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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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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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New Product Review: Pearson’s enVisionmath2.0 Common Core

Pearson's enVisionmath2.0 Common CorePearson’s enVisionmath2.0 Common Core is a comprehensive mathematics curriculum for grades K-8 that includes print and eBook resources with additional online content. Students learn through hands-on activities that focus on understanding, fluency, and flexibility with math concepts while developing problem-solving skills. Learning List recently reviewed eBook and online resources for grades K-5. [Read more…]

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Effective Implementation: A Key to Success

Effective Implementation: A Key to SuccessThe effective implementation of a material is as critical to student success as the material’s alignment to standards. Learning List’s editorial reviews empower districts with information they need to not only to select materials but also to implement materials more effectively. They provide a qualitative analysis of each material’s instructional content and design. They point out the critical components of the product and the value each provides in the instructional process. They highlight the supports available for teachers and point out deficits in the material’s offerings. For example, the editorial reviews explain whether teacher resources include background in content and pedagogy, provide pacing information and/or lesson plans, and offer guidance in differentiating instruction. They explain the professional development opportunities in the material and note when a product contains additional supports for novice teachers, such as comprehensive discussions of the required content knowledge and pedagogy, and detailed lesson plans to support instruction.

Learning List’s alignment reports guide educators in their selection and use of standards-aligned materials. Our editorial reviews help educators understand the intended use and instructional components of each product so they can implement the product effectively. Together, these reviews empower educators to choose and use materials to fuel their students’ success.

A recent example highlighting the use of Learning List’s reviews to effectively implement instructional materials

An assistant superintendent of a subscribing district called to let us know that her high school math teachers believed that our reviews were too generous to a publisher by failing to mention the material’s lack of rigor. They felt the materials did not provide practice exercises to allow students to develop mathematical proficiency.

Rigor is an attribute we review materials for both in our alignment methodology and in the editorial review. After the call, we reviewed the alignment report for each applicable grade level and observed the following:

The materials were aligned to a high percentage of the relevant state standards, meaning that we found at least one aligned citation for the majority of standards in each grade level. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: American Reading Company (ARC) Core

American Reading Company's ARC CoreAmerican Reading Company’s (ARC) Core is a comprehensive, project-based reading, writing, and research program for students in grades K-12. Resources are available in print and online formats and address the instructional shifts of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) (e.g., “Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction”). Instruction is organized in a workshop structure that provides opportunities for whole class, small group, and one-on-one instruction. Learning List recently reviewed resources for grades K-5. [Read more…]

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February is National Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month

CTE image

The month commemorates the passage of the Smith-Hughes Act in February 1917. The Act was the first federal law to recognize the importance of vocational education to America’s economic future.  While the Smith-Hughes Act focused primarily on education for agricultural careers—the nation’s primary industry at the time—today’s CTE is organized in 16 Career Clusters that include critical and growing sectors of the current economy, including information technology, healthcare, energy, and manufacturing.

Throughout February each year, national, state, and local CTE organizations celebrate the achievements of CTE students, advocate for CTE, and strive to raise awareness of CTE’s important role in a strong economy. The month emphasizes the benefits of CTE in academically preparing students for fulfilling careers that will support America’s continued economic growth. Educators can find CTE activities, links to articles about CTE, and advocacy materials on the Advance CTE website. [Read more…]

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