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Adaptive Curriculum

By Sally Finley - Posted Jan 1, 2009
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Company: Sebit, LLC, Arizona State University, Sky Song, Suite 200, 1475 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ, 85257. Phone: (480) 884-1689. Internet:  

Report Card

Installation: A

Content/Features: A+

Ease of Use: A

Product Support: A

Price: An annual license for the entire Adaptive Curriculum online library begins at $10 per student for the average middle school with 700 students. The annual subscription fee for virtual schools is based on a defined number of active users. School and district licenses are available. A free 30-day trial is offered for preview.

Audience: Grades 6–8.

Format: Internet-based: text, animation, audio, video.

Minimum System Requirements: A computer with internet access and a web browser. The site works with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux systems.

Description: Adaptive Curriculum offers an online library of middle school math and science lessons aligned to national and state standards. The curriculum includes virtual experiments, scientific inquiry exercises, and problem-based learning.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: No installation is needed. A login is required for access. Access is simple and quick. Installation Rating: A

Content/Features: Content is provided in more than 200 math and science Activity Objects (learning activities) that enable students to participate in interactive lessons presented at a fifth- or sixth-grade reading level.

The Activity Objects cover a range of areas, with titles such as Mendel’s Experiment, The Advantages of Friction, The Properties of Bases, Physical Properties of Substances, Addition of Integers, Multiplying Fractions, Simple Interest, Park Planning Using Rational Numbers, and more. Each Activity Object includes an experiment report to track progress, an interactive virtual lab area, experiment questions, activity sheets with teacher editions, an assessment component, and a print function for all reports and activity sheets.

Each 20- to 45-minute lesson presents a single topic in easy-to-understand language geared toward middle schoolers. Students struggling with a concept taught in class will benefit from the audio and nonverbal context clues provided in these lessons.

The experiments are remarkable. In a virtual environment, students can heat metals to determine melting point, measure water solubility, test for density, and calculate mass-volume ratios. The 3D graphics are colorful and attractive and are sure to appeal to today’s preteens accustomed to a fast-paced, media-rich environment.

The virtual labs are highly interactive and take place in realistic surroundings. Most lessons have activity sheets that can be printed out ahead of time. Experiment questions guide the learner through each activity. Multiple-choice assessment tests provide quick feedback on student progress.

Everything a student does can be printed with the click of a button through the print function. This feature helps in holding students responsible for independent learning.

The program includes a variety of teacher tools, lesson organization and planning options, and assessment reports and features. The assessment component tracks and reports progress and use related to content, skill development, lab experiences, homework, remedial practice, and challenge. Activities can be developed and assigned to a class, to a group, or to specific individuals.

Teachers can access state standards to customize lessons using the site’s built-in pull-down function. This feature is a great help when writing lesson plans and connecting standards to instruction.

Classroom Applications: The Adaptive Curriculum program can be used as part of group instruction using a projector or interactive whiteboard. The Activity Objects can be paused to allow for questions and to emphasize specific points.

The program can be used to supplement existing curriculum. The online material provides practice opportunities for individuals and small groups. Lessons can be assigned for homework and extra practice; they also challenge students with advanced skills. The activities offer individual practice, content mastery, skill development, and lab experiences.

English as a second language (ESL) students will benefit from the audio and nonverbal context clues, smaller amounts of information with embedded comprehension checks to reinforce key vocabulary concepts, and a glossary that pronounces words in English with a Spanish translation.

Students can work with this online program in classrooms, school and public libraries, homes, after-school programs, and summer camps. Content/Features Rating: A+

Ease of Use: This program is easy to use. Access requires an email/username and password. Students can work from any computer with internet access at school or at home. No data is stored on individual computers. All of the lessons use the same navigation features.

Detailed instructions are provided to assist the teacher with the use of the management tools in creating lesson plans and organizing the Activity Objects best suited for their own classrooms. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: A printable Quick Start Guide provides step-by-step instructions for using each of the program features. A Trouble Shooting Guide gives detailed help with specific issues related to system requirements, Flash player installation, pop-up blockers, adding trusted sites, clearing the cache and cookies, and privacy settings.

Users can request support via a toll-free telephone call or by email. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: Adaptive Curriculum is a great tool for improving math and science instruction for middle school students.

The graphics and visuals are among the best I’ve seen. The lessons are presented in a format that will keep students engaged and help them fully understand the presented concepts. The virtual labs are an excellent, safe way to provide experiences that will enhance the learning of all students.

The material is especially relevant for students reading below grade level, English language learners, "at risk" students, and gifted students who would benefit from advanced practice. The activities meet the needs of students with a variety of learning styles and abilities.

The creativity and diversity of the activities is impressive. A science lesson, titled Color Mixing Paints and Lights, enables students to bring a theatrical production to life. In Roller Coaster Design, students design their own roller coaster to observe kinetic and potential energy. A robotic challenge explores the properties of solids, liquids, and gases. With access to more than 200 engaging and creative lessons of this type, teachers will be able to motivate and challenge a diverse student population.

Adaptive Curriculum is one of the best programs designed to improve math and science knowledge on the market today. I guarantee you’ll be hooked from the instant you log on with the free 30-day trial. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Sally Finley, Educational Consultant, Coral Springs, FL.

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