Six Trends in Health Curricula

Learning List recently completed reviews of all materials as listed on the Proclamation 2022 Pre-Adoption Samples documents, made available by the Texas Education Agency, for Health in grades K-12.  

boy swinging

We reviewed the materials from six publishers. Two publishers provided materials for elementary grades, two publishers middle school grades, and two publishers span middle and high school.

Learning List reviewers noted six trends in the materials reviewed for health. These trends represent what educators can expect to see with most materials, but they do not represent all materials: 

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Trends in Pre-Kindergarten Materials

Learning List recently completed reviews of all materials submitted for state adoption under Proclamation 2021 for Prekindergarten. We reviewed materials from fourteen publishers, ten of which provided both an English and a Spanish version for consideration.

As you prepare to start reviewing these programs, below are six trends Learning List’s reviewers noted across the Pre-K materials:

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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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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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Trends in Materials Designed for NGSS

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NGSS: picture of a microscope

The Next Generation Science Standards are impacting science education for approximately 71% of United States students. As of January 2020, twenty states have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which are based on the National Research Council Framework for K-12 Science Education. An additional twenty-four states have adopted their own standards that are based on the National Research Council Framework for K-12 Science Education.

As teachers across the country have realized, NGSS changes the expectation for what science instruction looks like. NGSS moves students beyond just knowing science and demonstrating their knowledge through completing scripted science experiments and demonstrations to doing science and solving problems like scientists and engineers. This means the materials for science instruction have to change, too.

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7 Trends in Materials’ Supports for English Learners

Districts increasingly are contacting us for assistance finding high quality materials to support ELs. Whether, and if so, how materials support ELs is part of Learning List’s quality review rubric. Having reviewed thousands of materials, we have observed seven trends in how instructional materials address the needs of ELs:

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What to Look (Out) For If You Are Purchasing Instructional Materials for English I-IV

Books
Stack of instructional materials; male student writing while in notebook while leaning on the stack of books.

Learning List recently completed reviews of the instructional materials submitted for state adoption in Texas for the following courses: English I-IV, Practical Writing, Reading, Journalism, English Learner Language Arts (ELLA), and College Readiness and Study Skills (CRSS).

We reviewed materials from eleven publishers for English I-IV, two publishers each for Journalism, College Readiness and Study Skills, and Practical Writing Skills, and one publisher each for Reading and ELLA (middle school). All reviews are published on the Learning List.com.

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5 Things to Look For If Selecting Online Materials

J Kelly Brite

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

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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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Teacher Shortages

With school starting, districts across the country are scrambling to find teachers for their classrooms.  Yesterday, educators and policymakers gathered in Tulsa, Oklahoma to attend the Oklahoma Teacher Pipeline Summit to discuss long-term solutions to the teacher shortage.  Some of the policy-based solutions that were discussed include:

  • State-funded loan forgiveness, scholarships or signing bonuses for university-prepared teachers who commit to working in a public school;
  • State funded paid student teacher internships;
  • University-created courses to prepare future educators for subject specific knowledge (e.g., the Tulsa University is creating a STEM minor for future teachers), pedagogical knowledge, and skills educators need to support today’s students, including courses in childhood trauma.

An interim legislative study on policy solutions to address teacher shortages is anticipated.

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