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March 21, 2013

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TOOLS FOR LEARNING: What Our Schools Have in Common--Technology and Teaching to the Common Core State Standards

TOOLS FOR LEARNING: What Our Schools Have in Common--Technology and Teaching to the Common Core State Standards

Ann Henson has been in education and the education marketplace long enough to know the difference between the genuine and the disingenuous. “The implementation of Common Core State Standards is intended to create change in our nation’s public education system … not put change in the pockets of the American publishing industry,” she recently wrote for Education Week. The former high school math and computer science teacher has worked on curriculum development at the district level, and for the past quarter century, she has worked for Compass Learning, overseeing development of curriculum and instruction materials for all its course ware and assessment solutions. There’s a difference between partners and pretenders, she contends, and so she has devised a list of 10 specific questions to ask solution providers of Common Core-related materials. (See list at end of this article.) Her list is specific enough to keep any company official on his or her toes. Meanwhile, here’s a list of solution providers to use those questions on:

AcademicMerit, LLC. This team of teachers knows what they’re talking about and can relate only too well to Common Core anxiety. The current shift in American education, they say, toward Common Core, personalized blended learning, doesn’t mean abandon what works. Nope, check out the Academic Merit approach and learn for yourself:

Apex Learning, Inc. The company has developed a new digital curriculum with Common Core in mind, with just the right amount of rigor, active learning, and formative and summative assessments integrated throughout each course. See it here:

ASCD. Though we’ve put this list in alphabetical order and ASCD appears in third place, this is actually a great starting point if you want to back up and just grok what Common Core is all about and what it means for you:

Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. Sure, it was originally a Scottish company, but the longtime Chicago-based firm of encyclopedia fame is rather enlightened when it comes to knowing and sharing the all-American Common Core State Standards through its online school edition, providing educators quick access to articles, activities, and teacher resources organized by subject and grade level:

Canvas by Instructure Inc. This learning management platform that co-enrolls parents and students in schools makes State Standards tracking painless with actionable analytics for teachers and administrators:

Compass Learning. This company really gets Common Core in a very deep way; you need to check out its Common Core Information Kit and cruise around its site, especially under the tab Common Core, to see what it can teach you:

Curriculum Associates, LLC. See its i-Ready Diagnostic & Instruction and Ready Common Core. As the company puts it, its resources are built for the Common Core, not just aligned to it:

Curriki. “Free learning resources for the world” didn’t overlook Common Core. Just type it into its search box and you’ll be aghast and smiling at all the offerings it provides:

DreamBox Learning, Inc. These guys know math, and with more than 720 rich, adaptive learning math lessons, this intelligence-adjusting, hint-giving, appropriately paced program really is a dream. But be sure and wake up to expert Skip Fennell talking about Common Core in a video on the company site:

EBSCO Publishing. This company offers a lot of books—thousands—and now it’s recently released two new grade-appropriate ebook subscription collections: eBook K–8 Collection and eBook High School Collection. Both align with Common Core guidelines for grades K–8 and grades 9–12 in English language arts and literacy, history/social studies, science, and technical subjects:

Edmentum, Inc. The recently rebranded, mega-education company consists of some familiar long-standing companies (including Plato Learning), and it’s put together Common Core and Standards Mastery tools to help you transition:

Edmodo. This familiar “Facebook for education” has an interesting discussion thread chock-full of resources on Common Core:

ePals, Inc. A Common Core Implementation Center? Yep. The company wanted to empower teachers, not crush them, and it has succeeded by offering an excellent core of projects, teaching tools, expert insights, discussions, and resources on the subject:

Follett Corp. The nation’s largest supplier of books, reference materials, digital resources, ebooks, and AV materials to pre-K–12 schools better know what it’s talking about, and indeed it does when you listen to what the director of digital products, John A. Williams, has to say about Common Core. Read him on The Digital Shift:

GlobalScholar. Have a look at the company’s listing of products and offerings, each of which comes with an explanation of how it has taken Common Core into consideration for you:

Kno, Inc. You’ve got to try Kno to, well, know Kno. And when it comes to Common Core, it is yes, yes. Learning is a social event on Kno, and that’s where learning about Common Core gets interesting. Check it out by reading the Features section and then type in common core into the search box:

