Five Top Tips for Exact Path for Parents & How They Can Help Encourage Learning

It’s the start of the new academic year for many of us, so I wanted to give parents some pointers on using Exact Path at home to start the new academic year in the right way and encourage learning with it. As Edmentum’s Head of International Customer Services, I am also a parent and have lots of experience helping schools and parents access Exact Path and encouraging its usage, so I hope these tips are helpful. Plus, you can use some of them at home too.

1. Build a Schedule

My first tip for parents to encourage learning is to create a suitable daily or weekly timetable to use at home, which will support your child in keeping on track of their home learning. This should include time spent on Exact Path (which we recommend using for 30 minutes per week per subject). Writing their learning activity down in a timetable format will help create clarity between yourself and your child with clear expectations. You should ensure this is focused around their out-of-school activities, such as swimming lessons, dancing, or sports activities, and that the time expected isn’t unrealistic, too long for your child, or doesn’t include breaks. 

2. Set Up a Suitable Workspace

It may seem obvious, but it’s worth reiterating; the second tip is creating a suitable environment at home to work in to encourage learning within Exact Path. I suggest having a calm, quiet area with no distractions. It is also essential to check that your child has access to their device during this time. Is it free to them or being shared by another family member? Has this device been charged in preparation? Also, it’s worth making sure your child has enough time to complete the task in hand and that they are feeling energized to finish their work and are refreshed. Your child may work better at different times, such as after dinner, so it’s worth keeping an eye on that and factoring it in. 

3. Get to Know the Online Learning Platform

I also recommend, where possible, to speak to your child’s teacher about Exact Path if you have any questions. Your child’s school may also run parent workshops which would be useful to attend, and it’s also worth mentioning that we have some helpful guides for you to use to learn more about Exact Path too if you need them:

You can also visit my recording to gain more knowledge of using Exact Path – I did this for a school where parents listened in, so it’s worth checking out.

4. Communicate with Your Child’s Teachers

Where possible, another tip is to ensure you are communicating with teachers regarding your child’s development, whether this is to address any challenges they may face or to share their successes (which is equally important, of course!). You can view the Rewards area within Exact Path to understand what areas your child is currently working on, or if it is suitable, you could reach out to your child’s class teacher for advice and support or tips on how to better help with learning at home.

5. Share and Celebrate Your Child’s Successes

Another great point, and as mentioned above, is that your child can review their success within their Rewards area in their Exact Path account, which is worth taking advantage of. This area shows the skills recently mastered, as well as the class challenges that have been completed. You could arrange time each week to look at these together and share any success with your child or other family members. You could also decide on your own reward for your child to work towards once they have completed the expected time or areas within Exact Path that they have chosen to do. Alongside this, there’s also the idea to create a weekly reward chart to keep track of these successes, where you and your child can see the progress towards their chosen reward – a great motivator!

I hope you found my tips useful, and they have given you some ideas into how you can use Exact Path at home to support learning. Remember, Exact Path has numerous features to support home learning and student progression, so it’s well worth checking out.

It’s also worth pointing out that we love hearing about student success, so if you have any success to share, please do! You can tweet us at @Edmentum_INT or email us on international@edmentum.com – we look forward to hearing from you!

If you’re a teacher at a school using Exact Path and need a little more help with parental engagement and the platform itself, we are always welcoming all schools to get in touch with us if they need to by emailing international@edmentum.com. Remember, you can also see our parent guide here, which we did for a school too.

How Summit International School in the UAE Utilizes Exact Path to Support Growth and Attainment with NWEA MAP Skills

Summit International School in the United Arab Emirates has been using Exact Path for two years to support their teaching and learning. The school has seen impressive results in terms of growth and attainment, and the learning paths within the product were a perfect match for the school. This is echoed in the school’s mission statement; this statement is, “The mission of Summit International School is to create a happy and safe environment that cultivates individualized learning paths through active learning and reflective teaching.”

 

Why Summit International School chose Exact Path

The school serves a large student population where every student is an English language learner. With a large ELL student population and a UAE requirement of using NWEA MAP, Summit International School began searching for a product to support these learners and this new prerequisite. Exact Path quickly became the perfect solution.

Lee Dabagia, Principal at the school, has commented that they were looking for a product that would enable personalized learning linked to MAP. Lee says,

“Other programs couldn’t give us the level of personalization that we were looking for to support our students.”

