New Product Review: Corwin Press Puzzle Piece Phonics

Learning List has reviewed Corwin Press’ Puzzle Piece Phonics (PPP), which is a supplemental product that supports word study in grades K-2. Content is available in print format. Across grades, the program provides systematic and explicit instruction in spelling and phonics patterns. Instruction incorporates puzzle piece manipulatives that help students recognize sound and spelling patterns and their connections to word structure.

PPP’s core content is organized in units, or “Concepts.” Each Concept is broken into instructional weeks that include a weekly focus. Content follows a logical sequence that builds on similarities in concepts and patterns. The pacing of instruction is deliberately measured to ensure that students have adequate time to master patterns before moving on to the next concept. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: EduSpark Lengua, Ritmo y Cultura

EduSpark’s Lengua, Ritmo y Cultura is a Spanish language arts and reading (SLAR) program developed specifically for Texas students in grades K-5. Content is organized in print and online materials. Instruction supports the development of Spanish-language skills in dual language programs. Resources are designed to provide age-appropriate instruction in Spanish for students whose first language is not Spanish. Lengua, Ritmo y Cultura incorporates authentic reading selections from a variety of Spanish-speaking countries, as well as works written specifically for the program by Texans of Latino ancestry.

At each grade level, Lengua, Ritmo y Cultura is organized in kits that include print student materials (i.e., textbooks and workbooks), digital lesson resources, and a Teacher Guide. Student textbooks at each grade level are made up of 36 lessons. At grade K-2, textbooks are organized in 12 units made up of three lessons each and textbooks at grades 3-5 are comprised of 9 units made up of four lessons each. Across grades, the first lesson in each unit addresses foundational language skills (e.g., pronunciation). Lesson 2 covers phonological awareness (grades K-2), phonics, spelling, and vocabulary (grades 3-5). Lesson 3 focuses on reading comprehension skills using multiple genres of authentic Spanish texts, and Lesson 4 for grades 3-5 addresses writing skills. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: Decker & Associates Real Life Personal Finance

Learning List recently reviewed Decker & Associates’ Real Life Personal Finance (RLPF), which was submitted for state adoption in Texas in response to the Texas Education Agency’s Proclamation 2019 call for high school Personal Financial Literacy products aligned to the new PFL Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). RLPF is a comprehensive resource that supports instruction in Texas high school Personal Financial Literacy courses. Content is available online. Resources support independent study and are appropriate for students in self-paced and credit recovery learning environments. Instruction emphasizes the importance of post-secondary education in achieving career goals.

RLPF is aspirational in tone. Instruction asks a student to consider the lifestyle they would like in the future, the earnings needed to support that lifestyle, and how current decisions may affect their ability to achieve their goals. Instruction helps students identify career interests and addresses the importance of post-secondary education in pursuing career choices. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: Cengage Learning Managing Your Personal Finances

Learning List recently reviewed Cengage Learning’s Managing Your Personal Finances, which was submitted for state adoption in Texas in response to the Texas Education Agency’s Proclamation 2019 call for high school Personal Financial Literacy products aligned to the new PFL Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Managing Your Personal Finances is a comprehensive resource to support instruction in Personal Financial Literacy courses. Materials are available in print format and include additional online components. Learning List’s review is of print resources only. Instruction addresses personal money management, career and retirement planning, saving and investment, and credit management.

Managing Your Personal Finances is organized in six units that address: (1) Managing Careers and Income, (2) Managing Credit, (3) Managing Resources, (4) Providing Financial Security, (5) Risk Management, and (6) Consumer Rights and Responsibilities. Units open with a short overview of each chapter’s content and a related “Net Link” that links students to related content on the text’s companion website. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: Universal Publishing Universal Handwriting

Universal Publishing’s Universal Handwriting provides comprehensive handwriting products for grades K-5. Content is available in print format and includes interactive whiteboard tools (i.e., animations). This review is of print materials only. Instruction emphasizes correct letter formation and the importance of legibility. Teacher resources include corrective strategies to address handwriting problems.

Across grades, lessons use a three-stop process that includes: Model and Discuss, Practice, and Self-Evaluate. In Model, teachers model letter formation or use AlphamationPlus whiteboard animations of letter formations. Discussions center on the strokes used to form letters (e.g., undercurves) and students trace letters in the air or on their paper. During Practice, students complete related activities in their workbooks. Students identify their best work in Self-Evaluate and discuss what they did correctly and where they could improve. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: InterEthnic Alphabet Harbor/Harbor Friends Series

InterEthnic’s Alphabet Harbor/Harbor Friends Series is a comprehensive handwriting product for grades K-5. Content is available in print format. Grades K and 1 address printing. Grades 2-5 develop cursive writing skills. Instruction emphasizes the connection between written letters and their sounds. Letters are personified as “Harbor Friends” or “Harbor Pals” using clipart images of children and animals (e.g., Zany Z).

