Instructional Materials

New Product Review: StrongMind Middle School

New Product Review: StrongMind Middle School

Learning List recently reviewed StrongMind, which was submitted for state adoption in Texas in response to 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). StrongMind provides online “courseware” that supports instruction in the core subject areas and some electives (e.g., art history, career and technology courses) in middle school and high school grades. Instruction is designed for self-paced and credit-recovery programs and blended learning environments. Learning List reviewed English language arts resources for Texas middle school students.

At each grade level, StrongMind’s Texas middle school content is organized in two semester-long courses.  Each semester is made up of six units that are loosely organized around a theme. For example, a grade 7 unit titled “Putting It In Order” includes lessons addressing informational texts, such as chapters from Helen Keller’s “The Story of My Life,” and writing an informational essay. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: ThinkCERCA

New Product Review: ThinkCERCA

Learning List recently reviewed ThinkCERCA, which was submitted for state adoption in Texas in response to 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). ThinkCERCA is a supplementary online learning platform that helps students in grades 3-12 develop literacy and critical thinking skills across the core subject areas. Instruction focuses on developing close reading and academic writing skills. ThinkCERCA’s Texas Edition addresses the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for English language arts/reading (ELAR) and supports instruction in blended learning environments. Learning List reviewed materials for grades 6-8.

ThinkCERCA focuses on developing students’ ability to read texts and produce written responses using the CERCA framework: (1) make Claims, (2) support claims with textual Evidence, (3) explain their Reasoning, (4) recognize Counterarguments, and (5) use language that appeals to a particular Audience. Core instruction is presented in modular “CERCA Sets” that cover content from across the core subject areas (i.e., English/language arts, science, mathematics, and social studies). Many CERCA Sets are not grade specific. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: The Center for the Collaborative Classroom Collaborative Literacy

New Product Review: The Center for the Collaborative Classroom Collaborative Literacy

Learning List recently reviewed The Center for the Collaborative Classroom’s Collaborative Literacy, which was submitted for state adoption in Texas in response to 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). Collaborative Literacy is a comprehensive reading/language arts product for grades K-5. Resources are available in print and online formats. Instruction emphasizes the social development of upper-elementary students while building reading, writing, and spelling skills.

At each grade level, Collaborative Literacy is made up of three separate resources that, when used together, support 30 weeks of comprehensive instruction in reading and language arts. Each resource is discussed separately below. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: McGraw Hill Texas StudySync

New Product Review: McGraw Hill Texas StudySync

Learning List recently reviewed McGraw Hill’s Texas StudySync, 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). StudySync is a comprehensive product that supports English language arts/reading (ELAR) instruction in grades 6-12. Content is available in print and digital formats and is intended for blended learning environments. Learning List reviewed online resources for grades 6-8. Instruction centers on the close reading of a set of thematically-related texts with integrated lessons in reading comprehension, writing, and speaking and listening skills.

StudySync’s content is organized in six, 30-day thematic units at each grade level. Each unit focuses on an essential question and a genre. Most units address personal topics (e.g., “No Risk, No Reward”) and include content that relates to other subject areas, particularly social studies. Units integrate authentic literary and informational texts and culminate in an overarching project that requires students to respond to what they have read in either written or spoken format. Across middle school grades, texts vary in length and genre and address diverse individuals and cultures. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: Learning A-Z Raz-Plus ELL Edition

New Product Review: Learning A-Z Raz-Plus ELL Edition

Learning List recently reviewed Learning A-Z’s Raz-Plus ELL Edition, which was submitted for state adoption in Texas in response to 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). Raz-Plus ELL Edition is a supplemental program that supports reading instruction in grades K-5 with instructional materials designed specifically for English language learners (ELLs). Resources are available online and may be downloaded and printed and/or displayed using classroom projection devices. Instruction focuses on developing proficient readers using cross-curricular texts that match students’ individual reading levels.

Raz-Plus content is organized in 29 reading levels (i.e., aa to Z2) that gradually increase in difficulty. Levels are identified using Learning A-Z’s proprietary “Text Leveling System.” This system considers qualitative indicators (e.g., author’s purpose), quantitative measures (e.g., word count), and reader and task considerations (e.g., student interest and skill) to provide a rounded measure of text complexity. Learning A-Z provides a “Level Correlation Chart” aligning its complexity levels with other widely used measures (e.g., Lexiles, Fountas & Pinnell). Learning A-Z’s text complexity levels are not grade specific, levels; however, they may be matched to grade levels. For example, in terms of Lexiles, texts Q-Z2 range from 651L to 1,140L and support instruction across grades 3-5.  [Read more…]

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New Product Review: Perfection Learning Connections

New Product Review: Perfection Learning Connections

Learning List recently reviewed Perfection Learning’s Connections, 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). Connections is a comprehensive product that supports ELAR instruction in grades 6-12. Content is available in print and digital formats. Learning List’s review is of resources for grades 6-8.

At each middle school grade level, Connections is organized in four units that address cross-curricular themes and center on an Essential Question. For example, the fourth unit at grade 7 considers the following Essential Question: “What does history teach us about ourselves?” Units include literary and informational texts related to the theme. Lexile levels for each selection are provided in teacher editions.  [Read more…]

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