Lee’s comment on “personalization” also links with the school’s vision: To be a school that provides every student individualized learning, growth opportunities, and the confidence and creativity to climb higher every day.” Exact Path allows the school to fully personalize learning and address any gaps right at the core.

There were other reasons for implementing Exact Path, however. The school found Exact Path gave teachers insight into their students’ progress, and it also gave them another precise data source that they needed. Alongside these benefits, it could also support test endurance, for which the school was requiring support.

It’s also worth highlighting the impact the product has had on ELL students at the school. Lee comments on this,

“We recognized our students might be the only English speaker at home. The interface has visual cues and icons the students can easily follow. Exact Path offers grade appropriate instructions for auditory and visual learners. This ensures the students can use it without a teacher or parent. They can use Exact Path any time of day, anywhere they want, individually. After two years, we are watching our Grades 2 and 3 students translate for their parents during student-led conferences.”

Using Exact Path in school and at home

Initially, Summit International School used Exact Path with students between the grades of 2 to 8. This year, they have begun using it throughout grades 1 to 9. Students at the school have been receptive to Exact Path; this has been increasingly more so since they started receiving rewards for their work.

Furthermore, the school uses Exact Path as a support for teachers; they deliver the content, and then Exact Path helps students address any gaps. This usage aligns with the school’s ambition to always provide educator support. Lee says, “We do not want Exact Path to be a teacherless experience.”

Recently, there has been a shift at the school in terms of Exact Path usage volume after introducing student rewards for the number of skills completed within the product. With this method, the school hopes to improve student growth even further.

Exact Path is already helping with this, as Ian Power, teacher and Exact Path coach at the school, has said:

“Exact Path is influencing the improvement of students’ MAP skills.”

As this shift has only been implemented, the school has also been rewarding students for their time spent on Exact Path. Impressively, the school celebrated 129 students using Exact Path at home for more than 400 minutes over the summer holidays. This was when students were not required to do any learning and clearly shows the impact Exact Path is having on students’ engagement.

Exact Path helps students exceed grade level too, which was one of the school’s goals. Lee mentions:

“Exact Path, for sure, has helped us get closer to that goal of helping students who are exceeding grade level.”

 

Success with Exact Path

Indeed, Summit International School has used Exact Path exceptionally well. They can see visual improvements in reports from utilizing the many tools and features available. The product has also helped with home and distance learning, as Samar Barakeh, Director of Assessment and Student Services, says:

“It is year-round, and we can offer kids that option to learn. Exact Path also helps with distance learning, especially after the closures and learning loss.”

Also, Exact Path is supporting the school with its latest developments and ways of learning exceptionally well. This is because some students are learning via a fully online or hybrid learning model. Lee, the Principal at the school, echoes this and has commented on the impact Exact Path has had:

“Exact Path is becoming a way of life for us.”

We hosted a webinar with Summit International School, where they explained more about their story and how they implemented Exact Path. You can watch the webinar here.

Bett 2020 Awards: We’re Finalists!

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve received a Bett 2020 Award nomination, and would like to send out a huge thank you to the teachers and schools that helped us with testimonials!

What category have we been shortlisted for?

International Digital Educational Resource: for an exemplary digital and online education resource that is successful internationally.

What are the Bett Awards?

The Bett Awards are a celebration of the inspiring creativity and innovation that can be found throughout technology for education. Renowned as the most prestigious and highly regarded awards in the industry, they showcase and award outstanding digital products that serve the education sector.

Richard Whalley, Managing Director, comments: “We’re delighted to have been nominated for this award, especially as Exact Path is having such a positive impact in international schools worldwide. It’s great to have our company’s efforts recognised with such an esteemed award!”

The winners of the Bett Awards 2020 will be announced on 22nd January 2020 at the Bett Show. We’ll keep you updated on developments!

The Importance of Self-Reflection in Learning

What happens when we allow students time for reflection? We empower them as learners. Not only does providing students time to reflect allow them the opportunity to build critical thinking skills, it also means they can develop their problem-solving skills and gain more independence in their learning.

We, as teachers, can deliver great lessons for our students, but without the right amount of time to reflect and assess, students may not have optimal learning or the chance to maximize their understanding.

What’s more, IB education promotes the development of reflective thinkers. It supports the fact that students should look back at their learning experiences, reflect on the content learned and identify gaps in their learning.

This is why self-reflection is so significant.

