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TOOLS FOR LEARNING: Totally Aligned

By Victor Rivero - Posted May 1, 2012
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In a new learning universe, Common Core and tech worlds move into place.

As textbooks give way to digital content and the Common Core State Standards ripple outward across more than 45 states, finding the best way to align instruction with learning goals and assessments is an issue that lingers on educators’ minds. While this could be cause for anxiety, there are companies that understand it well and have provided tools to help. Here’s a list of some of the best, and what they can do for you.

Common Core 360 from School Improvement Network. If you’re looking for aligned professional development, this product has it all: 1,800 videos, 120 experts, 3,500 classroom examples, 822,000 educators, and top-of-the-line tools. One of the most lucidly communicated briefings on the purpose and foundations of the Common Core Standards from Curtis Linton, co-owner and VP of School Improvement Network, can be found in the video A Vision for the Common Core Standards Initiative. www.schoolimprovement.com/common-core-360

Insight 360 from eInstruction, Corp. The intuitive software and interactive devices from this company streamline instruction and assessment and help deliver standards-aligned content. Teachers can see daily data and data over time. They can access rich content and walk around the classroom with it and truly benefit from the interactive devices and apps (also available for iPad). There’s a great demo of all this. www.einstruction.com/products/insight-360-formative-instruction-system

icurio from Knovation, Inc. This has curriculum content that’s teacher-approved, standards-aligned, and personally relevant so students can learn essential concepts their own way. It is a digital curriculum content solution from the makers of netTrekker, which now includes Common Core State Standards in its leading educational search tool, netTrekker Search. www.knovationlearning.com

AcademicMerit, LLC. This group of current and former teachers developed a web-based solution that they piloted as part of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, a successful 1-to-1 computing program in collaboration with the University of Southern Maine. They explored how technology use helps teachers meet the Common Core State Standards across more than 23 schools. As all eyes turn to the Maine example, don’t overlook the suite of award-winning online tools that are making successful implementation of Common Core possible. www.academicmerit.com/index.php

StudySync from BookheadEd Learning, LLC. This is some good stuff. With online learning that inspires higher levels of reading, writing, and critical thinking, StudySync is a web-based program created by educators to inspire students to achieve academic success by connecting them to the great ideas of mankind through an extensive library of classic and modern texts using video lessons, thoughtful discourse, and peer-to-peer communication. It is worth taking a look at. http://studysync.com

MasteryConnect. Focusing on the Core just got a whole lot easier, according to the folks at this time-saving formative assessment tool provider. Teachers can share and discover common formative assessments and track mastery of state and Common Core Standards. It also offers teachers built-in grading tools at www.masteryconnect.com and a free iTunes app. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/common-core-standards/id439424555?mt=8

Knewton. Here is personalized education for all. What this means is that the platform carves a personalized pathway for each student through any digital course. True adaptive learning means the platform itself analyzes learning materials based on thousands of data points and applies a sophisticated algorithm to piece together the perfect content bundle for each student on a perpetual basis, based on that student’s inputs. Let Jose Ferreira, founder and CEO of Knewton, and his talented team explain how it works very clearly in this video. www.knewton.com/about

The McGraw-Hill Cos. This textbook (or, let’s update that: academic content) giant has recently produced teacher supplements to go with existing reading programs that help meet Common Core State Standards. They’ve also revised their math offerings and are currently at work on new reading programs incorporating Common Core Standards. Look at its website, where you’ll see it has partnered with Align, Assess, Achieve to clarify the standards, providing teacher tools and professional development to unlock the standards for your classrooms, schools, and districts. https://www.mheonline.com/aaa

Pearson, PLC. This education-sector whale offers a Common Core Institute that provides practical ideas and useful information. Through free, live webinars it offers professional development, assessments information, and explanation of implementations. http://commoncore.pearsoned.com/index.cfm?locator=PS11So

PLATO Learning, Inc. Incorporating an engaging, age-appropriate learning experience emphasizing real-world applications, this company ensures that standards-aligned curriculum will appeal to unique traits of different learners from K–12 to college. It also offers diagnostic, formative, benchmarking, and course-level assessments. www.plato.com

Apex Learning, Inc. A leading provider of digital curriculum for secondary education, this Seattle-based company recently added new online courses specifically designed around the Common Core State Standards in math and English language arts. Cheryl Vedoe, Apex Learning CEO, has said it is not sufficient to merely align existing instructional content to Common Core, but to develop altogether new courses to “meet the intent” of the new standards. www.apexlearning.com

American Virtual Academy. Here’s an interesting online credit recovery, summer school, or blended education option for educators and learners. With state and Common Core Standards aligned curriculum, it offers hosted learning management systems, parent-student portals, student-teacher communication centers, student management systems, and teacher training. http://avalearning.com

American Education Corp. Offering content for grades 1–12, this company stays current with state standards twice a year as needed so that all content is always current. It also provides assessment, detailed reporting, and more. www.amered.com/awl_alignments.php

Compass Learning. With its flagship products Odyssey and Renzulli Learning, Compass offers personalized learning environments and help for teachers. It also offers standards-aligned and research-based curricula for every grade and every course, including AP, college readiness, credit recovery, ELL/ESL (English Language Learners/English as a Second Language), gifted, RTI, and summer programs. www.compasslearning.com

ST Math from MIND Research Institute. Its comprehensive courseware (check out ST Math for starters) enables elementary and secondary students a full academic education in math concepts and aligns to Common Core State Standards. Its game-based approach engages struggling students and does it without leaning too much on language, which may assist ELL/ESL (English Language Learners/English as a Second Language) learners to learn math more easily. www.mindresearch.net

LearnZillion. Great video lessons from great teachers—and they’re standards-aligned. What more could you ask for? Well, there is more, and this company helps give students the right lessons at the right time, helps create playlists of appropriate lessons, helps track homework completion and mastery, and provides practical teaching resources. It is great for teachers who want an effortless edge up. http://learnzillion.com

This is not an exhaustive list, of course, but we hope you get some benefit out of these players, who are on top of the movement toward Common Core State Standards. There is certainly some teacher frustration out there given all that is expected, but with help from the right places, it can be a much smoother ride.

For even more help, I’ve included a few extra hotlinks (see Hot Links, below). Among them, you’ll discover a site created by some of the Common Core authors that encourages you to go ahead and steal some great (free) tools; a fascinating article describing one school administrator’s implementation experience; and several other helpful resources. Happy clicking, and I hope somewhere along the line you find yourself clicking into total alignment for your school!

Contact Victor at victor@VictorRivero.com.

HOT LINKS

www.achievethecore.org

www.corestandards.org

http://edtechdigest.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/teaching-to-the-common-core-standards

www.pdesas.org

www.k12.wa.us/smarter

www.parcconline.org

www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/02/24/22resources_ep.h31.html

http://blegroup.com

www.studyblue.com


 
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