At each grade level, the Harbor Friends handwriting series presents content in a consumable “Student Workbook.” At grades K and 1, instruction is organized in terms of the alphabet. At grades 2-5, lessons are organized in terms of letters with the same shape in their initial strokes. For example, lower-case letters that begin with a “short swoop up” (r, s, j, and p) are taught in the same section. Across grades each letter is represented by a “Harbor Friend” or “Harbor Pal” (i.e., a clipart image of a boy, girl, or animal) and a poem that describes the letter’s formation. Where appropriate, letter sounds and letter identification are integrated with handwriting instruction. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: Savvas Words Their Way: Word Study In Action Developmental Model

Savvas’s Words Their Way (WTW): Word Study In Action Developmental Model is a supplemental product that supports reading and language arts instruction in grades K-5. Content is available in print and digital formats. Learning List recently reviewed WTW’s print and CD-ROM/DVD resources. The program uses the word study instructional model to teach phonics, spelling, word recognition, and vocabulary skills.

WTW organizes content in terms of five spelling stages: (1) Emergent-Early Letter Name, (2) Letter Name, (3) Within Word Patterns, (4) Syllables and Affixes, and (5) Derivational Relations.  Across stages, instruction is centered on sorting words. That is, students learn to group words according to a set of categories that facilitate comparing and contrasting. For example, students learn to sort words or pictures by concept (e.g., fruit not a fruit), sounds (e.g., beginning sounds), letter recognition, word families (e.g., mixed vowels), and roots (e.g., Greek vs. Latin). [Read more…]

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New Product Review: Learning Without Tears Handwriting Without Tears (English and Spanish)

Learning Without Tears’ Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) is a comprehensive handwriting product for grades K-5. Core content is available in print format. Digital teaching resources also are available. This review is of print resources only. Instruction focuses on printing skills in grades K-1 and cursive writing in grades 2-5. HWT is available in English and Spanish and includes developmentally appropriate visual, tactile, auditory, and kinesthetic activities that build handwriting skills.

Instruction is provided in 15-minute periods that fit easily into classroom routines. Content is cross-curricular and contains connections to other subject areas, particularly reading and writing. Teacher’s guides provide comprehensive guidance in teaching handwriting instruction and include detailed lesson plans. HWT’s Handwriting Interactive Teaching Tool (HITT) is available separately from the publisher and contains a variety of digital tools. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: Edmentum’s Courseware High School English

Edmentum’s Courseware™ is an online program that supports instruction in self-paced, remediation, and credit recovery programs. Courseware provides comprehensive instruction in each of the core subjects, as well as in other content areas (e.g., world languages). Learning List recently reviewed Courseware’s sequence of high school English courses. Instruction is provided online and includes printable materials. 

At each grade level, content is presented in two semester-long courses, and each semester is made up of three units. Each unit begins with a pre-test that assesses students’ mastery of learning objectives. Based on pre-test results, teachers may exempt students from some or all of the unit’s lessons or use results to provide targeted remediation. [Read more…]

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New Curriculum Review: Savvas Texas myView Literacy

Learning List recently reviewed Savvas’s Texas myView Literacy, which was submitted for state adoption in Texas in response to the Texas Education Agency’s Proclamation 2019 call for K-8 English language arts and reading (ELAR) products aligned to the new ELAR Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Texas myView Literacy is a comprehensive English language arts and reading product for grades K-5. Content is available in print and digital formats. This review is of online materials only. Instruction is organized using sets of mini-lessons that facilitate flexible instructional planning and a variety of instructional models.

Across grades, myView Literacy is organized in five 6-week units. Each unit addresses a cross-curricular theme focused on an essential question, such as a grade 4 unit titled “Diversity” that integrates social studies topics and asks: “How can we reach new understandings through exploring diversity?” Each unit features a “Spotlight” genre that is the focus of instruction (e.g., informational texts) and includes works from additional genres. Across units, instruction provides a balance of authentic literary and informational texts. Students learn to read different types of content, such as maps, infographics, and timelines. [Read more…]

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