Posts Tagged "curriculum"

Are Digital Resources or Textbooks More Effective? OECD Weighs In

oecd logo 2

Source: OECD

Are digital resources more effective than textbooks? They are certainly more trendy these days. Although Learning List has reviewed hundreds of instructional materials in both formats, it’s difficult for us to say that one format is better than another. Online adaptive products that individualize learning for each student have the potential to differentiate instruction and keep all students challenged, while textbooks are easier to use, particularly for students without Internet access at home. As more digital content providers are entering the K-12 marketplace, we are paying close attention to research and policy discussions about the effectiveness of online products. We thought our readers might be interested in a recent Bloomberg View that summarizes findings from a 2015 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report.

standardized_testThe report’s key finding is that “increased computer use in classrooms leads to lower test scores.”  The OECD compared test results from the 2009 and 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) for groups of students who did and did not use digital resources for instruction. Results indicated that “the use of computers was negatively correlated with improvements in student performance” in both math and reading. That is, students who did not use digital resources performed better on the PISA tests, though there were some anomalies.

In addition, students in Japan, China, South Korea and other Asian economies where fewer students use computers, also did better on computer-based assignments. These students were no less comfortable using technology than students in Australia and Northern Europe where computers are more prevalent in instruction.

The reason? The report concludes:

Gaps in the digital skills of both teachers and students, difficulties in locating high-quality digital learning resources from among a plethora of poor-quality ones, a lack of clarity on the learning goals and insufficient pedagogical preparation for blending technology meaningfully into lessons and curricula create a wedge between expectations and reality. If these challenges are not addressed as part of the technology plans of schools and education ministries, technology may do more harm than good to the teacher-student interactions that underpin deep conceptual understanding and higher-order thinking.

Learning List’s Alignment Reports, Editorial Reviews and new Spec Sheets help educators overcome two of the challenges identified in the OECD report: finding high quality digital resources and blending digital resources into lessons and curricula effectively.

multitasking-mobile-devices-557x362The new Spec Sheets are Learning List’s two-page checklist of each product’s key academic and technology attributes. The Spec Sheets complement our more comprehensive Alignment Reports and Editorial Reviews to help educators quickly identify high-quality digital products that meet their students’ needs and can be implemented successfully using the district’s current technology. We hope that this at-a-glance review will help districts’ curriculum and technology teams quickly narrow the list of products to review themselves.

Learning List’s Alignment Reports also help educators integrate digital instructional materials into their lesson plans/curricula for more effective instruction. These detailed reports identify multiple citations (i.e. page numbers, lesson names) that Learning List’s subject matter experts determined to be aligned to the content, context and cognitive demand of each standard. Only by assigning the parts of the material that are aligned to each standard can teachers have confidence that their students are learning the knowledge and skills the standards require.

Stop by our booth (#1817) at the TASA/TASB Convention this weekend, and let us show you how our service and our new Spec Sheets can help your district choose and use instructional materials more effectively. If you won’t be at the conference, request a webinar at your convenience, and we’ll be glad to introduce you to our service.

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New Reviews: Learning A-Z’s Reading A-Z

laz-logo2015

Source: [Learning A-Z]

Learning A-Z’s Reading A-Z is a supplemental program that supports reading instruction in grades K-5. Resources are available online and may be downloaded and printed or displayed using classroom projection devices. Instruction focuses on developing proficient readers using texts that match students’ individual reading levels. Learning List has recently completed reviews of Learning A-Z’s materials for grades K-5.

Reading A-Z content is organized in 27 reading levels (i.e., aa to Z) 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).

[Source: TASA]

[Source: TASA]

At each level of text complexity, Reading A-Z provides two “Benchmark Books” that assess students’ readiness for instruction. Core instruction is presented through the use of more than 1,400 leveled texts and their associated “Guided Lessons.” Texts include a balance of fiction and non-fiction selections. Lessons address fluency, comprehension, writing, vocabulary and foundational skills, such as letter recognition, phonological awareness, and phonics. Each leveled reader is accompanied by a set of instructional resources, including worksheets and quizzes.

