Transforming Students from Tentative to Confident with SplashLearn
Year 3 Teacher
Rock Ledge Primary Center, WI.
Won 3 Challenge Yourself Prizes in SpringBoard 2015 - Division K to 2
Questions answered by her students on SplashLearn in four weeks: ~ 35,000
There’s never been as much maths talk in this 3rd year classroom, ever. The students have changed from being unsure about maths, to confident, interested and motivated students of the subject, having many “Aha” and “Eureka” maths moments! All thanks to SplashLearn, says their teacher Mrs. Joan Biese. We spoke with her to understand this change better.
When did you start using SplashLearn and why?
I am a big believer in using education technology for teaching and learning in the classroom. I have been trying out several apps and games for maths in my class, both free and paid. While we used those occasionally, I was not quite satisfied, for two reasons – first, the curriculum which didn’t always match what I was covering in class both in content and in level, and second, the lack of engagement and interest in my students. I was on the lookout for better solutions.
I came across SplashLearn some time back. I liked what I saw, both in terms of the thorough common core based curriculum, and also the interactive game-like design and interface. It looked very promising and so I signed up for a classroom account. Right after that I read about the SpringBoard contest. I therefore decided to introduce SplashLearn to my students and tell them about SpringBoard at the same time, to get more excited and motivated.
How was your experience using SplashLearn?
First things first, my students just loved it! They found it fun and exciting to do maths on it, and where earlier it would be difficult for them to sit through a few minutes of maths practice, now they were happy to work an hour or more on SplashLearn. They liked the animation, the characters, the way the problems are presented, the reward system – just the entire experience.
Secondly, I liked the teacher management and reporting tools. Set up was really easy, and once my students started working on it the reports at the student and class level are proving to be really helpful.
What is the most important benefit you see from using SplashLearn in your class?
Certainly it is the magical change in attitudetowards maths! With the traditional pen-on-paper method or even an online worksheet style, kids would work individually, feeling tested, almost judged, while on it. They would be unsure, kind of hiding in their questions, and there would be no openness, discussion, excitement. This was a blackhole activity that made them feel unsure, under-confident and uncomfortable.
With SplashLearn, all that changed, instantly. Now I hear maths chatter in the class – all the time! Students talking to students about maths, students talking to me openly and without any hesitation when they get something right as well as when they get stuck, and students talking to parents. The parents of my students are also really excited about this change – they say it’s so much fun to work on SplashLearn with their kids at home and actually have conversations on maths!
That now there is excitement, sharing, fun, comfort and openness in their attitude towards maths, and of course, confidence, is just such a big thing for me as a teacher.
Are there any other benefits or changes because of SplashLearn?
Yes. Another very important positive of using SplashLearn is teaching moments. As a teacher, I love it when unplanned moments are created in the school day for us to pause and think together over a problem, giving me the ideal opportunity to provide a useful insight. With SplashLearn, I am having many such instances come up in class.
This is because the problems in SplashLearn are presented in a challenging and unknown format many a times, and it forces my students to think. They need to stretch their brains often, push boundaries, and get into unknown territories. But because of the fun and non-judgmental environment of SplashLearn, the students are excited and happy even to get into uncomfortable maths territory. They are open to talk to each other and to me about this, and right there, I have a teaching moment – a challenging unpredictable maths problem that I teach them to think in the right away about.
There are so many such “Aha” and “Eureka” moments in class, thanks to SplashLearn!
Do you have students of varying abilities in class, if so, how does SplashLearn work across that range of abilities?
I do have students at differents skill levels. SplashLearn caters very well to that difference, in fact, it has created a level-playing field for my class, with appropriate practice for both the high level kids as well as those behind on certain concepts and skills. This is another advantage for me as a teacher, I can use a single tool across the class, with no-one getting bored because it’s too easy, or frustrated because it’s too difficult. I have found SplashLearn to be great for my differentiated classroom.
Finally, how’s SpringBoard going? We see you’re on the leaderboard!
It’s going fantastic! I have the leaderboard up on the class board, updated every single day, since my students ask me to. They know that we’re doing well and we’ve got a good chance at winning.
Winning will be fun of course. But I often tell my students that even if we don’t eventually win, look at how much we have achieved already! We have had enormous learning in these three or four weeks, we feel great about maths – a confidence that will never leave us, and each of us is more than ready to go confidently into 4th year. That’s a great outcome for us, and my students agree – while still checking the leaderboard several times a day!