Posts Tagged "online learning"

Important Considerations When Selecting Materials to Support Continuous Learning

Important Considerations When Selecting Materials to Support Continuous Learning

Last August, we published a blog post titled, “5 Things to Look for If Selecting Online Materials.”  If your district is, or will be, selecting online materials to support continuous instruction next fall, here are a few additional considerations to keep in mind: 

(1) Similarity of content. If you will be purchasing a product in print and digital formats, check the degree to which the core instruction is consistent in both editions. The online version will likely contain videos and tools to enhance students’ learning experiences beyond the capabilities of the print edition, but the core instruction in both editions must be substantially similar to provide an equitable learning experience for students who are not able to access the material online.

(2) Delivery of core instruction. If you are considering a material that relies on digital content or is only available in digital format, consider whether the core instruction (e.g., lessons, practice and quizzes) is printable or accessible offline. Criteria 2 on the second page of our Spec Sheet reveals whether the core instruction of the product is accessible online only or whether it is also printable, downloadable, and/or accessible offline. In order to ensure that the material will support all students, including those that do not have reliable internet service or device access at home, the core instruction must be downloadable or printable. 

(3) Ease of Use. Online materials often contain many components. Before purchasing an online material or a material with online components, check to see whether your teachers and students will be able to use it. Have a few tech-savvy and non-tech-savvy teachers (1) login to the material, (2) teach a lesson with the product, and (3) access progress monitoring reports. If possible, have a few students login to the product and access an assigned lesson. Note the issues each group encounters. Finally, check to see what type of online training and support the material includes for teachers, students and even for parents. Allow teachers time to complete that training with support before the school year begins.

Student using computer

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McGraw Hill’s Thrive™ powered by Time To Know®

[Source: McGraw Hill]

[Source: McGraw Hill]

McGraw Hill’s Thrive™ powered by Time To Know® is a comprehensive, online resource to support English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, and Science instruction in 1:1 computer-based learning environments. Resources support teacher-led, data-driven instruction in classrooms that integrate technology. Learning List has reviewed Thrive ELA resources for grades 3-8.

Thrive presents content at grade level in five or six thematic units (e.g., Personal Discoveries) made up of Reading Modules and a Writing Module. Each grade also has a set of “Literature Study” works to extend classroom instruction or for students to read independently.

Reading Modules focus on authentic literary and informational texts. Each module begins with a “Model Reading” activity that guides students through a text, posing questions to help students develop reading and comprehension strategies (e.g., “What is the narrator’s problem, or conflict?”). After Model Reading lessons, students reread the text in a “Close Reading” activity in which they answer text-dependent questions. Most Reading Modules contain a second “Anchor Text” followed by another Close Reading activity. Writing Modules address the writing process, planning and drafting, editing and revising, and publishing and presenting. Writing Modules include opportunities for peer review and instruction in grammar and usage.

About Thrive ELA*

Improving student engagement with reading, writing, and speaking is at the core of the Thrive English language arts program. Guided reads, model reads, and anchor text selections—with a 50/50 balance of fiction, literary nonfiction, and informational texts—provide students with context for learning at their own levels and paces to build close reading and writing skills.

Structured lesson plans deepen students’ understanding of texts, while genre‐specific writing tutorials reflect the shifts in ELA instruction, for which the Thrive English language arts program is designed. An emphasis on analytical writing and writing to sources affords students opportunities to practice and apply foundational literacy skills, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies as they foster a lifelong

*Information in this section is provided by or adapted from McGraw Hill Education.


Subscribe to Learning List for access to the spec sheet, full editorial review and detailed alignment report for this material.

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New Review: Exemplars’ Problem Solving for the 21st Century: Built for the Common Core

[Source: Exemplars]

[Source: Exemplars]

Learning List has reviewed Exemplars’ Problem Solving for the 21st Century: Built for the Common Core, which is a supplemental, online resource that supports instruction in the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSSM) for grades K-5. Resources are available online and include printable components.  Content is made up of a set of “learning tasks” and a summative, performance-based assessment for each standard addressed by instruction.

