Strategies for Reviewing Adaptive Materials

Over the last year, many of our subscribing districts requested reviews of adaptive materials. The concept behind adaptive materials is admirable: different content is presented to each student based upon the student’s performance on each task or assessment. In essence, these products offer the promise of an individualized instruction for each student.

However, districts should not assume that “adaptive” means “aligned to standards.” Many adaptive materials assign content based on skill mastery rather than mastery of the standards. Based on our experience, districts would be advised to carefully review the alignment of adaptive materials to the standards they are needed to support before using them.

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Alignment: Intervention & Test Prep Materials

As we near the end of the school year, your focus may be on intervention and testing. We offer three suggestions to help you prepare your students for end-of-year success.
Make sure your intervention materials are aligned to the standards you are reteaching. Using tightly aligned materials will reduce your workload and make intervention more effective. Many intervention materials are not designed to align to 100% of state standards. Make sure the material(s) you are using for intervention are aligned to the standards you are re-teaching. Verify that the citations (e.g., lessons, activities, assessments) you plan to use address both the content and rigor of the standards your students need to learn.

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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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Selecting Materials to Support Differentiated Instruction

As this school year resumes, teachers are going to need to differentiate and accelerate instruction to ensure that students are ready for their new grade level’s content. Whether you are selecting from your district/campus’ existing materials or purchasing new materials, we offer the following questions to help you identify materials that will support teachers in differentiating instruction to meet the needs of their students.

(1) Do the resources offer differentiated planning support for teachers?
Teachers need resources that will help them differentiate instruction to meet their students’ varied learning needs while simultaneously implementing the district curriculum. Here are three features to look for in teacher materials to support teachers in planning differentiated instruction.

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Save Time & Money: Read Reviews

Video Snip graphic

Yesterday, my husband and I were discussing how to clean the exterior windows of our house. The house sits on the side of a hill, so many of the windows are too far off the ground to reach. I suggested standing on a ladder and cleaning them. But, given that we’re both short people, my husband thought that was a very bad idea.  

So, I researched options online and discovered a spray solution that involves a plastic canister, garden hose and “specially formulated crystals” to wash exterior windows. I showed my husband the ad, and he immediately said, “Great, buy it.” The product cost between $10 and $31, depending on the seller. 

However, I run a company that reviews PreK-12 instructional materials. I believe in and have avoided many expensive mistakes by reading product reviews. So, I started reading the online reviews. After five minutes, I realized that this product was not worth our time or money. I showed him the reviews, and he agreed. We saved $31. 

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3 Critical Facts To Help You Get the Most Instructional Value from Your Materials

Green Chameleon

As you consider using unfamiliar materials, we offer these tips to help you get the most instructional value from your materials: 

  • If a material does not provide a correlation to your state’s standards, it probably was not designed with your state’s standards in mind. Thus, the material likely will not cover all of the content knowledge and skills your standards require students to learn. Using a material without a correlation will cause you more work in planning instruction to ensure that your students have the opportunity to learn everything the standards require. Consider using such resources for engagement or enrichment rather than as the primary resource for the course. 

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When Selecting Materials, Relying on Numbers Is Not Enough

At Learning List, we are often asked, “Which material is the best?” While some organizations rank and/or rate materials, we do not. We do not sum a review up in a number or set of numbers or tell you which materials will be best for your students, because many variables affect the efficacy of a material. For example, how the material will be used, whether the material has the adaptions your students need and whether the district’s technology will support the full implementation of the product are all variables that affect which product is “best” for your students.

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Factors to Consider When Selecting Intervention Materials

Bernd Klutsch

When our Learning List team talks to district staff, we hear a variety of responses to the question, “How are you currently selecting resources to support Tier I intervention?” Answers range from systemic processes with district-wide solutions to teachers each selecting their own materials from multiple sources. The results of intervention are equally varied. Ensuring successful intervention requires consideration of multiple factors that can be addressed by answering the following questions:

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3 Ways to Use Our Reviews and Tools to Facilitate Your Adoption

Learning List’s editorial reviews reflect feedback from multiple Learning List reviewers. Our reviewers are highly qualified, experienced educators who are certified to teach the courses and have experience teaching the standards of the products they review. Each editorial review aggregates feedback from multiple reviewers, as well as from Learning List’s Director of Editorial Review, who verifies the reviewers’ observations and adds additional information from her own reviews of the material. 

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What Learning List’s Reviews Tell Educators

Learning List’s three professional reviews provide a multi-faceted perspective of each material:

Three Reviews
  • Spec Sheet – provides an overview of the material’s key instructional features and technology compatibility.  We test the key instructional components of each material to identify which devices and operating systems the material works on, as well as other interoperability information. This review helps educators eliminate from consideration products that clearly will not meet their students’ instructional needs or work with the district’s technology infrastructure and hardware.

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