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New Common Core resources link data with instruction

educators-resourcesSchools now have access to new resources that link Common Core-aligned curriculum with any assessment data—and what’s more, these resources are 100-percent free.

The resources, housed on Activate Instruction, are part of an open platform where educators can browse, search, rate, add, share, and organize their favorite Common Core-aligned resources, and put them together in personalized playlists for students.

Parents and students can follow sets of resources that educators have prescribed, or they can search for the resource they like best.

What makes this free platform a step above other online resources currently available? The content, which includes nearly all subjects for grades 6-12 (soon expanding to K-12), has been largely aggregated and published by two high-performing schools: Summit Public Schools (SPS) in San Francisco and High Tech High (HTH) in San Diego.

(Next page: How the new resources can help personalize learning)

According to Activate Instruction, this is the only free content aggregation resource in existence that “enables teachers to personalize instruction, because the technology allows curricular resources to link electronically to any school system’s student achievement data management systems.”

“Activate Instruction … is essentially a curricular Wikipedia,” explained Michele Hanson, president of the Girard Education Foundation.

As of press time, the resources reportedly had been accessed by more than 35,000 educators.

Common Core resource creation

Both schools that helped to build out the Common Core-aligned resources consistently rank among the best in California, with SPS’ flagship schools ranked amongst the top 100 best high schools in the nation, and 96 percent of SPS graduates are accepted to at least one four-year college or university.

HTH’s curriculum also contributed to their success in sending 98 percent of grads to go onto college, even though more than a third are first-generation college students.

Before SPS submitted their Common Core-aligned resources, the materials began when groups of subject teachers collaborated to determine objectives for curriculum playlists, an assessment created for those objectives was then reviewed by another teacher of the same discipline, and a playlist was created to align with those objectives and that assessment.

The resources were then vetted by other teacher outside of the department and were reviewed for “instructional quality” and whether the materials were likely to work from the student perspective.

In addition to SPS-created educator resources, materials on Activate also include resources that teachers at schools like SPS have curated from a variety of providers, such as BrainPOP, Quizlet, CK-12, Khan Academy, and Socrates.

Ongoing peer review and ratings are encouraged, and Activate will allow educators to quickly access the highest rated content, as more educators build out the platform.

So far, the resources provided on Activate include playlists, worksheets, lesson plans, graphic organizers, pictures, videos, websites, PowerPoint presentations, and assessments.

For examples of resources aggregated into a playlist, check out:

(Next page: Linking to assessment data)

A cut above other resources

Activate Instruction also provides a lot of extra features many other online resource platforms don’t include. For example:

  • There is no “freemium,” since Activate is made possible through funding by the nonprofit Girard Education Foundation.
  • By using the free integrated version of Activate, schools can get “smart” resource and playlist recommendations based on assessment data, and add formative assessments to playlists.
  • With the integrated version, student can also receive instant feedback on their progress after completing activities.
  • Students can also rate resources on Activate—ratings that educators and students can see—in terms of: whether they liked it, how long it took, and whether they feel they learned from it.
  • All resources are available through the Creative Commons licensing.
  • The platform  is FERPA-secured; the system never stores any student-identifiable data except for a secure username and password. This name and password is known only to the user, so students and their parents can follow teachers and mark their favorite resources.

“Large school districts today are putting out multi-million dollar bids for technology to prepare for the Common Core—expensive bets that could, in large part, be satisfied by Activate Instruction for free,” said Hansen.

“Activate Instruction has been instrumental in our district’s efforts to increase instructional rigor and better align our curriculum to the Common Core standards—it’s been a catalyst for our transition to the [Common Core],” said Elizabeth Kaufman, assistant superintendent for Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District, Calif., in a statement.

For more detailed educator feedback, see

Already schools nationwide are preparing to use Activate this fall, include schools in California, KIPP schools nationwide, and Intrinsic Schools in Chicago.

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