Improving Students’ Intrinsic Motivation

What if there was a way to not only improve fact fluency but to also change the way students feel about math?

At Sokikom, we’re pushing the boundaries of student learning to make math fun. Last month we held the first annual Soki Bowl to reward hard working students with the opportunity to play Sokikom’s multiplayer game against other California classrooms.

The 2017 Soki Bowl

The Soki Bowl, inspired by the Super Bowl, was held between January 17, 2017 and February 6, 2017. To be eligible to participate in the Soki Bowl, students had to master at least 15 new Sokikom lessons by January 1, 2017. We wanted students to master at least 15 new Sokikom lessons so that they would be over halfway to the goal of mastering 25 new lessons by the end of the year. Mastering 25 new Sokikom lessons has a strong correlation with SBAC and CAASPP improvement as is evidenced in the 2016 study performed by Dr. Gary Bitter from Arizona State University and JBS International.


Out of the 100 teachers that had all students in the class meeting or exceeding the 15 new lesson mastered threshold, 22 from varying school districts including: Franklin McKinley School District (FMSD), Rio School District (RSD), Evergreen Elementary School District (EESD), Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and Moreno Valley Unified School District (MVUSD) signed up to participate in the Soki Bowl. We had students in grades 1-6 playing against one another vying for a spot in the Soki Bowl Championship Game.

The Results

On February 6th we held the Soki Bowl Championship Game between Ms. Olsen-Bryan’s 3rd graders from Rio Del Mar in the Rio School District and Ms. Smith’s 6th graders from Santee Elementary in the Franklin-McKinley School District. In the end, Ms. Olsen-Bryan’s 3rd graders were dubbed the champions and received Soki Bowl rings and a class-wide ice cream party sponsored by Sokikom.

Shifting Academic Standards

Throughout the tournament, numerous teachers from across the state of California shared photos and videos of their students getting excited about math. By building students’ intrinsic motivation by using strategies like Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports  (PBIS) we’re getting students excited about learning. These nonacademic factors are becoming increasingly important as the educational climate continues to shift away from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and move towards the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

As states begin shifting to align with ESSA, schools and school districts are beginning to not only look for research-based products but also products and tools that increase student engagement and improve student success.

Next Steps

Are you looking for a way to change the way students feel about math? Request a demo to see if Sokikom is a good fit for your district.

Repercussions of a Common Core Repeal

With the race to the White House heating up there has been a lot of talk about education policy including repealing Common Core. Many state and local legislators have been suggesting states repeal Common Core since it was first instated. We wondered, if politicians prevail and Common Core is repealed, what would be the repercussions?

Schools could lose funding

This may be one of the most substantial repercussions of repealing Common Core. Many states initially adopted the standards so that they would be eligible for additional federal funding and if states repeal Common Core but do not find what the federal government calls a “suitable replacement” they can expect to lose control over millions of dollars of federal funds. This is what Oklahoma faced when they repealed the standards in June 2014. To give you some background, federal funding that initially enticed states to adopt the standards has two parts:

Part 1: Schools wanted a waiver for some of the strictest No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements. Although adopting the standards was not a requirement for receiving this waiver, a majority of the states that have adopted the standards received one. Why do states want a waiver? With it states receive significant flexibility spending the Title 1 funds and without the waiver states could only use Title 1 funding for public school choice and after school tutoring.

Part 2: Schools wanted Race To The Top (RTTT) grants. To be eligible for RTTT funding, states had to vow to completely adopt college and career ready standards (similar to, if not, the Common Core standards). Not surprisingly, the easiest way for states to receive RTTT grants was to adopt Common Core standards.

When Oklahoma repealed the standards in June 2014, they did not have an alternative program prepared. Thus, they lost their No Child Left Behind waiver the next year because the federal government did not believe they had a suitable replacement.

Curriculum wouldn’t change…much

Indiana was the first state to repeal Common Core in April 2014. They were able to avoid losing their No Child Left Behind Waiver by making small changes to the curriculum. Instead of using Common Core curriculum they began to use College and Career Ready Standards which are strikingly similar to Common Core Standards. Because states have such little wiggle room when it comes to what the federal government considers a suitable replacement to Common Core, teachers often find themselves turning to Common Core material. Even Texas, a state that never adopted Common Core, uses Common Core aligned materials in classrooms.

Aside from the financial aspect, the second reason many states won’t see drastic curriculum changes is because the Common Core standards are just that, they are standards. They outline what a concepts a student should master, grade by grade. Across the country 3rd graders should have a strong understanding of multiplication. How it is taught may vary, but the fact that all 3rd graders are learning it at the same time won’t waver.

Having said this, don’t expect to throw out your Common Core textbooks anytime soon. Repealing Common Core standards is a slow, state by state process which ultimately results in a rebranding of standards. Your best bet is to relax, embrace Common Core, and participate in Professional Development to improve teaching the standards.