According to a report by the nonprofit KnowledgeWorks, personalized learning is a critical component of most states’ accountability plans submitted under ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act). Personalized learning was mentioned in 39 states’ plans. The questions being addressed were “How do we build learning-centered or student-centered systems?” and “How do we advance policies focused on what each individual student needs?”
As this conversation goes on at the state level, teachers grapple with how to implement a personalized learning approach in their classrooms. Their goal is to avoid the one-learning-fits-all recipe and to put together instructional models that meet the needs of individual students. The power of personalized learning is in students taking ownership of their learning, with the teacher facilitating and enriching their course of study. Personalized learning puts the focus on what, how, and why students learn so that the learning is deep and connected.
The current adoption market segment remains in flux and is continually adapting and changing. The 19 states that still adopt textbooks in a variety of curriculum areas are loosening their requirements. Some states, such as Florida, have passed laws that allow districts to purchase “off-list” materials.
There are many factors disrupting the adoption market. The movement away from the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is affecting the development of instructional materials for this market. Florida, a key adoption state, is a good example of a state that has moved away from the CCSS and is now developing its own standards for English language arts and mathematics, thus impacting upcoming adoptions in those curriculum areas. North Carolina is also currently reviewing its adoption process.
According to EdWeek.org, states aligned to the CCSS fall out as follows:
35 kept CCSS adoption (34 states and District of Columbia)
11 announced a major rewrite or replacement of CCSS
4 never adopted CCSS
1 adopted CCSS only in English language arts (ELA)
It’s a new year and it’s time to see what the future may hold. So let’s look at the top educational trends in 2019 and their affects on teachers and students. Two dominant curriculum trends are impacting educational publishing: the movement toward personalized learning and the need for critical thinking lessons.
The Personalized Learning Movement
Personalized learning is affecting how the curriculum is being developed and also how students’ work and learning is being assessed. Since 2012, fifteen states have implemented policies to support personalized learning, ranging from waiving regulations to set up innovation zones. New Hampshire is spearheading implementation of this trend. Across the nation, many districts are using digital online courses and products to implement personalized learning.
A recent White House report states that the textbook market is valued at about $7-8 billion, with California, Florida, and Texas being the key adoption states. However, the textbook adoption market is changing.
The Old-School Textbook Adoption Buying Pattern
In the past, publishers focused most of their textbook development efforts on two states: Texas and California. Textbooks for these two states would often become templates for textbooks sold nationally, but according to a recent EdWeek article, California, and Texas no longer dictate content in textbooks. Currently, there are 19 states that adopt textbooks in a variety of curriculum areas, and publishers are finding that these individual states want customized textbooks.
What Factors are Driving Change in Textbook Adoption?
Schools continue to move toward digital lessons and digital experiences for students. Most students are digital natives and are comfortable in this world. However, not all students have equal access. How does the digital revolution affect ELL students?
Some ELL students are very comfortable with technology and how it works, while others are using it for the first time. Digital lessons, however, abound in the classroom. Across content areas, culminating activities in lessons often ask students to do more research on the Internet, use graphics in their reports, cite resources, and create digital slideshows. These types of activities are designed to help students acquire and adopt skills needed for 21st-century work. And a survey by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop shows that Hispanic-Latino families want their children to have these skills.
Access Starts with the Directions
However, there are several roadblocks for ELL students. Most educational websites and software tools provide directions only in English, which poses a barrier for ELL students. If they cannot follow the directions, ELL students may struggle to complete assignments and fall behind their peers. Situations such as this can easily lead to frustration and might make ELL students reluctant to use digital devices in the classroom. So how can we scaffold learning for ELL students in digital lessons?
According to a 2016 White House report, the U.S. spends over $1.3 trillion on education expenditures. And the instructional materials market for K-12, which includes state adoptions, is over $19 billion. In large states, such as Texas, it makes sense to customize a national program. With smaller states, a calculation needs to be made: does the potential revenue justify the expense of customization? What’s the best way to customize for a specific state?
