Learning Without Roadblocks

By: Matthew Cardona

Technology integration is the new school. Although the idea is far from new it is just now becoming a reality in our public schools. Being a second-year teacher, I often look back at my own education and think about how far schools have come with technology use in the classroom. In the short amount of time I have been removed from a classroom environment as a student, the amount of access students now have to the internet is seemingly endless. Which gives students answers to all the world’s questions and challenges they may face or simply ponder.  But despite how far schooling has come in our country, we still face many obstacles and inequities throughout the public school system. One of those obstacles is access to this technology, whether that be access to devices and/or connectivity to the internet at home.

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As a 6th grade teacher, I saw this first-hand working in East Side San Jose with little access to technology at school and many students not having access at home. So, when our school decided to begin on a road of technology integration, it seemed like it would take years before we would get any meaningful student use. But when I heard of our school adding Sokikom to the list of educational websites we would try to engage our students in, I was excited. I had played with Sokikom a little and used it during my 4th grade student teaching experience in early 2014. I had seen the amount of engagement the program could bring to a classroom, especially for students whose least favorite subject was Math. So, I couldn’t wait to integrate it into my own classroom. But there still remained one problem, student access. Having a Chromebook cart that rotated 5 classrooms in 5 days did not seem to give students enough time to work on their Sokikom assignments or give them a chance to experience that “play” aspect of Sokikom.

This was something that needed to change and after watching my students pull out their devices (phones, tablets, iPods, etc.) after the final bell rang, I began thinking about what I could do to give my students more Sokikom time. I came back to something my Master Teacher had told me about Puffin Academy, an application that allowed students to access educational websites that otherwise would not run on some devices or operating systems. Then it dawned upon me that I could assign my students a homework task of downloading Puffin Academy on their device and installing the Sokikom plugin. This made students excited about homework and once I had every student on some type of device, I started assigning standards and/or a time requirement that students would have to be online. At first parents were calling the school and asking if their student indeed had homework on their phones or tablets, some even came in to speak with me. Once the air was clear, we had a great amount of student use at home. Our class would even hold device parties, where students would bring in their device from home and connect to the school wifi and work on their Sokikom assignments, shop the store, or play some multiplayer with their classmates. The student engagement has been great with Sokikom and this year we have iPad access and plan to continue to log into Sokikom and have fun while learning! There will always be roadblocks in public education, but sometimes we find ways around them and make learning fun for all of our students.

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A Teacher’s Perspective: Implementing Sokikom

By: Rebecca Bautista

My name is Rebecca Bautista and I am a second grade teacher at Rio Del Mar Elementary in Oxnard, California. This is my eighth year in education. I was an intervention teacher for two years and I’ve been in my own classroom for 6 years. This is my third year as a second grade teacher. Our district adopted Sokikom this year. Our district’s  goal is to create 21st Century Learners and I think Sokikom helps the students attain this goal. My favorite aspects of Sokikom were: being able to reassign assignments, multiplayer games and the videos incorporated in the lessons. The incorporated videos have boosted many of the student’s confidence in being able to problem solve on their own throughout the lessons.

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My implementation of the program changed throughout the year.  At first, I used the program as an activity for students to do when they completed their work. I also put together a few lessons using Sokikom as a supplement to our current program. I made use of the addition and subtraction videos and lessons to reinforce the skill. Towards the middle of the year I received further training that taught me many more uses for the program. Such as, how to reassign assignments. This was of great use because many students would rush through their lessons, therefore, causing unsatisfactory work. I would then make use of the reassignment program to ensure students completed the level with their best effort. Towards the end of the year I used Sokikom for individualized learning. I would tell students which area I would want them to go into and they would practice that skill at their own level and pace. When students were working at their own pace it allowed some students to exceed our second grade standards. It was very exciting to watch students grow during this time.

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The students loved the program so much, that most would go home and play with their families. They would constantly ask if they could go on Sokikom after their assignments in other subject areas. Their favorite aspect was the multiplayer games. The experienced a lot of friendly competition during these games. It also motivated some students to work harder on their independent practice to improve their skills for the multiplayer games. They liked the gamification of the program. To many of them it was like they were playing a video game.

Recently, I received my Accelerated Reading Star Math scores and the students did very well. The students average growth was one grade level and one month. I had a lot of students who were having a hard time in math this year. I believe that Sokikom reinforced skills that we had learned and practice during class. I had one student who was scoring low at the beginning of the year on her math tests. She got very involved with Sokikom and raised her scores. She went from being considered below to proficient on her math tests. I had another student who came in my class already scoring very high. Sokikom was a tool to use to challenge her and teach her new concepts as she came across them in Sokikom. Both girls built confidence, were excited about learning and had developed some intrinsic motivation.

