Printed from Afterschool Curriculum Choice - Literacy
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Curriculum Details for
Classworks Reading


Program
Description
Practitioner Expert
Review
Content Expert
Review
Classworks Reading
Publication Date: 2008
Grade Level: K–12
Content Focus: Literacy/Language Arts
Costs: $25,000 one time cost, plus $1,800 per day for training
The costs shown were accurate at the time of the review. Please check the publisher's web site for current prices.
Developer Contact Information
Curriculum Advantage
3885 Crestwood Parkway, Suite 200
Duluth, GA, 30096
888-841-4790
www.classworks.com

User Comments (add a comment)
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Program Description

Design Summary

Classworks Reading is a school-based curriculum that is easily adapted for afterschool.  It is a computer-based curriculum that combines software from many other high quality programs, taking material for similar age levels and skills and building units around them.  For example, for a unit on pronouns, students could work through an introductory lesson, 4-5 different software activities from various publishers, and then be assessed for mastery of the concept. Classworks is self-paced, targeting cognitive reading skills.  It incorporates experiential learning through hands on projects at the end of each unit that apply critical thinking skills to real world applications.

Because it is a computer-based program, students can be assigned to various levels allowing for instruction that is targeted at the needs of the students.  Classworks has the unique ability to import and read state high-stakes test results and create an individualized learning path based on student need. The lessons can also be assigned entirely by the teacher, or students can have a choice in which activities they want to do.

All student work is managed and tracked, with a comprehensive reporting suite for informed instructional decision-making and accountability. In addition to the software, a reference manual and training manual for teachers is included with the curriculum.

Costs and Staff Training

Classworks is sold at as an unlimited site license at a one-time starting cost of $25,000.  This can vary based on the grade levels and subjects that are purchased.  Annual technical support fees start at $500 a year.

A four-day onsite training, at a cost of $1,800 a day, is required for new purchases.  Training is customized to meet the needs of each school or organization, and can prepare staff to train others within the school or organization.  More training and technical support is available upon request.

Staff Qualifications

Formal teaching experience is not required to implement Classworks.  Content expert reviews suggest that instructors should know their content area well to be able to assess what particular curricular components are most necessary.  Instructors must also know their students well to be able to incorporate Classworks into their classrooms in a meaningful and relevant way.

Standards Alignment

  • National: National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE), International Reading Association, National Reading Panel Report
  • State: Classworks State Editions are customized and aligned to state standards in Alabama, Arkansas California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Research Base

Classsworks is based on sound instructional design and research-proven best practices. With rigorous and relevant instruction, an individualized and differentiated learning experience is delivered effectively to every child. For a full review of the research base underlying Classworks see http://www.classworks.com/index.cfm/success/research/.

Evaluation Details

Both independent and internal evaluations have been conducted. The evaluations looked at academic improvement, time on task, and success on high stakes testing. Results are available to the public on the Classworks website: http://www.classworks.com/index.cfm/success/research/.

Overall Strengths/Overall Challenges

Strengths
  • Students can continuously keep working and challenging themselves with higher grade level material.
  • Allows teachers to design the scope and sequence to best meet the needs of their students.
  • Allows selection of pre-designed scope and sequencing linked directly to state learning standards and goals.
  • Variety of learning tools and programs for any given unit.
  • Immediate feedback given to students on their work.
Challenges
  • Due to the pre-design of assessments, there is no level that includes questions of increasing difficulty within a single grade level for the student.  Students continue to practice the same skill rather than being challenged with questions of increasing difficulty.

Practitioner Expert Review

Practitioner Expert Background

This practitioner is the principal of a middle school that has been using Classworks for the past four years.  He has observed many students using the program and gotten positive feedback from teachers about it.  He has also seen his students’ test scores increase impressively, and he attributes a good deal of this success to Classworks. There are two computer labs in the school, one devoted to Classworks Math, and Classworks Reading.  This practitioner uses Classworks during the school day with all students who did not pass the state test the previous year.  During afterschool time, Classworks is used with some special education students.  Students at his school are from mixed racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Logistics

Training
  • When a school purchases Classworks, trainers come to the school and spend two full days showing teachers how to use it.  Felt that the training was very thorough and sufficient to start using the program.
  • If there ever are problems, can call up trainers and they figure out how to solve any problem and meet school’s needs.  Customer service is excellent.
Set-up/preparation
  • Majority of preparation involves inputting test data into the program. Based on this data, Classworks creates individualized programs for students.
  • From there, preparation consists of a few clicks of the mouse to bring up students’ IDs and individualized programs.
  • Computer labs are set up with 24 computers. Students use headphones and can work individually. 
  • Should have at least 60 minutes per week for each Classworks subject to be effective.

Student Engagement

  • Students like the interaction with the computer and find it to be fun. Different from the regular routine in the classroom. 
  • Graphics, sounds, and music grab students’ attention and engage them, especially at the middle school level.

