they were excited to help.
“Their response was, ‘Yes! Absolutely, let’s try to get this. We would love to have this in our school!’” said Menz.
The application involved specifying the number of students the platform will benefit, how it promotes growth in learning, and how state-standards learning would take place. Menz believes she was awarded the grant in large part because, “USATestprep is used to help students learn and assess standards in every single class, not just English Language Arts. It encompasses the whole school. Plus, USATestprep hits every single standard and offers instant data to see which standards need to be hit harder.”
From Reporter to Teacher
Menz was a print reporter for five years before a friend convinced her it would be fun to be an English Language Arts teacher. She confesses she never thought teaching would be a fit for her, but was pleasantly surprised to find she was wrong.
“I never thought when I started teaching that it would be the greatest thing ever, but it has been! I love geeking out over books with my students in class. It’s been a crazy experience with lots of ups and downs.”
Acknowledging that being a teacher with an English Literature degree and not an actual education degree has its disadvantages and can be difficult. Menz just received her five-year professional teaching certificate in English Language Arts for grades six through 12. Although this makes teaching easier, she still appreciates all the resources USATestprep offers.
“USATestprep gives me resources and text passages that I know with absolute certainty mean I am teaching each individual standard I need to for the week,” says Menz. “I am able to analyze data that tells me exactly which standards my students are weakest in and which standards I can move past.”
She points out that if an administrator comes into her class she can say with full confidence that she is teaching exact standards. “It’s such a relief not to second guess myself. I know exactly what my students are learning.”
Menz notes that one of the most useful features is that every item and question on USATestprep is worded in the same manner as the Florida State Assessment (FSA). Students no longer see concepts learned in class one way and are then tested on them in a different way. “USATestprep bridges the gap,” says Menz.
Student and Admin Support
Menz’s students love the interactive and engaging games like Think or Swim and Battle Royale. “It’s fun to see how excited they get. They cheer each other on and love the competition.”
Although she started off thinking teaching wasn’t for her, Menz expresses how much she appreciates teaching at her school.
“I love how supportive my administration is. I am super excited to be a part of my school and love being here. I also am grateful that there is a lot of freedom in my classroom and I get to have fun, especially when I use USATestprep games, which is at least once a week if not more.”
Menz concludes, “USATestprep is amazing. Even my department head loves it so much that she is allowing me to lead a PD session so my whole school can learn to benefit from it as well.”