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This upcoming school year I plan on using a variety of implementation strategies. To start the school year, I will do lessons with the students on our interactive t.v. to ensure all students know some of the basics. For the most part, students will be using it individually to grow at their own pace. I will assign them lessons of the current standard we are working on to complete individually. The program will be utilized more  for small groups. During this time, I will go through the teaching video, pull up a lesson to do with them and then assign them their own lesson to complete for independent practice. Fridays will become multiplayer game day. This will be very exciting for them. Sokikom is a well rounded program that can be used to advance the student’s academic growth in the classroom.

In all, Sokikom is a great program. A lot of the game usage was taught to me by students and by exploring the program on my own.The program is put together so well that the students are learning every time they are logged on. My advice for getting started is to take your time and focus on the parts you feel most comfortable with. It will all come with time and practice!

Outstanding Educator Claire Ratfield: Creating a 21st Century Classroom through Fundraising

With school budgets becoming increasingly tight many educators have had to think of creative ways to modernize their classrooms. Lincoln Elementary 6th grade teacher, Claire Ratfield, has discovered with creative ways to crowd-fund modern technology in the classroom.

Claire began her career in education at Lincoln Middle School in Corona Del Mar, CA in 1969. In 1998 Johns Hopkins University identified her as an exemplary teacher for gifted students. Just after that she became the first public school National Board Certified teacher in Orange County and then the first double National Board Certified teacher for both elementary and middle childhood education in the nation. This experience encouraged Claire to start a foundation (CITE) to fund costs for teachers to become Nationally Board Certified. This foundation sparked Claire’s interest in fundraising for education.

Claire has always been driven by the power of technology and enjoyed seeing her students spend recess and lunch creating massive structures in Minecraft. She was stunned at the creativity and innovation of the buildings and cities they created. That year, the district invited her to a MinecraftEDU STEAM class offered by the Orange County Department of Education. This experience showed her the power of gamification in engaging students.

The next year, she wrote an engineering grant through Donors Choose and Chevron. Her proposal stated that students would build structures including sustainable houses of the future within different biomes. Through this grant she was awarded 3 state of the art desktop computers. She also reached out to a few parents to donate enough funds for 36 MinecraftEDU licenses and 3 teacher servers.

Although Claire was aware of crowdfunding she decided to do something different and developed the idea of “Claire Funding” within her network of friends. “I created two funding streams: One as a tax write-off through the district that funds technology or arts related to staff development and the other to my DBA, ‘Claire Ratfield Educational Services’ which funds my classroom needs. The near $20,000  I’ve raised is equally divided between my class and my school . This has allowed me to buy my own set of one-on-ones, robotics, and 3 iPads. It also includes 13 computers with a minimum of 4GB of memory dedicated to MinecraftEDU rotation.”

This year, Claire plans to ditch the textbook and run a paperless classroom through Google Classroom. Her fundraising has allowed her to completely modernize her classroom and has allowed her to provide her students with an engaging learning experience.

For teachers that are thinking about getting into fundraising, Claire recommends Donors Choose as one of the best resources for teachers seeking a couple thousand dollars for technology. Other sites teachers should check out include: Indiegogo, Go Fund Me, and Kickstarter. For teachers that are looking to fundraise within their groups of friends, here is a letter Claire has successfully sent out in the past.

If you want to learn more about Claire Ratfield and her classroom fundraising, check out her website. You’ll be able to see a creative Thank You video she made for her donors, resources for teachers looking to integrate technology in the classroom, as well as current projects for which she is seeking funding.

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A Teacher’s Perspective: Effective PD

By: Audra Scheenstra

My name is Audra Scheenstra and I am a proud teacher of a wonderful second grade class at Rockford Elementary School in Porterville, California. This is my first year teaching and I have more than enjoyed my experience. This year has been my first encounter with Sokikom and I have been beyond impressed with the program. When I first learned of Sokikom, I was extremely happy to find that the games allowed the children to play at their appropriate individual academic levels. It gave me a boost of confidence to allow my students to work independently.

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Classroom Sokikom Incorporation before Professional Development Training

Before the professional development training, I was only using Sokikom during centers and as a reward to students that finished their work early. My centers are around 15 minutes per rotation, and students were able to play during one of the rotations. If they completed their seatwork early, students were also allowed to play Sokikom. This encouraged my everyone to work hard on their seatwork.

