Posts Tagged "instructional materials"

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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Build Your Own …

This post is the second in the series, “Three Critical Trends in Instructional Materials.”

An increasing number of districts are forgoing comprehensive textbooks in favor of building their own resources. In fact, a California superintendent told us that he had put aside $7 million to pay his teachers to develop their own materials. Administrators in favor of building their own resources say the exercise will engender greater buy-in among teachers and produce better resources for students.  Others question whether the skills that make a person a great teacher are the same skills necessary to design instructional materials. As one person suggested, “I’m a good driver, but I couldn’t build a car.”

Having reviewed almost 2500 resources, Learning List staff have seen and learned much about instructional materials. If your district is considering or developing instructional resources, we share the following observations to help inform your methodology:
Magnifyer

  • Focus – Materials should focus on the major work of the grade.  Distracting content should be limited and the materials should include multiple citations (e.g., pages, lessons, videos) aligned to each priority standard. For example, if you’re in a Common Core state, do you have multiple citations for teachers to use to teach each Major, Supporting, and Additional standard or each of the Critical Areas of Focus? If you are in Texas, do you have at least a few citations addressing each Readiness, Supporting and Process standard?
  • Coherence – Citations should build and reinforce (within and across grades and subjects) a deeper understanding of concepts and skills articulated in the standards and their application in the real world. Does your material contain real world examples and activities to engage your students and show the relevance of the content and skills they are learning?
  • Rigor – The citations should be grade-level appropriate and rigorous, as opposed to difficult.
  • Horizontal and Vertical Alignment – Citations should be verified to be aligned to the standards. Alignment is a unique skill set.  Very accomplished teachers are not necessarily adept at doing alignment work.  Moreover, alignment is an inherently subjective endeavor. In order to ensure that the material your district is developing is aligned to the standards: (1) have at least two teachers, who are good at aligning material to standards, review the alignment of each citation incorporated in the material, and (2) have a method of reconciling differences of opinion among those teachers.
  • Adaptions/Instructional Resources – The material your teachers develop must be “accessible” to all students and teachers.  Consider whether/how the material will help teachers differentiate instruction for students with differing abilities. Consider also whether all teachers have the skills and knowledge to use the materials you are creating effectively.  For example, will professional development be necessary? Does the material have content supports and notes to help all teachers present the content in a similar way?
  • Maintenance –Teachers will quickly get frustrated if links in the material do not work and will lose faith in the material. It is imperative to the success of your Build Your Own initiative to have a regular maintenance schedule to ensure that the embedded links are working.

Building your own materials will be a time consuming and painstaking process. But, if done well, it is likely to produce resources that your teachers will use and that will prepare your students with the knowledge and skills the standards require them to learn.  Hopefully, the observations provided above will help you build an efficient and effective “Build Your Own” methodology.

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New Review: McGraw-Hill’s Mader Biology (Mader & Windelspecht), 12th Edition

[Source: McGraw Hill]

[Source: McGraw Hill]

Learning List has reviewed McGraw Hill’s Mader Biology (Mader & Windelspecht), 12th Edition. This comprehensive resource supports instruction in high school Advanced Placement (AP) Biology courses. Resources are available in print and eBook formats with additional online components. Instruction is inquiry-based and focuses on developing students’ understanding of biology concepts as well as critical thinking and communication skills.

Mader Biology integrates the College Board’s “Big Ideas” and Science Practices for AP Biology. The text begins with a preface (i.e., chapter 1) titled “A View of Life” that introduces students to the study of biology, the AP Big Ideas for the course, the AP science practice skills, and the scientific method. Chapters begin with a set of essential questions that frame content and reference the relevant essential knowledge statements in the course framework (e.g., “How have humans manipulated plants to better serve our needs? 1.C.2.b”) and a “Following the Big Ideas” feature that highlights the Big Idea addressed by content.

Additional online resources for Mader Biology include SmartBook adaptive reading materials, OnBOARD interactive learning tools, and ScoreBOARD adaptive review resources.

  • SmartBook adaptive reading materials highlight important information in the text and present practice questions at key points in the reading.
  • ONBoard for AP Biology provides self-paced modules that support introduction to and/or the review of content.
  • SCOREBoard for AP Biology is an adaptive test preparation program that provides self-study resources to help students prepare for AP exams.

About McGraw Hill Education*

At McGraw-Hill Education, we believe that our contribution to unlocking a brighter future lies within the application of our deep understanding of how learning happens and how the mind develops. It exists where the science of learning meets the art of teaching. Our mission is to accelerate learning through intuitive, engaging, efficient and effective experiences – grounded in research.

Educators have been and always will be at the core of the learning experience. The solutions we develop help educators impart their knowledge to students more efficiently. We believe that harnessing technology can enhance learning inside and outside of the classroom and deepen the connections between students and teachers to empower greater success.

By partnering with educators around the globe, our learning engineers, content developers and pedagogical experts are developing increasingly open learning ecosystems that are proven to improve pass rates, elevate grades and increase engagement for each individual learner while improving outcomes for all.

Information in this section is provided by or adapted from McGraw Hill Education.

Subscribe to Learning List for access to the spec sheet, full editorial review and detailed alignment report for this material.

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New Review: McGraw Hill’s StudySync California

thumb_Study_Sync

[Source: McGraw Hill]

Learning List has reviewed McGraw Hill’s StudySync California. This comprehensive resource addresses California’s English language arts (ELA) and English language development (ELD) standards for grades 6-12. Materials are provided in online and print formats and support instruction in blended learning environments. The core literacy program provides integrated instruction in the close reading of complex texts, writing for specific purposes (e.g., argument), and research skills. Content is structured around the five key themes of the California Framework: Making meaning, language development, effective expression, content knowledge, and foundational skills.

At each grade level, instruction is presented in four 45-day thematic units that include 10-12 short texts for students to analyze, integrated writing and research activities, and a recommended longer “Full Text Study.” Core instruction is presented in each unit’s “Instructional Path” for each of the literary and informational texts contained in the unit. Built on the work of Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey (i.e., “Rigorous Reading”), the Instructional Path begins with a “First Read” lesson followed by several “Skills Lessons” and concludes with a “Close Read” lesson that revisits the text.

Each unit includes an “Extended Writing Project,” a “Research Project,” and a recommended “Full-Text Study.” The Extended Writing Project provides core writing instruction and allows students to explore the unit’s theme more deeply, by drawing on the texts read, through research, and students’ own experiences. Research Projects provide opportunities for students to develop research and presentation skills by examining a topic related to the unit’s theme in greater depth. The recommended Full Text Study for each unit suggests an additional full-length work for student to read and study.

About McGraw Hill*

McGraw Hill’s mission is to accelerate learning through intuitive, engaging, efficient and effective experiences – grounded in research. McGraw-Hill Education believes that its that our contribution to unlocking a brighter future lies within the application of a deep understanding of how learning happens and how the mind develops. It exists where the science of learning meets the art of teaching.

* The content in this section is provided by or adapted from McGraw Hill Education

Subscribe to Learning List for access to the spec sheet, full editorial review and detailed alignment report for this material.

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