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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Will Students See Themselves in My Materials?:

8 Features of “Culturally Responsive” Materials

Image by Heejin Jeong from Pixabay 

As schools are tackling all of the demands of educating students during Covid-19, teachers continue to focus, and re-focus, on building relationships with students and providing supportive environments. Part of providing a safe, supportive learning environment is providing a culturally responsive classroom. “Culturally Responsive” is a term frequently heard in educational circles today. It goes beyond building relationships to ensuring academic growth for all students. While culturally responsive teaching is a complex topic, there is one piece of it that does not have to be challenging. Consider how you would answer this question: “Do students see themselves in the instructional materials I am using?” In formulating your answer, think about the following factors:

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Finding Materials to Support English Learners Successfully

Districts increasingly are reaching out to us for assistance in finding materials to support English Learners (ELs).  Some districts are seeking comprehensive materials with strong support for ELs; others are seeking materials specifically designed to support EL students’ language acquisition. Learning List has reviewed both types. In January, we wrote about seven trends we have observed in materials’ support for ELs. This article discusses the types of supports to look for when seeking materials to support ELs successfully.

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How Can Instructional Materials Support Growth Mindset?

Growth Mindset, a term coined by Carol Dweck, addresses the beliefs and resulting actions that people have about learning. People with a growth mindset believe that their abilities, intelligence levels, and skills will improve over time and as a result of effort. They believe they can learn.

Much of what is written about growth mindset and the strategies to develop it focuses on pedagogy. While establishing a growth mindset culture in the classroom is primarily dependent on the teacher’s behavior, expectations and instruction, the design and contents of the instructional materials can also support or hinder the development of growth mindset.

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New Product: Edgenuity United States History Since 1877

Is your district looking for a self-paced program to support students enrolled in United States History? Take a look at Learning List’s reviews of Edgenuity’s United States History Since 1877.

Edgenuity’s United States History Since 1877 is a comprehensive, online course that supports instruction in blended learning and self-paced environments. Video-based lessons focus on developing students’ understanding of United States history beginning with Industrialization and the Gilded Age. A citizenship unit that addresses foundations of government and topics such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and immigration is also included.

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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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5 Things to Look For If Selecting Online Materials

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

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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New Product Review: Savvas Stats in Your World

Learning List has reviewed Savvas’s Stats in Your World, which is a comprehensive product that supports instruction in high school statistics courses. Content is available in print and eBook formats and includes a variety of resources housed in Savvas’s “MyStatLab™” online platform. Instruction emphasizes the use of real-world data to introduce statistical concepts, develop statistical analysis skills, and enable students to “think statistically.”

Stats in Your World’s examples focus on real-world problems and applications of statistics that will be familiar to college-bound students (e.g., random assignment of students to dorms) and each chapter contains a discussion of common errors made in analyzing statistical data and interpreting results. [Read more…]

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Spanish Language Arts and Reading (SLAR) Product Reviews

students writing

Learning List has reviewed each of the five Spanish language arts and reading (SLAR) materials submitted to the Texas Education Agency in response to the Proclamation 2019. Below are brief discussions of each of the SLAR products. Learning List has reviewed each of the corresponding English language arts and reading (ELAR) products referenced in descriptions.

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