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Pros: It's super customizable, which means you can assign kids the lessons they need to work on most.
Cons: Lacks an element of fun, which could make using the site feel like work for some kids.
Bottom Line: An innovative way to enhance lessons and tailor learning for individual needs.
Use LearnZillion to give your students an extra learning boost, to give them review on topics you've covered in class, or even to give them a springboard for new exploration. You can also find new lessons, give yourself inspiration, or learn how to explain a concept a different way. Full lesson plans, complete with teaching notes, necessary prerequisites, and more, provide a lot of the background work necessary for teaching a new concept.
You and your students can do these lessons as a whole class, or students can do them in small groups or on their own. For example, hold a "math lab" where kids work on slightly different sets of problems that are specifically tailored to their needs. Assign "just right" practice exercises to each student based on their level of understanding. As students work, move around the classroom to check in, guide, and assist where needed. Afterward, use the videos as a follow-up for homework or classwork. As needed, you can assign extra practice as an extension or for intervention.
LearnZillion is an online database of short video lessons that address learning topics aligned to individual Common Core standards. The lessons cover a wide variety of math and English language arts topics for the K-8 grade span. Experienced teachers create the three- to five-minute videos and lessons, complete with leveled practice problems, anchor texts, and writing prompts. Separate curriculum sets targeting particular topics and grades offer whole lesson plans, teacher hints, background information, and additional guidance, including ready-to-present slide-like presentations that incorporate videos, visuals, and hands-on practice. It's accessible on the web and on iOS and Android tablets.
For kids, the videos feature commentary, extra hints, tricks, and a "try it yourself" segment to help them practice on their own. Multiple-choice quizzes help assess students' learning. When both kids and teachers create accounts, teachers can assign lessons to individual students or to the whole class, see who's completed a lesson, and view students' scores.
Full Disclosure: LearnZillion and Common Sense Education share funders; however, those relationships do not impact Common Sense Education's editorial independence and this learning rating.
At its best, LearnZillion acts as a mix of teacher's assistant and mentor. Not sure how to explain a new or difficult concept? You can get helpful guidance from another teacher who's found a successful method. Teachers who are spread thin, or those whose students may need extra help, can use it to provide targeted attention to students right where they need it most. For instance, before students try any particular math lesson, a series of links help teachers identify the necessary skills students will need to know. This is very useful in helping teachers identify any gaps in students' knowledge before they begin. Lessons also offer teachers a variety of extension and intervention ideas. Teachers can sign up for a free account to get access to limited content for one teacher and one student. Paid school and district plans offer full content for multiple users.
Teachers should know that LearnZillion isn't a game; it's better as a teacher's tool than as a super-exciting activity for kids. However, what it may lack in fun factor, it makes up for in clear, instructive content. LearnZillion does so much of the background and presentation work for you, it may feel like a virtual teacher. But rather than thinking of it as a teacher substitute -- there's no replacement for hands-on, face-to-face interaction -- think of it as a teacher enhancement. Live teachers are essential for choosing assignments wisely, tracking progress, and filling in the gaps when kids struggle. While the multiple-choice quizzes may not align perfectly with each lesson's content, they're serviceable. Teachers may still choose to do their own learning assessments offline. While the site provides answer keys, the inclusion of authentic student work samples and assessment criteria would offer a stronger picture of what quality work looks like.