Poor student writing, slashed education budgets make free digital courseware vital
SAS® Curriculum Pathways® Writing Navigator improves English language arts test scores in resource-strapped classrooms
With only 24 percent of US eighth-graders writing as well as they should, many educators are looking to online curricula for help. But how can a small, rural school in a community with limited technology take advantage?
Gayle Mathis, a seventh-grade English teacher at Hickman County (TN) Middle School, uses SAS® Curriculum Pathways ® Writing Navigator, provided at no cost to educators and students.
Along with many of her colleagues, Mathis has seen SAS Curriculum Pathways engage students and improve skills. She believes the online resources have improved value-added scores at the school, as her students learn to better plan, write and revise their work. Mathis will discuss her use of SAS Curriculum Pathways during an EducationWeek webinar on Oct. 3 at 2 p.m.
"SAS Curriculum Pathways lets students work at their own pace – their confidence levels soar," said Mathis, a 20-year classroom veteran. "I believe this confidence explains the positive testing results."
Value-added scores have risen from Level 1 to 5 at Hickman, gains the school has sustained for three consecutive years. Hickman Principal Jeremy Qualls, who has witnessed jumps in value-added scores among his teachers, believes SAS Curriculum Pathways has helped his school meet state objectives.
"Our English language arts test scores have risen with the increased use of SAS Curriculum Pathways," said Qualls. "I see the engagement when I observe students in the lab. They are engrossed in the program and the feedback they receive is extremely valuable."
Available at no cost to educators and students, SAS Curriculum Pathways Writing Navigator includes:
Students generate and organize ideas into a writing plan. Writing Planner helps them brainstorm ideas, facts or opinions and support their positions with information from web sites, books or other sources. Students can group and sequence ideas and review their writing plan.
Students transform their writing plans into a first draft by developing coherent sentences and paragraphs. They craft sentences, supporting details and transitions, and introductory and concluding paragraphs. They then analyze their writing to improve sentence patterns, punctuation and transitions.
The most popular resource in SAS Curriculum Pathways, Writing Reviser helps students focus on purpose and audience, essay structure and language use. Students learn to ask questions experienced writers ask automatically and express themselves with precision and power.
Mathis also uses Punctuation Rules!, which teaches students basic punctuation, demonstrates the connection between punctuation and meaning, and provides specific words, phrases and clauses to create sentences and apply punctuation.
More than 120,000 users in more than 40,000 schools have registered to use SAS Curriculum Pathways. Students can have their own accounts, with parental permission, in accordance with the Child Online Protection and Privacy Act.
SAS Curriculum Pathways provides interactive, standards-based resources in the core disciplines (English language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, Spanish) for traditional, virtual and home schools. It focuses on topics where doing, seeing and listening provide information and encourage insights in ways conventional methods cannot.
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