Learning List has reviewed LearnZillion’s Full Math Curriculum—
an open educational resource that provides comprehensive instruction to support the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for students in grades K-8. Resources are available online and include printable materials. Instruction develops students’ conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and ability to apply their learning.
Productive struggle is at the center of LearnZillion’s Full Math Curriculum. LearnZillion defines productive struggle as “the process of expending effort to make sense of important ideas, concepts, or connections that are within reach but require new understanding” (Math Overview). To ensure this process, the program defines and makes use of three curriculum strands, or “Threads,” that bind instruction across grades and provide coherence: (1) Operations Thread, (2) Number Thread, and (3) Equivalence Thread. In addition to coherence, the three strands, or ONE, link concepts within and across CCSS domains and clusters at each grade level and provide a foundation that supports the transition to algebra.
Instruction is presented in sequential units that address “Key Concepts” of the CCSS. Each unit includes a summative assessment that evaluates students’ understanding of the Key Concepts. Lessons develop students’ understanding of concepts, fluency and procedural skills, and ability to apply concepts and skills in new situations. Each lesson is presented using a slide show with detailed teaching notes. Slide shows focus on problem-solving activities that foster productive struggle. Each lesson’s teaching notes provide detailed guidance in implementing activities, including the purpose of each slide, pacing information, suggestions for discussion, common student misconceptions, teaching tips, and answer keys.
The idea for LearnZillion began at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. where co-founder Eric Westendorf, was principal. After watching 6th grade teacher Andrea Smith teach her students what it meant to divide by fractions, Eric wondered, “could powerful learning experiences be captured so that teachers didn’t have to re-invent the wheel every time they taught a standard?” He decided to find out. Working with Andrea and a few other E.L. Haynes teachers, he created a homemade website that featured screencasts of high quality, Common Core lessons. The website worked. Not only could teachers find examples of high quality lessons, but parents and students also benefited from the explanations.
Thanks to a Next Generation Learning Challenge Grant, Eric was able to grow the idea. He teamed up with former classmate and teacher , Alix Guerrier, and together they recruited an initial corps of 20 Dream Team teachers from across the country. The Dream Team grew to 123 the following year. In 2015 over 1,000 teachers participated on Dream Teams across the country. The result is the world’s first open, cloud-based curriculum.
*The content in this section is provided by or adapted from LearnZillion.
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