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Determine whether the content you purchase is comprehensive and will allow you to choose materials from different grade levels or whether you are limited to the content for your specific grade. (Tis is par- ticularly important when content will be used for individual interven- tions.)

If content is limited, investigate whether the resource points you to additional interactive activities either within the program or on the web. For example, if you use two decimals lessons from the content but aren’t finished teaching deci- mals, does the resource continue to assist your efforts? If students complete an activity but are still struggling, are there additional interventions available?

#4 Can my students access these resources?

In addition to accessing content for whole class

instruction, some web based solu- tions also allow students to access content on computers. Tis helps teachers to make a connection between whole class instruction and individual student learning. Some online content providers add increased value by inviting students to access content at home for further review and exploration. Offline programs may also allow individual student access, but the program must first be installed on each computer.

If student access is included, con- sider whether or not the content will still appeal to your students aſter experiencing it during whole class instruction. Is the activity

engaging and are the questions ran- domized so students will still feel challenged during subsequent vis- its? Or does the program provide enough content options for each topic that the issue of repetitiveness is eliminated?

#5 Do these resources promote teacher involvement and offer flexibility?

Many soſtware programs are de- signed for individual student use in learning isolation. A computerized program replaces a teacher’s guid- ance by assessing students, offering recommended activities, and even adjusting activities to a student’s ability level. While this type of program at first glance seems like an easy answer to individualized instruction, consider the implica- tions of removing teacher guidance and peer collaboration from the learning process.

Research has shown that technolo- gy, specifically instructional soſt- ware, has been proven most effec- tive when integrated into classroom instruction. Students who experi- enced teacher-led standards-based instruction with technology showed higher overall gains than students who experienced the same curricula and technology in an isolated lab setting.

Teachers have the ability to match computer instruction with the chil- dren’s development, the curriculum sequence, and the needs of partic- ular students. Teachers must be involved, “orchestrators” of technol- ogy, rather than quiet observers of students in learning isolation.

Find out whether the digital con- tent you are investing in allows teachers to choose interventions for their students and whether multiple activities with multiple strategies for learning are available for each concept. Ask if the con- tent includes a strong instructional component and problem solving opportunities beyond skill and drill activities.

Determine whether the digital content is numerous enough and flexible enough to be used for whole class instruction, center time, group work, and individual student remediation or enrichment.

#6 Can student progress be monitored with these

resources? If students are allowed to

access content on computers, find out if the content includes individ- ual progress accounts. Particularly if content will be used for inter- ventions, progress accounts allow teachers to view student scores on activities to determine if students are progressing toward mastery or if additional assistance is necessary.

#7 Who created these resources?

It is important to consider the source of content you use in your classroom. Verify that the resources you are consid-

ering are research-based. Find out whether they were created by


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