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New Product Review: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Into Reading Texas

New Product Review: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Into Reading Texas

Learning List recently reviewed Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Into Reading Texas, which was submitted for state adoption in Texas in response the Texas Education Agency’s Proclamation 2019 call for K-8 English language arts and reading (ELAR) products aligned to the new ELAR Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Into Reading is a comprehensive product that supports ELAR instruction in grades K-6. Content is available in print and digital formats. Learning List reviewed online resources for grades K-5. Instruction develops students’ reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills using authentic texts from a variety of genres.

Across grades, Into Reading is organized in multi-week modules that provide access to a variety of authentic texts at varying levels of complexity. Modules are thematic and include cross-curricular topics, such as a “Global Guardians” module at grade 4 that integrates content from conservation science. Modules are organized around an essential question (e.g., “What does it take to meet a challenge?”). Reading selections include a variety of authentic, age-appropriate literary and informational texts related to the essential question. Selections include a variety of genres (e.g., historical fiction, narrative non-fiction) and representations of diverse cultures and characters. Each text has vivid illustrations that support comprehension and engage student interest. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: W. W. Norton American Politics Today

New Product Review: W. W. Norton American Politics Today

W. W. Norton’s American Politics Today, 5th AP Edition, is a comprehensive product that supports instruction in Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. Government and Politics courses. Content is available in print and digital formats. Instruction explores concepts and issues in government and politics through the lens of contemporary American events (e.g., the 2016 presidential campaign election). The discussion emphasizes the critical roles of conflict and compromise in American political life, and how individuals and choices shape political behavior and outcomes. Learning List recently reviewed digital resources.

American Politics Today is organized in four parts: (1) Foundations, (2) Politics, (3) Institutions, and (4) Policy. Across parts, three “key ideas” anchor the text’s discussions: politics is conflictual, political processes matter, and politics is everywhere. Chapters include a set of features designed to engage student interest, connect content to their lives, and facilitate understanding of sometimes complex concepts. Some features include: [Read more…]

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New Product Review: The College Board’s SpringBoard English Language Arts and Language Workshop

New Product Review: The College Board’s SpringBoard English Language Arts and Language Workshop

Learning List recently reviewed the College Board’s SpringBoard English Language Arts and Language Workshop middle school resources (i.e., grades 6-8), which were submitted for state adoption in Texas in response the Texas Education Agency’s Proclamation 2019 call for K-8 English language arts and reading (ELAR) products aligned to the new ELAR Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Both resources focus on developing English language arts skills through active learning. At each grade level, instruction emphasizes the development of the knowledge and skills needed for rigorous coursework, including Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

Core content is presented in SpringBoard’s English Language Arts resource. Content at each grade is organized in four thematic units. For example, at grade 6, reading selections address the theme of change. Students explore the concepts of change and growth in their own lives and in the lives of real and imagined characters. Each unit includes a balance of literary and informational texts and opportunities for students to respond to non-print texts, such as photographs and clips from audio recordings and films. For the most part, units incorporate reading selections that present the experiences of diverse individuals and cultures. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: Texas A&M University Press Texas Aquatic Science

New Product Review: Texas A&M University Press Texas Aquatic Science

Texas A&M University Press’s Texas Aquatic Science is a comprehensive aquatic science product that supports science instruction in grades 6-8 and high school Aquatic Science and Environmental Science courses. The student text is available in print and online formats; teacher resources are in print format only. Instruction examines water from the molecular level to the level of aquatic ecosystems. Learning List reviewed materials for high school Aquatic Science courses.

Texas Aquatic Science is a joint project involving the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University, and The Hart Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. The course includes an online and print-based student text, and a Teacher Guide that is integral to instruction. The online student text and course-specific videos are available at no cost (http://texasaquaticscience.org/). [Read more…]

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Adopting New  Materials This Year? Some Food for Thought

Adopting New  Materials This Year? Some Food for Thought
Districts across the country are preparing to adopt new materials this school year. We thought we’d share some important considerations to help you implement an efficient and effective adoption process.  Following are questions to help you define the scope of your adoption:
  • What subjects and grade levels will you be adopting new materials for?
  • Are you adopting the primary material for the subject or a supplemental product?
  • Are you planning to adopt the same material across all grade spans or does each grade span, or even each grade level, have autonomous decision-making?
  • Have you audited your existing materials to identify gaps/deficits (i.e., gaps in alignment, gaps in adaptions)?
  • Have you conducted a needs assessment to help you identify the features that the new materials must have in order to support teaching and learning effectively in your classroom/campus/district over the next several years?  Consider distributing the needs assessment to content area teachers, campus leadership, the district’s curriculum and technology teams, parents and your community to ensure that all end users’ perspectives are considered.The feedback from your needs assessment may not only define what your materials must contain, you may also come away with a list of features that would be nice-to-have in the new materials but are not quite as critical.
  • Have you also considered these other important factors to help you identify which new materials will meet your needs best:
    • Student achievement and demographic trends that may indicate the need for adaptions in the new materials;
    • Teacher experience which could dictate instructional resources the new materials should contain; and,
    • If you will be considering online materials, your campus/district’s technology parameters to ensure that the material you select can be supported in that environment?

This list is not exhaustive; certainly, there are additional questions you could ask/answer to help you define what you are looking for in the new adoption. The answers to these questions can help (a) establish the district’s priorities for the adoption, (b) build the district’s rubric for reviewing materials, and (c) keep selection committee discussions focused on the product features that matter most.

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New Product Review: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Saxon Phonics & Spelling

New Product Review: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Saxon Phonics & Spelling

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Saxon Phonics & Spelling is a supplemental product that supports the development of foundational skills in grades K-3. Content is available in print format and is designed to supplement a reading program. Instruction develops phonemic awareness, phonics, decoding, spelling and fluency skills and includes lessons addressing handwriting. Learning List recently reviewed resources for grades K and 1.

Saxon Phonics & Spelling materials at each grade level are contained in a classroom kit that include student, teacher, and classroom resources to support instruction. Student resources include worksheets, alphabet handwriting strips, decodable readers, and a spelling dictionary (grade 1 only). Classroom resources include posters, card decks, a CD pronunciation guide, fluency readers. [Read more…]

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