Education Trends

Save Time & Money: Read Reviews

Save Time & Money: Read Reviews

Yesterday, my husband and I were discussing how to clean the exterior windows of our house. The house sits on the side of a hill, so many of the windows are too far off the ground to reach. I suggested standing on a ladder and cleaning them. But, given that we’re both short people, my husband thought that was a very bad idea.  

So, I researched options online and discovered a spray solution that involves a plastic canister, garden hose and “specially formulated crystals” to wash exterior windows. I showed my husband the ad, and he immediately said, “Great, buy it.” The product cost between $10 and $31, depending on the seller. 

However, I run a company that reviews PreK-12 instructional materials. I believe in and have avoided many expensive mistakes by reading product reviews. So, I started reading the online reviews. After five minutes, I realized that this product was not worth our time or money. I showed him the reviews, and he agreed. We saved $31. 

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The Science of Reading and Early Reading Instruction

The Science of Reading and Early Reading Instruction

The reading wars continue. If your teachers are debating the best way to approach reading instruction, we offer the articles below to inform the discussions in your district. 

The Hechinger Institute’s article “Four Things You Need to Know About the New Reading Wars,” discusses phonics instruction, balanced literacy, and reading comprehension, referencing additional articles including some of those listed below.

The Center for the Collaborative Classroom recently interviewed Dr. Louisa Moats, who shares her thoughts on the Common Core State Standards, the need for explicit instruction in foundational skills, and her understanding and background on the science of reading.

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

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. 
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Mapping Resources to your District Curriculum

Mapping Resources to your District Curriculum

Districts invest significant time, resources, and money into the development of curriculum and the purchase of instructional materials. A lack of consistency between the sequence of the curriculum and the sequence of instructional materials can be a hurdle to implementation of both.

Mapping instructional resources to the district curriculum will support teachers with planning so that lessons and activities from instructional materials are in sync with the curriculum. 

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5 Things to Look For If Selecting Online Materials

5 Things to Look For If Selecting Online Materials

Recently, at a friend’s birthday party, the conversation quickly turned to back-to-school issues. Several friends began discussing their school district’s continuing adoption of online materials. One friend commented that when her older son’s school had moved to online materials almost exclusively last year, he did fine in his Economics class but really struggled in Physics. She told him to check out a textbook for that course, and almost immediately, his grades improved. My friends then began comparing how their children each learn and debating the relative virtues of printed versus online materials.

That conversation reminded me of the blog post we published recently about a Hechinger Report article titled, “A Textbook Dilemma: Digital or Paper?” Several of the points in this article align with distinguishing features we observe in our reviews of online materials. 

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Print Versus Digital Materials: What the Research Says

Print Versus Digital Materials: What the Research Says

If your district is gearing up for an adoption this year, part of your selection calculation likely will be whether to purchase print or digital/online materials.  An article in the Hechinger Report  titled, “A Textbook Dilemma: Digital or Paper?” may be useful.

The article discusses Patricia Alexander’s review of research on this topic. Ms. Alexander is an educational psychologist and a literacy scholar at the University of Maryland. Despite numerous (878) potentially relevant studies on the topic, Ms. Alexander pointed out that “only 36 [studies] directly compared reading in digital and in print and measured learning in a reliable way.” Despite the need for further research on this topic, Ms. Alexander found that numerous studies affirm the finding that: “if you are reading something lengthy – more than 500 words or more than a page of the book or screen – your comprehension will likely take a hit if you’re using a digital device.” This pertained to college students as well as students in elementary, middle, and high school.    

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