Here are some interesting articles we received and discovered this past week…


The Supplemental Curriculum Bazaar: Is What’s Online Any Good?

Link to Study:  The Supplemental-Curriculum Bazaar Is What’s Online Any Good

Quote from Article:

Nearly all teachers today report using the Internet to obtain instructional materials, and many of them do so quite often. And while several organizations now offer impartial reviews of full curriculum products, very little is known about the content and quality of supplemental instructional materials.

The Supplemental-Curriculum Bazaar: Is What’s Online Any Good?, authored by University of Southern California associate professor Morgan Polikoff and educational consultant Jennifer Dean, explores a simple question: Are the supplemental materials teachers download on popular websites high quality?


The study focuses on lesson plans and related materials for high school English language arts, an area where teachers are especially likely to supplement their core curricular resources, and examines over three hundred of the most downloaded materials across three of the most popular supplemental websites:

  • Teachers Pay Teachers
  • ReadWriteThink
  • Share My Lesson


It addresses two main sets of questions:

  • What types of materials are teachers downloading most frequently? What kinds of content do they include?
  • How do experts rate the quality of these materials? What are their strengths and weaknesses? And what is the relationship (if any) between how experts view the quality of the materials and how teachers using them do?

Among the nine findings, our reviewers determine that the quality of the texts referenced in the materials are generally good, but clarity and instructional guidance for teachers are weak, and many resources fail to align to the academic standards to which they claim alignment.

Overall, reviewers rate most of the materials as “mediocre” or “probably not worth using.”

District Deeds Synopsis:

As a holiday present to all of our SDUSD Educators this study will hopefully provide you with a review of some of the resources you are already using and access to some top rated resources that you may not be aware of.

We understand the challenge of teaching in the modern era and specific challenge of teaching in the poorly lead San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD).  We hope that the review of the top rated resources will help you make the best selections for your classroom and will also help lighten your load.

Kaimiloa Elementary’s ‘Visible Learning’ Program Teaches Children to be Their Own Teachers

Quote from Article:

At Kaimiloa Elementary School, students take an active role in their education ― going so far as to assess the strength their own performances.

It’s a method called Visible Learning.

“It’s not just about teaching the lesson. It’s about going deeper and do you understand what you’re learning and why you’re learning it,” teacher Andrea Irimata said.

Visible Learning encourages students to ask three questions: Where am I going? How am I going? And where to next?

“We see learning through the eyes of our students, and we want our students to become their own teachers,” principal Debra Hatada said.


At the heart of Visible Learning are dispositions, soft skills students can apply to their lessons and lives like communication, perseverance and self-motivation.

“To me Visible Learning is when our teachers can see our students having an interest in our learning, and their students are engaged in what they want to do,” fifth-grader Khloe-Raine Lopes said.


Some youngsters who’ve graduated to higher grades still apply the dispositions.

“You really need to self-motivate in general because doing homework really isn’t my favorite thing,” said Taytum Shimoda, a seventh-grader at Ilima Intermediate.

“The meaning of Visible Learning is it’s the skills you need to be a better student in and out of school,” seventh-grader Logan Chong said.

Kaimiloa’s commitment earned it an award this year. It’s the first school in North America certified as a Visible Learning campus.

District Deeds Synopsis:

After reading this article we wished our kids had the opportunity to experience this “Visible Learning” teaching method,

“Learning through the eyes of students” seems pretty basic but that also seems to be the best part.  There is a video of the classroom using Visible Learning in the article but we found and even better illustration on YouTube here: Ka’imiloa’s Visible Learning Journey

We recommend that our readers review both the article and the YouTube video for a fascinating visit into a Ka’imiloa Visible Learning classroom.


Six Thinking Scaffolds That Can Move Students Toward Deeper Levels of Understanding


Quote from Article:

In the field of instructional design, experts have debated whether student-led, problem-based approaches — what researchers call “constructivist” approaches — work. In a new study, cognitive scientist Tina Grotzer and her research partners found further evidence of the effectiveness of structured problem-based learning, in which educators can support students in moving from novice toward expert-level understanding.

Grotzer and a team (Nancy Oriol, Stephanie Kang, Colby Moore Reilly, and Julie Joyal) looked at the Harvard Medical School MEDscience curriculum, founded by Oriol, that uses technology-mediated, problem-based learning simulations to enrich the experience of high school biology students.

Joyal  — executive director for MEDscience — and the team noticed that as their problem-based curriculum progressed, students changed the way they approached problems. Rather than waiting for the teacher to give them answers, they made hypotheses based on existing knowledge, discussed their thoughts with their teams, and took risks — all signs of deeper-level learning.


To study this shift in classroom behavior, Joyal, Moore Reilly, and Grotzer used a sample of 21 students from a range of public and private schools in the Boston. The research team found that the thinking scaffolds — the prompts and support instructors used to guide students through the curriculum and activities — were instrumental in generating a shift towards more expert-level reasoning.

“We know that experts pay attention to a very different set of patterns than novices often do. Novices get caught up in the surface features and can’t necessarily see the deep principles,” Grotzer says. “It’s really important to think what kind of scaffolding helps people take steps towards greater expertise in their thinking and reasoning.”


Prompt students to include context: Ask questions that prompt students to include what they know already and emphasize the need to seek out further information or clarification. Get them to take a step back from the problem at hand and make connections.


Ask open-ended questions: Guide students to reconsider an idea without explicitly correcting them. Generic probes work well but more targeted questions also work.


Help students transfer knowledge and experience: Have students think back to past experiences and information sources like classroom learning. Also encourage them to consider what is happening in the present moment.


Leave room for student ownership: Signal that the choices students make are up to them — the role of the teacher is not to make decisions about what to do next or execute.


Invite and manage risk: Allow students to take risks by not immediately dismissing “wrong” answers. This fosters a strong classroom culture where students are willing to try new methods.


Encourage reflection: Students need to be reminded that they are not just participants but also learners in this process.

District Deeds Synopsis:

We are familiar with scaffolding but as a non-educator we were not exactly sure how it fit into the every day classroom.  This article broke the scaffolding method down in a way understandable to the novice.

Combining these 6  efffective “scaffolding” methods to the Ka’imiloa Visible Learning strategy in the first article seems like a natural fit to advance student learning and engagement.  We invite any of our SDUSD Teachers or other educators who actually employ scaffolding to post there comments on this “combo” suggestion.

Now for our Quote of the Week:

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

Have a great week!!!



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