Ways to help parents understand the Common Core

Many parents are eager to take a proactive and productive role in student learning.

To help you out, we hosted a conversation between Eric Westendorf, CEO and co-founder of LearnZillion and Greg Mullenholz, former teacher, coach, 2013 Dream Team member, and current principal in Montgomery County Public Schools, to discuss some practical actions teachers can take to engage parents. Highlights include 5 tips on how best to share resources and specific ways to support student learning in light of identified gaps or advanced student needs. We’ve summarized some of their main points in the blog post below.

VIDEO

How can LearnZillion help Parents?

  1. Help them understand the standards
  2. Help with homework
  3. Support struggling students
  4. Accelerate bored students

For more, check out this blog post: Parent Resources: 4 Ways to Support Your Child’s Learning with Instructional Videos.

 

What’s the best way to share?

 

1. Email:

Send parents the Common Core content their child needs to master via URL, Quick code, or use the assign feature.

On LearnZillion we’ve made resource-sharing easy. You can simply copy and paste the URL or quick code of a video lesson and email it to parents. You can also directly assign math content or ELA content to students to complete for homework; parents can help their child complete this work at home.

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2. Letter Home:

Tell parents HOW they can use the resources available on LearnZillion.com

Sometimes paper is still the best medium to communicate with parents. Simply download this letter, customize the yellow portion to the standards your students learned that day and voilà, your students’ parents are ready to access the content online.

Click this image to download the parent letter and customize it to your class

Click this image to download the parent letter

 

 

3. Text:

Use a service like Reminder 101 or Edmodo to text parents video lesson quick codes

Quick codes – short six digit number attached to each lesson – allow teachers and parents to easily access lesson content by typing the code into any search bar on LearnZillion.com. Remind 101 allows you to text these codes to parents with the click of a button. We’ve seen parents watch these videos on their phone while waiting to pick up their children at school, or during a quick 5-7 minute break in the middle of the day. It’s a great method to bring parents closer to their children’s education amidst their already busy schedules.

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4. Create a context:

Make it easy for parents to take action.

It’s not enough to just give parents resources. Ease of use matters; the directions you give to parents should be as bite-sized and targeted as possible. Give parents a specific lesson that will best help with homework. Suggest how they can use the video with their child. Creating context can give parents confidence that they are supporting their child in the right ways.

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5. Use as basis for math or ELA night:

Share this information with parents through an in-school educational session.

Consider using LearnZillion content as a basis for a math and ELA night. These nights – organized for parents, students and teachers for topic-specific support – are a great way to demonstrate effective practice of parent involvement. Model what it looks like to find a lesson, talk about a lesson, work on homework using the lesson, and take notes. You can kickstart a habit so that parents and students can feel comfortable using the resources without the teacher present.

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These are some good steps to consider the next time you try to engage parents. Have any other ideas? Leave a comment below. And thanks for forwarding this post along to your friends and colleagues.

School closed because of the Polar Vortex? We’ve got you covered!

The Polar Vortex is closing down school all across the country. Give your students some high quality lessons to work on while they’re at home so the learning doesn’t stop.

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Download this snow-day-specific parent letter

2. Find the LZ Quick Codes you want students to work on and add them to the letter or, just direct them to the “essential” lessons from grades 3-8 at the end of the letter.

3. Share the letter with students and parents.

4. Mix up some hot chocolate and stay off the roads!

If you’ve never used LZ Quick Codes before, just find the lesson you want to share, click “Quick Code”, jot down the code and share it!
Quick Codes

We hope this is helpful! Stay warm, stay safe and happy teaching!

Cheers,

The LearnZillion Team

9 Ways to Use LearnZillion with Students

We’ve built LearnZillion’s free resources to support teachers, students, and parents. To that end, here are the nine most popular ways LearnZIllion is already being used to drive student learning and maximize positive student outcomes.

