Posts Tagged "instructional materials"

New Review: CPM Educational Program’s Core Connections

CPM

[Source: CPM Educational Program]

Learning List recently reviewed the CPM Educational Program’s Core Connections comprehensive courses for Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra 2.
Resources are available in print and eBook formats and address the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Instruction is problem based; students work in “Study Teams” to deepen their understanding of problem-solving strategies and solutions.

Study Teams develop students’ responsibility for their own learning. Teams work together to answer questions, justify their reasoning, and identify multiple solution strategies. Through ongoing discussion, teams support one another and ensure all members understand problems and solutions. Teachers encourage students’ teamwork, facilitate discussions, and provide support when teams encounter questions they are unable to answer. Teacher resources include background and strategies to support the implementation of Study Teams.

The “Teacher” tab in course eBooks provides pacing information and suggested lesson, closure, and homework activities. Lessons include “Mathcasts”—recorded podcasts in which an expert teacher walks users through the lesson providing background information and suggesting teaching strategies. Students have access to interactive math tools, including algebra tiles and Desmos graphing calculators, and course resources are available in Spanish.

About CPM Educational Program*

CPM Educational Program is a California nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to improving grades 6-12 mathematics instruction. CPM’s mission is to empower mathematics students and teachers through exemplary curriculum, professional development, and leadership. We recognize and foster teacher expertise and leadership in mathematics education. We engage all students in learning mathematics through problem solving, reasoning, and communication.

* The content in this section is provided by or adapted from CPM Educational Program.

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: Flocabulary

[Source: Flocabulary]

[Source: Flocabulary]

Flocabulary is a supplemental K-12 product that provides video-based learning activities to support academic vocabulary development in the content areas of Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Math, Current Events, Vocabulary, and Life Skills. Content is available online and includes printable resources. Learning List recently reviewed resources for Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Math.

Across subject areas, Flocabulary provides video-based learning activities to support students’ understanding and retention of academic vocabulary in a content area. Videos present vocabulary and information using a memorable hip-hop song followed by activities designed to reinforce and extend students’ understanding of terms. Videos contain links to the relevant Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and state standards, including the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

Each video is accompanied by a set of instructional resources that include a “Quick Review” check for understanding, fill-in-the-blank copies of lyrics, printable worksheets, graphic organizers, and a quiz. Quizzes may be taken online or printed for paper and pencil administration. Online quizzes are graded automatically. Videos also have a set of “lyric notes” that include hyperlinks to textboxes that provide definitions and more information about the topic (e.g., “Sub-Saharan Africa is a region of Africa located south of the Saharan Desert.”).

About Flocabulary*

Flocabulary is a web-based learning program for all grades and subjects that uses educational hip-hop music to engage students and increase achievement. Teachers in more than 50,000 schools have used Flocabulary’s standards-based videos, instructional activities and formative assessments to develop core literacy skills and supplement instruction across the curriculum.

* The content in this section is provided by or adapted from Flocabulary.

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: Illustrative Mathematics

[Source: Illustrative Mathematics]

[Source: Illustrative Mathematics]

Illustrative Mathematics (IM) is a supplemental, open educational resource (OER) that supports the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSSM) in grades K-12. The program is available online and includes sample problems, curriculum modules, and professional development resources. Materials are available at no cost at www.illustrativemathematics.org. Learning List recently reviewed IM content for middle school (i.e., grades 6-8).

IM content is organized by CCSSM domain (e.g., Geometry), cluster (e.g., “Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, surface area, and volume.”), and standard (e.g., “Find the area of right triangles, other triangles, special quadrilaterals, and polygons by…”). For each standard, the program provides a set of printable “learning tasks,” or multi-step problems. Each learning task is accompanied by a “Commentary,” a detailed narrative description of the solution, and a comments section. The Commentary explains the problem, its purpose, and different strategies students may use to solve it.  The solutions narrative provides step-by-step guidance in reaching the problem’s solution. The comments section allows users to add their feedback and suggestions.

“Course Blueprints” for grades 6-8 were “Under construction!” at the time of our review (July 2016); Course Blueprints available at the high school level are curriculum modules organized in units with diagnostic pre-tests and summative assessments. Additional instructional materials and professional development modules are available for purchase on the IM website.

About Illustrative Mathematics*

IM is a discerning community of educators dedicated to the coherent learning of mathematics. Founded in 2011 at the University of Arizona, IM has operated since 2013 as an independent 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. IM shares carefully vetted resources for teachers and teacher leaders to give our children an understanding of mathematics and skill in using it. IM provides expert guidance to states, districts, curriculum writers, and assessment writers working to improve mathematics education.

