New Product Review: Learning Farm

Learning Farm is a supplemental online program that provides instruction and adaptive practice activities that address specific Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) in mathematics, English language arts/reading, and science for students in grades K-8. Instruction is presented in interactive learning activities that support independent practice, review, and preparation for standardized tests. Learning List recently reviewed mathematics resources for grade 3.

Learning Farm’s content is organized in “Topics” (e.g., place value, area) that address specific TEKS (e.g., 3.2.A, 3.6.C) and are grouped in terms of TEKS reporting categories (e.g., Numbers and Operations, Geometry and Measurement). Each topic has an optional short lesson that explains concepts using text, mathematical tools (e.g., number lines), and visual models. Lessons include a set of practice questions that students complete independently. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: ExploreLearning Gizmos

New Product Review: ExploreLearning Gizmos

Learning List recently reviewed ExploreLearning’s Gizmos. This supplemental, web-based product supports math and science instruction across grades 3-12. Instruction is inquiry-based. Gizmos are content-specific simulations and virtual manipulatives that provide students with dynamic, hands-on opportunities to explore math and science concepts in fun and meaningful ways.

Across grades, Gizmos are housed in searchable libraries for math and science. Libraries are structured by grade band (e.g. 3-5) and topic. The math library is broadly organized in topics that include: numbers and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, and data analysis and probability. Each topic includes sub-topics with one or more content-specific simulations (e.g., estimation using a number line). Each sub-topic Gizmo has a short overview of the simulation, learning objectives, a list of new vocabulary, and feedback from the Gizmos’ user community. [Read more…]

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Defining Roles: Standards vs. Curricula vs. Instructional Materials

FocusEducators and publishers often use the terms “standards,” “curriculum” and/or “instructional materials” interchangeably. Moreover, many educators consider their instructional materials to be their curriculum. However, each of these terms represents a distinct component of an educational program. In the sections that follow, we provide explanations of each of these terms to differentiate their meanings in the context of PreK-12 education.

Standards set out what students are expected to know and be able to do at the end of each school year. Standards are generally established at the state level. In fact, ESSA requires that each state create learning standards for public schools in three subjects—English language arts/reading, mathematics, and science—and many states go beyond ESSA’s minimum to set standards in social studies, career and technical education, languages other than English, and other subjects.

In contrast, the curriculum is developed at the district level, the product of local policy making. While the standards tell you what is expected, the curriculum provides the road map to get there. Often described in documents such as “scope and sequence” and “units of instruction,” a curriculum includes goals, instructional practices and pedagogical guidance, suggested resources and instructional materials, and methods of measuring student progress. [Read more…]

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