* LearnZillion

board-784355_640LearnZillion is an online resource created to improve teacher instruction of Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  (Whether we should support CCSS is another matter altogether.  Regardless of that outcome, LearnZillion’s resources will be helpful for teachers who need a model of how to engage their students in a rigorous, inquiry-based classroom.)  The brainchild of Eric Westendorf and colleagues, LearnZillion is dedicated to providing free math and English Language Arts videos and lesson plans. Now serving over a half a million teachers, LearnZillion has an impressive collection of resources for grades 2 through 12.

Is LearnZillion free?  Yes!  You can easily create an account as a teacher or parent.  Once you create a classroom, it is very simple to assign students.  I especially appreciate that students may sign up without email.  So how does LearnZillion pay for itself?  It offers premium memberships to school districts.

What do I like about LearnZillion?  Based on my understanding of effective, brain-friendly instruction, these lessons and videos provide students:

  • a wide range of strategies for learning specific skills, which is more likely to support learning differences
  • built-in time for student processing of information
  • targeted instruction which is aligned with current research on how long and how effectively the brain can absorb information

What does LearnZillion provide teachers?  Not only are excellent resources available for free, but these can serve as a springboard to better lesson planning in general.  As a special educator, I’ve watched instruction narrow considerably over the past fifteen years or so in response to testing pressures.  Classroom teachers have found themselves in a narrow, data-keeping role, which tends to shrink lessons to match test items.  Teachers are frustrated with their role as “testers.”  If educators can share effective, time-saving strategies and techniques, I am all for it.  In LearnZillion’s blog, Westendorf describes the phenomena I’ve observed.  LearnZillion is his thoughtful solution.

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