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March Madness

Monday, April 22, 2019 by Francesca Varga

 Higher-Powered Learning - ACE Blended Learning

The birds chirping and blossoms slowly emerging from the cold ground signal that spring has finally come again. Now that winter’s chill is finally ending and warmer days are upon us, it is a good time to think of ways to put a little “spring” into instructional practices to breathe new life into classrooms. One of the ways our team decided to liven things up and spark student motivation was to bring a little March Madness to our schools.

No, no, we are not talking basketballs and jump shots in class (although that would be interesting…). Instead, we decided to bring the spirit of friendly competition and encourage our students to up their software-program usage.

Francesca Varga - Higher-Powered LearningOur schools in Indianapolis and Minneapolis-St. Paul committed to the competition and hit the ground running. Our Higher-Powered Learning Team tracked classroom data for three weeks by averaging the percentages of students meeting their individual software-program reading and math goals for the week. 

If you want to know the specifics. . .

We translated the percent of students reaching their goals into points (so 94% completion = 94 points). We then averaged the points for reading and math to get an overall percentage for the week per class. After averaging the classroom scores, we documented them on a spreadsheet each week and shared the numbers with our participating classroom teachers. We highlighted the top five scoring classrooms each week, and then added the three weeks together to determine our final winners.

Our hope was to see an increase in activity, and did we ever! Our top winner finished with a perfect score of 300 points, which means every student in the class met their online learning goals every week! The top five classrooms averaged about 98 points per week as well. The winning classroom received a trophy with their class information engraved on it that they will keep until a new winner claims it next year!

This simple yet fun competition was great for two reasons.

  1. It inspired student motivation. Team lesson learned...bragging rights + trophy = enormous zeal from kids! We received weekly, sometimes daily, emails from teachers sharing stories about student excitement and asking for data updates.
  2. Student usage increase encouraged teachers to analyze software program data. Teacher attention to specific strengths and skill gaps along with student motivation is a winning combination for growth!

March Madness was our first attempt at a friendly competition amongst our teams. Overall, we are thrilled with the results and renewed enthusiasm from our teachers and students, and we are excited to see this burst of momentum carry our teachers and students to the end of the year.  

About the Author

Francesca Varga

Francesca Varga

Francesca Varga is the Associate Program Director of Blended Learning for the Higher Powered Learning team and the Alliance for Catholic Education. 

Francesca came to ACE after teaching for nine years from Penn High School where she served as an English teacher, instructional coach, and team leader. Prior to that, she served as a high school English teacher at Schmucker Middle School and Washington High School in South Bend, Indiana, where she focused her practice serving at-risk and underrepresented populations of students.    

Francesca is originally from New Mexico and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame in English and her teaching license from Saint Mary's College. She earned her Master of Education in Curriculum and Design from Indiana Wesleyan University, and her Administrative license through Ball State University.  










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