Start with Gap Analysis
The first step is a gap analysis to analyze the state standards. For example, in Texas, we would compare the TEKS to the standards the national program was aligned to, usually the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This is a bit ironic, given that Texas never adopted CCSS. A gap analysis relative to CCSS is a tool you can use again and again as you develop plans for the many states that are moving away from CCSS or adapting it to create their own customized standards. Ultimately, the gap analysis answers important financial questions about the scope of work required for a successful customized program.
All eyes are on Texas as it adopts reading programs, first for grades K–8 and then the following year for grades 9–12.
The textbook adoption market has changed over the last five years. While in past adoptions the major purchase was reading and language arts textbooks, the definition of what is a core purchase has evolved.
Recently, citizens once again exercised their right to vote. They used the power of voting to have their voices heard. But what does it all mean? Now is the time for civics lessons that teach students civic responsibility. As the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words,” and students must know how to act, deciding which actions are responsible and which are not. How do students treat others while making their voices heard? Civics lessons provide answers to these questions.
“Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” —John Locke
Focus on the Thinking and Motivation Behind Actions
Students need to see that every civic action has a reaction and a consequence. The actions establish a chain of events; each action is linked to a subsequent one.
The heart of civics lessons is not necessarily the content, but rather understanding the thinking and motivation behind the actions taken by individuals or groups. When students read about events in history, they should be able to answer the following questions:
Mark Twain said, “What gets us in trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know that just ain’t so.” Today’s students are bombarded with information and images and there is a need for lessons that foster critical thinking and civic responsibility. The time for strong, innovative social studies lessons has arrived. The National Council for the Social Studies conference provided a showcase of lesson, organizations, and companies that are working to meet those classroom demands. Here are some insights we gained from the NCSS 2016 convention:
Learning from the past is critical in thinking about the future. Primary sources are perfect tools for seeing how events unfolded, the thinking and emotions behind the events, and the impact those events have on the world today. Organizations such as The Library of Congress, The Civil War Trust, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and the Pennsylvania Historical Society are treasure troves of primary sources with lessons and programs that allow students to see the links between the past and the present. Companies such as Pearson highlight primary sources in their social studies programs. Gibbs Smith Education offers fine state history products. As we discussed in a recent post, it’s worth checking out your state or local historical society for primary sources that will enhance and enrich history lessons.
Often events are driven by economic decisions that continue to affect our daily lives. Students should learn to review and think about how the government spends money and how citizens benefit. Organizations such as the Council for Economic Education have many lessons and programs for students to explore these important issues.
Geography is about much more than learning map skills. Geography tells us about people, their environment, their movements, and how geography affects our daily lives. As individuals in a global world, geography knowledge is critical. The National Council for Geographic Education and Core Knowledge support geography teaching and learning at all levels where students learn not only about physical geography, but also human geography.
Social responsibility is critical in today’s ever-changing world. Students need to understand both the backstories of current events and must comprehend the why as well as the who and what of current events. Access to current events through videos, social media, print, and magazines is offered through Scholastic Magazines, Time Education, CNN Classroom, and Studies Weekly. These companies have products that allow students to focus on specific current events, discussing, thinking about, and understanding why things happen and what are the consequences.
Not having heard something is not as good as having heard it; having heard it is not as good as having seen it; having seen it is not as good as knowing it; knowing it is not as good as putting it into practice.—Xun Kuang, c. 312-230 BCE
Choosing Instruction Modes
Facing a classroom of students who represent different levels of learning curves is not an easy task. We know students learn better by doing, but they may not all be ready at the same time. This is a key reason for planning how to manage classroom instruction.
An effective way to start planning is to ask yourself:
When should I teach the whole class?
Should I move some students into group work?
When are students ready to work independently?
The choices you make directly affect students’ learning and the structure and pacing of lessons. The presentation below gives an overview of when whole-class, small-group, and independent modes work best in classroom instruction. Just click “Start Prezi.”