Teachers may enable individual students and/or classes to access the online “On Your Own Book Room.”  The Book Room contains a variety of independent reading materials in eBook format, including Spanish-language books, poetry, and texts that emphasize high frequency vocabulary.

 

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Models Matter

Instructional ModelsWhen selecting materials, one important criterion educators should consider is the instructional model on which the material is based. Resources should mirror and support the model the district uses or else instruction may become disjointed.

Over the next few months, Learning List’s blog will discuss the instructional models most frequently implemented in the products we review. Our discussion will seek to highlight the key attributes of each model and clarify where a particular model may or may not be an appropriate structure for content.

Learning List has reviewed more than 1,000 instructional materials in the four core content areas and Technology Applications. In the process of our reviews, we have become familiar with products that incorporate a variety of instructional models. We’ve reviewed products that organize instruction using well-known models, such as 5E, Universal Design, and Understanding by Design (UbD), as well as lesser known models targeted to particular subject areas and specific learning needs.

Generally speaking, each model presents a recognizable structure that seeks to order content in a way that supports engagement and helps students make sense of what they are learning. Models compress the learning cycle into a predictable set of routines that may be effectively implemented in classroom schedules at the elementary, middle, and/or high school levels. Each model provides an underlying framework for instruction that provides consistency and coherence within and across grade levels, structuring learning experiences in ways that enable teachers to plan effective lessons and allow students to purposefully explore content.

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Join Learning List at ASCD

[source: ASCD]

[source: ASCD]

If you’re attending the national ASCD conference , visit Learning List’s booth #540.

Come see how our detailed alignment reports and researched-based reviews can help you choose the best materials for your students and use the materials you have more efficiently.Learn more about what our service can do for your district by clicking here .

Here’s a glimpse of the 70th Annual ASCD Conference by the numbers:

  • ~ 5000 attendees from across the US,
  • ~ 300 Exhibitors
  • > 350 Sessions and
  • 28 Pre-conference institutes

With industry-leading speakers such as Sara Lewis and Nicholas Negroponte, the ASCD conference also features a  free sing-along concert with Peter Yarrow, formerly of Peter, Paul and Mary.

 

 

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Learning List and Publishers Collaborate to Benefit Educators and Students

Source: U.S. Govt. wk (CC)

Teaching and Learning [source: classroom picture via U.S. Govt. work (CC)]

As the industry-leading instructional materials review service for schools and districts, Learning List has designed a robust review process specifically intended to inform educator choice. As one curriculum director observed:

“Learning List was built from the ground up to respond specifically to educators’ needs. And it does.”

Learning List is a standards-neutral, independent review service accountable only to subscribing schools and districts. However, the service creates value for publishers, as well.

Learning List’s reviews are descriptive, not critical. The reviews do not rate products or determine which materials are best or most appropriate. Learning List believes that educators are the most qualified to determine which materials would be best for their students. The reviews help each school or district select the standards-aligned instructional materials that will lead to the greatest success of their particular students.

Though our reviews are independent, Learning List partners with publishers to provide rigorous, clear, and complete assessments of instructional materials. Publishers preview the editorial reviews before they are published to ensure their factual accuracy. Publishers are also afforded an opportunity to respond to Learning List’s alignment decisions before alignment reports are posted. By working together, Learning List and publishers ensure that the reviews are more valuable to educators and the instructional materials are more valuable to students.

Today, anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of information technology and no actual content knowledge can publish materials and claim alignment to standards. Conversely, in today’s world of high-stakes testing, districts have a greater need than ever before for instructional materials that are truly aligned to the content, context, and cognitive demand of their state’s chosen curriculum standards. Through collaboration, Learning List and publishers can help educators navigate the increasingly chaotic instructional materials market by providing districts with the timely and accurate information they need to find the instructional materials that are best for their students. For more information about the benefits of Learning List, you can schedule a webinar via this link.

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