This week, students in Mrs. Elizabeth Whitley’s 6th grade math class were rewarded with a special trip to the River Market area to celebrate their success on the NWEA Math Exam. 100% of her students in this class reached their goals in math. This incredible achievement was made due to a combination of solid instruction, hard work, and a strong culture of learning Mrs. Whitley establishes with her students.
The NWEA is a nationally-recognized standardized test which is conducted at 3 points (summer, winter, spring) through the school year. The goal of the test is to identify proficiency gaps and provide teachers with valuable information about their students’ growth between exams. Students are given a growth score that they try to beat, and their growth data is used by the school leadership as a measure of the effectiveness of the instruction provided.
We sat down with Mrs. Whitley earlier this week to discuss this achievement. Below is a transcript of our conversation with this amazing educator:
What strategies did you use to help the students reach their goals? Can you attribute the success to something you did, used, tried?
I noticed a big difference in their work when we started using Carnegie software consistently in class. Carnegie meets the students where they are and provides a really solid breakdown of each individual math skill. I made each Carnegie assessment a test grade to motivate them to take it seriously. We also really took off when we started using Classcraft. The students loved it and were motivated to participate again.
What ownership did the students take in order to reach their goals?
We discussed the NWEA a lot in class and how it impacts their scores on the ACT. They had never heard that before and were excited by the idea that the work they do in my class can impact their college plans. It seemed to really motivate them to work harder.
What other strategies did you use to motivate the students to try their best?
ClassCraft. It’s a game-based, role playing approach to teaching and classroom management. Students are put into teams and choose their role within the group. Their groups must work together in order to defeat boss monsters and earn gold they can use to update their avatar. I awarded points for turning in homework, participating in class discussions, and being prepared. I took points for talking, being off-task, and leaving class (bathroom). And they got to cash in rewards and design cool characters. I have been thrilled by the impact ClassCraft has made in my classroom and would recommend it to any teachers struggling with motivating their students. It has changed my whole perspective on classroom management. I think I have as much fun with it as the kids do.