Posts Tagged "Back to school"

Weird Al’s “Instructional Material”

Source: YouTube

Source: YouTube

People often ask what is the definition of “instructional material.”  While some states define the term, Learning List reviews comprehensive and supplemental preK-12 instructional content delivered in multiple formats, including: print, DVDs and online materials.

Source: YouTube

Source: YouTube

Though we’ve adopted an expansive definition of “instructional material, ” you won’t find this video reviewed on LearningList.com even though it is one of the more popular grammar lessons with over 14 million views. However, we thought we’d just share it to ease your transition back into the school year.

Learning List is currently reviewing the social studies and high school math materials that have been submitted for state adoption in Texas and will publish those editorial reviews when school begins.  We will post the state’s alignment reports for those materials as soon as TEA releases them, likely in early December.

We are also reviewing non-adopted and open-education resources in all four core content areas: math, ELA, science and technology applications.  If there is an instructional material your school is interested in and you would like an independent evaluation of its alignment to the TEKS or Common Core standards, and an objective assessment of its instructional content and design, request a review now, and we’ll have those for you shortly after school begins. Contact us for more information.

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Engaging Parents in Student Learning: The Use of Student Data

Each year, school administrators are challenged to find meaningful ways in which to engage families in discussions of student learning that support improved outcomes. In the past, discussions of student achievement were often limited to parent-teacher conferences and report cards. However, technology-based tools have created a range of new opportunities that enable administrators, teachers, and parents to engage in meaningful, ongoing communication about student progress. For example, many districts have created websites portals that provide parents with access to information about student schedules, grades, and attendance. In addition, many online instructional resources include progress monitoring tools that allow parents to access student progress reports, and some popular student data management systems allow schools to share student data directly with parents.

Recognizing that simply sharing data does not make it understandable or actionable for parents, the Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) has created a set of tip sheets to guide administrators, teachers, and parents in communicating about student data in ways that support student learning and forge strong partnerships between families and schools. According to HFRP:

Many of the tips represent small but significant—and often overlooked—steps in sharing data with families that can make a big difference in families’ ability to access, understand, and act on information about their child’s progress.

Some HFRP tips address steps that administrators may want to consider as teachers and students return to school. These tips include:

  • Providing families with an orientation that covers how to access and understand student data, such as benchmark test scores, as well as how to logon to parent portals and other online data sharing tools;
  • Building capacity for data sharing through staff professional development activities focused on effective communication about student data, student privacy requirements, and the use of technology-based data tools; and
  • Ensuring equitable access to data by designating some school computers for parent use and providing data reports in parents’ native language.
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Alignment to Standards – a Critical Factor In Raising Student Achievement

As you are preparing to welcome students into your classrooms, you’re probably thinking a lot about how you are going to provide the best instruction for your students. Research studies have provided us with the top factors that increase student achievement. Strong teachers and principals with great leadership skills are two factors cited in many studies as central to improving student achievement. A third commonly cited factor in raising student achievement is teaching the standards. That sounds simple but it’s not.

To teach the standards, teachers must know what students are required to learn and demonstrate. If a teacher does not teach the material to the depth and complexity required by the standards, students may not succeed in that grade or subject, no matter how hard the teacher works.

To help educators teach what the standards demand, instructional materials must align to the standards. To be aligned, a lesson must meet the content, context, and cognitive rigor of the standard. In the next few weeks, our blog posts will address these three critical components of the standards.

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