As educators, we’re well aware of the need for better technology in the classroom – technology that not only improves learning but also makes our jobs easier. There is a growing list of challenges we face as educators: the endless grading of papers, the search for teaching resources, the need to tailor lessons to each student’s learning style.
As technology continues to change, the role that technology can play in K12 education is also quickly changing. We’re not talking about replacing teachers with robots! We are looking at how educators can leverage technology to better support our teaching efforts. Here are five methods educators are using, nationwide, to improve student achievement while reducing the time demands placed on themselves.
1. Instant Grading and Feedback
Many teachers are finding the ability to autograde assignments on a curriculum practice website to be one of the most useful enhancements made possible with technology. Hand-grading is antiquated, since most practice and curriculum platforms can assess multiple choice, short answer, true/false, and many other question types. Alongside the score, students can also receive an explanation as to why their answer was marked incorrect. This immediate feedback is crucial in the learning process, as these students are accustomed to a fast-paced society that provides instant gratification. Instant grading and feedback can be done on USATestprep’s platform.
2. Self-Directed Learning
Students learn at different rates, with various learning styles, and in a variety of settings. Their backgrounds and level of required support also vary. Online learning platforms allow each student to interact with the content at his or her own level and speed. Many websites, including USATestprep, offer assistive technology features to increase student achievement, such as word prediction, screen readers, closed captioning, and highlighting tools. Online content is readily available at all times, which is great for students who need extra time to complete assignments or those who want extra practice.
3. Assessment-Based Differentiation
Facilitating formal and informal assessments on a web-based platform can provide educators and students with results and easy-to-use data upon completion. These results help evaluate student mastery of the standards and domains, and allow students and teachers to develop plans of action and remediation. Many educators then choose to assign students practice work to strengthen their foundations within the standards. Differentiation is easily implemented on sites such as USATestprep, by providing one-click entry to resources specifically designed to focus on the subject matter.
4. Supplemental Instructional Resources
As educators, we are constantly adding resources to our toolboxes. Websites such as Pinterest and internet searches can flood our minds with sample lesson ideas and downloadable templates for the classroom. Often, we can waste time recreating the wheel when it has already been made for us. There are websites designed to be a one-stop shop for us. These sites include resources that supplement instruction throughout the learning cycle. Look for websites that include videos that can be used for introducing a concept, vocabulary terms that can reinforce the lesson, performance tasks that encourage the students to interact with the content, and an open test bank of questions to build assessments. To see how these practice items can work in your lessons, request a live demo.
“Even the students that struggle the most find something that catches their attention in USATestprep.”
5. Engaging Content
While many websites may provide resources for the teachers, we must also consider the level of engagement for students. Today’s students need stimulating colors and graphics, interactive content, lively videos, and real-world application questions. Carla Devereaux, at Babb Middle School, has found that, “Even the students that struggle the most find something that catches their attention in USATestprep.” Some websites offer a token-based reward system for games that allow students to take brain breaks between questions or assignments. Other sites may provide content-based games that allow students to progress as they continue answering questions correctly. Students can also use technology to study abroad in the global classroom with students in other parts of the world, via video or streaming sites.
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As Atlanta’s tech star continues to rise, one local EdTech company has reached its 2 millionth student, after an unlikely beginning. The company was started by two former school teachers in 1998. Today their test prep resources are used in over 75% of Georgia’s high schools.
Unlike most test prep tools, USATestprep doesn’t just help with national tests like the ACT and SAT but offers practice aligned to state-specific tests. In Georgia, this means test prep resources for the GA Milestones.
Cobb County middle school teacher, Kelsey Benson, says she and her students enjoy using the platform’s projector games to practice the Georgia standards. A local student, Alyssa, says: “USATestprep is a really good study site. I use it before all of my tests, and I always get As. USATestprep really has helped me for all tests…”
Founder Jay Eckard sees agile companies benefiting from this sea of change by using tech to allow for even greater customization of curricula. One way USATestprep is working to stay ahead of the curve is with a new game arcade. Students earn points to redeem in the arcade by completing practice assignments from their teachers. Since the launch of the arcade last school year, USATestprep has seen an increase in students’ scores on practice work.
- This past school year, Kennesaw-based USATestprep helped over 63,000 teachers prepare their 2,000,000 students for high-stakes testing.
- Over 200,000 practice items have been developed by the company’s team of former school teachers. These include questions, instructional videos, engaging tasks, and more.