Self-reflection influences learning in a significant way. This was recognised by the IB in 2018, as they took the step of removing reflection as a key concept and fully integrating the practice through all learning and teaching to strengthen ongoing inquiry. This proves the importance of self-reflection because it’s recognized as a more dynamic, continuous process.

Self-reflection is also ideal for metacognition – how can you be a better learner if you don’t consider your own thought process? When we learn passively, we don’t have enough time to reflect on our learning or the lessons, which means we are unlikely to draw upon the information again.

Additionally, self-reflection also means students have a chance to evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses, and establish a path of positive self-evaluation that, importantly, includes speaking about any negatives. This helps students to track their own achievements and progress, promotes ownership over their work for growth and allows students to analyze their own learning.

After learning tasks, if students are encouraged to reflect on their own work, you’ll better retain their full engagement in class but also help embed concepts over a longer period of time. In this way, self-reflection helps us improve our memory and keeps our minds active, as well as being ideal for looking back on learning.

Reflection can be done in a number of ways, but we’ve put together some ways you can encourage your students to engage more in self-reflection, as well as some suggestions on how you can gain qualitative data to inform your teaching:

Write goals

Make sure your students set goals (this can be done with or without your guidance), and then evaluate progress towards achieving them, remembering to note down progress and adjust any goals as necessary. SMART goals, goals which help in the setting of objectives, are ideal for goal setting and provide a clearly defined objective. You can see our blog on SMART goal setting which links to IB education for more information on this topic.

Self-reflect via exit tickets

Exit tickets are short activities which ask students a few questions about the lesson. For example, did you understand today’s lesson? Or what area(s) did you find most difficult today?

They are ideal for taking into account which students do or do not understand the lesson material and can help those that are struggling. This is also a great way to gain insights and qualitative data to help you, as you can better understand the minds of your students by reading exit tickets.

Much in the same way, within Exact Path, EducationCity, and many of our other solutions, students can review their scores from activities completed, which means they can see what they may or may not have understood. This means that students can see their results immediately and even try to improve their scores in real time. This helps develop subject mastery but also means you as a teacher can gain valuable data for insights that will help inform your instruction.

Use cards to self-reflect

You can give students three cards – a green, a yellow, and a red card. Each of these cards represents something about how students feel about the lesson material. Green represents that students understand the lesson material, yellow means they need a small amount of extra help, and red means they don’t understand. (Don’t forget about our resource pack here which can help you with this on page 27.)

You can ask your students to close their eyes prior to holding up a card and then raise which card they feel best suits them. You’ll gain an understanding of which students understand the lesson material and who does not – this is a great way to gain qualitative data to inform your teaching and really help you understand how students are progressing. You can then easily differentiate their attainment and set the green group extension work, the yellow group follow-up work for revision, and then you can provide the red group with additional support.

Pair and share

With this method, students pair up and ask each other some questions about the lesson material. These questions are designed to get the students thinking and reflecting for themselves. Some questions to get the ball rolling include:

  • How did they do?
  • Did they understand everything?
  • What could be done better?

This method is easy to carry out in the classroom, and you can also listen to these conversations and gain qualitative data to determine any trends that may emerge which can help with adjusting instruction.

Make use of journals or diaries

Another way of promoting self-reflection in the classroom is to give students the task of recording their feedback in journals or diaries. By filling in journals or diaries, you can encourage your students to focus on their own learning journeys and adjust their learning. By writing down ideas, students have an outlet to reflect on their thought process, which provides them with insight into their progress.

By keeping a journal or diary, students can assume responsibility of driving their education forward, and this places them at the center of their learning. It also provides teachers with a working document into a student’s learning journey so they can better understand their abilities, feelings, and where any additional support may be required. This is a great approach for gaining qualitative data as you can assess the emotions across the class (you can use our IB Portfolio Reflection Checklist to help with this), and determine whether there are any students who are struggling, or whether they have a strong understanding of the work.

In Exact Path, we offer Mastery Trophies which are awarded to students each time they work on their individualized learning pathways. Afterwards, you can see this data to help your progress monitoring and for informing teaching. Each set of up to four skills are then assessed via a short Progress Check to demonstrate mastery and reward understanding. For every skill that students demonstrate mastery on their Progress Check, they earn a Trophy. They can record their Mastery Trophies in a journal or diary to see their accomplishments and note down the next steps they have in their learning and anything they didn’t understand.

