Get to know Benita Blackwell
Introducing Edulastic Innovator Spotlight member Benita Blackwell! Benita is a math educator in Macon, Georgia. She discovered Edulastic three years ago and has never looked back! Be sure to check out her #EduVictory. It’s really wonderful.
What is your Edulastic story?
I discovered Edulastic 3 years ago, when I returned to the classroom from working with the Department of Defense. Like all teachers, I was excited to begin the school year and bring a foundation of STEM to the student’s learning. After accepting my position as an Accelerated Mathematics educator, I was informed that my, then, 7th graders experienced detrimental obstacles as 6th graders, and were without a mathematics teacher. Hearing this I became overwhelmed. “How was I supposed to teach the true 7B-8 Accelerated Mathematics curriculum to students that did not receive their full year of 6th grade mathematics. How do I go back and teach sixth grade Math, 7th grade math, and all of 8th grade math within one year?”
Upon doing research, I discovered Edulastic. Being pressed for time, I gave Edulastic a try by using a teacher created benchmark assessment on 6th grade Math. This assessment allowed me to identify areas of weakness for each student. I then use the data from this benchmark and other Edulastic assessments to spiral those weakness into the 7th grade domains. Depending on the benchmark data, I would take no more than two weeks to spiral the 6th grade domain standards before I introduced the seventh-grade domain standard. For homework, students would work on spiraling their areas of weakness for 6th grade and use Wednesday- Weakness Wednesday- to spiral the 7th grade domain standards, until they were able to score an 85% or higher on each standard. I used Edulastic to complete homework, quizzes, study guides, and retest because the platform gave instant feedback when submitted. My students were able to use the feedback given to create their own error analysis, of each assignment and use as their study guide. Before any test, student would take a practice test (study guide) in Edulastic. I always made they study guide harder and thought provoking, allowing for better results on the test. The student would always tell me that my test/study guides were harder than the district and state test given- making Milestones and other required test less complicated.
Seeing them master standards by spiraling homework, using study guides, error analysis and retest, I witness students develop self-awareness and confidence in Mathematics like never before. They were able to troubleshoot their process on their own or talk it out with peers. Students asked to utilize peer tutoring in the classroom, they ask me to create a study group in Edulastic so that they could have afterschool tutoring or additional homework, and they asked to assist in the lesson on Wednesdays-Fridays as Teachers Assistance. My classroom transformed to a 21st century student centered, open inquiry classroom, and I loved every minute of it.
When I witnessed this, I developed my Milestone Project. For my Milestone Project, I created mock Milestone in Edulastic, and the class created a goal score of 85% or high on each domain- in order to guarantee a 3 on the state test. With a month and a half away for Milestones, I created mock milestones to be completed, one each week. Once mock milestones were completed, we would convert the student’s score into their potential scale score they would receive on their Milestone. Students would use Wednesdays to look at their results, convert their scores and identify their domain weakness. From that point, they would only focus on their area of weakness (any domains scored under an 85%) by utilizing error analysis and peer tutoring before I opened a new mock milestone the following Monday. With this project and their determination, all my student passed their state-mandated test that year.
What do you love about Edulastic?
I use Edulastic in my classroom for differentiated instruction, whole group, error analysis, and personalized instruction. I love the flexibility of questioning with Edulastic, and the library of resources. Teachers can produce their own types of questions (multiple choice, open ended, short text, comparison, objective, and more), allowing us to differentiate the instructions and gear it to the needs of all students.
I love the immediate feedback students receive upon submission because it allows them to identify their error and justify what happened when they were attempting the problem. When using Edulastic to spiral learning, it helps to build self-awareness, confidence, mastery of content standard, and helps to accelerate other students.
What tips do you have for teachers who are new to Edulastic?
Every teacher needs access to Edulastic. With this platform in your toolbox, you truly do not need any other assessment tool because Edulastic will supply all your needs and your student’s needs. Edulastic is a user friendly, data driven platform that should be used to drive instruction, not as instruction itself. Allow your student to utilize self-assessment when using Edulastic. Do not just allow them to look at the answer, ask them to justify when their answer is incorrect using error analysis using (proofs), math talk, placemats, bowties, etc. This will help to create a student-centered classroom.
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching methodologies and main objective is to inspire learning through curiosity and interest of content knowledge as well as developing the skills and innovation necessary for students to explore content and draw intelligent conclusions independently. I am committed to inspiring this critical exploration through stimulating teamwork among peers, being aware of different learning styles, teaching across subject boundaries, providing individualized accommodations, involving students in goal setting where appropriate, building relationship and change, and being able to recognize and seize the moment when teachable moments occur.
Share an #EduVictory from the past year. In other words, do you have a particular success story that has happened in your classroom or at your school?
My first year using Edulastic and implementing my Milestone project was phenomenal. Students completed mock milestones, spiraling of homework, and error analysis too much; that while walking around proctoring for the state test I looked up and all students were staring at me in anger. When we submitted the test, the students ask could they voice their opinion about the test vs my teaching and if they could be truthful. I gave the student the floor and was willing to accept any criticism/feedback they gave me. Every student stated, “Your class was harder than the test. You tricked us.” One student stated, “Ms. Blackwell I was so nervous than when I finished in 45 minutes, I almost I was overcome with joy and cried because it was at that time that I knew you had over-prepared us as you said you would.”
The Ron Clark Story and Essentials 55
Favorite subject to teach?
Mathematics, Science, and Robotics
The Ron Clark Story and Freedom Writers
STEM club, Science Fair, and Robotics