Summer is a time for teachers to take a break from the rigorous demands of day to day teaching, relax, and enjoy a change of pace. For many dedicated educators, it’s also a time to learn some new skills, develop some new teaching strategies and find some solutions to managing our full plates.
On our plates this fall is the expectation of fully implementing the Common Core Standards in the 2013-14 school year. As we dig deeper into the Common Core Math Standards it’s clear that whole group instruction guided by the scripted curriculum of a math textbook is not going to be enough to provide students with the types of targeted instruction needed to help each individual student meet the standards. Fortunately there is a rapidly growing set of digital tools and resources available to help individualize instruction.
Web Based Platforms for Individualized Instruction
There are quite a few web based platforms that provide students and teachers with the ability to work at their individual level of instruction through guided tutorials and practice. While these programs are no substitute for working with a real teacher, they do provide options for practice, reteaching and challenge. Students can work at home or at school and take advantage of the pause button to tackle learning at their own pace. Here are a few platforms to check out.
LearnZillion is a free resource that provides teachers, parents and students with Common Core aligned lessons that focus on the use of narrated video for instruction. The tutorials are engaging, the narration is well done and the user friendly platform includes built in learning supports to make it an effective instructional tool that addresses a variety of learning needs. A Coach’s Commentary on the side of each playlists provides teachers and parents with additional information and the math lessons provide guided practice opportunities with a downloadable form for taking notes.
LearnZillion is an effective tool for independent practice and one that compliments classroom instruction. The Common Core Navigator is a nice organizational tool for quickly finding resources to support all learners. Teachers can create a class and add students without email accounts to assign CCSS aligned playlists to students, or they can skip the setup and simply share a code with students for quick and easy access to any lesson. As an added bonus, there is an option to download the lesson slides to PowerPoint and adapt them to your own instructional needs. LearnZillion is available as a web based platform and also an iPad app.
TenMarks is a web based resource designed to help individualize learning as students work through interactive worksheets for assessment and access videos to learn concepts one step at a time. Key Concepts are identified and available as bullet points with each video lesson. TenMarks is closely aligned to the Common Core standards and they include questions that are designed to expose students to the types of problems they are likely to receive on the PARCC or SBAC assessments. Helpful hints for students are included in each lesson and intervention modules are automatically assigned to struggling students to reteach concepts necessary for mastery of specific Common Core Standards. TenMarks includes data collection to help teachers monitor progress and to help students accept responsibility for their own learning When a student completes an assignment, the work is automatically graded in front of the student , providing them with immediate feedback. Teachers have easy access to data collected for every student in the class. TenMarks has a free version, but to get the “all-in-one math solution for schools” there is also a paid version.
Learning Farm is a very simple Common Core aligned tool designed to provide individualized self-paced practice and assessment through the use of interactive quizzes and games. While there are no videos or direct instructional tools included in this free platform, Learning Farm is user friendly and easy to use as a starting point for instructional planning. Teachers might consider using Learn Farm to assess students’ instructional needs combined with LearnZillion’s collection of Common Core aligned video lessons to create individualized and personalized learning packages for students.
Online math resources can provide 24/7 access to individualized instruction for every student in the classroom. This form of targeted instruction provides teachers with a powerful way to differentiate to support the needs of all learners. When combined with instruction from a real teacher, use of these types of digital tools can maximize instruction and help students meet the rigorous expectations of the Common Core Standards.