Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2016


Quality Common Core-aligned lessons with great modeling for teachers

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts
  • Math

  • 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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Teachers say (46 Reviews)
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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.

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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 whole K through 12 grade span. Experienced teachers create the 3- to 5-minute videos and lessons, complete with leveled practice problems, anchor texts, and writing prompts. Whole lesson plans offer teacher hints, background information, and additional guidance in a ready-to-present slide-like presentation that incorporates videos, visuals, and hands-on practice. Content is available 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, using pencil and paper to follow the video’s guidance. 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, the site acts as a mix of a 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 LearnZillion to provide targeted attention to help 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 should know 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.

Overall Rating

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

It's easy to use, and visuals are appealing. While it may lack obvious hooks for engagement, kids should be drawn in by the desire to learn in a personalized way.

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

Developed by experienced teachers, the lessons are clear and concise. The practice exercises and prompts encourage kids to learn independently. With a teacher's help, personalized assignments can meet students right at their problem areas.

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

Many of the how-to videos and lesson plans are helpful and demonstrate the site’s potential and utility in the classroom. Teachers can keep track of students’ progress as well.

Teacher Reviews

(See all 46 reviews) (46 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Amy K. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Cornell Senior High School
Coraopolis, United States
Thorough, but repetitive. Students can lose interest in the reading passages
I think that the passages are interesting, but there could be more variety. There are only about 6 weeks worth of material for each grade (for close reading). Additionally, they use the same short passage for a week's worth of lessons. While this might be effective, it does leave some students losing interest. It leaves me having to weigh the loss of interest vs. the meaningful lessons. Sometimes I can do the whole week lessons, sometimes we only do 2-3 lessons with one passage. Overall this is well ...
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