Blog & News

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The School District of Osceola County kicked off its extended school year (ESY) program on Monday, June 5, 2017. As value-add to current school subscriptions of Penda Learning, Penda Learning is supporting ESY grade recovery in science through it's product and customer service.

Planning - School district staff coordinating ESY efforts provided a ranked listing of the lowest 15 performing Florida Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS) in science for grades 6, 7 and 8, along with student data for those students attending.

Preparation - Once data was received from the school district, Penda's Implementation & Support Services team went to work by aligning standards-based activities to target the identified standards. Activities were identified and put into queue for weekly automated assignment to students via Penda's Pacing Assistance Service (PAS). This means that weekly on Friday's, students will be assigned 8 - 10 Penda science activities assigned by PAS on the teacher's behalf. PAS takes the weight off of teachers shoulders by having to remember to assign activities, browse for relevant activities to assign that align to a standard, and go through the manual process of creating and deploying the assignment week after week.

Execution - Once activities are assigned by PAS, students can work at their own pace in one or more sessions, document their learning by completing a Penda note-taking guide while working on an activity, and retry any activity as many times as needed - each time students can use their note-taking guide (make changes or additions to their notes) to identify main ideas, supporting details, vocabulary, real-world application. With the goal in mind of achieving 80% or better on each activity, students will complete each activity and receive instant feedback screen-by-screen. This means students know exactly what they got correct or incorrect on an activity screen before they proceed to the next activity screen. Students want to earn the most number of points on each activity, since points unlock Penda game mechanics - customizing their avatar by unlocking an avatar wardrobe; traveling through each Penda world unlocking features, animations, and collecting rewards; "leveling up" into each of Penda's 14 different worlds to go places, do things, and interact; gaining status on the student grade-level leaderboard; challenging against up to 10 buddies the student has personally selected.

Delivery - Each Penda activity is automatically graded, not only providing the student with instant feedback, but also to take the weight off of teacher's shoulders, giving them back time for more important duties. Class Mastery Reports are automatically sent to teacher's email weekly to help them be proactive in targeted intervention by applying RtI strategies using Penda. Teachers can use the report data to create intervention groups on the platform. This allows teachers to then move students into an intervention group and assign specific activities to specific intervention groups for RtI level 2 support. Teachers can sign into their Penda account at any time (along with school administrators) to create and run custom reports for progress monitoring.

More About The School District of Osceola County:

With a 2016 - 2017 enrollment of 61,736 students, Osceola County Public Schools is the 14th largest school district in the State of Florida. Osceola is the only Central Florida school district with no schools on the Florida Department of Education’s lowest performing school list and currently has no “D” or “F” schools (excluding charters). Osceola County Public Schools has been in partnership with Penda Learning for 3 years. Penda Learning is used in several middle schools as a supplemental science resource and effective RtI tool.

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As we near the end of the school year, the Penda team wants to wish all teachers and students a safe & restful summer break! See you in August!

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Penda Learning is proud to partner with ClassLink to make single sign-on access available to ClassLink district/school users. Now, teachers and students can enjoy 1-click access into Penda Learning right from their ClassLink LaunchPad via My Apps. Users will enjoy the same great features and functionality of Penda Learning without having to enter their center ID, user ID, or password each time!

Current Penda subscriber using ClassLink? Sign-on to your ClassLink account and access Penda Learning by clicking on the Penda icon found in My Apps. Don't see a Penda icon in My Apps? Search for and add the Penda icon in your My Apps, or contact your ClassLink system administrator for assistance.

Not using ClassLink currently? No worries! ...

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A BIG 'thank you' to all Penda math & science teachers. The Penda team honors your dedication & unwavering commitment to our education profession.

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Recently, seventh grade students in Mrs. Geisbush's classes at North East ISD STEM Academy were asked their opinion about Penda Learning. Here's what they had to say:

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"I REALLY like how in Penda you can compete with your classmates. We race to see who can get the most points and all the time we are learning!" - James

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A Good Luck Wish From Penda Learning...

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Penda Learning wishes math/science students academic success as schools across the nation gear up to administer high-stakes assessments this month. Good luck!

Heading to the Florida Association of Science Supervisors Conference in Orlando, FL? Let us know by tweet, email, or call. We'd love to connect with you and introduce you to Penda Learning and our team!

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Be sure to check out Penda's monthly eNewsletter for April, 2017 - hot off the press! Read about Penda's new product features, enhancements, content, implementation ideas, teacher spotlight.

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Lots of teachers write in to ask about how they can create student incentives and challenges to help drive usage and get maximum results with students using Penda. Penda's Implementation & Support Services Team put together some simple DOs and DONTs to support teachers (and schools) in executing successful student competitions/challenges.

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DOs:

- Student Choice - keep in mind that while some students are extrinsically motivated, other students are driven intrinsically so striking a balance is key! Give students a choice to opt in or out for a competition/challenge. Not all students are motivated by peer competition, but might still want to have their own independent competition - comparing their progress and scores against top performing students.

- Know Your Penda Data - take time to explore your teacher account to fully understand what data is available to you through the leaderboard (class and student tab) and via detailed Report views. This preparation will help you implement and execute your competition/challenge with ease and avoid frustration when it comes to pulling or analyzing data - there's nothing worse than starting a competition/challenge, only to realize you can't get the data you were hoping or wanting. For example, the leaderboard class points tab resets each month to promote competition, while the student tab shows total points earned by students since the beginning of the academic year. Currently, class points are not logged for each month, and date range filters cannot be applied. Thus, teachers must export class points on the last day on the month before the class tabs reset, if they wish to use this data.

- Quality Over Quantity! In using Penda, the goal is for students to complete the activities with accuracy, so be sure to frame your challenge/competition around completing activities with a minimum score of X% (we recommend 80%). Create a competition that focuses on "green activities" (green = mastery, 80%+).

- Whole Picture - consider holistic usage, taking into consideration task hours, average score on review activities, amount of time outside of school (4:00pm - 7:00am) **since it's outside of school, this truly is independent practice, total class points as presented on the leaderboard at the given time. Items 1, 2, and 3 listed can be found easily through your teacher account under "Reports - detailed," using the yellow status bar across the top of right pane.

- Stick To The Plan - develop a competition with clear start and end dates, competition factors, and incentives then stick to it! Consider starting competitions/challenges on the first of the month and ending on the last day of the month. By doing so, you'll be able to easily monitor competition data points, such as the leaderboard (keep in mind the leaderboard class tab resets each month).

-Visual, Visual, Visual - make a conscious effort to promote your competition/challenge visually. Reserve whiteboard/wall space to chart progress and recognize students. Display class points and update regularly to keep competitive spirits ignited. Recognize students throughout the competition/challenge period through verbal praise (MVP of the week, most improved of the week, etc) and whiteboard/wall space where student names can be placed onto once they reach certain thresholds.

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DON'Ts

- Don't mandate that every student must participate. Instead, gain student buy-in.

- Don't focus only on total student points or number of activities completed. Instead, focus on quality of work (scores, mastery level, color indicator)

- Don't change the competition mid-stream, changing the target, start/stop dates, or incentives. Instead, stick with the plan full steam ahead.

- Don't expect students to be excited about the competition/challenge, if you aren't.

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Have you had success with a Penda competition/challenge in your classroom or school? We'd love to hear what made it a success, your list of DOs and DON'Ts, and learn from expert Penda teachers in the field. Write us via email at Support@PendaLearning.com to share your competition/challenge experience.

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