Resource Highlight: The CORE Project e-textbook

The CORE Project e-textbook is an online textbook in Economics for college students created by economists from all over the world.  It’s a bit advanced to use as the sole text for high school students, but teachers should be able to use this resource in many different ways.

John Cassidy in The New Yorker writes:
The project is a collaborative effort that emerged after the world financial crisis of 2008–9, and the ensuing Great Recession, when many students (and teachers) complained that existing textbooks didn’t do a good job of explaining what was happening. In many countries, groups of students demanded an overhaul in how economics was taught, with less emphasis on free-market doctrines and more emphasis on real-world problems.

Of course, that criticism doesn’t apply to WorldView Software’s Economics — we’ve had the comprehensive Tutorial: Global Financial Crisis for years!

page explains CMOs, includes graphic
A page from the WorldView Software “Economics” Tutorial: Global Financial Crisis

Using Software for Credit Recovery

There is a wonderful multi-part series on Slate’s Schooled section called “The Big Shortcut” on the advantages and disadvantages of using software for credit recovery. The first story is here.  In a nutshell, there are real pros and cons to consider if your district is going to use software:

Pros

  • easy to implement for administrators
  • easy for students to use
  • flexible use of time and space is great for students with other obligations
  • students can learn basic facts and skills
  • allows focus on content rather than socializing

Cons

  • boring and isolating
  • easy for students to game and/or Google
  • easy for students to “pretest” out quickly
  • difficult for students who are not self-motivated or who need structure
  • shallow content emphasizing breadth instead of depth
  • shallow assessment (as in multiple choice assessments vs. essays, presentations, or products)
  • linear presentation of material does not allow exploration

The most successful curricula heavily involve teachers and the class looks more like a blended class than computer lab.  Students get the actual teaching that they need while proceeding in an environment that is an alternative to traditional classes.

Therefore, the questions to keep in mind about using software for credit recovery (and credit acceleration!) include the following:

  • do you have subject-area teachers available to monitor, assess, and give assistance and feedback?
  • in social studies, is the software consistently updated? (For example, WorldView programs were the social studies component of Edmentum’s Plato Courseware for many years, but their version is no longer updated by us.)
  • is there a discussion component (either virtual or IRL)?
  • does the software’s content comprehensively cover your state’s standards? Look for software that has made it through your state’s textbook adoption process, which is a higher standard.
  • are there options for different types of assessment (not just multiple choice questions)? WorldView programs have different levels of multiple choice questions (factual, conceptual, chronological, and image), guided and un-guided essays, short answer questions, and projects.
  • how much repetition/randomization do the multiple choice questions employ? How often can students retake the test? WorldView programs even have multiple testing options for multiple choice questions: Study Questions are Socratic, allowing students two tries and give a mini-lesson explanation for the answer.  Practice Tests allow the student one try.  And coming soon are Mastery Questions that contain different question stems, answers, and distractors.
  • how secure is your IT system? how much of the internet can students access from within the program? do they have access to their own devices?

And so on!  Are you a teacher, administrator, or home-schooler using software for credit recovery or acceleration? Let us know what issues you’ve discovered in the comments.


BulbgraphOnOffUse the answers to the “Questions for Thought” in the overview as a note-taking guided exercise.


Preview WorldView Software’s programs for free at company logohttp://www.worldviewsoftware.com/preview/

Top Ten Posts in 2016

These were the posts on WorldView Software’s blog that were most popular over the past year:

  1. Home page / Archives – See the latest post here
  2. American Ancestry in Maps – there are LOTS of people with German ancestry
  3. Transgender People in History – definitions, historical examples, and more
  4. The Museum of Lost Objects – documenting antiquities lost to war
  5. How Do Polls Work? – when is a poll a valid measure of public opinion?
  6. Economic Indicators – non-traditional indicators of economic well-being (or not)
  7. Phases of the Moon – why we keep track of the moon
  8. Could You Come up with $1,000 for an Emergency? – a personal financial literacy issue
  9. Secular Homeschoolers – why WorldView’s materials are a good fit
  10. Using Pokémon Go to Teach Local History – how to work the fad into your lesson planning

Have a happy new year, and thanks for reading!


BulbgraphOnOffAlmost any current browser can be used with WorldView Software, making it accessible from a wide range of devices.


Preview WorldView Software’s programs for free at company logohttp://www.worldviewsoftware.com/preview/

Secular Homeschoolers

There are many reasons why families choose to homeschool.  And it may surprise you to know that the top reasons are NOT religious or moral instruction:

chart listing reasons by percentage of parents responding
from http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oii/nonpublic/statistics.html

But a recent article in The Atlantic discussed the plight of secular homeschoolers — parents who find it difficult to find materials that do not espouse religious points of view or explanations.  Most materials are aimed at the Christian market, as they make up approximately 2/3 of homeschoolers, meaning secular homeschoolers have to be creative.  As Jaweed Kaleem explains,

When Smith decided to homeschool her son and started searching online for resources, she realized most homeschool families are Christian. Eventually, she started following secular homeschooling message boards and Facebook groups to figure out which lesson plans are atheist-friendly and which science books and instructors will teach evolution. Finding non-religious resources has been difficult at times…Many atheist, agnostic, and non-religious kids and parents credit social media with helping them realize there are others like them.

