13 Educator Insights for Building Successful Study Island Contests

In case you missed it, now through April 8, 2022, Edmentum is encouraging educators across the U.S. to design their own Study Island contests to inspire student motivation when preparing for upcoming high-stakes assessments. We’ve already received entries from over 50 educators sharing their contest plans, and we’re only a month into the competition! With that said, it’s not too late to design and share your own contest for a chance to win one of three $500 gift cards to Target for your school. Enter today!

If entering the contest sounds like something you’d like to do but you’re unsure how to get started, you’re in luck. Today, we’re diving into a few testimonials from fellow educators to get your creative juices flowing and help you build a successful Study Island contest this spring semester.

Step 1: Determine the end goals, structure, and guidelines of your contest

Why are you creating this contest? Who will compete? How will you measure success? Determining what your end goal of the contest will be, how you’ll set up the structure of your contest, and which metrics you’ll use to determine the winners of the competition are all items that will help ensure that your contest runs smoothly. Let’s look at how some educators are doing this so far!

Decide Your End Goal

Having an end goal in mind is a crucial first step to building your contest. Here’s one example from an educator in Oklahoma:

“My contest plans are to create a contest to aid our end-of-year testing, OSTP [Oklahoma School Testing Program]. The [contest] will be structured as a math review with no new content. The goal for this contest is to reinforce taught standards in order for the students to be successful during the end-of-year testing.”

- Stephanie M., Bethel Middle School, Oklahoma

Create a Structure for the Contest

After creating an end goal, you’ll want to decide how your contest will be structured. Below are a few ways teachers have approached their contest structure so far.

Many educators create contests specifically for their own classes no matter what grade level they’re in:

“To help my students work through all standards that will be assessed in 8th grade and on the SSA [Statewide Science Assessment] at the end of the year, I created the ‘Study Island Semester Quest.’”

- Allison C., Wedgefield School, Florida

Some educators teamed up with other members of their faculty to create a competition across the entire grade level:

“We have challenged the other three 5th grade classes to see who has the highest percentage of [Blue] Ribbons earned at the end of each week (number of Ribbons divided by the number of students times 18, the number of Ribbons in the NC 5th grade program). Using the Blue Ribbon report, the head science teacher prints it out, and we post the scores on a graph in the hallway each week.”

- Samantha W., Upward Elementary, North Carolina

“I have set up a Study Island contest for the 5th graders at my school. It is called ‘The Road to the PSSAs [Pennsylvania System of School Assessments].’ These are our annual high-stakes tests. Each class will work during computer lab time, free time, or even extra time at home.”

- Amanda S., Paxtonia Elementary School, Pennsylvania

Other teachers are creating contests that span across multiple grade levels throughout the school:

“We have a couple different competitions running for our students in grades 3–8. Both competitions will run for four weeks leading up to statewide testing. We also have a weekly competition between grades. The grade level who has earned the most [Blue] Ribbons completed during the week will earn a popcorn party.”

- Tricia B., ISD #535, Minnesota

Communicate Success Metrics

In addition to who will be competing in the competition, it’s important to determine the metrics you’ll be measuring to determine the winner. Many educators are keeping track with Study Island’s Blue Ribbons, which are incentives earned when students master practice topics in the program:

“For the entire academic year, students are competing against each other (as a class) to earn more Blue Ribbons. Once they hit 70 percent or above, they earn a [Blue Ribbon], and it is posted on the wall of classroom.”

- Eunyoung C., Sejong Academy of Minnesota, Minnesota

“I hold competitions between the classes and individuals based on the number of Blue Ribbons that are acquired on a weekly basis. I run the contests either for the semester or grading period. At the end of each week, the number of students' newly acquired Blue Ribbons are tallied.”

- Denise S., Highland Middle School, Indiana

Some contests may run on other metrics, such as questions answered correctly or time-on-task:

 “We will have a class goal of 200 questions answered correctly for the month of February.”

- Andrea B., Harper Elementary, Georgia

“Our class goal is to achieve 60 active minutes on our learning paths during the week of March 7–11. I am running this contest between my two math classes for a total of 46 students.”

- Kaiyln G., North Bay Haven Elementary, Florida

Still others are bringing even more of a personal flair to their contest plans. One educator shared how she is differentiating her contest for her students working on their reading comprehension:

“For some of my students, I understand that an 80 percent does not match the goals that we have set together, as they are still working on reading comprehension or English as a second language. For those students, their goal is a 60 percent, and for a couple of my students, I am looking for improvement from their first attempt.”

- Allison C., Wedgefield School, Florida

Step 2: Motivate students to compete
Who doesn’t love a good incentive? Flexing your creative muscles when it comes to incorporating motivational elements is a surefire way to keep students engaged when they are mastering essential standards.

Here are a few of the fun ideas that were submitted by teachers participating in Study Island contests this spring semester:

“As different numbers of [assignments] are completed, students earn [Blue Ribbons]. At 5, they earn an eraser; at 10, they earn a homework pass; at 15, they earn a snack bag; at 17, they earn a free period during science. If the entire grade earns all 17 Blue Ribbons, last year, I said they could dye my hair pink; this year, I will give another funny incentive.”

- Samantha L., Minster Elementary, Ohio

“Blue Ribbons are tallied each Friday, and students earn prizes and special events when reaching certain levels of Blue Ribbons as they "travel" along the treasure map—with prizes ranging from a pencil to activities like an ice cream party, pizza party, or events like field trips for an axe-throwing experience.”

- Tricia B., Lincoln K–8, Minnesota

“If [students] reach five [Blue] Ribbons before the first target date, they gather for a small treat. After 10 Ribbons, the students that have reached their goal enjoy a 30-minute tech break. The 15-Ribbon target date brings admission to a student-organized activity afternoon, and so on. Over the years, we have changed the 5, 10, and 15 target prizes depending on the motivation of the students. Some examples of those other options are PJ day, popcorn, wear slippers day, picnic lunch, extra recess, and game day.”

- Melissa K., Sunrise Elementary School, Minnesota

Here at Edmentum, we can’t wait to see all of the continuing unique contest ideas that educators all over the U.S. come up with this spring semester! Now through April 8, you can create your own contest and tell us about it via our survey to enter to win in our $500 Target gift card giveaway.

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