New Reviews: McGraw-Hill Texas Social Studies Electives

[Source: McGraw-Hill Education]

[Source: McGraw-Hill Education]

McGraw-Hill Education’s Texas Social Studies Series includes comprehensive courses for high school social studies electives, including Economics, Psychology, Sociology, and U.S. Government. Learning List has reviewed this series relative to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

The Economics course introduces students to the fundamentals of economics, including the effects of economic policies and decisions on daily life. Instruction addresses principles of economics and includes background on the key figures and events that have contributed to development of contemporary economic theories.

Understanding Psychology covers fundamental concepts in psychology with a focus on research and statistics in the field.

Sociology and You addresses how social structures shape human societies and behavior.

U.S. Government addresses the foundations, structures, and processes of U.S. government and their effect on civic life.

Teach Your Way [Source:McGraw-Hill Education]

Teach Your Way [Source:McGraw-Hill Education]

In each course, content is organized using Understanding by Design® (UBD) model, which frames instruction in terms of “Enduring Understandings” and “Essential Questions.” Course resources support instruction in blended learning environments and include interactive content and include engaging multimedia features, such as videos and interactive learning tools.

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“A Resource Review Service By and For Educators™” – Meet Learning List’s Reviewers

20141016 expertLearning List is a “resource review service by and for educators™.” We recognize that our reviews are only as good as the educators we hire to do the reviews. We are often asked, “Who are your reviewers?” The bios of our Leadership Team members and of our Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are available on the Our Team page of our website.

Our Leadership team has deep and diverse experience in education law, policy, research and practice, as well as in the education publishing and high tech industry. We currently employ over 40 highly qualified SMEs to review materials for alignment and for the editorial reviews. Our reviewers:

  • Must have at least five years of teaching experience, though on average, our SMEs have 17 years of teaching experience;
  • Must be certified in the grades and subjects of the products they review; 73 percent of them have either a master’s or Doctorate degree, and almost half of them (48%) are ESL certified; and
  • To maintain the independence of our reviews, our SMEs cannot have worked for a publisher or online content developer within the prior two years of working with us or during their tenure with Learning List.

Verifying a product’s alignments is an inherently subjective process. To reduce the subjectivity, at least two and often three SMEs, as well as our Director of Alignment, sequentially contribute to Learning List’s alignment verifications. The same SMEs provide feedback for the product’s editorial review, so those reviews reflect the perspectives of multiple educators.

While each SME must have experience aligning materials to standards, Learning List provides rigorous initial training and individual feedback after each alignment is completed. Having reviewed over 500 materials in the four core subjects, our SMEs are experienced product reviewers.

To learn more about SMEs or to join the Learning List team, click here.

20141016 Learning List team

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New Reviews: Open Educational Resources (OER)


[Source:] provides free open-educational resources (OERs) to support social studies instruction in high school and home schooling environments. is owned by the Independence Hall Association, whose mission in providing OERs is to provide a forum for learning and discussing American history and values. The website provides comprehensive online textbooks for courses in American History, Ancient Civilizations, and American Government. Course authors are not identified.

Each course’s informational text is written at a level that most high school students will understand and includes relevant visual elements, including political cartoons, images of key documents and figures, and illustrations that clarify written content. Content is designed to engage adolescent readers; however, Learning List’s reviewers found explanations sometimes oversimplified the complexity and significance of historical events. For example, an opening paragraph to a section titled “The Colonial Experience” in American Government reads:



They created and nurtured them. Like children, the American colonies grew and flourished under British supervision. Like many adolescents, the colonies rebelled against their parent country by declaring independence. But the American democratic experiment did not begin in 1776. The COLONIES had been practicing limited forms of self-government since the early 1600s.

Each course includes unique features, such as “Share Your Thoughts,” which allows students to share their thinking on topics discussed in the text and read the thoughts of others—content is monitored by the site’s webmaster. The “Cite This Page” tool provides reference information for students using content as source material for a project or research paper. Sidebar resources include reader-suggested links to external resources that contain primary source documents, biographies of key figures, background information, and related activities (e.g., build a guillotine). Sidebar content also contains advertising targeted to individual users.

Courses do not include many features of a traditional textbook. For example, learning objectives, new vocabulary and terms, and essential questions are not clarified prior to instruction. There are no teacher resources or embedded opportunities to practice social studies skills (e.g., using maps, analyzing primary source documents). There are few checks for understanding, and no digital learning experiences, such as interactive timelines, video segments, and audio files. Further, there are no resources for students with special learning needs, such as English language learners and struggling readers. Although’s courses are comprehensive, Learning List’s reviewers indicated that they would be more effective when used as supplemental instructional resources.

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