Knovation, Inc. Expanding a partnership it had with SAS through its icurio digital curriculum content solution, the company is now making SAS Curriculum Pathways available to subscribers: Especially consider its Aha!Math offerings, an engaging online K–5 curriculum with class management tools for educators:

LearnZillion. Now this is cool. These guys have a clickable online chart where you can zoom in and see just what your students need to know based on the Common Core State Standards:

MasteryConnect. There’s an app for that, and Mastery Connect has it. Check it out:

McGraw-Hill Education. With its long tradition of offering just about anything and everything, the company certainly has Common Core covered for you. This is another great educational starting point not to miss as you make yourself a Common Core expert:

Nearpod. This cool mobile education company offers educational sessions on Common Core. Get the Nearpod app, grab your mobile device, and learn away:

Pearson Education, Inc. As expected, this education giant has it covered, combining continually evolving and improving instructional resources, content experts, and professional development. Check out its Common Core toolkit:

SAS Curriculum Pathways from SAS Institute, Inc. From the world’s largest privately held software company comes an excellent and fascinating content collection aligned to Common Core. Interactive resources for grades 6–12 in English, language arts, science, social studies, mathematics, and Spanish, this is all free to students and educators in traditional, virtual, and home school environments:

School Improvement Network. Heidi Hayes Jacobs and the Curriculum 21 team have created the very first interactive, multimedia text that guides you through creating an implementation guide for the Common Core State Standards. They call the experience a LiveBook (it’s not just an ebook), and this one is called Mapping to the Core. A primo resource, you’ll also want their LivePlanner, but you’ve got to hear Heidi tell it:

ST Math from MIND Research Institute. One of the better computer-based math programs out there; for full, conceptual understanding of mathematical principles, it doesn’t get much easier than what these brilliant pros have to offer. Deeper learning and teaching is very Common Core-esque, and JiJi (the penguin) really delivers. Play it here:

StudySync from BookheadEd Learning, LLC. It’s almost like the Common Core authors had this company in mind when they mapped out their strategy of deeper, more meaningful learning. This is a powerful, visual-oriented approach to education, and it works:

Teachscape, Inc. If there’s anyone who can help an educator through Common Core, it’s Mark Atkinson’s team of experts and video-based courses that help educators navigate the transition; they show students in real classrooms, and each course takes about an hour:

Time To Know, Inc. Teachers using Platform 6.0 will appreciate the inclusion of the Common Core, as well as short, narrated tutorials called Lesson Tours:

Turnitin. This leader in originality checking and online grading went a step further and, with development help from the English Professional Learning Council, released a free educational resource: writing rubrics for grades 9–10:

Virtual Nerd, LLC. These guys make it easy to personalize instruction based on student needs. They offer interactive middle grades math through Algebra II tutorials that align to Common Core:

What our schools have in Common Core these days is a chance for deeper learning and teaching to occur and (as the standards apply across all state lines) for the U.S. education system to finally take advantage of a uniform, nationwide measure of where our students are and where they need to be. Although this is not an exhaustive list of solution providers—there are hundreds more not listed here—we hope these companies can help you get started.

Contact Victor at


Top 10 Questions to Ask Common Core Material Providers

1 The new English/language arts (ELA) standards focus on building knowledge through content-rich, cross-curricular nonfiction texts and on text evidence and complexity. How is your product changing to support these shifts?

2 The new math standards focus on key knowledge and skills; coherence across grade levels; and conceptual understanding. How is your product changing to support these shifts?

3 How does your product's assessment system compare to the Common Core assessment systems currently in development?

4 How will using your technology enhance my instruction and improve my students' learning experience?

5 How are you preparing teachers to implement Common Core in their classrooms?

6 Who is developing your Common Core products and what are their credentials?

7 How does your product address 21st century skills?

8 Explain how all students, regardless of skill and ability level, can be successful using your product?

9 How much are you investing in the Common Core initiative?

10 How does your product help students make the transition to the Common Core State Standards?

(Source: Education Week. See article HERE.)


Hot Links for More Background on the Common Core State Standards


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