Website review by Lashonda Gardenhire, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2021

eSpark

Assorted videos engage young learners in math and ela standards

Learning rating
Community rating
Based on 121 reviews
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Grades
K–6
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Math, Character & SEL

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Pros: student mood check, short/engaging videos, Google/Clever integration, detailed reports, translated parent resources

Cons: Limited accessibility features, limited checks for understanding, limited student choice

Bottom Line: Great additional curriculum resources, but insufficient instructional value to be used without additional materials

eSpark is an online platform that attempts to provide differentiated math and ela instruction in a way that students in grades K-5 will love! First, students are given a pre assessment and then sent on quests to learn more.

In reading, teachers can use this product for students who need additional time and resources to practice ela standards. Teachers can assign students varied engaging texts and answer reading comprehension questions at, above or below their level.

In math, teachers can assign students to complete an assortment of early algebra and geometry problems after watching videos and singing songs.

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eSpark is an online platform that is designed to mimic a video game feel. Students select an avatar, that they then have to take on quests by answering a series of questions. The content seems grade level appropriate and gets increasingly difficult as one moves from grade K to grade 6 assignments. The quest directions are read aloud for the early grades, and gradually fade away for older students. Within each quest, a green light indicates when students get a question correct, and a grey one for incorrect answers.

However, it doesn’t seem like the quest course is affected by how many answers students get correct, or incorrect. The content primarily seems to be Youtube videos that eSpark has collected and assembled in one place. Unfortunately, they limit the viewing features, so students who are used to adding captions, or slowing down their video speed will be unable to do so on this platform.

eSpark is a good tool for students to use when they need engaging independent work. It can also be a great resource for students to get additional practice outside of class time.  Teachers may however struggle to use the data collected from this platform as a tool to modify their daily instructional goals.

In the math section, kindergarten students can watch a video about counting by ones, two, or tens. But since there are only 5 questions at the end of the video, teachers don’t have a large enough sample size to know if students truly mastered these various standards are not. There is also insufficient data to determine where students' learning may have broken down.

In the reading section, the 6th grade lessons around plot development include several videos, songs, and texts to read. The story is engaging, but there is no follow up when students answer the comprehension questions incorrectly. The questions are also not worded in alignment with the way new standardized assessments are to meet Common Core. Students taking statewide third or fourth grade state assessments who use this platform will need additional test prep instruction.

Overall Rating

Engagement

eSpark meets students where they are, in a digital format using songs and games, motivating them to sign in and stay! The website is easy to navigate, although once students are assigned a quest, there is limited customization.

Pedagogy

While reading and math content are grade level appropriate, eSpark lacks the customization of other online platforms. It is also not aligned with how students will be asked to demonstrate understanding in the long run.

Support

eSpark has “teacher resources” and “webinars” but no email address or  chat feature! There is also a limited online community of other educators using the platform- just one group on Facebook and Instagram.


Common Sense reviewer
Lashonda Gardenhire Classroom teacher

Community Rating

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Featured review by
Jasmin K. , Homeschooling parent
Homeschooling parent
Interactive & Engaging!
I think this app is a great resource as a teaching tool. It is very engaging for students and holds their attention. It also provides a lot of content for each grade-level that is appropriate and relates to what the student is currently learning. It is also very easy to navigate. However, I believe this app should only be used as a supplement to what one is learning instead of making it a main learning method. Accessibility features and checks for understanding are limited.
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