Category Archives: Curriculum

Explore curriculum trends that are impacting the latest wave of curriculum products.

The Shifting Textbook Adoption Market

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?

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To Customize or Not to Customize, That’s the Question

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.

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Curriculum Round Up

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Curriculum is changing. Schools are moving towards competency-based assessment and personalized learning is becoming popular in many districts. Many states are moving away from the Common Core. All of these issues affect what is being taught in the classroom. How to keep up with the trends and movements? Here are some links to help keep you abreast of what is happening now.

Personalized Learning

Is it right for your students? Here’s a definition and explanation of personalized learning that will help you decide if it would work for your students.

http://k12education.gatesfoundation.org/college-readiness/personalized-learning/

Competency-based Assessment

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Building Curricula for Makerspaces

What’s the difference between makerspaces and other trends in EdTech?

Well, in fact makerspaces don’t just represent one trend but rather all of them. That’s because these hybrid computer labs/art studios/machine shops can encompass any educational device or technology a maker might want to put into them. The sky’s the limit, and more schools and libraries are beginning to take notice and incorporate makerspaces into innovative curricula.

Makerspace

What happens in makerspaces?

Makerspaces are places where learners can make things. Students are encouraged to:

  • create
  • experiment
  • tinker
  • collaborate

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10 Benefits of Gap Analysis

The educational market is in flux. States are pushing back from both Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and assessments linked to the CCSS. States and publishers are waiting to see:

  • Will funding be directed to charter schools?puzzle-silo-small
  • How many more states will drop out of the CCSS?
  • Will states want summative, formative, or competency-based tests?
  • How will products align to changing state standards?
  • What products should states, districts, and publishers develop to meet current market needs?

Many states are moving to create their own standards. How will these new standards affect the educational market? What steps must states and publishers take?

All the uncertainty in the market calls for gap analyses. A gap analysis identifies how current products are aligned to new standards, which standards still correlate, and what’s missing—gaps where new standards are not well covered.gap-analysis-circle

Publishers need to ensure that their products and assessments readily address the changing needs of states and districts.

States and districts need to know how their new standards align to older standards. Since most states adopted CCSS, new standards usually are analyzed and compared to CCSS.

What actions are taken during a gap analysis?

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Why It’s Critical to Implement Civics Lessons and the C-3 Framework

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.


© Nevit Dilmen [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
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:

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Insights From NCSS 2016

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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.

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The Past & the Future: Museums & Historical Societies

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For tourists in London, it’s hard to miss the city’s deep connection to history: it’s everywhere you look, indoors and out. But the Churchill War Rooms museum brings the city’s wartime history to life with a unique blend of the past and the future. The museum is a cavernous collection of preserved bunkers, allowing visitors to experience the same cold, cramped conditions military personnel did. Standing in the space, you can truly feel the looming threat of an attack overhead. And yet the War Rooms also features a glimpse into the future of museum design and education: a giant interactive timeline that uses digital technology to animate correspondences across Churchill’s life.

Victory sees museums and historical societies all over the world as untapped resources for classroom instruction, and even cutting-edge Ed Tech. These resources can help bring history into the future and make it relevant to new generations of students. And you don’t need to take students to Europe to achieve this. Just see what local institutions offer in your own area. Continue reading

Teaching a Holistic Approach to Writing

Here’s a scenario many educators are all too familiar with: a new writing assignment is met with blank stares, or worse, outright revolt.

We know that writing is key to literacy and is linked to great student success, so what’s the problem with this scenario? Instead of approaching writing as a chore, we should introduce students to a more holistic approach to writing. After all, writing isn’t just one thing. It’s a tool we use to communicate in many different scenarios. It speaks to many different audiences and serves many purposes. Taking this broader view can help convince students that, in fact, writing offers them quite a lot.

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