* The content in this section is provided by or adapted from Illustrative Mathematics

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

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Cost vs. Effectiveness

A recent article in U.S. News and World Report discusses a report from the Center for American Progress. Analyzing state-adopted materials from 19 states, the authors found little relationship between the cost and quality of curriculum materials.

Though the study looked only at print materials aligned to the Common Core State Standards, Learning List data for print and online products reveal the same about Texas materials.  The table below shows the price of three state-adopted, 100% aligned Economics materials that vary in price by up to $81/student over an 8 year subscription:

This table of 100% aligned, state-adopted and non-state-adopted Algebra I products also shows significant price variance:


The article further states, “schools often used misaligned textbooks, and studies have shown that there is a clear gap between what publishers say is aligned to state standards or effective and what truly fits those criteria.”

This begs the question: how does one judge the “effectiveness” of a material prospectively? With so many intervening variables (e.g., the teacher’s skill, the teacher’s use of the material, the students’ abilities and learning styles, and, for online materials, the district’s infrastructure), it is difficult to predict with certainty whether a material is/will be effective.

Alignment to state standards is one predictive measure of a product’s effectiveness. Another is other educators’ experiences with the product. For that reason, Learning List’s editorial reviews incorporate feedback from multiple educators who personally have used the products with students. The reviews also include a list of reference districts for subscribers to contact before purchasing a product. Finally, educators can share their experience by rating and reviewing the products featured on LearningList.com.

Learning List’s alignment reports, editorial reviews and new spec sheets provide multi-faceted feedback to inform educators’ selection of products and help them use their products most effectively.

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Introducing Learning List Spec Sheets and Explorer Tool

Learning List Logo

For Immediate Release

Contact: Cindy Ryan 512-852-2132

Learning List’s New Spec Sheets and Explorer Tool Help Districts Transition Successfully to a Blended Learning Environment

Austin TX, October 1, 2015 – Learning List launches new Spec Sheet reviews and Explorer tool at the TASA/TASB Convention in Austin, Texas.

According to the Texas Education Agency, Texas school districts have already spent over $250 million this school year on new instructional materials. If history serves as a guide, many of those products will go unused because they will not live up to the publisher’s claims.

The challenge of finding high quality instructional materials is exacerbated as districts increasingly transition to a blended learning environment with either 1:1 or Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives. Now, not only must administrators find instructional materials that meet their students’ academic needs, but the materials must also work with multiple devices, browsers and operating systems. District staff seldom has the time and/or expertise to thoroughly review the academic attributes and technology requirements of instructional materials before the district decides which products to buy.

Learning List’s new Spec Sheets and Explorer tool help districts meet that challenge. The Explorer tool helps educators navigate the vast (and expanding) universe of K-12 instructional materials to find products the meet their academic and technical specifications. The new Spec Sheet, Learning List’s two-page checklist of a product’s key academic attributes and technology requirements, will help curriculum and technology teams quickly narrow the list of available products they need to review themselves.

For each material, the Spec Sheet includes several criteria within each of the following categories:

blog chart

“We have found that reviewing the technology specs of a product is just as critical as reviewing the academic side of materials. If your district’s technology is not compatible with the specs of the product, your teachers won’t be able to use it.  So regardless of how good a product is instructionally, if the square peg doesn’t fit in the round hole then you are just wasting money. Learning List’s new Spec Sheets are going to make shopping for instructional materials much less time consuming and will give districts of all sizes greater confidence in the products they select,” Matt Tyner, Textbook Manager for Dallas ISD and Executive Board Member of the Instructional Materials Coordinators’ Association of Texas (IMCAT).

The Spec Sheets are consistently formatted to make it easy for educators to compare critical product features. These at-a-glance reviews complement Learning List’s more in-depth Alignment Reports and Editorial Reviews. Subscribers now get three independent, professional reviews to help inform their buying decisions.

Learning List is an instructional materials review service for schools and districts. With subscribing districts in five states serving over a million students, Learning List has reviewed more than 1,000 preK-12 products in the four core subjects. Learning List reviews both textbooks and digital instructional materials upon subscribers’ requests.

“Learning List is a service for schools and districts. Our subscribers asked us for help verifying and comparing products’ technology requirements. The Spec Sheet and Explorer tool are our latest response to districts’ need for high-quality, transparent information in the rapidly evolving K-12 instructional materials marketplace,” said Jackie Lain, Learning List’s President.

 

About Learning List –Learning List is the industry-leading instructional materials review service for schools and districts. Like Consumer Reports®, Learning List provides independent reviews of preK-12 instructional materials to help administrators choose and teachers use materials effectively.

For further information about Learning List’s Spec Sheets and/or new Explorer tool, contact Cindy Ryan at Learning List 512-852-2132 or CindyR@LearningList.com.

 

 

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