Common Sense Review
Updated November 2014

Goalbook Pathways

Helpful differentiating tool for CCSS has room to grow
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Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating
Not Yet Rated
  • From the homepage, users can browse unpacked CCSS (the Pathways) or focus on UDL-based instructional strategies.
  • A well-organized, interactive list allows users to easily peruse suggested Universal Design for Learning-based instructional strategies.
  • The Strategy Wizard allows teachers to identify appropriate classroom strategies using filters for subject area or barriers to learning.
  • CCSS are organized by grade level; most grades currently offer 1 or 2 Pathways for some math domains and ELA strands.
  • Built-in support, like definitions upon mouse-over, help clarify educational lingo.
Usefully unpacks CCSS and offers quality teaching strategies for differentiation.
Could benefit from fleshed-out lesson plans and a step-by-step protocol for custom-designing pathways for any standard.
Bottom Line
Currently a rich reference for teachers looking to demystify differentiation and CCSS, Goalbook Pathways will be truly worth the investment when it's also a place for creation.
Christie Thomas
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

With four tiers of targeted outcomes, Goalbook Pathways is tuned to different students' needs, and the crisp design helps teachers locate resources. But creating absorbing activities still rests primarily on educators' shoulders.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Clear, differentiated CSS objectives and well-explained instructional strategies prep teachers so all students will achieve. Adding an edit option to pathways or providing a template to create one would help educators personalize learning.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

The definitions and examples of teaching strategies are informative, and mouse-over insights into Depth of Knowledge levels are helpful. A good, but limited, library of CCSS Pathways currently is on offer, and no lesson plans are available.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

sixth-Prepare to have your brain stretch –- in a good way -– upon your first encounter with the lingo and levels of each pathway.  Give yourself some time to simply read and process. Once you're ready, identify a standard that's on your plate (but not yet on the site), and sketch out your own pathway; use the Goalbook-created pathways as models, and rely on the strategy list and wizard to support brainstorming. Try working with a grade-level team (each second-grade teacher focuses on one geometry standard) or in content pairs (sixth-grade science and ELA educators work on technical texts). Definitely include your special education and English-as-a-second-language staff.

Even if you’re not tackling CCSS, the Pathways provided through Goalbook may help you better envision what the same-but-different learning targets might look and sound like and how to apply varied instructional strategies to different audiences. Use the site and its research base to launch a building-level PLC, and make differentiated instruction a common classroom reality.

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What's It Like?

Goalbook Pathways is a reference site for teachers looking for actionable strategies for differentiating Common Core (CCSS) instruction. The "Strategies" section of the site connects teachers to universal design for learning-based instructional methods (UDL). “All Strategies” is an interactive list with definitions, examples, and tips. Alternatively, teachers can use the “Strategy Wizard” to filter approaches. These two resources are found in GoalBook Toolkit, a parallel product tuned for special education teachers.

What's unique to Goalbook Pathways is, well, its "pathways." These unpack CCSS, providing learning objectives for all four Depth of Knowledge levels. There also are corresponding instructional activities (geared to three levels and linked to the “Strategies” pages), sample assessments, and even standards alignment. There's a solid but not comprehensive amount of pathways offered across all grades but not covering all domains or standards. 

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Is It Good For Learning?

Goalbook Pathways provides teachers with articulated achievement goals and supportive teaching strategies. Especially in the face of CCSS, this kind of explanatory resource -– presented via a crisp, clear design -– is a solid option for educators looking for useful information on how to tackle differentiated CCSS instruction. Further, the site gracefully explains instructional jargon so all teachers can understand, and therefore support, all kids.

Unfortunately, avenues for creating or editing pathways are wanting; there’s not even a print-friendly copy on which to scribble. Being able to download the site’s template and use its strategy list would be brilliant. For most of us –- no matter how spectacular the resource we're handed -– truly digesting CCSS and differentiating for our classes requires us to be active authors.

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See how teachers are using Goalbook Pathways