Education Trends

Do Your Instructional Materials Support Critical Thinking?

Critical thinkers ask questions, formulate and solve problems, use reasoning and evidence to reach conclusions, approach situations with an open mind, and so much more. School districts set goals designed to support students in becoming effective critical thinkers and problem solvers, but creating a learning environment that is conducive to the development of critical thinking rests with the teacher. Instructional materials can either greatly support or hinder teachers’ efforts.

Based on our experience reviewing thousands of instructional materials, this blog offers five considerations to help educators evaluate the degree to which an instructional material supports the development of critical thinking skills.

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Do the materials you are using for remote instruction support a high-quality learning experience for your students?

When implementing an instructional material during in-person instruction, teachers can adjust instruction, add instructional strategies, and differentiate instruction for their students. During remote instruction, however, teachers may not have as many opportunities to adjust instruction to meet their students’ needs. Therefore, the quality of instructional materials used for remote instruction is more important than ever.

Learning List has reviewed thousands of instructional materials, and we consider many factors in our qualitative reviews. In previous blogs we’ve written about considerations for selecting materials to support continuous learning and things to look for if selecting online materials.   This blog takes a deeper look at assessing the quality of instructional materials used for remote instruction.

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The Importance of Using Standards-Aligned Materials

In a recent article titled, “Four Ways State Leaders Can Help Teachers Implement High Quality Curriculum,” the author discusses how state policymakers can support the reopening of schools for a successful school year. She encourages policymakers to “Provide clear and simple guidance to ensure all content is standards-aligned and offer examples of what that may look like for in-person and virtual settings.” 

Tablet computer

As districts searched for new online materials to support at-home learning, technology compatibility may have driven their purchasing decisions. Now that they are having to use the materials, alignment should be an important consideration. Here are three reasons why understanding the standards alignment of materials being used for at-home learning is critical to students’ academic success.

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Why Teachers Need More Planning Time

Why Teachers Need More Planning Time

This article discusses “Four Ways State Leaders Can Help Teachers Implement High Quality Curriculum.” One of the author’s suggestions is that leaders provide time and space for educators to plan. One of the reasons educators need more planning time is that online preK-12 materials have become increasingly complex to use. Here’s why.

Learning List reviewers have reviewed thousands of PreK-12 instructional materials. Our team is adept at learning how to navigate through online materials. These days, reviewing online materials is taking longer because materials often consist of different components to remediate, enrich and extend students’ learning.  Sometimes, each component uses a different online platform; more commonly, the assessments component uses a different platform from the material’s instructional components.  Thus, merely learning how to navigate through online materials takes longer than it used to.

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A Seismic Shift in Science Materials

Over the last several years, we have reviewed hundreds of science materials aligned to state standards, Advanced Placement frameworks, and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Over the last two years, we have observed a significant design shift in science products. Using the 5E model and Project Based Learning (PBL), publishers are designing science instruction to engage students in doing science, rather than learning about science. Where traditional instructional materials might present information and ask students to respond through short-answer or multiple-choice questions, newer materials provide teachers with resources to facilitate inquiry-based science instruction. 

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Dear Mom and Dad, Welcome to Your 1st Year of Teaching!

Dear Mom and Dad, Welcome to Your 1st Year of Teaching!

Are you a first-time homeschool teacher or are you proctoring at-home learning while your child is attending school online this semester? Either way, you are likely out of your comfort zone and feeling (a little) overwhelmed. How are you ensuring that your child is learning what he/she is supposed to learn?  This blog post provides a few pointers and accompanying resources to help you keep your child on track during this school year.  

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