Choose / Assess / Refine

Selecting and assessing educational resources for teaching to Common Core.

GUEST COLUMN | by Adam Blum

CREDIT OpenEd theEdMost U.S. teachers are now teaching to the Common Core State Standards. This is a curriculum and content shift for the majority of teachers and most self-assess as not being ready to handle the new content they are presented with. Teachers recognize this as an opportunity to introduce supplemental resources (videos, games and assessments) to flip their classroom.

In addition the emphasis of the Common Core Math on deeper conceptual understanding by presenting different approaches to the same underlying concepts is an opportunity for usage of games or videos with varying approaches. But before jumping right into assigning resources we recommend teachers consider ahead of time just how they will choose the best resources and how they will assess whether they are working for their students.

Using educational resources (such as video lectures, games, quizzes and exercises) is a powerful way to enhance the student learning process.

Criteria for Resource Choice

There are several factors that teachers should evaluate when considering a resource.  While these may seem obvious we have found that teachers that explicitly consider these factors have better results in student subject mastery, given usage of the resource.

Content Precision. How closely aligned is the resource to the standards?  This can be assessed both subjectively and using computer-mediated techniques to rate or score the alignment of the resource to the standard. This is based on common information on the metadata attributes of both the resource and the standard. The proposed alignment precision scores have proven to be very helpful in assessing suitability.

Continuity. Another important factor for the teacher to consider is continuity with previously used resources. For example, a video on a standard might be a mere continuation of a teacher’s lecture whose previous one happened to address a previous standard. Or a game might be part of a series, which can accelerate focus on the content over the gaming environment.

Challenge Level. Most standards have at least a basic and advanced level of achievement. Resources can be assessed as not just aligning to a standard but as either basic or advanced.  Resources should be assessed based on level within the standard, with a teacher potentially assigning different resources for different students.

Presentation/Content Style. There are many common styles of videos: talking head lecturers, “drawing diagrams on the blackboard”, “real world footage” of moving video that demonstrate concepts, and animated cartoons that show a situation involving the concept in question.   Teachers should consider for a given class or particular students which approach is most effective.

Assessing Resource Effectiveness

There are several criteria used in determining just how good a resource is for a class or a particular student.

Results on a Mastery Assessment. One characteristic of Common Core State Standards-based teaching is that students are evaluated with assessments of their mastery of individual standards. PARCC and SBAC provide assessments used by a large number of states. But there is a huge and growing market of Common Core aligned quizzes, tests and assessments that should be leveraged to allow resource effectiveness to be gauged closed to realtime.

Engagement. Depth of student of resource is another good gauge. This is measured in several ways:

• Completion of usage – Do the students watch or play from start to finish?

• Frequency of usage – How often do they use the resource?

• Choice of one resource over another by the student – when assigned for the same topic or standard

Sharing. If students (or even teachers) are sharing the resource with peers is also a powerful indicator of effectiveness, particularly combined with mastery results.

Rating. This is a helpful additional indicator, although it is so casual to set them and somewhat broad brush (few levels to rate at) that it is not that valuable by itself. However it is often a very useful tie-breaker or influencer when choosing between otherwise similar resources.

Conclusion

Using educational resources (such as video lectures, games, quizzes and exercises) is a powerful way to enhance the student learning process. We discuss some of the key criteria for choosing resources and assessing resource usage. We at OpenEd try to provide large amounts of metadata for each resource to help in the choice process described. And we provide assessments, ratings and statistics on engagement and sharing to help teachers assess resource effectiveness.

Regardles of the site or resources they use, K-12 teachers should be considering how to choose those resources and how to assess their effectiveness with a carefully considered framework for both choice and assessment.

Adam Blum is the CEO of OpenEd. Contact him through their website and follow them on Twitter. OpenEd is the largest K-12 educational resource catalog, with over a million Common Core Videosgames and assessments. While it integrates with all popular Learning Management Systems it offers its own simple “flipped classroom” LMS oriented to using resources. It is focused on offering Common Core and other standard aligned resources, and has many more times Common Core Videosgames and assessments than any other catalog.

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