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


Quality Common Core-aligned lessons with great modeling for teachers

Subjects & skills
  • Critical Thinking

  • English Language Arts
  • Math
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (45 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.

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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.

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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 45 reviews) (45 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Leah M. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Davidsonville Elementary School
Davidsonville, MD
A Zillion Ways to Teach and Assess in Math and ELA!

There are some videos that are not as engaging to the students, but as stated before, they do not need to be used. It is important for teachers to VIEW the content prior to showing it to students. You know what will work or not work for your students.
This resource is especially great for students that benefit from visual and step-by-step instructions. I would not recommend using this as your primary instruction for gifted students/advanced learners.

Overall, I feel that this is a great resource for both students and classroom teachers. Teachers often need to find multiple approaches to teach one math standard, and this resource offers those ways to help target all learners. From detailed lessons to supplemental resources, Learnzillion has it all!
Although it is a great resource, teachers should be aware that the videos should not be their only strategy to teach the lesson. When utilized too much, students are subject to lose some engagement as the lessons can be repetitive. I recommend only using the videos for those students that are having difficulty with the concept/skill after the lesson has been taught. You don’t want half of your class that “gets it” to sit through the direct instruction.
As stated before, this resource benefits students because it gives them the step-by-step, visual instruction they might need to make meaning of the skill. They also have the option to view these videos at home if they are confused or missed class.

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