Review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2018

PowerMyLearning Connect

Create playlists and differentiate with quality third-party content

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Pre-K–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (3 Reviews)

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Pros: The breadth of learning material is almost staggering, especially for a free resource.

Cons: Content is mostly pulled from other educational sites, and school resources and filters may limit what teachers can assign.

Bottom Line: A curation of some of the best educational content on the web made easily accessible, both for students and teachers.

PowerMyLearning Connect has so much content to offer, it might be tricky at first to figure out how to integrate it into your existing curriculum. However, with careful planning you'll be able to create lessons based on some of the site's better offerings. The preexisting playlists can be very helpful; they're compilations of related content that other teachers have put together. From "Elements of a Story and Poetry" to "Navigating the Coordinate Plane," you can choose from nearly 400 modifiable playlists. Additionally, you can assign missions, which guide students through activities and checkpoint tasks to assess concept mastery.

You can also create your own playlists and assign them to students within the site, tracking their usage. Differentiation is a snap with the ability to view class reports and match playlists with individuals or groups of students. The Playlist Task feature allows teachers to track student progress and assess understanding with open-ended responses, a rubric creation tool, and the option for students to upload picture-based evidence. Finally, the paid upgrade offers additional features, such as the ability to create family playlists for at-home practice as well as the creation of a school library of shared resources -- which encourages interdisciplinary planning and PLNs (professional learning networks). Whether you choose the basic version or the upgrade, applications abound for use in a traditional or flipped-classroom setting.

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PowerMyLearning Connect is a website that brings together free, curated educational content and activities from all over the web. Teachers can find standards-aligned academic games, readings, videos, creation tools, and interactive content across a range of subjects, from language arts, math, science, and social studies to technology and more. Search limiters allow teachers to locate content based on grade level or range, subject area, and content type. There are also limiters for iPad compatibility and YouTube content, making it easier for teachers to select appropriate activities for their grade level and setting.

Teachers can choose or design playlists, curated lists of websites, and web-based resources, as well as create assignments where students visit sites, view content, and complete activities. Adding tasks and grading options for playlists allows teachers to monitor student progress and curate differentiated content; once students submit their responses, teachers can provide feedback, give grades, or assign additional content based on student responses.

Full Disclosure: PowerMyLearning Connect and Common Sense Education share funders; however, those relationships do not impact Common Sense Education's editorial independence and this learning rating.

PowerMyLearning Connect has done a solid job of picking and choosing a lot of the best educational content from all over the web. Sources like TED-Ed, Annenberg, and PBS (among others) truly are the cream of the crop, and it's handy to have them all in one place. Everything is well organized, and the design is both kid-friendly and detailed enough for adults to navigate. Tutors, parents, and teachers working in a more individualized setting may find this site especially helpful.

As a free resource, PowerMyLearning's greatest asset is how it simplifies a teacher's ability to organize and differentiate online learning opportunities from different parts of the web. However, while teachers can track which of the assigned sites students have visited and how much time they spend, there's no guarantee about what students have done or learned from them. Teachers will want to take advantage of the Missions and Playlist Task features to assess skill mastery, ask students open-ended questions, request evidence of scores or completion, and ask for metacognitive feedback about areas of understanding. While assessing this way may add significant time on the teacher's end, its absence makes the tool less accurate in terms of progress monitoring. Either way, PowerMyLearning Connect makes it simple for teachers to put specific, subject-focused web content in front of students' eyes.

Overall Rating

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

Nearly all of the games and activities compiled here are bright, fun, and well designed. Because of the good quality and breadth of content, kids should stay interested over time.

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

Teachers can choose or create learning activities and assessment tasks via playlists. Playlist activities give teachers basic data on students' site visits, but learning will depend a lot on how teachers scaffold the activities.

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 offers navigational help and tutorials. Although the external sites curated here will help extend learning, the level of support and accessibility within each linked site may vary greatly.


Common Sense Reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Media specialist/librarian

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