This is likely to be a growing trend.  The number of atheists and agnostics is trending upwards in the United States.  The Pew Research Center says the religiously unaffiliated (which also includes people who believe in God) are now 23% of the adult population.

If you’re a secular homeschooler, take a look at WorldView’s programs.  WorldView is a secular company, and all our products are based on scientific and historical evidence.  [The name of our company predates the use of the term by evangelical Christians to denote “an overarching approach to understanding God, the world and man’s relations to God and the world.” (from http://www.focusonthefamily.com/faith/christian_worldview/whats_a_christian_worldview.aspx )]  We also provide supports for homeschoolers including curriculum guides, progress trackers, and correlations to state standards.


BulbgraphOnOffProject the multiple choice questions and have your class use clickers, tweets, or texts to answer. Then use the mini-lesson answer to kick off discussion.


Preview WorldView Software’s programs for free at company logohttp://www.worldviewsoftware.com/preview/

Using Software for Home-Schooling in Social Studies

There’s a bewildering amount of software out there, especially if you’re home-schooling your child (or children) in social studies — how can you decide what’s best for your needs?

First, you should look at what your state requires students to learn.  These state standards can be found on the state department of education websites, and all publishers work to correlate their products and programs with these standards.  The correlations indicate whether or not a particular standard is covered in the program, and in how much depth.  For all WorldView products, just go to our website, select the product you want to use, and then choose the state from the drop-down menu to see the correlation for that product.

Next, take a look at our curriculum guides to get a start on how you would plan your curriculum: what you want to cover, when, and how.  Once you have an idea of the scope and sequence of your curriculum, check out the program and see how you would incorporate specific activities and assessments.

Homeschool users have free access to lesson plans for each type of activity, blueprints for planning the day.  These lesson plans were developed by experienced teachers, with well-defined learning and behavioral objectives that can be measured.  They also give alternatives for students who are having trouble with the material, as well as for those who have breezed through and want more challenging work.

[Featured image is “Mother and daughter in kitchen” by Jason Kasper from Harrisburg, USA – Modified version of 100_4456. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons]


BulbgraphOnOffWhen assigning students an internet project, remind them they can refer to the “Internet Research Primer” tutorial for help.

Designing Educational Software, part 5

Product Scenarios, continued

Case #3: Credit recovery

This scenario envisioned the program being used by a student who had failed a class or was attending summer school or an alternative school program (for those who have discipline or other problems fitting in with mainstream students). In schools, these “credit recovery” plans are much less supervised than the normal curriculum.

The student takes a formative assessment test of the chapter and receives a failing grade, thus requiring further interaction with the chapter. S/he then reads the overview and glossary, opening one or two associated documents, art image, maps, or graphs as assigned by the supervising teacher. After answering the open-ended questions on the ancillary material, which is graded by the teacher using the answer key, s/he self-tests on the factual, conceptual, map/graph, and chronology questions. Confident that s/he now knows the material, s/he takes a summative assessment test that is  graded.

This scenario assumes that the product is not available to students outside of the computer lab and that the lab is monitored by a non-subject area expert. The student will be motivated by the desire to not get left back a grade. It is not expected that s/he will learn more than the bare minimum required to pass the assessment tests.

Case #4: the homeschooler

Homeschooling, or teaching one’s children at home, is becoming an educational option for many more people due to the resources available through the internet. According to the National Home Education Research Institute’s Homeschool Population Report 2010, there were 2.04 Million homeschool students in the United States, an increase from the 850,000 there were in 1999 according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In this scenario, we imagined a student being homeschooled by a parent who is not a subject-matter expert, and who has varying motivations for homeschooling their child.

The student takes a formative assessment test of the chapter and receives a failing grade, thus requiring further interaction with the chapter. S/he then scans the overview and glossary, opening one or two associated documents, the art gallery, maps, and graphs as the mood strikes. After noodling around in that chapter for a while (up to a certain parent-determined amount of time — for example, they have a week to get through the chapter), s/he self-tests on the factual, conceptual, map/graph, and chronology questions. Confident that s/he now knows the material, s/he takes the summative assessment test that is  graded.

This scenario assumes that the product is available to students outside of any supervision, but also that the content is useful to this student more as a research resource for parent-directed projects.

This list of case studies is by no means exhaustive. In particular, we did not flesh out the consideration of the use of our programs in online-only courses, whether massive online open courses (MOOCs) or institution-based courses. This actually became more of a consideration in the latter stage of product development, when we were designing the management system. There are issues of compatibility with schools’ pre-existing management systems, some of which are proprietary platforms such as Blackboard, while others are highly customized and based on open-source platforms, such as Moodle.


BulbgraphOnOffIn a flipped classroom, have students read the overview on their own, then go through the “Questions for Thought” in class as starting points for discussion.