Review by Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2017

Zeal

Address learning gaps with innovative but pricey live math coaches

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Math
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
K-12
Common Sense says (See details)
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Pros: Solid CCSS-aligned questions and live support from trained math coaches allow for highly differentiated classroom instruction.

Cons: Standards are shown as drop-down options and are not easily viewable as a whole, so setting targeted class goals is tedious.

Bottom Line: A neat, highly useful coaching tool that won't transform CCSS instruction but removes some of the pain of tracking student progress and differentiation.

Run through a demo of the live coaching platform with the class first. Then use Zeal as it best fits the needs of the class. It's highly customizable and designed to be used as small-group, large-group, or whole-class reinforcement. Or use it as an activity when there's extra time at the end of class. The real-time data that comes from the coaches is gold: It allows you to see who is achieving success and who needs help, down to specific questions and topics students struggle with. Keep in mind that all students are given the same code, so they can easily use another student’s login; individual codes would solve this issue.

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Zeal offers tons of math Common Core State Standards-aligned questions. Using the dashboard, teachers create class goals by selecting standards. Then sets of questions are generated based on the selected standards. As students answer questions, a live coach is on standby for each student, to monitor activity and step in as needed. Coaches instant-message throughout the session to encourage kids and keep them on task. If a student struggles with a standard, the program adapts to find learning gaps. Once this baseline is determined, a coach steps in to help the student with the area of struggle. 

The teacher dashboard updates with students' reports as they complete questions, and coaches can leave notes about the session. The dashboard also includes information about each student's coaching session, usage, growth (shown as a bar chart), weekly activity, pre-skills, and more.     

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With its many CCSS-aligned assessment questions, Zeal is a quick go-to tool for checking student understanding of grade-level standards and providing additional live support as needed. It has great practical value for the day-to-day challenges of CCSS instruction, and it's a highly valuable tool for differentiating instruction. Teachers and students can get simple, at-a-glance updates on where they stand with each standard. 

Zeal lets teachers dig deep into student work to analyze students' success and any gaps in their understanding that may need more direct one-on-one instruction. It's also a great tool for professional development for teachers: Use Zeal as a scaffold to learn the CCSS yourself and make sure students are getting exposed to each skill at their grade level. Overall, this is a thoughtfully built resource that can help boost kids' skills in line with CCSS, while giving them the confidence to overcome any learning gaps they may have.

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Overall Rating

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

Students will stay engaged in the CCSS-aligned assessments and will likely enjoy the personal aspect of live coaching. It's easy for teachers and students to see progress and comprehension, and the site is easy to navigate.

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

Teachers can personalize instruction and track student progress. Students and teachers receive feedback that tracks progress and shows where extra help is needed.

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

Students can obtain help and see scores immediately, and teachers get immediate feedback, too. There's an audio option for students who have trouble reading. 


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