Content

Adaptability
  • Classworks is helpful for students who may be learning below grade level, as the curriculum allows a student to go back and do lessons in lower levels.
  • Teachers have their own ID, which allows them to go into the computer and pick out particular lessons on a topic to teach in the classroom.
  • Even when a teacher is absent, students can log in with their ID and use Classworks.
General skills taught
  • Classworks is comprehensive and models the program on a school’s particular state curriculum and standards.
  • Students feel successful when they use Classworks since it builds upon more basic skills that they may have struggled with.  This helps to boost their self-esteem.
Addressing diverse student needs
  • If a student does not understand a topic or program one way, the large number (180) of software programs allows other ways of teaching that topic.
  • Effective with students of different learning styles and ability levels.
  • Gap in achievement test scores between white students and students of color has been significantly reduced after using Classworks. 

Strengths and Challenges

Strengths
  • Students can continuously keep working and challenging themselves with higher grade level material.
  • Aligned with state standards and curriculum.
  • Program can create course of study individualized to each student’s needs. 
Challenges
  • This practitioner has found no challenges with Classworks.

Content Expert Review

Content Expert Reviewer

Shari Dickstein
Shari Dickstein, doctoral candidate in Educational Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is also an independent instructional consultant. A former New York City high school teacher and adjunct professor at New York University, she now works with urban school districts (New York, Boston and Prince George's County) in a variety of ways to improve teaching quality and instruction at the systemic level. She has co-created instructional manuals on literacy and "writing across the curriculum" for students at Baruch College (an affiliate of the City University of New York) and on best practices for developing teachers for urban youth (for Boston's Teacher Residency program). Currently, she is working with Harvard's Teacher Education program to develop curriculum and on an evaluation of alternative teacher education programs in Prince George's County (Maryland).

Content

  • This review covers components of both the National Edition and the State Edition for Georgia.
  • Materials span grades K-12 and cover all the necessary skills and content necessary for a command of the intricacies of English.
  • Includes a unit designed specifically for non-English speakers or pre-readers that is instructive and well-designed for the intended audience.
  • The necessary skills and content are covered for each grade level and the information is accurate and covers much breadth.
  • However, content for older grades appears does not go into great depth. The curriculum focuses on the basics.

Skills

Academic Skills
  • Letter and sound recognition skills
  • Grammar skills
  • Literary and expository writing
  • Spelling and vocabulary
  • Speaking skills
  • Poetry
  • Many other skills related to mastering the English language for students K-12.
Study Skills
  • Structure of each unit lends itself to developing study skills by allowing students to work at their own pace, repeat sequences, etc.
Non-Academic Skills
  • Comfort with computer navigation and use of technology.
  • Visual and spatial skills.

Alignment to Standards

  • Classworks State Editions are customized and aligned to state standards in Alabama, Arkansas California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
  • This particular version of Classworks was aligned specifically with Georgia state standards, and covered the breadth of those standards.

Assessment

  • Students are assessed in many ways, including formative activity assessments, Quick Quizzes, and projects.
  • Also, students can send documents or quizzes that they complete directly to their teachers so the teachers can review their work, comment on it, and send it back to the students.  This can help students see their strengths as well as where they may need to improve.
  • Schools, teachers, and students can create and store a portfolio of student work.  With this tool, learning is cumulative and teachers and students have the ability to see knowledge develop in a variety of ways over a particular unit.

Structure

  • Teacher controls how pre-defined the structure of the curriculum is.
  • Classworks offers the option of using an entirely structured and pre-designed curriculum. 
  • Teachers can also manually design instructional units to customize instruction to match their curricular requirements as well as the students’ individual needs. 
  • There is also flexibility in terms of content. Teachers can either have the curriculum pick content based on the skill and the ability levels of students or teachers can elect the specific content or topic to be taught, as well as which programs to use to teach the topic.
  • Lessons can be either teacher or student-directed.  One option is for students to choose which activities to do, and the immediate feedback offered to students through the software can be empowering, enabling them to improve their own performance.

Addressing Diverse Student Needs

Adaptability
  • Classworks can be tailored to teacher, student, school, and state needs.
  • Teachers and schools can input test and performance scores of students prior to classroom use, set a target level of achievement, and the program will design an appropriate content sequence.
  • Teachers can tailor instruction in ways that will be most meaningful for their classroom or individual students.
  • Each particular concept or content area skill is accompanied by a host of software packages so teachers are not tied to one particular product.
Developmental level
  • The use of sound effects, such as buzzers, bells, sounds, and slow narration, as well as animated graphics are engaging and developmentally appropriate for younger students.  However, these features may be less motivating for older students.
Learning Styles Addressed
  • Movement/spatial learning: Some of the activities included appeal to visual and spatial learners.
Multiculturalism
  • The curriculum designed explicitly for non-native speakers and pre-readers includes culturally relevant material.
  • Diversity is not otherwise addressed in this curriculum.

Strengths and Challenges

Strongest Features
  • Allows teachers to design the scope and sequence to best meet the needs of their students.
  • Allows selection of pre-designed scope and sequencing linked directly to state learning standards and goals.
  • Variety of learning tools and programs for any given unit.
  • Immediate feedback given to students on their work.
Challenges and Drawbacks
  • Due to the pre-design of assessments, there is no level that includes questions of increasing difficulty within a single grade level for the student.  Students continue to practice the same skill rather than being challenged with questions of increasing difficulty.

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