Learn about the most popular ways to use LearnZillion with Students

Learn about the most popular ways to use LearnZillion with Students

Before class you can…

1) Review prerequisite knowledge

Use a Quick Code to jump start your introduction to new concepts or standards by assigning videos that address your lesson’s foundational knowledge and skills before students arrive for class. This not only helps to reactivate prior knowledge, but also preemptively addresses lingering learning gaps from previous grades or units.

Quick Code on a LearnZillion lesson page

Quick Code on a LearnZillion lesson page

2) Pre-teach concepts on an individualized basis

Rather than assign the next day’s lesson to the entire class, you can assign “pre-work” to certain students to ensure they have a leg up on tricky concepts. For those students with concept or skill-gaps, pre-teaching can help to increase student engagement and understanding of your lesson the next day. Plus, this “pre-work” can build student confidence (suddenly, they’re already familiar with what you’re teaching), and seed “peer experts” or helpers within your room.

3) Flip the classroom

Maximize the amount of time your students have for exploration, discussion, and project-based learning by front-loading your direct instruction. Select the LearnZillion lesson or lessons that address the key instructional concepts, assign them to your students, and center the next day’s plan around a meaningful problem, discussion topic, task, or project. Spend the first few minutes of class clarifying any questions students still have after watching the video, then dive into your higher-order activity.

It may take a while for students (and you!) to transition to this new routine, so you’ll want to provide them with plenty of modeling and empower them to come prepared to ask questions.

You may want to use LearnZillion’s notes template (which can be found on each lesson page) to promote strong study habits, focus, and accountability.

During class you can…

4) Drive whole group instruction

Switch-up your direct instruction with a LearnZillion video. As you play the video for the class, strategically pause or re-watch the video at key moments in order to check for understanding, solicit student reactions, and allow students the chance to solve problems before seeing the answer modeled.

Lesson videos do more than provide a change of pace for you, as a third grade teacher at Hyde Addison School in Washington, DC recently told us, “My students found it more engaging hearing someone else’s voice.”

Additionally, the videos enable dynamic visuals — such as the volume of melting ice pictured in this lesson — that can strongly articulate the concept and further engage students.

5) Focus small group work or centers

Turbocharge centers or small group instruction by anchoring student work with a relevant lesson video. Whether the goal is direct instruction, group review, practice, or extension, you can use quick codes to set a targeted group agenda and focus student work. For each Common Core math standard, we also have a library of practice problems that students can tackle independently online, or collaborate to complete via a paper handout.

6) Coordinate with colleagues 

Use LearnZillion to create a consistent and rigorous instructional environment for your students throughout your building. Find the LearnZillion lessons that support your instructional goals for the week, and share the relevant quick codes with other colleagues who work with your students. This way, you can ensure that regardless of whether they’re going to a pull-out class, physical education, art, recess, or an RTI block, your students will be getting con sistent reinforcement, support, and messaging from all of the adults around them.

After class you can… 

7) Differentiate your instruction

Respond to data from your formative assessments by creating customized playlists for the students or small groups in your class. After you’ve analyzed your formative data and identified learning gaps or areas that need additional reinforcement, use LearnZillion’s Common Core Navigator to find the target standard, and then narrow the list by finding the lesson objective that fit your students’ needs. Once you’ve assigned a custom playlist, students can log into their LearnZillion account to watch videos at home, during computer lab, centers, or study hall.

8) Support homework

Assign videos to provide your students with clear and conceptual scaffolds to help them tackle homework assignments or independent projects. Use these videos to clarify the key concepts or provide background knowledge or review to support your assignment.

9) Engage and empower parents

Increase parent involvement and engagement by providing a window into the standards and concepts you and your students are tackling in the classroom. By sharing the lesson quick codes for your current classwork or unit of study, you’ll not only provide your parent community with transparency around the Common Core Standards and your expectations, but also empower them with a useful tool to support learning at home.

So there you have it: the nine most popular ways to use LearnZillion with students.

Let us know how you’re using LearnZillion – we’d love to feature your success stories and share your tips with the rest of the LearnZillion community!