3 Critical Facts To Help You Get the Most Instructional Value from Your Materials

As you consider using unfamiliar materials, we offer these tips to help you get the most instructional value from your materials: 

  • If a material does not provide a correlation to your state’s standards, it probably was not designed with your state’s standards in mind. Thus, the material likely will not cover all of the content knowledge and skills your standards require students to learn. Using a material without a correlation will cause you more work in planning instruction to ensure that your students have the opportunity to learn everything the standards require. Consider using such resources for engagement or enrichment rather than as the primary resource for the course. 
  • Publishers do not always intend for their materials to address* all grade level standards. This is particularly true of supplemental materials, but may also be true of core materials. Before you select or use a material, check the correlation to see whether the standards you intend to teach are addressed in that material. Then check the citations listed in the publisher’s correlation to determine which are aligned to those standards.
  • Individual citations (i.e., activities, lessons, quizzes) referenced in the publisher’s correlation are not always designed to align to the whole standard. Having reviewed the alignment of thousands of PreK-12 materials, we have observed that materials often scaffold instruction with the goal of achieving mastery of certain standards by the end of a unit or the end of the material /course. As a result, not every citation listed in the publisher’s correlation is designed to align to each standard completely. The first citation listed for a standard may introduce one part of the standard; the next two citations introduce different parts of the same standard, and a culminating activity at the end of the unit or course may address the standard entirely. Bottom line: educators should not assume that each citation listed in the publisher’s correlation addresses the relevant standard completely. Check the alignment of citations before you use them. It may be necessary to “bundle” several citations (i.e., use citations from different chapter/units in in the material) to help students achieve mastery of a standard. Learning List’s alignment reports show you which citations are individually aligned to a standard and which must be “bundled” to achieve alignment. 

If you are having to use a material that is unfamiliar to you, contact us. We are happy to provide access to our reviews of that material for free for the next couple of months to facilitate your instructional planning and lessen the stress of using a new material. 

*Please note that “address” is distinct from “aligned to.” Address, as used in this article, means that the material claims to have content relevant to that standard. A material is “aligned to” a standard only if it provides instruction or assesses the content of the standard in the correct context and at the level of rigor required by the standard. Addressing a standard is a necessary precursor to being aligned to the standard.