Self-reflection is an important aspect of learning, and when we allow learners the time to consider their learning progress and understanding, we are really providing them with an opportunity to evaluate themselves. This is why the IB focuses on self-reflection as an important concept which promotes inquiry at the beginning and end of a piece of work or unit. From it, you’ll achieve valuable insights to support the learning experience of both students and yourselves as educators.

For more on self-reflection and the IB, discover our whole IB information area which has been designed to support IB teachers with individualized learning, inquiry and more. New resources are regularly added so be sure to take a look.

Adopting a Grading or Marking System Based on Students’ Success

Grading or marking approaches differ vastly in schools and there are many different ideas to approach it. In this blog, we’re going to look at how you can apply a student-centered grading or marking strategy in your classroom. Check out our four top tips!

1. Grades/scores should reflect learning

If students are misbehaving or being disrespectful, it can be tempting to tell them that they will lose points. However, and you may already advocate this, when scores reflect behavior, they don’t necessarily reflect a student’s learning. Although negative behavior should carry consequences, it’s important to make sure that those consequences don’t alter a student’s grades.

2. Concentrate on the performance of summative assessments

Although formative assessments such as quizzes or homework assignments are important, and they give students the opportunity to practice what they’re learning, it should be pointed out that they are small-scale measures of understanding and should be weighted significantly less than higher-stakes summative assessments. Summative assessments are designed to be given to students after they have achieved mastery to demonstrate learning and formative assessments gauge understanding. The majority of a student’s grade is based on summative assessments so it will more accurately reflect their learning at the end of the unit, rather than formative assessment scores in the meantime.

3. Don’t be too hard on late work

Sometimes it’s problematic to ask a student to move onto a new concept when they struggled to master a previous skill. All students work at their own pace and sometimes, student understanding needs to take priority over set schedules.

If a student does have a valid reason for an extension on a task, they are taking responsibility over their learning and building self-advocacy skills. So it can be fair to say that when it’s right, a less strict approach to deadlines can benefit your students’ progress.

4. Allow retakes for summative assessments

Although a dividing issue, it may be worth giving your students the opportunity to retake summative assessments. You may want to give a student a different summative assessment for them to retake the same concepts. However, it may be worth telling your students that the second score then stands and by accepting their retake score, this can serve as motivation to thoroughly prepare and master the concepts they need to if needed from the new performance.

Not just judgement and punishment, grading and marking are wholly about progress. By adopting this kind of approach, you can revolutionize your classroom for both your teaching and students’ learning.

A Parents’ Guide to Phonics

Phonics is an approach to teaching reading, and some aspects of writing, which develops learners’ phonemic awareness. It is supported by a whole range of educational bodies, including the Education Endowment Foundation.

Phonics: The Basics

Phonics teaches children to listen carefully to words, and helps them identify the phonemes (sounds) that make up each word. It breaks down words into their components sounds, then asks students to blend the sounds together and sound them out aloud to create a word that is recognizable. These decoding and blending exercises help children to learn to read more quickly so that they can engage and enjoy books at the earliest opportunity. In addition to this, phonics helps children understand how graphemes (letters) and phonemes correspond, facilitating early writing and correct spelling too!

Phonics Terminology

What phonics also provides, however, is a whole plethora of new terminology relating to language, that you as a parent, will never have come across before. So, if you don’t know your CVC words from your split digraphs, prepare to be enlightened!

Our Phonics Presentation for Parents

Our presentation, entitled An Introduction to Phonics for Parents, will give you all the information you need to help you support your child as they learn. It includes:
• What phonics is
• Why it’s used
• What the three different systematic programs are called
• What is covered in each phase of learning
• What a typical phonics lesson looks like
• Ideas of how you can support your child at home

As with most things, you’ll find that practice is the key, so any activities you can do at home will undoubtedly help your child become more adept and skilled. From pinpointing words which include the target sounds, to supporting them as they read, it all helps to reinforce what they’ve learnt in class and commit it to their long-term memory.

5 Biggest Pitfalls of Blended Learning

Whether you’re deciding to implement blended learning at your school or you’ve decided to take the plunge already, there are pitfalls to consider and avoid when doing so. In this blog, we’re discussing the pitfalls of blended learning and giving tips on what can be done to avoid them.

So when we’re considering the five biggest pitfalls of blended learning, there are some things you shouldn’t do when implementing a model at your school. Here we explain the five pitfalls and what you can do, as a principal, teacher or Head of Academics, to avoid and anticipate them. Let’s discuss them.

