Electronic Education Report
January 30, 2015: Volume 22, Number 3
With more rigorous standards prompting teachers to differentiate instruction in the classroom, Classworks® (Lawrenceville, GA) saw an opportunity to move its supplemental software from computer labs to daily classroom instruction.
“We realized that with the new standards not only do you need good resources, you need good teacher support in the classroom to deliver those resources,” Classworks president Melissa Sinunu told EER.
Classworks, founded in 1993, already had migrated its instruction, assessment and productivity tools to the cloud. For the 2014-2105 school year, Classworks sent existing customers a new reading offering for grades 1-8 with all-new reading passages, grade-level activities, questions and exemplars to help with open-ended questions.
“People thought they knew what Classworks was and it was hard to explain how this was different,” Sinunu said. “But when teachers saw how it supported them and was not just something kids do when they go to the back of the classroom or the computer lab, they loved it.”
Building on their reading success, Classworks in January announced a similar upgrade will be available for K-8 math for the 2015-2016 school year. With teachers looking to support students at different points on the path to mastery, Classworks provides problems targeting the same standard but at different levels.
Using Classworks teachers can see the hints their students access, common misconceptions across the class and receive recommendations for student help. The new problems were developed to reflect situations students encounter in the real world. Classworks worked with Victory Productions on the content for both reading and math.
Working in Technology-Enabled Classrooms
Classworks looks to fit with the changing nature of classroom technology. In some settings, teachers might walk around with an iPad monitoring students’ progress on their individual devices, Sinunu said. In other classes, a teacher might be monitoring the close reading of complex text on a whiteboard. Using Classworks, a student, who might not be proficient at writing, can record their answers so teachers can hear their thought processes when convenient.
Classworks can serve as a standalone solution or integrate with a district’s LMS. It can be launched without leaving an LMS interface and student work can be scored and reported back to Classworks and the LMS.
Five years ago, Classworks combined software and service into a single sale. Sinunu said this year they were separated because of the intuitive nature of the software and because how much service a school needs varies.
“The biggest change is the expectations,” Sinunu said, noting that most schools now assume a teacher can log-in to a program and assign a lesson to students. She said where teachers need help is integrating new components into how they instruct, so Classworks training focuses on best practices—for example, how to make flipped learning work with Classworks.