Posts Tagged "instructional materials"

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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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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The Role of Instructional Materials in Shaping Teacher Practice

In a recent op-ed appearing in The Hill, ThinkCerca’s founder and CEO, Eileen Murphy Buckley, describes the challenges she faced as a novice English teacher working at  Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, one of Illinois’ best high schools and Michelle Obama’s alma mater. Like many first-year teachers, she struggled with classroom management, planning relevant and engaging instruction, and mastery of her content area. She received sage advice from veteran colleagues, but she “confesses” that her strongest supports as an inexperienced teacher were the instructional materials she used in the classroom.

She writes:

So, there is my confession after all these years, but I make it to say that the products we use in schools matter. The quality of those resources matter so very much because they are what empower students, regardless of which teacher they end up with. The materials shape teachers and teacher practice, and they shape the teachers they raise through years of side by side work.

These products must answer to students and teachers as well as buyers — the admins and school boards who are the stewards of our future, our culture, our democracy. Products have material impact on the lives of our children and grandchildren — who will be caring for us and our country in the very near future.

Simply put, reading materials impact the quality of teaching in much more significant ways than you might know.

At Learning List, we understand the importance of high quality materials. We recognize that instructional materials influence how teachers teach as well as how and what students learn. And this understanding shapes how we review products.

Our editorial reviews examine the supports each material does or does not provide for teachers. Our reviewers explain whether teacher resources include background in content and pedagogy; provide pacing information, lesson plans, and guidance in differentiating instruction; and offer professional development opportunities and professional communities that facilitate collaboration and sharing with other teachers who use the same product. Our reviewers note when they feel a product is particularly appropriate for novice teachers. Such products include comprehensive discussions of the required content knowledge and pedagogy, and offer detailed, often scripted, lesson plans to support instruction. [Read more…]

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The Importance of Developing Teachers: Part One Using Instructional Materials to Support Teacher Growth

The new report Leadership Perspectives on Public Education: The Gallup 2017 Survey of K-12 School District Superintendents identifies the key challenges that school leaders believe are facing public education today.  Not surprisingly, superintendents say that quality teachers who can engage students and build excitement about learning are the most critical element in improving student outcomes. However, surveyed superintendents underscored the difficulty of finding talented teachers. The report’s conclusion explains:

Superintendents believe having teachers who create excitement about the future is, more than any other proposed strategy or initiative, extremely important for preparing students for success later in life. But finding enough quality teachers is a difficult task, and superintendents are much less likely to see their district as effective in recruiting new teachers as effective in selecting, developing or retaining them. A majority also see the quantity of new teacher candidates decreasing, and more view the quality of those candidates as decreasing rather than increasing (p. 31). [Read more…]

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New Review: Perfection Learning’s World History, Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination

Perfection LearningLearning List has reviewed Perfection Learning’s World History, Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination, which is a comprehensive product that supports instruction in Advanced Placement (AP) World History courses. Content is available in print format. Core content is presented in six chronological periods that match the periods identified in the College Board’s course framework for AP World History (e.g., Period 4: Global Interactions, 1450-1750).

Each period is broken into chapters that cover the history of particular regions during the period (e.g., “Chapter 17: Africa in the Early Colonial Period”).  Chapters include a “Historical Perspectives” feature and the paired features: “Think As a Historian,” and “Write As a Historian.” Historical Perspectives provides two or more historians’ differing perspectives on historical developments (e.g., “Was Alexander great?”).  Think As a Historian and Write As a Historian are short activities addressing historical thinking skills and their use in written arguments.

Chapters end with sets of stimulus-based multiple-choice questions and short-answer questions formatted to reflect the AP exam. Each period ends with one document-based question and several long-essay questions. The text ends with a full practice exam that reflects the AP U.S. World Exam in length and format.

About Perfection Learning*

For over 85 years, Perfection Learning has been a leader in literature and language arts programs for grades 6-12. These programs cover the complete range of language arts skills and course areas with both textbooks and supplemental programs. Innovative literature programs provide cost-effective solutions for teaching critical thinking skills and incorporating the new demands of the Common Core State Standards. K-8 reading/language arts solutions include hybrid print/digital handwriting and spelling programs, nonfiction reading, and intervention programs in reading and math.

In May 2013, Perfection Learning acquired AMSCO School Publications. For over 75 years, AMSCO has excelled in providing high-quality materials in world languages, science, language arts, ACT and SAT preparation, and more.

 

Information in this section is provided by or adapted from Perfection Learning.

 

Subscribe to Learning List for access to the spec sheet, full editorial review and detailed alignment report for this material, and thousands of other widely used Pk-12 resources.

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