1. Not preparing a timeline with goals

The first point is not being prepared with a goal or timeline, which is the most important point. To make a blended learning strategy successful, you need to set specific and measurable goals with timelines for the blended learning model so everyone knows where they need to be and how they’re going to get there.

 

 

By doing this, you can look back and reflect on your plan and identify any areas where intervention is needed or perhaps where different techniques may be needed. These conversations and insights are valuable and can be done with a solid plan.

2. Not planning or preparing your team properly

The next point is not preparing your team properly. It’s not enough to just say “we’re going to do blended learning today”. You need specific goals and timelines and to ensure your whole team knows how blended learning should work and to train them on it.

So when we look back, you must not only outline the plan and consider any nuances specific to your school, but train your team properly on it too to make sure they know about it and have what they need. By making sure of this, you’ll be able to think ahead and see anything else you need to consider.

3. Not having the proper curriculum

One other point is to make sure that the blended learning model you’re implementing supports a high-quality curriculum. You must ensure that content you have is not only engaging but linked to a curriculum and allows you to gain reporting in real time so you can easily adjust your teaching technique if necessary.

Curriculum

So now you’ve got a set of goals to follow for your implementation, a timeline and training for your teachers, we’re ready to get going. Everyone is excited to start and knows the outcomes. Now we’re going to give them a high-quality curriculum to start this too. Now it’s piecing itself together and we can implement this with more conviction.

4. Not getting stakeholder buy-in

It’s important that you let everyone in your school know why you’re implementing this model and its benefits. Having everybody on the same wavelength where they know why you’re doing this and what the outcomes are is essential, so you can all be in it together and can explain why these new techniques are crucial to creating 21st century learners.

With this point, we’re seeing how this is all resulting in a successful implementation. We’re sure you know what the fifth point will be though.

5. Not choosing the right blended learning model

SelectBlended Learninging the right model is important too, so when you do, make sure you think about your staff and their experiences with technology and how you want it for your students to be successful. This is important in making a firm decision about the right model for you.

If you know you have some anomalies in your plan, such as students who are maybe outside your curriculum, then that’s great in narrowing down what type of model will work, and it’s okay not to have the same model in your school. It’s mainly important to give your staff the appropriate training for it to be successful – by doing this, the model or models will take care of themselves.

It’s worth considering all these points to make your blended learning successful for both students and teachers. If you have any questions, please get in touch with the team by emailing international@edmentum.com.

7 Tips to Improve Test Scores

Whether you have a test day coming up or not, as any test day draws nearer, you may be thinking about ways you can prepare students, give them extra help and make sure they are optimizing their chances of success. We’ve put together seven top tips to help you give every student the best chance of succeeding and improving their scores on tests which you can adopt.

Test your students

It may not be right just now but make sure there aren’t any topics where more practice could be done by putting out a benchmark assessment. Although you may have done a lot of benchmarking so far, things can change quickly throughout the year so it’s a good idea to do this regularly, and doing it regularly will get your students used to testing too.

Evaluate your data

Take a look at data and make sure there isn’t something missing from your students’ knowledge throughout the year. It may be worth discussing data with your students to see where they are at and where they may need more practice so they can progress for the test.

Adopt a positive culture

Encourage and support students in setting goals and then make sure they never act as though they can’t reach those goals. Show your students that they should celebrate all their successes and model that culture for other students too. This can help with alleviating any anxiety before tests and during the school year.

As well as this, whenever possible, make any test practice a game, and make sure you give rewards so students are motivated and striving forward.

Encourage parental help

Keep parents informed of what’s going on with their child and their preparations for any tests or progress throughout the year. This means parents can get involved and help their children with any practice they are doing.

Just practice

So it’s obvious but practice really does make perfect. By putting together a review plan when it is appropriate, which includes different learning modalities and gives many chances for practicing content as well as the testing format, you can help students retain information they need to know and gain more understanding of concepts. Your students should be better prepared when testing day arrives by doing this too.

Bring healthy snacks

It’s important that students are fed and ready for their tests. You could make sure that on testing day, parents give children a snack, such as granola or energy bars, or something healthy their child enjoys, to set them up for their test.

Teach student techniques

It’s not just a hungry stomach that can bring down test scores though – any aching backs or necks can too! Show your students some seated stretching techniques and breathing exercises that they can do during the test and in any practice lessons too.

Our solutions offer great ways to help your students with test preparation and optimizing their scores. Take a look at our full range of solutions on our web page.