Review by Jason Shiroff, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2016


Super STEM resource with highly accessible content

Subjects & skills
  • Math
  • Science

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: The information is well organized, the site is beautifully designed, and the wealth of content is outstanding.

Cons: Some sections could be more fleshed out, and the interactives often lack rigor.

Bottom Line: Making STEM content accessible to kids with different learning styles, CK-12 could be the key to mastery for some students.

The CK-12 site has a wealth of great content that teachers can work into the classroom. You're likely to find a lesson that directly corresponds to what you're teaching, and the diagrams and videos are very accessible. As students dig into the content, have them track how well they're doing by looking at their quiz results over time.

Teachers can search content by CCSS, NGSS, and various state standards. If you're looking for a very specific topic, enter it in the search box to go straight there. If you don't find what you need, you can add your own content, creating Flexbooks for your students that contain the material you'd like to share. You can bookmark material that you'd like to save for later, or students can send content to a classmate via email or social media.

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With CK-12, students can create an account by entering their email address and a password. They can then explore the site, which is divided into Mathematics, Science, and More. Mathematics includes subjects from arithmetic to trigonometry and statistics. Science covers all the bases: biology, chemistry, and physics, as well as life, earth, and physical science. The More section offers history, technology, and economics. Within each subject, you can click on a circle, each of which contains a number of Concepts (short, chapter-like lessons). For example, if you click on Phases of Matter, you will be given a list of topics that includes evaporation, sublimation, and solutions. Within these topics, you can choose from a series of modalities: Read, Practice, Video, Real World, and more. 

Additional content includes PLIX interactives, which allow students to view or manipulate models to answer challenge questions. And the engaging physics simulations are recommended for middle and high school students. CK-12 also has dedicated iOS, Android, and Chrome apps for practice and the ability for students to create groups for sharing content with each other.

Students can learn a variety of STEM subjects through CK-12, as well as study skills and SAT prep. Some subjects, such as anatomy, require straightforward memorization, while others, like life science, will encourage students to reflect on their world and how its pieces fit together. Material on the site is well organized and very accessible. CK-12 will likely appeal most to students who are already fairly studious; it doesn't oversimplify ideas. While it does cover simpler subjects such as arithmetic, its presentation might be too advanced for students of the appropriate age and level to understand on their own. It's perfect with the help of a parent or teacher, however.

CK-12 is committed to reaching students with all types of learning needs, and the inclusion of video, audio, quizzes, and other tools may open doors for those who are having trouble in the classroom. The site is essentially transforming a textbook into a multimedia experience that is available in nearly 50 languages. Some subjects contain more content than others, but teachers are adding lessons all the time, and the site may continue to grow. Information is broken down into very specific segments, with great attention to detail. For example, students can choose between lessons on jawless fish, cartilaginous fish, or bony fish; beneath each of these topics are at least four modalities. Some of the PLIX interactives, however, lack rigor and are best suited for practice once students have learned the concept. 

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The site's design includes beautiful diagrams and a tidy interface that makes it easy to find the content you're looking for. Students will be engaged just browsing the topics that interest them. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Groups allow students and teachers to share content with each other; there's much to explore and discover here, although the content is somewhat of a mixed bag.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The site's efforts to make its content accessible to all students is evident; content is available in 50 languages and includes audio, video, and other multimedia. Help abounds in webinars, a FAQ list, and other guiding documents.

Common Sense Reviewer
Jason Shiroff Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 12 reviews) (12 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Michael G. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Bayshore Middle School
Leonardo, United States
Digital Textbook for Social Studies
CK-12 allows me to utilize a online textbook that is fully compatible with Google Classroom. It can become a "flipped" lesson. Students can use it to reinforce content and study material. It is available wherever students have Internet, so not bulky textbooks needed!
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