El-Massria American School
Case Study: Supporting Student Agency and Test Preparation with Study Island
El-Massria American School
By Noha Al Sabagh, English Department Coordinator, El-Massria American School
Established in 2002, El-Massria American School, part of El-Massria Integrated Schools, strives to provide a high-quality education for its students. It caters to students from prekindergarten to grade 12 and is proudly accredited by Cognia.
A few years ago, teachers at El-Massria American School recognized a need for a platform that provided quality support for our students to help prepare them for their exams and supplement the curriculum.
The previous English department coordinator started searching for a new platform, and they found Study Island, a very well-organized K–12 solution that has over 600,000 questions and is based on the US Common Core curriculum.
Study Island fit our school’s needs, and the most important reason for choosing to adopt it was that it was aligned with the Common Core State Standards, which we depend on for English, maths, and science. This is why we started implementing Study Island. It was essential to have a program that was not only aligned with the Common Core but also one that students could use independently to promote student agency and that could be utilized as a part of teacher-directed instruction.
When we adopted Study Island, we found that it didn’t require many additional requirements to implement. All schools need is an Internet connection and devices for the students. This was already available to us, and we allow students to bring their own devices into class. We also have smart interactive boards that are used for Study Island. The students enjoy both answering questions as a class and participating in team competitions.
Study Island has provided several benefits that support some of our core values.
Study Island is beneficial for promoting student agency because all the questions and learning tools help students with self-learning.
It is our ultimate goal to create a generation of students who are not too dependent. Students need to be independent with their learning and only use their teachers as their guides. In Study Island, teachers can still assign students skills or topics to work on, and the teacher can support them, but students are encouraged to practice alone. Study Island enables self-studying because it explains answers and gives learners an explanation for whether each answer is correct or not.
Study Island ensures that we’re able to be flexible and adaptable to suit different learning models. It supports with station rotation when group and individual work is used alongside technology stations. During the pandemic, it enabled us to quickly adapt to hybrid learning, when some students were taught in school, and others carried on learning outside of school. Study Island helped us greatly during that time because it’s accessible wherever students are.
Supporting Reading & Writing
Study Island works well with our reading books by supplementing them with practice and follow-up work for our students. The program is a fantastic assistant for the teachers and substitute teachers as it saves them time finding additional tasks for the students.
When a student is working on a writing assignment, Study Island checks the grammatical mistakes and allows teachers and students to check and review. Teachers can send it back to the students with accompanying notes to check their answers.
When I practice as a class, I utilize the Group Sessions feature. I ask all my students to take out their devices and divide them into groups using the team mode. I create a session on Study Island and choose the skill I want them to practice. I then set a goal for them to achieve and start the team session. Study Island gives teachers the points the groups are achieving, so it’s easy to see misconceptions, and it’s really fun for the students.
The centers at El-Massria Integrated Schools can compete against each other by using Group Sessions. This is an engaging form of collaborative work as students can discuss the answer before inputting it during the competitions, encouraging them to learn from their peers.
I would say that the most valuable benefit we receive from Study Island is the quiz creation, the Built Tests feature. These are helpful for formative assessment, summative assessment, and interim assessment.
During a quarter, we create three formal quizzes similar to the MAP test. This is ideal for test preparation and helps students familiarize themselves with the type of questions they will see in their exams. In particular, it prepares high school students for the types of questions they will see on the ACT and SAT exams.
Study Island has ready-made questions, so we don’t need to think of or add our own, saving time. To build a test, we just go to the Built Tests library, choose or pick the program, choose Common Core and pick a grade. Then, you just choose the skills and questions you want to test your students for—it’s that simple. This quarter, for instance, we’re testing our students on 10 different skills, so we’ve chosen 10 skills from the list. All the questions you can choose won’t have been seen by the students in the practice section of Study Island too. Sometimes, we print the quiz, so it’s easy for us if we want to test our students on paper.
Study Island has been successful in our school, and we have very positive responses from teachers who use it. Personally, I’ve used it to teach grades 7-12, and I can say that it is the most effective platform I have ever used, and I’ve used plenty.
The unique thing about Study Island is that it is very organized and easy to access. It’s easy to assign homework, which is a major benefit, and the Blue Ribbons provide a lot of motivation, which is especially helpful for younger learners who feel encouraged that they’ve achieved something.
In terms of support, we have meetings with the Edmentum implementation team to discuss any concerns and find solutions. We attend training sessions that are beneficial for current staff but especially helpful for new staff. A major advantage is having someone to train your teachers.
I am a big fan of Study Island. I have been known to be a big fan since I started at El-Massria American School.
I survey my students at the beginning of each year, and they always give feedback about how they like Study Island as a platform for practice. They actually consider it as the only way that they can study English. It’s really helping them with test preparation, with our students saying that Study Island is the best way to practice at home for their exams.
El-Massria American School has experienced many benefits from using Study Island and hopes that this continues in the future. Edmentum has supported us, and together, we can support students preparing for their tests and encourage student agency with the program.
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