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Professional Development Training

Peter Carellas was our PD trainer at Rockford School for two days. He was in my classroom for around 45 minutes each of those days. During both 45 minute trainings, I learned numerous things about Sokikom. Not only was I able to learn useful tools, but my students were able to learn as well. Peter was awesome! He emailed me before the training and asked me what standards I would like to focus on. Once I explained to him what my goals were, he put together a lesson for my class that involved new ideas and tools for myself and my students. He taught the first day’s lesson and I chimed in during parts of the lesson. He showed me how to select lessons for students that incorporate the standards that we are focusing on and how to assign them to individual students. I also learned that I am able to check my student’s progress on assignments. Instead of flipping through a stack of math papers, I can click a couple of buttons and see the progress and growth of each student.

During the second 45 minute training, Peter allowed me to put together my own lesson for my students. He encouraged me just as much as he encouraged my students. I chose the same standard to work on as the previous day, but we focused on a different portion of that standard. Once my students had time to work on their assignments, we decided to reward them with Soki cash and also a multiple player game. They were extremely excited that I was able to play in the game with them. Peter showed me how to set up a multiple player game and we were on our way to a fun classroom experience.

The Sokikom professional development training was overall a great experience. I felt so grateful that my students were able to participate in the training with me. Very few professional development trainings allow this.

Classroom Sokikom Incorporation after Professional Development Training

After being taught awesome Sokikom tools by Peter, I couldn’t wait to put Sokikom to better use in my classroom. The day after my training, I hunted down our Chromebook cart so that we could get started using the tools that we had learned. I looked over all of my student’s mastery reports and gave them assignments that they had not yet mastered, or that I felt that they needed extra help with. Within that week, my students were soaring through the games and having a blast doing it. It was wonderful being able to give out different assignments that fit individual academic learning levels. At the end of the lesson, I rewarded them with a multi-player game.

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Sharing My Excitement

ANNOUNCEMENT to all teachers and principals! The Sokikom professional development training days were awesome! We were able to learn so much in a short amount of time. We were not rushed and the training was not only fun for the kids, but it was also fun for us teachers. If there is a training to keep the attention of both students and teachers, then sign me up!

A Teacher’s Perspective: Using Sokikom in a Kindergarten Classroom

By: Katie Gisler

My name is Katie Gisler and I am a kindergarten teacher at Rockford Elementary School in Porterville, California. I have been using Sokikom for three years now. The best part about my job as a kindergarten teacher is challenging myself as well as my students on a daily basis to integrate technology in a way that will be meaningful and useful to them in the future. Sokikom has not only opened doors to media literacy, but also created independent, eager learners.

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Integrating Sokikom

Although my school district has a state-adopted math curriculum that I use everyday, I am able to use Sokikom as a supplement to frontload content they have not learned yet and also reiterate the concepts my students have already learned in class.

At the beginning of the year, I start using Sokikom to teach whole class math lessons. My goal is for my students to become familiar with Sokikom’s interface along with all of its awesome features before I let them navigate on their own. After they become accustomed to using it, students play Sokikom while they are in math stations. These stations are 15 minutes long and we do them three times a week.

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Results

I have seen tremendous growth in my students by using Sokikom. My students are completely engaged while playing. They are not only learning math skills but also learning 21st century skills and critical thinking strategies that will then turn into lifelong skills. With today’s rapidly growing technology, media literacy is becoming increasingly important and popular for students. It is evident that students learn best when they are able to learn by experience and through observation. Sokikom allows them to do this in more than one way. Apart from the academics Sokikom offers, my students have even mastered basic computer skills such as using the trackpad to drag and drop objects. They have also become familiar with the keyboard and turning the volume up and down.

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Top 5 Reasons I Love Sokikom

  1. Individualized learningStudents are able to work at their OWN level and pace
  2. Critical Thinking SkillsStudent manipulate the math problem on their own to see what answer works best
  3. Independent learnersSokikom lets students figure out a problem on their own. If they are struggling, the program will show them a “help” video
  4. CCCSS Aligned-Students are working on concepts we learn in class and apply them into their learning while playing Sokikom
  5. Learn by Trial and Error- If students get an answer wrong, they are not hard on themselves. They just try a different strategy they have learned in class and apply it to the game

Top 5 Reasons My Students Love Sokikom

  1. Interactive GamingThe game is fun and interactive so students stay engaged
  2. Visually appealingThe graphics are fun and it makes it more appealing for kids of all ages
  3. RewardsStudents are instantly rewarded with Sokikom coins for passing levels. Then they are able to change their avatars.
  4. Own level-Students are working at their own level and pace.
  5. FUN!!- Bottom line, they love it because they don’t even realize they are doing math!

 

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