Before using eSpark, students need to be assessed with a standardized testing program, or with a common assessment used and approved by the school district. NWEA is a common tool and works nicely with eSpark, however with extra work from the teacher, any assessment tool can be used.
2 Set Goals
Using the data from the initial assessment, the teacher meets with the students to determine individual goals for that student. The idea is for the student to be part of the planning process and to be able to take ownership of his/her learning. The teacher shares areas of strength and areas that need more practice. Together they make a plan to help the student make progress and be successful!
Once the goals have been determined by the teacher for each student, using testing data, eSpark will start the differentiation process on their end. eSpark is a management system with a yearly fee per student which creates a learning path for each individual student. Once the path is determined from eSpark a quest is pushed to the students account to begin. Each quest (a common core domain) contains missions (common core standards). Each mission has a variety of learning tools, websites, videos, apps (third party), and pre/post quizzes. Some of the apps chosen by eSpark are not free and need to be paid for by the district, but the are owned by the district. A classroom does not have to be 1 to 1 to work with eSpark, it can be done in a centers format.
Students are ready to work on their own! This can be done in a whole class setting where each child is working on their own mission, or in a center based atmosphere where children rotate to complete eSpark and other teacher planned tasks. To start a mission there is a pre quiz that must be completed first. After the pre quiz is submitted, all the challenges are unlocked for a student to choose which they'd like to do first. All challenges must be completed and then a post quiz is taken to check for understanding. A mission should take about 20 minutes and a quest should take 5-10 sessions (days) to complete. Once a quest is complete, the student will complete a synthesis project. In the lower grades they will have to record themselves, telling what they have learned. In the older grades, students complete a task using a variety of tools to demonstrate understanding. Once a quest is complete, it is time to use the data to determine another goal for continued success.
Each day teachers can use their teacher dashboard to keep track of student progress. They can see the standards being addressed, the scores of the pre and post quizzes, how many challenges have been completed, how long a student has worked during a session and when they last logged in. A new feature being brought to eSpark is called eSpark Beat! This is an e-mail received by the classroom teacher that indicates the 5 most important items that need immediate attention (action items). These could include celebrations or indicate which students need help on the work. eSpark is not to take place of quarterly assessing so that would still have to be done in the classroom. This is truly a data driven program that encompasses much more than an app. It is a digital specialist who can do all the leg work for the teacher and he/she can focus on teaching. The data not only dictates the next step in eSpark, but also in small group instruction.