USATestprep Blog

Archive for the 'Curriculum' Category

In Focus: The High-Tech Classroom

Monday, January 30th, 2012

The classroom of today has become vastly different from the classroom of even five years ago. As smartphones and high-speed internet are becoming more commonplace, students now have access to more information at their fingertips, much more than an entire textbook can provide. Teachers are needing to find new ways to keep students engaged. Interactive smart boards, clicker response systems, and even tablets like the iPad are becoming more common for classroom use.


Apple recently announced a new initiative with publishers Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and others that will turn static textbooks into interactive digital formats, capable of being updated at any time. They have also released a software tool that will let anyone create their own content.


Here at USATestprep, we are constantly following emerging technologies and looking into new ways to engage your students. This month we launched a mobile companion to our website allowing students to take a practice quiz, answer the question and vocab of the day, and participate in a “Class Party.” “Class Party” is another new product, allowing teachers to project questions on the screen, providing students with the opportunity to answer them remotely via their mobile device. These are just a few examples of how USATestprep is pushing students forward with content and technology. We hope you enjoy these new features.

In Focus: Social Studies Websites

Monday, December 12th, 2011

In doing some Social Studies authoring this summer, we ran across a few interesting websites. We kept tabs of them and even found a few more along the way. Here are a few of them that represent some of the disciplines.

US History and Government
The Annotated Declaration of Independence
Just as the name implies, the text of the Declaration is interlaced with links to explanations about key passages. This could provide some welcomed insight for students reviewing for tests, either for class or for the end of the course.

US Presidents: Lists and Records
Even though this is more of a “laundry list” of facts, it can still be rather engaging for students. It covers such potential trivia- or bonus point- questions about the birthplaces, religions, military experiences, occupations, and “firsts” for all of the Presidents.

World History & Geography
Modern Internet History Sourcebook
Ok, so this isn’t really anything new. Yours truly used this for most of his years in the classroom, but this treasure trove of primary sources is a must have for any history teacher. And don’t forget: you can access other historic eras and topics at the top of the home page.

National Geographic- The Urban Clan of Genghis Khan
The Mongols are a fascinating, often poorly characterized empire. This article from a recent issue of National Geographic bridges the Mongolian past with the present. A great read with, of course, some amazing photography. And since we’re on the issue of Mongolia…

National Public Radio- A New Beat Gives Young Mongolia A Voice, Identity
If you’re like us, you can’t get enough of modern Mongolian techno-rap music. What? You haven’t heard? Well, not only does this NPR article tell you about the movement- if you can call it that- but you can hear the interview and the music, too. Students will probably find this pretty cool.

Economics
The Inflation Calculator
So this one is just for the teachers, really. This site allow you to input a dollar amount for a source year and compare it to any other year. This is absolutely perfect if you wanted to put a dollar amount in US History in a contemporary context. $3.5 million for the Louisiana Territory in 1803? How about that same land costing $50 million in 2010 dollars? Still a good deal, even if you wanted to pay that for a condo in New York City.

Global Rich List
With all the talk of the “1%” and “99%”, this website puts things in a world perspective. Enter in a yearly income in Dollars/Euros/Pounds/Yen and see where that stacks up on average with the other billions of people in the world. If students want to see perspective, this site can do it.

This is a tiny list, but we feel there is some darn good stuff on it. At the very least, these links can get a conversation going. Let us know what you think, or share some links of your own.

Updates

Monday, November 14th, 2011

We have recently updated some of our existing products to keep up with changing standards in many states. These updates include-

  • Washington Biology EOC
  • Indiana Biology ECA
  • South Carolina South Carolina Social Studies PASS (6th-8th)

If your school subscribed to the previous version you are automatically subscribed to the updated version. If don’t subscribe to them and would like to take a look at them for a few days, just let us know.

In Focus: Common Core Standards

Monday, October 10th, 2011

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an effort coordinated by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSP) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center). According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, the goal of the standards it “to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.” To date, 44 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands have adopted the common core standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Implementation timelines vary from state to state, and common assessments are being developed by The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). USATestprep is committed to having Common Core Resources available for your state as implementation goes forward.

The Mathematics Common Core Coalition has been formed by eight organizations. Members of the coalition include: the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM), the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM), the National Governors Association (NGA), The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The coalition “works to provide expertise and advice on issues related to the effective implementation of the Common Core State Standards for School Mathematics (CCSSM)”.

For more information be sure to look at the Common Core Mathematics Initiative website.

Common Core for Social Studies?

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

No doubt you have heard about the “Common Core” standards being developed for English and Math. But could the same be on the horizon for social studies? Last week, social studies experts from 18 states met in Charlotte, North Carolina, to discuss ways to improve the prominence of their discipline in the national discourse. But does this mean that national standards are on the horizon? Not necessarily. This article sheds some light on the meeting.

So what do you think: common standards for social studies?

What is the most important subject?

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

You’ve probably heard the students say it: “You act like yours is the only class we have!” That’s what came to mind when reading this article by Alfie Kohn at The Huffington Post, but Kohn address a much larger situation: is there one subject in particular that is most important for students to learn? Kohn examines the current trend of saying that science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are most important, more so than learning verb conjugation or understanding the relevance of the Equal Protection Clause. (Full disclosure: your author was a Social Studies teacher for 17 years, do don’t get me started….) Regardless of your position, you’ll likely find this article at the very least informative, or maybe even fodder for a spirited debate in the faculty lounge.

Technology in the ELA Classroom

Friday, January 21st, 2011

We ran across this article in “Student Pulse Online:” Incorporating Technology into the Modern English Language Arts Classroom by Steven A. Carbone II. Carbone’s paper examines the classroom in the wake of the Facebook/Myspace/YouTube era in which your students revel. Particularly interesting- to us, anyway- is his investigation of how technology can be used in family history or oral history projects, something that could be of use also to history teachers.

Give a look at what this student’s take on a topic that is, understanably, near and dear to us.

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