For each CCSSM that may be evaluated through problem solving, Exemplars presents four or more learning tasks that present a problem for students to solve. Tasks provide opportunities for direct instruction in problem-solving strategies, vocabulary development, creating models, and representing mathematical reasoning. Learning tasks are appropriate for whole group and small group instruction, students working in pairs, and/or individual student work.

Formative and summative evaluation of students’ work is supported by rubrics and anchor papers. Rubrics establish a set of five criteria and four performance levels.  Criteria include Problem Solving, Reasoning and Proof, Communication, Connections, and Representations.  Performance levels are linked to Webb’s DOK levels and include Novice, Apprentice, Practitioner (meets standard; strategic thinking), and Expert (extended thinking). Anchor papers provide samples of student work at each performance level, discuss the different problem solving strategies a student may use for a given problem, and identify possible misconceptions.

About Exemplars*

Founded in 1993, Exemplars began by assisting educators using K-8 mathematics problems and assessments that met NCTM Standards. They added 9-12 mathematics two years later. Due its popularity, They started publishing K-8 science in 1997. Exemplars tasks are designed to meet state, national and Common Core standards. Their materials are used by educators in 50 states and 30 countries.

* The content in this section is provided by or adapted from Exemplars.

Subscribe to Learning List for access to the spec sheet, full editorial review and detailed alignment report for this material.

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New Review: Flocabulary

[Source: Flocabulary]

[Source: Flocabulary]

Flocabulary is a supplemental K-12 product that provides video-based learning activities to support academic vocabulary development in the content areas of Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Math, Current Events, Vocabulary, and Life Skills. Content is available online and includes printable resources. Learning List recently reviewed resources for Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Math.

Across subject areas, Flocabulary provides video-based learning activities to support students’ understanding and retention of academic vocabulary in a content area. Videos present vocabulary and information using a memorable hip-hop song followed by activities designed to reinforce and extend students’ understanding of terms. Videos contain links to the relevant Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and state standards, including the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

Each video is accompanied by a set of instructional resources that include a “Quick Review” check for understanding, fill-in-the-blank copies of lyrics, printable worksheets, graphic organizers, and a quiz. Quizzes may be taken online or printed for paper and pencil administration. Online quizzes are graded automatically. Videos also have a set of “lyric notes” that include hyperlinks to textboxes that provide definitions and more information about the topic (e.g., “Sub-Saharan Africa is a region of Africa located south of the Saharan Desert.”).

About Flocabulary*

Flocabulary is a web-based learning program for all grades and subjects that uses educational hip-hop music to engage students and increase achievement. Teachers in more than 50,000 schools have used Flocabulary’s standards-based videos, instructional activities and formative assessments to develop core literacy skills and supplement instruction across the curriculum.

* The content in this section is provided by or adapted from Flocabulary.

Subscribe to Learning List for access to the spec sheet, full editorial review and detailed alignment report for this material.

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WARNING – Poor Instructional Decisions Cause Failure

This is the time of the year when all hands are on deck to help struggling students achieve. We, as educators, have a tendency during the crunch time before state testing to work harder and faster but not always smarter. Due to this sense of urgency, teachers often give students stacks of worksheets designed in the same format as the state tests, thinking that more practice is better.  Computer labs are booked solid with students needing additional help on specific skills.  When instructional technologists ask the teachers what the students need to work on in the lab, the answer many times is, “Just pick whatever lesson you can on that particular skill.”  Now, what is wrong with this scenario?

One reason that many struggling students are not more successful each year is that the provided instruction is not aligned closely with the academic standards.  If the practice worksheets or online lessons that the teacher assigns do not address standards completely, the student may not be learning a skill or concept or may be learning it wrong repeatedly. That type of damage is difficult to rectify.

When a classroom teacher or instructional technologist arbitrarily assigns a lesson without first reviewing it, students may not achieve the intended learning outcome.  Not all instructional materials are aligned closely to the standards, so it is very important to check the alignment first.

Learning List’s alignment reports are designed to save teachers time and effort in this process.  Each report lists multiple citations (e.g., lessons, activities, pages) that our subject matter experts have reviewed for alignment to the content, context, and cognitive demand of each standard (or breakout in Texas). If a district purchases a product Learning List has reviewed, teachers can assign the reviewed citations with confidence that they are providing their students with instructional materials that are aligned to the standards.

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September 2021