What Transformation and 100% Proficiency Looks Like
“According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, the word “transform” means to change (something) completely and usually in a good way,” says Melissa Stanton, an Intervention Specialist and iPad Teacher at Findlay, Ohio’s Liberty Benton Middle School. “Schoology has helped me accomplish this more times that I can count within the four walls of my resource room.”
Working with students with special needs has given Melissa both the opportunity and necessity to manage her student’s learning experience as effectively as possible, and she’s been succeeding beyond expectation both for herself and her students.
Giving Students a Voice
When Melissa began her search for a new learning management system (LMS) in 2013, in tandem with piloting her school’s 1:1 iPad initiative, she tried a variety of tools including PDF expert, Google Drive, and Schoology. Though the decision seemed like a bit of a toss up at first, her students helped make the choice obvious.
“Students with special needs often tell you they don’t like [change] because they don’t know the options,” Melissa says. “But they will be honest and let you know what works and what does not work.”
With that kind of candid feedback, it didn't take long for every classroom to switch to Schoology. Melissa recalls one “individual with a below normal IQ and reading ability” seamlessly using Schoology, and another telling her, “It just knows what you need to do.”
Doubling Student Achievement Growth
While transforming her students’ learning experience for the better is good in and of itself, the ultimate reward is seeing how that experience translates to success in the classroom—both on an individual basis and with state-regulated goals.
“Usually we have some success with students increasing their scores year to year," Melissa explains, "but the year I introduced Schoology with the iPads, we skyrocketed.”
"In Ohio, the 'proficient score' is 400," she continues, "and students have gained anywhere from 5 to 20 points in a normal year. The year we started with Schoology in the resource room, students had gained upwards of 40 points. All eight students were at 400 or above on the state test. They were PROFICIENT!"
All eight of Melissa’s students with special needs passed the Ohio Achievement Assessment at their actual grade level, and four out of five students have made a year’s worth of growth or more according to her STAR reading assessments. One student even made the leap from a third grade to sixth grade reading level.
Melissa attributes their success in part to "having the materials at the student’s fingertips, having the ability to individually assign materials to students, and allowing the students to have constant access ... no more lost papers."
"In the classroom," she adds, "we would read short stories such as “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson as a group, and the students were so excited about it that they would listen to the story at home. I later learned that they shared the stories and what they were doing in class with their parents."
Transforming Her School
Alongside achieving her goal of making a qualitative and quantitative difference for her students, Melissa has also noticed real improvement in her own work flow, which has further contributed to how much she can do for the school.
With Schoology on her iPad, Melissa is more organized, more efficient, and more creative. She is able to constantly adjust and update her workflow, which has made adding iPad classes to more grade levels even easier than expected. And, as far as she can tell, it’s not stopping any time soon.
“I keep finding more and more things that Schoology can do for me,” Melissa says.