Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Super Improvers Wall

How do you motivate students to want to improve their behavior, academic skills, or social skills without the need for candy, pop, or monetary rewards?  How do you reach tough to teach middle school students?  I found the answer in the Super Improvers Wall.

After looking at fellow wibeteer Staci Glass’ pictures of her Super Improvers Wall for inspiration, I dove right in.  I created pages for each student in all four of my Resource Room classes and posted them on an empty wall.  The kids were immediately intrigued and started asking what this wall was all about.  After explaining how the Super Improvers Wall worked, my students were eager to start earning stars.

One of the most pleasant of surprises was my 8th grade reading and writing class.  This group consisted of boys and girls with various disabilities ranging from learning disabled to emotionally impaired.  One of my toughest girls bought into the program the minute she earned her first star for cooperating and following the class rules (WBT’s 5 rules, of course).  After that, she was asking and even begging to earn more stars or wanting to know if she earned a star at the end of the hour.

After students had reached the first level, I started giving out small rewards such as stickers, trinkets from my “junk” drawer, and such. After kids starting moving up several levels, the “rewards’ were not the goal.  They were working to improve whatever skills were targeted for that week and merely moving up levels and receiving stars was reward enough.

What a great feeling for the kids to see their own accomplishment through hard work and perseverance.  I too felt a glow of accomplishment at having found something that helped kids improve their skills and was fun for everyone.  Super Improvers Wall really works, even with middle schoolers.

CP 75
Medallions:  Super Speed Math (1), Webcast (1)
Followers 13 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

SuperSpeed Math

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find a strategy to help kids learn basic math facts that was quick, engaging, and kids found interesting?  I believe Super Speed Math is just the ticket.

I have been frustrated over the past 16 years trying to find a way to help middle school special education students learn and retain basic math facts.  I have looked at canned programs, different curriculums, and various methods that others swear will work.  These are some of the toughest kids to motivate and keep engaged in anything I do. 

Lo and behold, I came across SuperSpeed Math.  I started using it last fall with the hope my class would buy into it and actually show growth and improvement in their math skills.  I had to go over how it works several times along with a couple of practice rounds before the students felt comfortable with the format and how it was supposed to work.  By October, they had it down fairly well.

After some experimentation, I settled on using SuperSpeed math three days a week as a warm-up.  Kids really started getting in the groove and looked forward to doing Superspeed math asking me if “today was the day”.  I could see the kids enjoyed playing it and looked forward to setting new personal records every time we played.

At the end of each marking period, I gave the students an assessment to measure their math skills and potential growth.  Improvement in overall math skills started to show up within the last two marking periods.  All but one student raised their math skill level by one full grade and several by almost two full grades!

Now I can’t say for sure student improvement was all due to using SuperSpeed Math, but I am sure it had a direct and positive effect.  The kids enjoyed the practice, and I have found something that is quick and easy to use. There has been positive growth in students who struggled with the rigors of middle school math.  It is a great strategy and I encourage everyone to give it a try.

CP 75
Medallions:  Super Speed Math (1), Webcast (1)