High school teachers Jay Eckard and Joe Winterscheidt started USATestprep because they saw a need to support students and teachers with new state testing requirements back in 1998. They wanted to make teachers’ lives easier and to help students pass the new state tests in order to graduate.
Thank you to the more than 5,100 students and teachers who took USATestprep’s March Survey. Our new arcade game, Test Drive is the reigning favorite with students by a large margin!
Are you including games as part of your group assignments? 81% of teachers told us they assign games at least sometimes with their group assignments. And yes, we heard you: over 86% of you said you would like more games to assign to students.
Thank you to the 321 teachers who took our “Print Resources” survey last month. You told us your favorite print resource is our Quizzes. You also told us you like our Class Activities.
Are you using USATestprep’s Class Activities or Quizzes in your classroom? What about our Puzzles and Flashcards? All of these standards-aligned resources are included with your school’s USATestprep subscription and can save you big when it comes to planning time. Give them a try in March!
USATestprep offers a variety of built-in accommodations on our site. These accommodations fall into two categories: Benchmark Accommodations and Assignments/Projector Based Resources.
- Duplicate Copy – When a benchmark is created, there is an option to make a duplicate copy. This is a great tool to use to meet the needs of diverse learners. The duplicate copy allows you to go in and change the test settings.
- Spanish Option – Questions, answers, and passages can be translated into Spanish. If you select this option, the test will not automatically be translated for every student. Instead, there will be a link at the top of the benchmark labeled “Español,” and if a student clicks on this link, the test will be translated.
- Reduce Answer Choices – This will reduce the number of answer choices from 4 to 3. It will still show all four answer options, but one will already be eliminated.
- Highlighter – We offer a highlighter tool that students can use to highlight key words and phrases.
- Audio Available – We offer audio recordings of passages, questions, and answers.
- Eliminate Answer – Students can hover over answer choices and choose to “Eliminate” the answer choice. When this is done, a line will be placed through the answer. If a student hovers over the answer choice again, he or she can “Restore” that answer.
- Printing Options – Our benchmarks can be printed in larger font sizes and with a variety of spacing options.
- Question Filters – When creating a custom benchmark, teachers can filter questions based on Low or High DOK or difficulty level.
Assignments/Projector Based Resources
- Multiple Attempts – When creating an assignment, teachers can allow students to have multiple attempts to improve their score.
- Minimum Score – Teachers can set a minimum mastery score on assignments.
- Difficulty Level – Our practice question difficulty levels can be adjusted to three options: Random, Beginner, or Advanced.
- Font Size – The font size for our projector based resources can be adjusted to be larger for students who may need this accommodation. For more information on accommodations, please refer to this webinar recording. To use these tools in your classroom, login to your USATestprep.com account.
If your state DOE makes changes to standards or assessments, USATestprep is committed to match these changes and provide you with an up-to-date product at no additional cost.
We have many new reviews for subjects across the curriculum in many states.
Alabama Elementary School
- 5th Grade Social Studies
Alabama Middle School
- 6th Grade Social Studies
- 6th Grade Science
- 7th Grade Geography
- 7th Grade Civics
- 8th Grade Science
Colorado Elementary School
- 3rd Grade ELA
- 3rd Grade Math
- 4th Grade ELA
- 4th Grade Math
- 5th Grade ELA
- 5th Grade Math
Colorado Middle School
- 6th Grade ELA
- 6th Grade Math
- 7th Grade ELA
- 7th Grade Math
- 8th Grade ELA
- 8th Grade Math
Indiana Middle School
- 6th Grade Social Studies
- 8th Grade Social Studies
Maryland Middle School
- Science MSA
If you would like to subscribe or if you are interested in a FREE trial, please do not hesitate to give us a call!
We’ve gotten a few calls and emails about the new AP United States History format for the 2014-2015 school year. We are already at work on getting a new review set up to reflect the changes in the new curriculum. We will have this completed in time for the 2014 school year.
In the mean time… good luck during these last few weeks!
You’ve probably noticed a new look when you log in to USATestprep.
Don’t worry: this is a kind of “face lift.” Everything is still in its place, just where it was before.
Students will notice the same changes in colors.
But just like with teachers, everything remains in the same place.
Students may also choose to see their subject-specific page in “List View,” though that option can be toggled back and forth with “Standard View.”
We’re excited about these cosmetic changes. We know you’ll like them, too!